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.

 

THE WOMAN TAKEN IN ADULTERY – John 8:1-11

Bible sermons, dilemma, Gospel of John, John 8:1-12, Uncategorized

INTRODUCTION:

Daniel Webster served our country as a congressman and as the Secretary of State under three presidents in the mid-1800’s.  Before going into politics he was a well-known and very successful lawyer and public speaker.  Dwight L. Moody shared the following illustration about him:

Daniel Webster was such an imposing figure in court that he once stared a witness out of the courtroom.  Apparently, Webster knew that the man was there to deliver false testimony, so he fixed his “dark, beetle-browed” eyes on the man and searched him.  According to the story, later in the trial, Webster looked around again to see if [the witness] was ready for the inquisition.  The witness felt for his hat and edged toward the door.  A third time Webster looked on him, and the witness could sit no longer.  He seized his chance and fled from the court and was nowhere to be found.  It was as if Webster could see right through the man,  and knew what this witness had been told to do, and what he was to say.  With his penetrating gaze, Webster gave this man the opportunity to examine himself, reconsider his mission, and make his getaway.  We find a similar action and reaction in this passage of scripture, John 8:1-11.

I.  THE SETTING (verses 1-2)

Verse one of John 8 tells us that Jesus went to the Mount of Olives the night before, and probably stayed at the home of Mary and Martha in Bethany.  They lived about a mile from Jerusalem, and Jesus often stayed with them when He was attending one of the feasts in Jerusalem.  The next morning we find Him back in the temple.  Verse 2 says, “And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them.”  A crowd was gathering around Jesus, so He sat down to teach.  This was the usual practice of the rabbis.  They taught from a sitting position.  Often a little stool was provided for them to sit on.

II.  THE CONFRONTATION (verses 3-6a)

The Lord Jesus is just beginning to teach the people when He is rudely interrupted.  Verse 3 reads, “And the Scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery and having set her in the midst,”.  Now what are they up to?  Whatever it is, they want the whole crowd to watch and listen to what happens next.  On the previous day the multitude was debating whether Jesus was the Prophet or the Messiah, and the temple police officers were so amazed at Jesus’ teaching that they didn’t arrest Him.  All the sarcastic remarks directed at the multitude by the leaders accomplished nothing.  The people are all assembled again, eager to hear Jesus teach.  Have the scribes and Pharisees now come up with a better idea?  Let’s see what they have to say.  Verses 4 and 5 read:  “They said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.  Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do you say?’  By asking that question, the scribes and Pharisees have just broken their own law which stated that such cases were to be handled by their own court.  They are also lying to the crowd by giving them the impression that they have come to seek His “expert opinion” on this matter.

Does their statement sound suspicious to you?  Wouldn’t you say that it’s unusual to stumble across adultery taking place?  This is not the kind of offense that can be committed by one person alone.  Where is the man?  Was no attempt made to arrest him?  He was just as guilty under the Law as the woman.  Did they let him go?  Is he one of the men who is now standing before Jesus?

By their statement and their question, they have purposely placed Jesus in a dilemma.  A dilemma is defined as a choice between two equal alternatives.  In this case, both of His options seem to be equally dangerous.  If Jesus agreed with the law and told them to stone her, He would be disobeying the Roman government which had jurisdiction over such cases, and He would be taken to a Roman court.  The Jews could then distort His claims of kingship and possibly have Him executed as an insurrectionist.  On the other hand, if Jesus refused to allow the woman to be stoned, He would be disobeying the Law of Moses, thus contradicting His claims to be the Messiah.  The crowd around Jesus would be witnesses to His disobedience and the word would spread fast.  That would soon be the end of His popularity and His authority as a teacher.  The beginning of verse six tells us their motive when it says, “And they were saying this, testing Him, in order that they might have grounds for accusing Him.”  It was a well-laid trap.  I can picture the smiles on their faces and the glint in their eyes as they waited for Jesus to fall into their snare.  They were hoping to bring Jesus before Pilate, the Roman governor, that very day.

III.  JESUS’ RESPONSE TO HIS QUESTIONERS (verses 6b-8)

What happens next must have startled and confused them.  At the end of verse 6, it says:  “But Jesus stooped down, and wrote on the ground.”  Try to put yourself in this scene.  Jesus is sitting on the steps or on a stool.  The scribes and Pharisees have just asked Him a difficult question and immediately Jesus takes His eyes off them, bends all the way forward and starts writing with His finger in the dust on the ground.  Do you have a picture of that scene in your mind?  Can you imagine what the scribes and Pharisees must have been thinking and saying to one another as they watched this phenomenon?  “Is He crazy?”  “Is He stalling, trying to come up with an answer?”

Verse 7 begins with the words, “When they persisted in asking Him”.  Jesus wasn’t responding to them.  He hasn’t stopped what He was doing and looked at them yet, in spite of their repeated requests.  The scribes and Pharisees are getting angrier and louder as they demand an answer.  Meanwhile, the woman and the crowd are watching and listening in silence.  When is this “intermission” going to end?

Finally, in the midst of all the noise and confusion, “He [Jesus] straightened up”, and like Daniel Webster in my introduction, He looked at each one of them with His penetrating gaze, searching their souls.  There was silence once again, and then He said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”  As He said those words, I believe Jesus looked around at each one of them again, and that the eyes of some of them may already have been lowered.  They didn’t want to look at Him eye-to-eye again because of the guilt they were experiencing.

By His words, did Jesus mean “Let him who is perfect cast the first stone?”  No.  He was referring to the sin of adultery.  In Matthew 5:27-28, during His sermon on the mount, Jesus defined adultery in accordance with God’s perfect standard.  So Jesus was saying, “Anyone who has not committed this sin of adultery at some time himself, or who has not desired to do so, and would have done so if he could have gotten away with it, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

The age-old debate is:  “What was the Lord Jesus writing?”  Was He writing the commandments, or was He writing down the sins of His accusers?  There are many possibilities, but we don’t know for sure.  That information wasn’t given to us by the apostle John.  Maybe it’s because the Lord Jesus’ lesson comes, not from what He wrote, but from the act of writing with His finger.  Can you think of an occasion in the Old Testament when God wrote with His finger?  Exodus 31:18 says, “And when He [God] had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.”  If this was Jesus intent, to focus their attention on the act of writing, then Jesus was once again claiming to be God, the One who wrote the commandments on the tablets of stone with His own finger for Moses and the people of Israel.  That is my thinking, and the reasons are given in the rest of this passage of Scripture, especially the following verse.  After saying those words to the scribes and Pharisees, verse 8 says, “And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground.”  Jesus is doing it again!  What’s the significance of that?  If His adversaries didn’t get it the first time, they caught on the second time, based on their response. I don’t think Jesus is repeating His actions for the sake of repetition.  He’s reminding His audience of the events that happened after God gave the commandments to Moses.  There’s more to the story, and as Jesus writes with His finger again, the rest of the story is unfolding in their minds.  Let’s take a look at what His accusers are remembering.

When Moses came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the law in his hands, he saw the people of Israel worshiping a golden calf and engaging in sexual immorality.  Exodus 32:6 says, “the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”  In anger, Moses “threw the tablets of stone from his hands and shattered them.”  As the woman’s accusers watch Jesus write on the ground this second time, they are also reminded that God showed mercy on His people, forgave their sin and wrote the law on the tablets of stone with His finger a second time.

