How To Know God

Leave a comment

John 14:1-14

1“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”

“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

                                

One of the wrong opinions about God is that there is only a limited amount of God and His blessings available to all people.  This idea has come in many forms.   The most obvious way is when a new religion (or even an old one) preaches the message that “there will only be a select few chosen who will get to Heaven (or Paradise), so make sure you are one of the ‘chosen ones'”.  And of course what they mean is, “Be obedient to what we tell you to do and you might be one of the fortunate ones.”

Many cults have been born out of this thinking.  And some of the world religions are not that different from this kind of teaching.  But when you boil it all down to the basics, these people are all preaching some kind of “works” salvation, which tells you all the rules and rituals you need to follow to be accepted by God into Heaven.

    

Unfortunately, I have met many Christians who also have a limited view of God.  They think of God and His blessings as being like a pie.  They say that there is a limit to God’s riches for us, so get what you can, or just accept that you didn’t get a bigger piece of the pie.  But this is just as far away from the truth as some of these cultic groups and their teachings.

Jesus said earlier in John’s Gospel, But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”  When we are a believer in Jesus, we can be refreshed and renewed every day in our spirits, and all who “drink of Jesus” will be granted eternal life.  That is why He is able to say in our passage today, “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.”  All of us can go to be with Jesus and the Father in Heaven.

                                

Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. 11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.

12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

                                

It must have been very frustrating for Jesus to have shared His life so intimately with His 12 disciples, and yet they still understood so little about Him on that night before He was to be crucified.  And I wonder if Jesus gets frustrated with many of us today, who have so many more resources available to us so that we can understand who He is, and what our role is to be within the Kingdom work being done right now here on earth.

When Jesus came to live among people, He revealed the very heart of God the Father to mankind.  And Jesus showed us all the kind of spiritual power and authority that is available to those who are the children of God.  What an amazing concept, to think that we as believers today could also perform the same kind of miracles that Jesus did, and even greater ones.  That is, if we truly have learned who God is, and what He can do in us and through us.

We must remember though, that miracles are not meant to draw attraction to themselves.  No, Jesus never performed miracles just so people could see miracles, or even to bring attention to Himself.  No, the miracles of God are always meant to bring people to a faith in God, and in His Son, Jesus.  That was true back then, and needs to be true still for us today.

As Matthew 5:16 so aptly put it, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

enw_gospelofjohn_black2

* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please share it and invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

Advertisements

Here Comes King Jesus

1 Comment

John 12: 12 – 19

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

“Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the King of Israel!”

 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written,

 15 “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

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

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

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This short passage marks a significant turn in the life of Jesus and His ministry on earth.  Up to this point, whenever Jesus had performed a miracle, He kept asking the people to remain quiet concerning His identity.  Now Jesus knew who He was, the Son of God.  But He wanted people to know that there were many other aspects involved in who He was.

John accomplished this in his gospel account by using a number of “I am…” statement by Jesus.  Such as “I am the Good Shepherd,” “I am the Light of the World,” “I am the Bread of Life,” “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”  Each of these statements gives us more insight into the nature of who Jesus is, and what He can do for those who believe in Him.

John’s gospel also began with a statement made by John the Baptist, who said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)  And now we see Jesus being hailed by the people as “The King of Israel”.  Are these two ideas in conflict with each other? We know a lamb was brought to an altar to be killed as a sacrifice, and a king comes to a throne to rule.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The incredible thing about Jesus is that He was both the Lamb and the King at the same time.  Once His first mission was accomplished of raising up a group of followers who believed in Him as their Messiah (the One whom God had chosen to save His people), then Jesus turned towards Jerusalem to be “crowned” as the King of Israel.

Notice His humility though as He rode in calmly and quietly on the back of a donkey.  He knew that what would await this new King of Israel would not be a throne, but a cross where He would be crucified.  The way He would lead His people would be through the road of sacrifice and death to self.  As verse 16 says above, even Jesus’ disciples, His closest friends and companions did not realize at that time what was happening that day, or in the week to follow.