IV.  THE WALK OF SHAME (verse 9)

A movement is taking place among the woman’s accusers.  Verse 9 says, “And when they [her accusers] heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she had been, in the midst.” Those who accused the woman became convicted of their own sinfulness and began to go away one by one.  The older men probably had the guilt of their sin gnawing at them the longest and were the first to leave.  It was a long walk of shame through the temple and to their homes.  I can imagine that they didn’t want to be seen in public for the rest of that day.  Their “perfect plan” backfired and they were caught in the recollection of their own sins.

The story is told of a time when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous writer, decided to play a practical joke on twelve of his friends.  He sent them each a telegram that read, “Flee at once. . . . all is discovered.”  Within twenty-four hours, all twelve had left the country.  Their private lives were quite different from their public lives!

As we study verse 9, it’s important to know that there is a difference between guilt and shame.  In this particular case, the scribes and Pharisees were experiencing both of these emotions.  They felt guilt inside because of the things they had done and shame because of all the people who were watching them.  Their guilt made them speechless, and in their shame, they wanted to get away from the crowd and be alone.

V.  WORDS TO THE WOMAN (verses 10-11)

The accusers have gone and Jesus is looking at the woman.  Meanwhile, the crowd is standing there quietly, anxious to see and hear what Jesus is going to say and do next.  Verse 10 reads, “And straightening up, Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they?  Did no one condemn you?’ ”  The word “condemn” refers to outward punishment, not inward guilt.  He’s saying to her, “Has no one shown himself qualified or ready to begin the stoning?”  Jesus is asking her questions in order to focus her thoughts upon what just happened, as well as elicit a response from her as she stands before Him in awe and wide-eyed amazement.  Her response to Him is:  “no one, Lord.”  There is no clear indication that the woman was a follower of His, or that she became one at that moment, but I’m sure she was very grateful to Him for what He had done.for her, and she made no excuse for her conduct.

Jesus ends the conversation with these words:  “Neither do I condemn you; go your way.  From now on sin no more.”  Jesus forgave her but He didn’t condone her sin.  He didn’t say, “sin as little as possible”, but “sin no more”.  Pastor Warren Wiersbe makes the following comment about this verse of Scripture:

We must not misinterpret this event to mean that Jesus was
“easy on sin” or that He contradicted the Law.
For Jesus to forgive this woman meant that He had to
one day die for her sins.  Forgiveness is free,
but it is not cheap

The woman left this assembly with forgiveness, release from the conviction and guilt of her past sins and a desire to live according to God’s laws.  She also left with a clearer understanding of Jesus Christ and the choice of following Him.

CONCLUSION:

There are several things we can learn and apply to our own lives from this passage of Scripture.  First, we are guilty of sin whether we’ve been caught or not.  Secondly, we learn that Jesus hates and condemns the sin but He loves the sinner and forgives and accepts all who come to Him in faith and with repentant hearts.

There are also principles to guide us when dealing with sin in the life of another believer.

  1.  It is wrong to approach another believer concerning a particular sin in his or her life if that same sin has not been dealt with in our own lives.
  2. Confronting wrong calls for humility, not pride.  Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.”  As the saying goes: “There but for the grace of God go you and I.”
  3. Correcting wrong in another’s life begins with forgiveness.  Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you”  before saying “Sin no more”.

Let’s look upon others, not on the basis of their past, but on the basis of their future.  Let’s also look upon ourselves the way God sees us.

 

CONSTRUCTION SITE:   COMPLETED

DEFENSE WITNESSES ARE SCORNED – John 7:45-53

Bible sermons, critical spirit, criticism, John 7:45-53, Uncategorized

INTRODUCTION:

Can you remember saying something and then you wished you had never said it?  Was it because of the negative response you received afterward?  Have you ever heard or used the phrase, “You’re gonna eat those words!”?  The intent was that you were going to have to admit that what you said was wrong, and suffer humiliation because of it.  There’s a saying that goes like this:  “Keep your words sweet.  You never know when you might have to eat them.”

In this passage of Scripture, John 7:45-53, Jesus is not present.  We are going to examine two incidents that occur in the meeting room of the Sanhedrin and consider the responses that follow and the reasons for those responses.

I.  INCIDENT #1:  THE TEMPLE GUARD RETURNS (verses 45-46)

Earlier, in verse 32, an order was given:  “the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him.”  Those officers were under orders to arrest Jesus, take Him prisoner, and bring Him to them so that they could pass judgment on Him and have Him killed.  The leaders must have been in their courtroom, seated and ready to pass judgment, and wondering why it was taking those officers so long to accomplish their mission.  Finally the posse arrives, but they are empty-handed.  What’s going on?  Verse 45 describes the scene.  “The officers therefore came to the chief priests and Pharisees and these said to them, ‘Why didn’t you bring Him?’ ”  The leaders were angry and probably shouted at them, demanding an explanation.  What they heard in reply must have startled them.  Verse 46 says, “The officers answered, ‘Never did a man speak the way this man speaks.”  They were saying that Jesus was more than a man, otherwise they would have said, “No OTHER man speaks the way this man speaks.”

I don’t detect any fear on the part of these officers.  They could have come up with excuses but they chose to tell the truth.  Their sense of awe, amazement and bewilderment was so strong that there was no room for any fear of punishment.  Can you imagine what it would have been like to listen to Jesus face-to-face?  What words did they hear from Jesus’ lips that would have evoked such a response?  Among other things, they heard Jesus say, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).  It was the Word of God spoken by the Son of God.

II.  THE RESPONSE (verses 47-49)

The leaders and Pharisees respond to these remarks with anger and sarcasm.  We find their initial words in verse 47 where the Pharisees say to them, “You have not also been led astray, have you?”  Can you feel the sting in those words?  They are telling the officers that they are no better than the common people – the uneducated “nobodies” who were following Jesus.  Once again, the leaders refused to face the facts.  Instead, they directed their criticism at the officers and the crowd.

Sarcastic remarks tell us something about the person or people who made them.  Such remarks are often made by egotistical people who put others down in order to exalt themselves.  The following story is a case where sarcastic remarks cost a person his life.  Kondraty Ryleyev was sentenced to be hanged for his part in an unsuccessful uprising against the Russian Czar Nicolas I in December 1825.  But the rope broke and Ryleyev, bruised and battered, fell to the ground, got up and said, “In Russia, they don’t know how to do anything properly, and even how to make a rope.”  An accident of this sort usually resulted in a pardon, so a messenger was sent to the czar to know his pleasure.  Nicolas asked, “What did he say?”  “Sire, he said that in Russia they don’t even know how to make a rope properly.”  “Well, let the contrary be proven,” said the czar.  That broken rope might have won him a pardon, but his remark cost him his life.  It was the last sarcastic remark he ever made!  Here in verse 47, they are criticizing the King of heaven and earth.  That could have everlasting consequences!

Now the Pharisees draw attention to themselves when they say in verse 48, “No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he?”  They have set themselves up as the standard for truth and are berating the officials for not following their example.  By their words, these leaders are denying the teachings and the authority of God’s Word and revealing the size of their egos.  It’s as if they are saying, “How dare you believe in Him in defiance of us and our superior authority and knowledge of God’s Word!”  The leaders couldn’t prove to these officers that Jesus wasn’t the Messiah.  The evidence was too strongly in His favor; so they used diversionary tactics in order to maintain their prejudice against Jesus.

In college, I took a course in Classical Greek and Roman Mythology.  One story that fascinated me was that of Narcissus.  This young man was so beautiful in appearance that many women were attracted to him but no woman was good enough for him.  One day he saw his own reflection in a pool of water and fell in love with himself.  Since he could not have himself as a partner, and no one else met his standards of beauty, he eventually killed himself.  Psychologists use the term “narcissistic” to describe someone who is extremely selfish with a grandiose view of one’s own appearance and talents, and a craving for the admiration of others.  Is that an accurate description of the religious leaders in this passage of Scripture?  I think so.

In verse 48, the leaders were implying that the officials were just like the crowd.  Now, in verse 49, they describe their own attitude toward the crowd by saying, “But this multitude which does not know the Law is accursed.”  This is the only place in the New Testament where the Greek word translated “accursed” is used.  By using that word to refer to the multitude, the Pharisees are once again demonstrating their ignorance of the law.  They are telling God to put a curse on the multitude, whereas in Matthew 25:41, Jesus says that He will be the King on the throne passing judgment.  He will be the one who says “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”  Their pride, critical spirit, and prejudice toward the common people will be their undoing.

III.  INCIDENT #2:  THE QUESTION RAISED BY NICODEMUS (verses 50-51)

In verses 50 and 51, Nicodemus, who secretly visited Jesus one night, asks them a question.  Verse 50 tells us that he was a member of the Sanhedrin also.  He said to the rest of the group, “Our Law does not judge a man, unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?”  Nicodemus knew the answer to that question.  It’s found in Exodus 23:1-2; Leviticus 19:15, Deuteronomy 19:15 and 19:18.  The Law of Moses states that every man is entitled to a fair trial, and is considered innocent until proven guilty.

I have heard this verse used as a negative example of sharing one’s faith in Jesus Christ.  The lesson was:  “Don’t be like Nicodemus”.  I disagree with that interpretation and conclusion.  Nicodemus was not a follower of Jesus Christ yet.  He knew that he was going to get a sharp negative reaction toward himself if he said anything in defense of God’s Law and in fairness toward Jesus, but he said it anyway!  He could have taken back those words and apologized, but he didn’t.  This was his first step toward publicly identifying himself with Jesus Christ.

IV.  THE RESPONSE (verse 52)

As expected, the leaders respond by ridiculing Nicodemus and belittling him.  Here are the words they shouted at him:  “You are not also from Galilee, are you?  Search and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.”  They treat him like they did the officers, and accuse him of not knowing the Scriptures.  In reality they were the ones who didn’t know the Scriptures.  They were wrong when they said, “No prophet arises out of Galilee,”  The prophet Jonah was from Gath Hepher, which is a village in Galilee.  Not only that, but the prophet Nahum was from Capernaum, a city in Galilee.  Capernaum means “Village of Nahum”.  The leaders were wrong on at least two counts. and yet they criticized the multitude as being ignorant of the Law!  They were bluffing in order to protect their huge egos and maintain their sense of authority.  These leaders may not have realized that by criticizing the multitude, they were also criticizing themselves because it was their responsibility to educate the people in the law, the prophets, and the writings.

Former British statesman,  Benjamin Disraeli said, “It is much easier to be critical than correct.”  The following poem, written by Charles Franklin Benvegar, depicts that statement clearly and accurately.  It is entitled:  THE WRECKER

I watched them tearing a building down
A gang of men in a busy town,
With a yo-heave-ho and a lusty yell
They swung a beam, a side wall fell.
I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled
As men you’d hire if you were to build?”
He gave a laugh and said, “No indeed!
Just common labor is all I need;
I can easily wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken a year to do.”
And I thought to myself, as I went my way,
Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Am I shaping my work to a well-laid plan
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?

We are faced with that choice every day, aren’t we?  There is a question we need to continually ask ourselves in our relationships with others:  “Am I part of the building crew or am I part of the wrecking gang?”

V.  THE RESULT (verse 53)

Verse 53 tells us, “And everyone went to his home.”  All that time they spent criticizing didn’t accomplish anything.  The leaders went home satisfied that they were right, and that they had their say and had their way.  Even Nicodemus couldn’t stand in their way.  Nicodemus went home humiliated but one step closer to following Christ and publicly identifying himself with Him.  He knew he had done what was right in God’s sight.

CONCLUSION AND LESSONS:

There are many lessons to be learned from this passage of Scripture.  We’ve seen how easy it is, and how tempting it is to criticize others.  It’s been said that criticism is the one thing most of us think is more blessed to give than to receive.  But in reality, criticism is not necessarily a negative thing.  Constructive criticism can accomplish many positive things in a person’s life if it is coupled with love and encouragement.

Many years ago a boy complained to his father that most of the church hymns were boring to him because they were too far behind the times.  The tunes were tiresome and the words were meaningless.  The father saw his son’s earnestness and knew his son’s abilities, so he answered his 18-year-old son’s complaint by saying, “If you think you can write better hymns, then why don’t you?”  The boy went to his room and wrote his first hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”  The year was 1690 and the teenager’s name was Isaac Watts.  “Joy to the World” is also among the almost 350 hymns written by him.  His father’s encouragement ignited the fires of enthusiasm that helped launch his son’s career as a hymn writer.

In the passage of Scripture we have been studying, the leaders of the Jews were only interested in giving destructive criticism, and refused to accept any criticism of themselves.  They were proud enough to give criticism, but not humble enough to accept it.  Edward Wallis Hoch offers the following observation in his poem:

“There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it hardly behooves any of us,
To talk about the rest of us.” 

 

From this study of John 7:45-53, there are two questions that each of us needs to ask himself and answer for himself honestly:  “How well do I give criticism” and “How well do I take criticism?”  If you are a Christian, you can expect to receive criticism, but you ought to live in such a way that no one will believe your critics.

There is one more lesson and I’ve learned it from the temple guards who were sent to arrest Jesus.  Like them, may we be so filled with awe and worship of our Lord Jesus Christ as we behold Him in His Word and spend time with Him in prayer, that we are honest and straightforward about our beliefs, and unafraid of criticism.

CONSTRUCTION SITE:  COMPLETED

Thank you for visiting this construction site:  John 7:45-53.  It’s time to gather the tools and begin the building project next door.  The new address is John 8:1-11.

FANNY CROSBY — The Woman Behind the Hymns

blind hymn-writer, Fanny Crosby, hymn-writer, Uncategorized

Most of us are familiar with the name, Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn-writer who wrote over 8000 hymns.  What picture comes to your mind when you think of that name?  Do you see a quiet woman with a solemn look on her face, sitting in a chair and dictating the words to hymns to a staff member at the care facility?  If that’s the picture that comes to your mind, you’re looking at the wrong Fanny Crosby!  My eyes were opened as I studied about this woman that I admire so much for her songs.  Now I admire her even more as I see her life and her character more clearly.  So I’d like to share some of those findings with you.

Life didn’t get off to an easy start for Fanny and her family.  She lost the sight in both eyes at six weeks of age, and her father died that same year.  Her mother had to work as a maid in order to support the family, so Fanny’s grandmother, Eunice, took care of her during the day, and the bond between them became very close.  Eunice would take Fanny for walks and sit with her outside, describing to her in great detail all the things she saw.  She also read and explained the Bible to her.  Their landlady, Mrs. Hawley, helped Fanny memorize the Bible.  With their help she memorized whole books of the Bible!

Fanny never considered herself handicapped.  She played with the other kids and was able to do many of the things they did.  Her cheerful disposition won her many friends.  At the age of eight, she composed this short poem:

Oh, what a happy child I am, although i cannot see!
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be!
How many blessings I enjoy that other people don’t!
So weep or sigh because I’m blind, I cannot – nor I won’t!

That has been the motto of her life, and she continued to maintain that positive attitude.  One of the blessings God gave to her was an amazing memory.  By the time she was twelve, she had memorized the first five books of the Old Testament, all four of the Gospels, Proverbs, and Song of Solomon, as well as many of the Psalms.  She was going to put that ability and that information to good use very soon.  Her prayers for a formal education were answered when she was accepted as a student at the New York Institute for the Blind, where her poetic abilities were eventually encouraged.