But the people who welcomed Him into Jerusalem saw their hope of a new era to be ushered in for the Jewish people.  Many times before this passage, the religious leaders in Jerusalem had threatened to kill Jesus, and they had issued orders to the general populace that they would be thrown out of the Temple and synagogues if they followed after Jesus.  But even this threat could not stop the praise of the people on this “Triumphal Entry” of Jesus into Jerusalem.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

What I think is worth commenting on now at this point is to consider the things that people offered to Jesus as they worshipped Him as their coming King.  I heard this in a sermon recently, and I think it’s worth passing along.  We know from the other gospel accounts (see Matthew 21:1-11 for example) that the disciples went ahead of Jesus to ask a man who owned at least two donkeys to give them up for Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem.

We can suppose that this man was wealthy, or at least well off, having multiple domesticated animals.  And so out of his wealth, he gave to Jesus as a way to honor His arrival.  Then we see a number of people taking off their outer cloaks and spreading them on top of the donkeys and on the road before Jesus as He rode along.  They gave out of what they personally owned that had value.

Some people had come to Jerusalem ready to celebrate the coming of the Passover Festival and had not brought anything extra with which they could offer something to Jesus.  What were these people to do?  Did they have anything they could give to Jesus?  And the answer was yes, according to Matthew.  They went into the fields and cut down palm branches to wave over Jesus and spread on the road to make it a smooth ride for Him as he entered Jerusalem.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

And how about you?  Have you recognized Jesus for who He really is?  He is the Lord of Life, and Sacrificial Lamb who gave His life in order that we could live eternally.  And He is the Coming King, for He will come again one day to gather all those who believe in Him.

And all of us have something that we can offer to Jesus, even if we do not feel like we can offer much.  The most important thing we can offer is our own lives, being obedient to Him as our Lord.  In addition though, we all have some resources nearby, like those people who found the palm trees, that we can give to God as an act of worship.  And God is pleased with whatever it is that we give to honor Jesus, the King of the Universe.

enw_gospelofjohn_black2

 

* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please share it and invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

And Jesus Wept

Leave a comment

John 11: 28 – 37

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 

31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.  32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

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

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

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

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

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

In the last article, we took a brief look at one of the most powerful statements that Jesus ever spoke.  He declared, “I am the Resurrection, and the Life.”  This is such a profound and deep theological truth.  One of the major worldviews among western people today is that we live within a closed system, that there is no God, that life began as just a chemical process over great millennia of time.

But Jesus’ words greatly challenge this worldview.  He claims that He is the true source of Life.  And Scripture backs up this claim.  Take a look at what John said in the first chapter of his book, realizing that “the Word” is a reference to Jesus who came into the world:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

John is not alone in this view of Jesus being the source of all life.  Paul puts it very clearly for us in Colossians chapter one:

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This is all important background as we see what happens in our passage above.  When Mary heard the news that Jesus had come and was nearby, she immediately got up and ran out of the house to go and meet Him.  The people thought that her action was a reaction to the grief she was feeling over the loss of her brother.  Yes, she was experiencing grief, but with Jesus’ presence now, I believe she had hope that Jesus could make a difference in the situation.

It’s interesting that the words she spoke to Jesus were identical to that of her sister Martha, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  But Mary is also not trying to challenge Jesus or be critical of Him.  In fact, we see Mary demonstrating both faith and worship as she fell at Jesus’ feet while speaking to Him.  And then we see what we may have been expecting all along, Mary breaks down and weeps for the loss of her brother.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

What happened next is very powerful.  Jesus was deeply moved by the emotional pain that was displayed, not only by Mary, but by so many of the people who were also there at the time.  And their grief touched His heart.  And Jesus wept.  When we realize as we stated above that Jesus was the Author of Life itself, then it is extremely significant when we read, “Jesus wept.”

This statement, “Jesus wept,” is so instructive.  There are many false opinions and beliefs around that even if there is a God, that He is not a God who cares.  No, Jesus demonstrated for us that He shares in the pain of someone else who is suffering emotional pain.  And we learn about the heart of God by looking into the heart of Jesus, who was God in the flesh.