Let’s turn our focus away from biographical details and look at how God has used this lady, and the impact she has had on many lives.  Historians tell us that Fanny Crosby has written the words to over 8000 hymns in her lifetime, as well as many other secular songs of that time and several books of poetry.  How can you grasp the enormity of 8000 hymns?  How do you conceptualize 8000 hymns?  One writer gives the following illustration:  “Take 15 hymnals [or hardback books about 1″ thick] and stack them up.  Now visualize a hymn on both sides of every page in those 15 books.  That’s about 8000 songs!”  Isn’t that mind-boggling?  It’s even more amazing when you realize that she didn’t start writing hymns for publication until she was 44 years old!  She said, “I liked to write songs that made people want to ask Jesus into their hearts.”  Her hymns were aimed at bringing the message of the Gospel to people who would not listen to preaching.  Sometimes she would write as many as seven of them in a day.  Whenever she wrote a hymn, she prayed that God would use it to lead many souls to Himself.  Many of those hymns have some interesting stories behind them if you would care to look into them further.  One of the statements she made was, “It is not enough to have a song on your lips,  You must also have a song in your heart.”

But Fanny Crosby was much more than a hymn writer.  Her desire was to serve her Lord in every possible way that she could.  She not only believed the things she wrote; she also lived the things she wrote.  While a student, and later a teacher at the New York School for the Blind, she wrote poems for presidents, governors, and others in positions of authority in our country.  Friendships developed and at the age of 23, she was given the honor of being the first woman to speak in the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C.  She was there lobbying for the education of the blind.

Fanny Crosby and her husband, Alexander Van Alstyne, chose to live in a small apartment in Manhattan’s Lower Eastside so that they could give the rest of their money to benefit the poor and needy.  She also crocheted and knitted many clothing items for the rescue missions   Ladies, try doing that with your eyes closed, from start to finish!  After she resigned from her teaching position, Fanny loved to go to the nearby rescue missions and hold services.  She played the piano, organ, guitar, and harp.  She also had a beautiful soprano voice.  Many referred to her as “The Songbird in the Dark”, not only because of her blindness, but because she announced the light of Christ in the midst of their spiritual darkness and emptiness.

One night a week she would go to the New York City Bowery Mission to talk to “her boys”.  On a particular night, while speaking to them, she kept having the thought that there was a boy present who had wandered away from his mother and must be rescued that night, or he would be eternally lost.  She made a plea to each boy that was there that night.  At the end of the service, an 18-year-old boy came forward and said, “Do you mean me, Miss Crosby?  I promised my mother to meet her in Heaven, but as I am now living, that will be impossible.”  She prayed with him and led him to Christ.  As they finished, he said, “Now I am ready to meet my mother in Heaven, for now I have found God!”  Fanny went home that night and wrote the words to the hymn, “Rescue the Perishing, Care for the Dying.”

I like her philosophy of daily living — it’s very poetic and enthusiastic.  Here are her words:  “Live for the moment and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.”  Isn’t that a wonderful perspective and lesson for us all?  She followed her own advice!  On her 92nd birthday, she said cheerfully, “If in all the world you can find a happier person than I am, do bring him to me.  I would like to shake his hand.”

Fanny continued to be active with speaking engagements and ministry to the poor until her death in 1915.  Her hymns continue to draw unbelievers to Christ and provide comfort and encouragement to believers.  Evangelist Billy Graham said, “Fanny Crosby, her spirit aglow with faith in Christ, saw more with sightless eyes than most of us do with normal vision.  She could have spent her life in bitterness and defeat, but she chose to give her life to Christ to be used by Him. . . .  We may never have had the songs of Fanny Crosby if she had not been afflicted with blindness.”

All of us have, or have had circumstances in life that have dragged us down, or could have dragged us down, haven’t we?  It is when we are going through the trials and difficulties of life that we are drawn closer to the Lord and can have the most effective witness before the world.  Many people were drawn to Fanny Crosby because of the difference between her physical disability and her spiritual and social vibrancy and enthusiasm.  I’ve shared a quote in a previous sermon.  It has been stated in many different ways by many different people.  I’m sharing it again because Fanny Crosby is a prime example of it’s application to her life.  “Do all the good you can, to all the people you can, in all the ways you can, for as long as you can.”  That was her desire, her prayer, and her daily practice.  It can be ours also by the grace and power of God.

The first stanza and chorus of her hymn, “I Shall Know Him”, describes the longing in her heart and the bright future that awaited her.

When my lifework is ended and I cross the swelling tide,
When the bright and glorious morning I shall see.
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
And His smile will be the first to welcome me.

I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand!
I shall know Him, I shall know Him 
By the print of the nails in His hand.

If you would like to hear the whole hymn, sung beautifully by Bernie and Carol Paulson, you can either type the words:  “my savior first of all – bernie and carol paulson” into your web browser and their youtube site should be at the top of the first page. Or you can simply click the following link and it will take you directly to the site:  https://youtube.com/watch?v=st1EOejvcb0

May God ignite our hearts and set our lives aglow as we seek to follow her example of love for God and for others.

CONSTRUCTION SITE:  COMPLETED

THE AFTERMATH: A FALLING OUT – John 6:60-71

Bible sermons, Christ Jesus, homily, Uncategorized, what is a disciple

INTRODUCTION:

There are books galore on the topic of leadership.  It would take you an eternity to read them all because new books about leadership are being written and published every day.  Have you ever read a book on following, or becoming a good follower?  I’ve never read, nor have I ever seen a book on that subject.  So I typed “books on following”, and “books on being a follower” into the web browser of my computer.  What I received in response was books on leadership.  I then typed, “how to be a follower” into my web browser and was given many YouTube sites telling me how to become a follower of someone’s social media site, such as Facebook, Twitter, and others.  With the click of a button or an icon, I can instantly become someone’s follower, and receive updates.  With the click of another button or icon, I can also instantly “unfollow” a person.   It’s as simple as that!  There are also many online courses being offered which will give you tools and techniques proven to increase the number of your followers.

In this age of social media, “following” has taken on a new meaning.  The number of one’s followers is a sign of popularity.  Gaining new followers can easily become an obsession, as well as a source of personal pride and competitiveness.  A friend of mine recently told me that he goes to social media sites mainly to get information.  He’s interested in keeping up-to-date on certain people and organizations.  What immediately comes to your mind when you think of the words “following” and “follower”?

TRANSITION:

During the lifetime of Jesus Christ on this earth, followers were often referred to as “disciples”.  In this passage of Scripture, John 6:60-71, we are going to study the effect that Jesus’ conversation had on His followers, and observe how Jesus responds to the situation.

I.  THE VERBAL REACTION OF MANY (verse 60)

In verse 60 of John, chapter 6, we find the immediate aftermath of Jesus’ conversation with His crowd of followers.  “Many, therefore, of His disciples, when they heard this, said, ‘This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?’ ”  The word “disciple” is the Greek word “mathetes”, which literally means “learner” or “pupil”, and the teacher was called a “didaskalos”.  The corresponding Hebrew words that were used during that period of time were the “talmid” and the “rabbi”.  In the first century, when you wanted to find out more about a person, and learn from him, you followed him around.  There may have been several motives for doing so, such as curiosity, entertainment, a desire to join the crowd, as well a personal commitment to that person.

For example, since you’ve come to this site and are reading this article, you may be a blogger yourself, and have your own blog site.  Let me ask you a question.  Can you follow a blog site without truly being a follower of that site?  I would say that the answer to that question is “yes”.  You can click the “follow” button or icon for a number of reasons.  You may have read one article, liked it, and clicked the “follow” button because you wanted to get email alerts when new articles are added to the site.  You may have clicked “follow” because you want your name and photo added to the list of other followers in the hope that readers might check out your site as well.  It’s a form of advertising.  Or you may have read several articles and are eager to continue to learn, grow spiritually, and share what you have learned with others.  Those are just a few possible motives.  As you can see, there are many possible reasons for following, and not all those reasons demonstrate long-lasting commitment.

Verse 60 says that “many“, not “all” of his listeners, had a negative attitude about the teachings that Jesus had just expressed to them, and they put their attitude into words, saying, “This is a difficult saying; who can listen to it.”  The Greek word translated “difficult”, literally means “hard”.  The word does not mean “hard to understand”, but “hard to accept” once you understood it.  You might say that Jesus’ words were “offensive” – His teachings were opposed to their own personal beliefs and prejudices.  Therefore they rejected His whole conversation.  True disciples wouldn’t react in that way.  A true disciple would be willing to listen, to learn, and to believe in Him because of who He is, even if the teaching might seem, at first, to be offensive.  The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, made the following statement:  “Understanding is the reward of faith.  Therefore, seek not to understand so that you may believe, but believe so that you may understand.”  The Lord Jesus has already given this crowd of followers plenty of reasons to believe in Him and trust Him.

Bible expositor, Alfred Barnes, tells us the doctrines that were apparently offensive.  First, that Jesus was superior to Moses; secondly, that God would save all that He had chosen, and those only; thirdly, that He was the bread that came from heaven; and fourthly, that it was necessary that an atonement should be made, and that they should be saved by it.  Barnes goes on to say, “These doctrines have always been the most offensive that men have been called on to believe, and many, rather than trust in Him, have chosen to draw back to perdition.”

When these so-called disciples said, “Who can hear it?”, they meant, “Who can put up with it?”.  “Who can listen to His words any longer without losing their patience and responding with outbursts of anger?”

II.  JESUS’ RESPONSE TO THE CROWD  (verses 61-65)

The mumbling and grumbling has started again, and verse 61 tells us that Jesus is aware of it.  Now He is faced with a choice.  Is the Lord Jesus going to politely back away from the conflict?  Is He going to give excuses for His offensive words?  Is He going to say something like:  “I didn’t mean to . . . what I really meant was  . .That didn’t come out right . . . what I was trying to say is . . . I’ve had a lot on my mind lately . . . I didn’t sleep well last night , , , Maybe we should start this conversation all over again.”  Do those excuses sound familiar?  Have you ever used any of them yourself?  Be honest!

The other choice would be to stand His ground, give further evidence of the truth of His statements, and then move along in the same direction, full-speed ahead..  This is the course of action that Jesus pursues in spite of their opposition.  It’s full-speed ahead!  He begins by asking them a question:  “Does this cause you to stumble?”  He’s letting them know that He hears what they are saying, and He also knows the condition of their hearts.  The word “stumble” is the Greek word “skandalizei”.  We get our English word “scandalize” from that Greek word.  Jesus is saying, “Are My teachings offensive to you?”  “Do they go against what you want to believe?”  He is also leading into what He is about to say next.  His second question, found in verse 62, is “What then if you should behold the Son of Man ascending where He was before?”  Jesus is not telling these followers that they will see His ascension into heaven because Acts 1:6-13 tells us that only the eleven apostles watched that happen.  Jesus is speaking hypothetically.  One of the statements that offended some of these followers was that Jesus claimed that He had come down from heaven.  Now He’s saying, “What if you saw me ascend to heaven – the same place that I told you I came from?”  “Would that offend you all the more?”  You might say, from Jesus’ response, that He is separating the chaff from the wheat!

In verse 63, Jesus explains His purpose for saying those things to them, and He also  reasserts His authority or right to say them.  “The spirit gives life; the flesh accounts for nothing,  The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”  I don’t personally think that Jesus is speaking about the Holy Spirit here, even though the beginning of His statement is also true of the Holy Spirit.  He’s clarifying His analogy by saying that He’s referring to the spirit of man, not his physical flesh.   A man’s spirit is his source of life, and God gives him that spirit.  His listeners were very familiar with Genesis 2:7, which says, “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”  The Greek word translated “spirit” here in verse 63, is pneuma, which literally means “wind” or “breath”, and is sometimes used to refer to the Holy Spirit as well.  Jesus is speaking to them in  Hebrew (Aramaic), and the word Jesus probably used is ruach, which also means “wind” or “breath”.  So there is nothing lost in translation between the two languages.  The Scriptures describe Jesus’ death on the cross with the words “He gave up His spirit” (John 19:30; Matthew 27:50).

Now, in verse 64, Jesus “hits them with a bombshell” when He says to the crowd of followers, “There are some of you who do not believe.”  He’s implying, “You know who you are, and I know who you are also.  You can’t hide anything from Me.”  The apostle John goes on to explain the basis for Jesus’ words:  “For He knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray Him.”  As God, Jesus was all-knowing, but having taken the form of a man, He temporarily laid aside the use of that attribute.  It was the Father who had revealed that information to Him.  Jesus has “opened the exit doors even wider” for those who weren’t truly His followers, and don’t want to be His followers because they don’t really believe in Him.

Preacher and author, Henry Drummond, was once asked to address a meeting at the exclusive West-End Club in London, England.  He began with these words:  “Ladies and Gentlemen, the entrance fee into the kingdom of God is nothing, but the annual subscription is everything.”  There were many in Jesus’ audience who wanted to be part of the club but didn’t want to pay the subscription fees.  Jesus had quite a following that day, but very few genuine followers.

What Jesus then shares, in verse 66, defies their understanding, and hurts the foolish pride of many of His listeners.  He reiterates what He said in verse 44, when He says in verse 65:  “no one can come to me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”  Jesus is telling them that faith is a gift.  It’s impossible for us to believe by our own enabling.  Only God can draw a person to Himself.  He’s also implying that hearing His words doesn’t necessarily lead to faith.

III.  THE DESERTION (verses 66-67)

Then it happens.  Hundreds of these followers turn away from Jesus and begin to walk away, wanting nothing more to do with Him.  Verse 66 says, “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore.”  The Greek word literally means “the majority”.  There were more people leaving Him than there were of those who were staying with Him.

Have you ever felt sadness because people who were close to you didn’t come through for you?  Did you ever feel a sense of abandonment by the majority of those around you because of something you said or did?  How would you feel if over half of the friends on your social media sites decided to “unfriend” you at the same time because of something you said or did?  What would be your reaction if most of the followers of your blog site decided to “unfollow” you on the same day because of something you wrote?  Would you feel a twinge of sadness and abandonment?  I certainly would!  God gave each of us emotions and, even if we don’t always express them, we feel them deep down inside and it hurts!  The Lord Jesus had a human nature like ourselves, with the same emotional makeup that each of us possesses.  Let’s see how He responds to what was happening to Him at that moment.

IV.  JESUS QUESTION TO THE TWELVE (verse 67)

Verse 67 gives us Jesus’ initial response.  “Jesus said therefore to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you’?”  I personally believe that Jesus said those words to the twelve disciples with sadness in His heart, and I think that sadness was evident to them by His facial expression and by the way He spoke those words.  This should come as no surprise to us.   The prophet Isaiah described the Messiah as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).  This was probably one of many times that Jesus was saddened and grieved at people’s rejection of Him and His words.  In this case, Jesus is hoping to receive some encouragement from the twelve.