And this statement, “Jesus wept,” is also so comforting.  Jesus was so completely human, sharing in all of the range of normal human feelings.  I know that He understands me and my emotions.  He can identify with where I am emotionally.  And being God, He is not only fully aware of what my emotional needs are, He will be able to come and help meet me at my point of need.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Now I need to ask you to consider your relationship to Jesus.  Have you come to recognize that He is God, who came to live among us as a human?  I pray you have.  That is a good place to start.  Have you bowed in recognition before Jesus as the Son of God, like Mary did so long ago?  That is the path that leads to eternal life with God as Jesus stands as our Saviour, redeeming us from our sins against God.

In this article though, I want to suggest we go one step further.  I encourage all of us to see Jesus as our Friend who will stand by our side in life and who will empathize with us in our times of greatest need.  We all know how important it is to have someone to turn to when our hearts are grieved.  Wouldn’t it make sense to turn to the One who made our hearts?  Just remember these words, “Jesus wept.”

enw_gospelofjohn_black2

* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please share it and invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

Summary of Max Lucado’s Book “GOD’S STORY”

4 Comments

Looking Back, Looking Forward

For the past ten months, we have been on a journey to learn more about God and ourselves as we have gone through Max Lucado’s book “GOD’S STORY, your story.”  Even though it has only been ten chapters long, it has helped us to look at the bigger picture of what God has done in the world (as seen through the pages of Scripture), and it has also helped us to see our lives from a bigger picture perspective.

Let me summarize in a sentence the journey through the pages of the New Testament that we have been on from chapter to chapter, and then remind us of what we have been learning about our own lives:

Chapter One: “Ordinary Matters”  The Son of God entered into the world and became part of a very ordinary Jewish family when He was born in the manger in Bethlehem.

Lesson: God has always delighted to use those things that are ordinary, i.e. a nomadic shepherd names Abraham, Mose’s walking stick, David’s harp, a donkey (who can talk by the way), a manger, a carpenter’s son, average Galileans.  That gives us great hope that God can use average and ordinary people like you and me.

Chapter Two: “You Know Satan’s Next Move”  Jesus was met head on by Satan before He ever performed any ministry.  The devil did everything he could to distract, to test and to tempt Jesus to take a short cut and serve himself rather than obey God.

Lesson: If Jesus, who is the Son of God, was tested and tempted in every way to sin against God the Father, then we should not be surprised when we encounter trials and temptations which would take us away from God.  Our answer should be like Jesus’ as He referred to God’s Word, “It is written….”

Chapter Three: “You Find Your True Home”  Jesus taught about a Kingdom of Heaven that was at hand.  He taught the multitudes to see that this world is not the only world, but rather is the precursor to the world to come.

Lesson: It is extremely easy for us today who live in such an affluent world to settle down and imagine that this is the “Real” life, and the “Abundant Life”.  But in many parables, Jesus tells us about how these material possessions will all disappear one day, and only by being in tune with God will we become members of His Kingdom, both now and forever.

Chapter Four: “You Hear A Voice You Can Trust”  Long before Jesus lived, there were many people who claimed to be a great prophet from God, or even the promised Messiah.  But Jesus  backed up His claim through His teachings, His miracles and ultimately His resurrection.

Lesson: There are many voices out there screaming for our attention, especially in this electronic and digital age we live in.  They offer so many promises, which are either so short-lived or just empty promises, we must come back to the One whose promises are all “Yes” and “Amen” in God the Father.

Chapter Five: “You Won’t Be Forsaken” There were so many broken and helpless people to whom Jesus ministered His love of healing and forgiveness.  Jesus would not forsake anyone who came to Him in faith and who had a need in their life.  Even when Jesus died on the Cross and seemed forsaken Himself by God, Jesus promised the repentant thief on the other cross that he would not be forsaken but arise to live in Paradise with God forever.