V.  PETER SPEAKS FOR THEM ALL (verses 68-69)

Simon Peter was quick to respond, in verses 68 and 69, saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”  I don’t know whether Peter could have said it better, and that’s just what Jesus needed to hear at that sorrowful moment in His life.  Peter affirmed who Jesus was, attested to the truth of Jesus’ words, and expressed his faith in Him.  Peter was also speaking on behalf of the other eleven disciples, assuming that they all believed as he did.

VI.  JESUS’ RESPONSE TO THE TWELVE (verses 70-71)

In verse 70, Jesus corrects Peter’s words, but I think there is much more to Jesus’ words than just correcting a misconception on Peter’s part.  It reads, “Jesus answered them, ‘Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?’ “  The verse indicates that He is speaking those words, not only to Peter, but to all twelve of the disciples.  Why would Jesus say such a cutting remark?  In those days, calling someone “a devil” was pretty strong language. Was Jesus just releasing His frustrations or did He have a specific purpose in mind?

I don’t personally think that Jesus’ emotional state changed from sadness to anger in verse 70.  I believe that Jesus said those words with sadness in His heart, in His eyes, and in His words.  As He looked around at the twelve, His eyes may have lingered at the face of Judas as He said the word “devil”.  It may have been similar to the look on Jesus’ face when He turned to look at Peter after the cock crowed and Peter had denied Jesus three times.

The Lord Jesus loved Judas and wanted him to come face-to-face with his own greed.  He gave Judas the responsibility of being the keeper of the money box (John 12:4-6; John 13:21-29) to show him how easily he gave into the temptation to rob from it.  As we shall see, Jesus will wash Judas’s feet, pray for him, and show him honor.  It saddened Jesus that one who was in such close proximity to Him on a daily basis for three years, would be so distant from Him in his heart.  The Lord Jesus had chosen Judas to be one of the twelve, showed him love and concern, revealed Himself to him by His life and miracles, and offered him eternal life.  He even gave Judas the power to heal diseases and cast out demons when He sent the twelve out two-by-two to proclaim the Gospel. (Luke 9:1-11; Matthew 10).  But it was all in vain.  Judas hardened his heart again and again.

In verse 71, the apostle John adds the following personal comment:  “Now he meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.”  He said those words because he, Peter, and the other disciples had no idea that Judas was not a true follower of Christ.  Judas played the role so well that none of the other disciples noticed any differences.  John was as shocked as all of the others, and wants to make that known to his readers.

CONCLUSION:

Are you a genuine follower of Jesus Christ?  Have Jesus’ words, in this passage of Scripture, caused you to consider whether or not you want to be identified with Him and follow Him?  Have you turned away from Him in the past?  Many in that crowd walked away from Jesus because they didn’t want to acknowledge that He was the Messiah, the King of heaven and earth; they didn’t want to believe in His teachings.  They didn’t want to acknowledge their own sinfulness, and didn’t want to turn the control of their lives over to Him.  Do you feel an emptiness inside and a need to know God?  He wants to reveal Himself to you as you read and study His Word.  It’s not too late to turn around and choose to follow Him and become obedient to His Word.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, and your life bears witness to your commitment to Him as your Lord and Savior, do you feel sadness as you look around you at those who refuse to acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ and respond to Him by repentance and faith?  Are you willing to ask God to give you a greater compassion for the lost, and a burden to pray for them consistently and confidently, trusting God to change their hearts and draw them to Himself?  God wants to turn that sadness into joy in answer to your believing prayers.  We can never pray enough for those who don’t know the Lord.

CONSTRUCTION SITE:  COMPLETED

 

CONVERSATION WITH NICODEMUS (Part IV) – John 3:19-21

Bible, Bible sermon, Bible sermons, darkness, God, John 3, John 3:19-21, Uncategorized

THE ILLUSTRATION OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS

INTRODUCTION:

Have you ever played Hide and Go Seek?  It was one of the after-supper games that the children in our neighborhood would play.  The way we played it, as kids, was with one “seeker” who was chosen for the first game, and the position rotated so that each of us had at least one turn.  The rest of the children were “hiders”.  The seeker would begin by closing his eyes, then counting to one hundred loudly, giving the hiders time to find a place to hide.  For those who couldn’t count that high, they could count to ten for each of their ten fingers.  When the seeker finished counting, he would say loudly, “Ready or not, here I come!”  Then the search began.  The winner was the last one found.  At first it was pretty easy to find the hiders, but as the evening wore on, it became darker, and finding one another became harder.  That was because the darkness became part of your hiding place, and you could sometimes even move to another hiding place without being seen (which was against the rules but nobody would know).  When our parents called us in to get ready for bed, it always seemed that it was at the time when the game was becoming the easiest for the hiders and the most challenging for the seekers.

The darkness had become our friend.  While the sun was out, it was our enemy, so to speak.  The sun made it harder for us to hide because there weren’t as many good hiding places.  We could too-easily be seen.  But the darker it became, the more we blended in with the darkness.  That’s why some of the kids wore dark clothing.  They were more obvious when the sun was out, but when the sun was going down they were better able to blend in with the darkness.  Our parents realized that the darkness could also be our enemy, causing us to stumble or bump into things and get hurt because we couldn’t see where we were going.  That’s why they called us to come inside, even when we didn’t have school the next morning.

I’ve just shared about physical light and darkness, and their affect on our game of Hide And Go Seek.  Jesus is concluding his conversation with Nicodemus by talking about spiritual light and darkness.  He’s going to tell Nicodemus why many people don’t want to be born anew by the Spirit of God, and why they do not want to admit their own sinfulness and hopelessness, and look to Him in faith.

I.  THE VERDICT (verse 19)

Verse 19 says:  “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”  The Lord Jesus is calling Himself “the light who has come into the world”   People don’t want to be born again by the Spirit of God.  They don’t want to recognize their sinfulness and helplessness, and look in faith to His Son for forgiveness and healing.  They like their evil ways and don’t want to give them up

Of all the Old Testament prophets, Isaiah was the best known, and his writings were the most-often read.  The reason for this was his focus on the coming Messiah.  His words were a source of hope, joy, and expectation.  I’m sure that Nicodemus had memorized many portions of Isaiah, and as Jesus talks to him about light and darkness, those Scriptures are coming to his mind, and Jesus knows that this is happening.  In the book of Isaiah, the Messiah is often referred as a “light in the darkness”.  For example, Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.”  Another Messianic prophecy in Isaiah is Isaiah 60;2,3:  “For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you.  And nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”  Jesus’ words and His judgment were not unfamiliar to Nicodemus.  He also remembered Scriptures referring to light and darkness in the psalms.

Through these illustrations, Jesus is saying that He didn’t come into this world to judge, but to save.  However, people are judging themselves when they refuse to turn from their darkness and respond to His light.  William Barclay shares an illustration that brings the point across.  A visitor was being shown round an art gallery by one of the attendants.  In that gallery were certain masterpieces beyond all price, possessions of eternal beauty and unquestioned genius.  At the end of the tour the visitor said, “Well, I don’t think much of your old pictures.”  The attendant answered quietly, “Sir, I would remind you that these pictures are no longer on trial, but those who look at them are.”  That man’s reaction demonstrated his own blindness to beauty and talent.

II.  THE EXPLANATION (verse 20)

In verse 20, the Lord Jesus explains more fully what He said in verse 19.  Here are His words:  “For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”  The light that Jesus is referring to is Himself, “the light of the world”  He’s not using these words in a physical or intellectual sense, but from a moral and spiritual perspective.  He’s telling Nicodemus that, in spite of the fact that God loves the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for their sins so that they might have forgiveness and a new life, the vast majority of the people do not want to come to Him.  In their pride they are saying, “I like living in my sin.  Leave me alone!  Don’t expose me to the truth because I don’t want to hear it!”  The word “hate” is a very strong emotion and choice.  It’s directed not only toward it’s revealing effects, but also to its Source.  They don’t want to see themselves as they really are.  Therefore they don’t want to have anything to do with Jesus.  It’s a self-imposed spiritual blindness and darkness.  In the Old Testament, darkness (in a spiritual sense) is a place where the light of God does not shine.  Jesus has given Nicodemus a description of those who will not come to the light, as well as the reasons for that choice.  The apostle Paul gives a description of such people when he speaks to Timothy about the last days.  “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (II Timothy 3:2-4).  That’s quite a description!

I found an illustration that fits that description to some degree.  The story is told of a farmer in a Midwestern state who had a strong distain for “religious” things.  As he plowed his field on Sunday morning, he would shake his fist at the church people who passed by on their way to worship.  October came and the farmer had his finest crop ever – the best in the entire county.  When the harvest was complete, he placed an advertisement in the local paper which belittled the Christians for their faith in God.  Near the end of his diatribe he wrote, “Faith in God must not mean much if someone like me can prosper.”  The response from the Christians in the community was quiet and polite.  In the next edition of the town paper, a small ad appeared.  It read simply, “God doesn’t always settle His accounts in October.” (William F. Brown in Making Sense of Your Faith)

III.  THE ALTERNATIVE AND THE INVITATION (verse 21)

Verse 21 gives the last words recorded by John of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus.  The Lord Jesus says, “But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”  Nicodemus did “come to the light” (Jesus), even though it was under the cover of darkness.  This act shows a desire to want to know the truth about Jesus, but his understanding is unclear.  He hasn’t acknowledged that Jesus is the Messiah because there has not been a response of worship, repentance and obedience.  There has been no evidence of change in his life and no commitment to follow Him.  I sense that an invitation is being given to Nicodemus by Jesus.  The next step in his life is to be born again by the power of the Spirit of God so that he can manifest the glory of God in his life.

The conversation ends abruptly there.  John records no parting remarks.  He leaves it there and moves on.  We aren’t told the affect this meeting has had on Nicodemus.  There don’t seem to be any immediate results.  Nicodemus goes back home and his life continues where it left off before this meeting.  He has much to think about and sort out in his mind.

In 1964, Billy Page wrote a song and his brother Gene arranged it.  The song was originally performed by Dobie Gray in 1965 and became a big hit here in the USA and in the UK.  The name of the song is “The In Crowd”.  Here are the words to the first stanza:

I’m in with the “in-crowd”; I go where the “in-crowd” goes.
I’m in with the “in-crowd”, and I know what the “in-crowd” knows.
Anytime of the year don’t you hear; dressing fine, making time.
We breeze up and down the street; we get respect from all the people we meet.
They make way day or night; they know the “in-crowd” is out-of-sight
.

Nicodemus is leaving the presence of Jesus to go back to the “in-crowd”.  As a Pharisee, and especially as a leader in the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus is in the “in-crowd” of Jewish society at that time and place.  The words of that song ring true for him.  But if any member of the “in-crowd” found out that Nicodemus had a personal meeting with Jesus, he would be out of the “in-crowd” in a hurry!  Make no mistake about that!

Nicodemus is “out-of-sight” alright!  He makes a comment about following God’s Law when his associates are making accusations about Jesus in John 7:50-53, and then we don’t hear about him for over two years!  I believe that Nicodemus was there, together with the other rulers, watching Jesus die on that cross (Luke 23:35).  It would have been obvious to him that Jesus’ illustration of the serpent on the pole was being fulfilled before his eyes.   Did Nicodemus become a follower of Christ?  I’m convinced that he did.  He wouldn’t have gone along with Joseph of Arimathea to request the body of Christ from Pilate, and he would not have spent a fortune for aloes and spices in order to give Jesus a King’s burial if he wasn’t convinced that Jesus was his Messiah (John 19:38-40).  He was no longer a member of the “in-crowd”.  He had become a child of God and was now a member of God’s family:  the fellowship of believers in Jesus Christ.

CONCLUSION:

There is much that we can learn from Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus.  For one, Jesus’ life was a major part of His witness.  Nicodemus was impressed with Jesus and with His method of teaching.  He wanted to meet Him and talk to Him personally.  By welcoming Nicodemus, showing respect and listening to him, Jesus was given the privilege of responding to him. and focusing on his deepest need.  Jesus let Nicodemus know that there was a cure for his deepest needs, even though Nicodemus didn’t express them.  Everyone needs a cure for sin and its effects on their lives, and Jesus pointed Him to the only cure.  Jesus kept His presentation simple, using physical illustrations that were familiar to Nicodemus in order to help him understand spiritual realities.  Most importantly, Jesus stressed the love of God for him.  God’s love for him and for the world was Jesus’ primary focus.  That’s why God provided a way to Himself through the shed blood of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  That is why Nicodemus would give up what he had and become a follower of Jesus Christ.  Let’s keep those principles, demonstrated by Jesus, in mind and follow His example in witnessing.

There are also lessons to be learned from Nicodemus.  What I’ve learned this week is that Nicodemus was an exception to the rule.  He was not the typical Pharisee and Ruler.  But every person has the potential of being an exception to the rule by the grace of God.  Look at the apostle Paul!  So don’t give up on people.  Love them, take an interest in them, befriend them, listen to them, and pray for them.  Remember that you also have the potential of being an exception to the rule by the grace of God.   



CONSTRUCTION SITE :

Welcome to this completed work site: John 3:19-21.  It’s time to move to the site next door as we keep working our way down the block.  John the Baptist designed the next building for us, and it’s time to follow his blueprint and enjoy seeing what it looks like with each working day.  Please come back again soon or visit other completed messages on this blog.  May God shed the light of His Word on your life and cause you to shine brightly for Him, as He lives and reigns in you.

 

JESUS DEFENDS HIS AUTHORITY – John 2:18-22

Bible sermon, Christ, Gospel of John, Gospel of John, John 2:18-25, New Testament sermon, Uncategorized

Are guarantees important to you?  When you shop for an item to purchase, do you read the fine print in the contract and the guarantee forms?  Maybe you can recall a time when you didn’t read all the fine print and wish you had.  We all desire proof, not only that things live up to their claims, but also that people live up to the claims they make.  The most fantastic claim that any person could possibly make would be the claim to be God.  Jesus Christ wasn’t the first Person to make that claim, and there have been many others who have claimed it since then.

In the previous passage of Scripture, John 2:12-17, the Lord Jesus cleansed the temple.  While doing so He declared:  “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house  of merchandise.”  By His actions and His words, the Lord Jesus was fulfilling an Old Testament prophesy and declaring Himself to be the Messiah, the Son of God.  Now we see their response.

I.  THE REACTION OF THE JEWISH LEADERS (verses 18)

In verse 18 the leaders of the Jews said to Jesus, “What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things.”  They used that same expression at the end of Jesus’ ministry, in Matthew 21:23.  They were angry, and probably shouted those words at Him.  It may have sounded something like this:  “Who do You think You are!  Who gave You the right to do the things You just did.”  They ask Him for a sign.  I guess they felt they had the right to put Jesus to the test.  After all, they considered themselves to be the guardians of the Jewish faith.  I wonder whether or not they were trying to (incorrectly) apply God’s words to Moses in Deuteronomy 13:1-3.  “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder comes true concerning which he spoke to you saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the prophet or dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”  But Jesus was not a prophet or a dreamer, He was God Himself!

The problem was that the Jewish people were always looking for signs and miracles.  What Jesus says to them in reply is the greatest of all signs or miracles.

II.  THE PREDICTION BY JESUS (verse 19)

Jesus’ answer to the Jews who were questioning Him was, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  It was a statement they misunderstood, but they would never forget it.  Three years later they quoted it at Jesus’ trial, and even used it to mock Him while He was on the cross.  The word translated “destroy” is a permissive imperative in the Greek.  His listeners didn’t realize it, but Jesus was giving them permission to kill Him in order that He might pay the price for the sins of the world.  This was a new insight for me.

There are two Greek words that were used when referring to the temple.  The Lord Jesus chose to use the word “naos”, a word that could also be used to refer to the human body.  Speaking of the temple, Jesus said “I will raise it up”.  The Greek word used here, “egeiro”, literally means “to rouse from sleep” It occurs 141 times in the New Testament, and 70 of those usages refer to the resurrection.  Obviously, Jesus didn’t point to Himself or make any other kind of gesture to indicate clearly to them that He was referring to His body.  I don’t think that Jesus wanted them to understand what He was saying.  Even His own disciples didn’t understand the meaning of His statement until after His death and resurrection.  Can you ever remember receiving the following response when you asked someone a question:  “If I told you, you wouldn’t believe it!”?  I think those words also apply to this situation.

Often during Jesus’ public ministry, the Jewish leaders asked Jesus to give them a sign.  But He refused to do so, except for the sign of Jonah, which depicts death, burial, and resurrection.  In Matthew 12:40 Jesus said, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

C.S. Lewis popularized the argument that Jesus was either a liar or a lunatic, or the Lord.  Watchman Nee also expresses this argument clearly in his book, Normal Christian Faith:
“A person who claims to be God must belong to one of three categories:  First, if he claims to be God and yet in fact is not, he has to be a madman or a lunatic.  Second, if he is neither God nor a lunatic, he has to be a liar, deceiving others by his lie. Third, if he is neither of these, he must be God.  You can only choose one of these
possibilities.”

III.  THEIR MISUNDERSTANDING (verses 20-21) 

Judging from their response to Jesus’ remark, the Jewish leaders must have thought that Jesus was a lunatic. Their answer to Jesus is:  “It took forty years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”  They thought He was talking about the temple in Jerusalem.  Josephus, the Roman historian, said that about 18,000 workmen were employed in that task, and that the temple wasn’t finished until 64 A.D.  They are saying to Jesus, “You’ve got to be crazy if you think you can rebuild that massive, ornate structure in just three days!”  Little did they realize that Jesus was going to do something even more astounding.  He was going to bring His own dead body back to life after three days in a tomb!

The originator of a new religion came to the great French diplomat, Talleyrand and complained that he could not make any converts.  “What would you suggest I do?” he asked.  “I should recommend”, said Talleyrand, “that you get yourself crucified, and then die, but be sure to rise again the third day.”  I don’t think he took that advice!  Talleyrand must have recognized that it is the resurrected, living Christ that holds Christianity together and draws people to it.  As the apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 15:14 and 17, “And if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain . . . . and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” 

IV.  THE DISCIPLES’ RESPONSE (verse 22)

In verse 21, the apostle John affirms that Jesus was speaking of the temple of His body.  But John did not know that at the time.  He says in verse 22, “When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this (over three years earlier); and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.”  They didn’t understand until they saw Him in His resurrected body three years later.

What is the “Scripture” that they believed?   It must have been Psalm 16:10 because the apostle Peter quoted it at Pentecost (Acts 2:31), and the apostle Paul quoted it at Antioch;  (Acts 13:35).  Psalm 16:10 says, “For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.”  That “mysterious” verse had been solved and fulfilled.

A little boy once taught his Sunday School class a lesson about the resurrection of Christ that they understood immediately and would never forget.  Little Philip, born with Down’s syndrome, attended a third-grade Sunday School class with several other eight-year-old boys and girls.  Typical of that age, the children did not readily accept Philip with his differences, according to an article in Leadership magazine.  But because of a creative teacher, they began to care about Philip and accept him as part of the group, though not fully.

The Sunday after Easter the teacher brought L’eggs pantyhose containers, the kind that look like large eggs.  Each receiving one, the children were told to go outside on that lovely spring day, find some symbol for new life, and put it in the egg-like container.  Back in the classroom they would share their new-life symbols, opening the containers one by one in surprise fashion.  After running through the church property in wild confusion, the students returned to the classroom and placed the containers on the table. Surrounded by the children, the teacher began to open them one by one.  After each one, whether a flower, butterfly, or leaf, the class would ooh and ahh.

Then one was opened, revealing nothing inside.  The children exclaimed, “That’s stupid!”   “That’s not fair!”  “Somebody didn’t do their assignment!”

Philip spoke up, “That’s mine.”

“Philip, you don’t ever do things right!” the student retorted.  “There’s nothing there!”

“I did so do it,” Philip insisted.  “I did do it.  It’s empty, the tomb is empty!”

Silence followed.  From then on Philip became a full member of the class.  He died not long afterward from an infection most normal children would have shrugged off.  At the funeral this class of eight-year-olds marched up to the altar, not with flowers but with their Sunday School teacher, each to lay on his casket an empty pantyhose egg.

Like the empty pantyhose egg, the Lord Jesus used the picture of the temple (His body) to describe His violent death that would be followed by His glorious resurrection from the dead (the empty tomb).  This is the second picture that John records in his Gospel.  The first picture was that of the Lamb of God, the unblemished substitute who would be sacrificed to pay the price for our sins.  There is also a third picture which John gives in chapter 3 of his Gospel.

CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION:

The Lord Jesus’ description of Himself as a “temple” brings to mind several images from the Old Testament.  The tabernacle in the wilderness was just a tent until it was consecrated and the Spirit of God came and filled it.  Then it became the Tabernacle of the Lord, and the Shekinah glory shone out from within.  The people saw it and worshipped God who now dwelt there.  The temple of Solomon was just a beautiful building until it was consecrated, and the Spirit of God filled it.  Then it became a temple where people were drawn together to worship the Lord.

Just as Jesus described His body as a temple, our bodies are temples also.  Who, or what. is being worshipped in your “temple” (your body, your life)?  Who is being glorified in your body?  It’s not enough to believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins.  It’s not enough to believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, God incarnate.  Those things are important to believe, but believing those things to be true is not the formula for becoming a child of God.  There is also the need for consecration:  repenting of our sins and devoting our lives to Him.  Is your body (your life) an outward testimony of forgiveness and joy because of the death of Christ for you?  Is your body (life) an outward evidence of victory because of the risen Christ who reigns in you, and the Spirit of God who fills and controls you?  As the apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 6:19-20. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.”  Becoming a Christian is not a rental agreement or a lease.  It is a permanent transfer of ownership of our lives to God our Creator.  You couldn’t be in better hands, and the enjoyment never ends!  I hope this is your experience.  If not, I hope that you will make that choice and experience the wonderful, life-changing results very soon.  You will be eternally glad if you do, or eternally sorry if you don’t.  God wants you to be His, and the Lord Jesus paid the price to make that possible.  If it is still unclear in your mind, please go to my “About page” where the Scriptures are given, or leave me a comment so that we can talk about this decision, and so that any questions might be answered.

CONSTRUCTION SITE:  COMPLETED