Lesson: We much be absolutely sure in our hearts that the love of Jesus covers over every sin and removes them as far as the east is from the west.  When it comes to our final day on earth, if we have put our faith in Christ, then we will not be forgotten or forsaken in the life to come.

Chapter Six: “Your Final Chapter Becomes A Preface”  On that Easter Friday evening, it looked like it was all over for this man, Jesus of Nazareth.  He died.  He was buried, He was sealed in a cave tomb.  But praise be to God, that was not His final chapter.  Now that Death was defeated, Jesus has much work to do to redeem His followers and bring them too out of death and into life.

Lesson: The grave is not the end of our lives.  It is just the beginning of our eternity with God.  I have often compared death with a graduation, as we leave this perishable life behind and gain a life that is imperishable.

Chapter Seven: “Power Moves In” Jesus told his disciples that they were to wait in Jerusalem until the power of God would come upon them.  Finally, the Holy Spirit would now become available for every believer in Christ who would empower them supernaturally to live godly lives and impact others with the Gospel.

Lesson: We are all called to be holy as God is holy and to share our faith with the world and help usher in the Kingdom of God.  By our own strength, we could not do this.  So praise God that we all have the Spirit of God living in us to help us be God’s ambassadors for Him.

Chapter Eight: “The Right Doors Open” Paul was the greatest of God’s ambassadors in the 1st century.  But even he experienced times when God would close doors that he wanted to go through, and open doors of opportunity that he had never expected.  And so the Gospel came over to Europe.

Lesson: There is nothing wrong with making plans, but we must check out these plans with the Lord.  For the Lord may have other plans for us, and they will be plans to help us and to prosper in our service for Him.

Chapter Nine: “All Things Work For Good” I’m sure there were times when Paul could not figure out who things were going to work out.  Especially when you consider the trials he went through.  But invariably, God used what happened to Paul to bring about even greater opportunities to witness and spread the Good News about Jesus.

Lesson: We too cannot look into the things that happen at times and know right then and there what good could come out of a terrible or tragic situation.  But then we will never have the perspective that God has on all of this.  Let us trust Him for the good that He promises to bring out of it.

Chapter 10: “God Will Come For You” God’s Word promises us that one day Jesus will return, and He will come with all the Armies of Heaven, the angels of God, who will come to gather those who believe in Jesus and we all together will see the ushering in of God’s Kingdom.

Lesson: God’s coming Kingdom will motivate His people to rejoice; but it will drive those who do not know Him to fear and despair.  The good news is that it is not too late to yet become a believer in Jesus.  Then when God comes for His children, then you too will welcome Jesus’ return, and be rewarded with eternal life with God forever.  I pray I will be seeing you there!

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

* [God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

Jesus Is The Great “I AM”

3 Comments

John 8:48 – 59

48 The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?” 49 “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father—and you dishonor me. 50 And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. 51 I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!”

52 The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

54 Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ 55 but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.”

57 The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!” 59 At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

It’s clear that the conversation Jesus had with the Jewish people throughout John chapter eight continued to go from bad to worse.  Even though these people possessed the first seeds of faith (see verse 30), it becomes apparent as the chapter goes on that these people were still depending upon their Jewish heritage and religious practices to be the basis of their relationship with God.

It got to the point that Jesus accused them not only with the charge that they do not know or belong to God the Father, but that in fact they are really followers of Satan himself.  No wonder the people reacted with such hostility towards Jesus in verse 48.  They doubly insulted Jesus by saying that He was a “Samaritan devil” and was possessed by a demon.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

To appreciate the force of the first insult, it is helpful to know the historical background of the Samaritans.  Going back to the time of Solomon, we read of the breakup of the Kingdom of Israel.  When Solomon’s son Rehoboam took the throne, he tried to impose harsher labor policies over the people and the ten northern tribes broke away to form the Northern Kingdom (Israel) while Judah and Benjamin became the Southern Kingdom (Judah).

The rebel leader, Jeroboam, not only set up a northern kingdom in opposition to Rehoboam, but he also set up a substitute religion. In this northern region, also known as Samaria, King Jeroboam set up golden calves for people to worship at rather than risk that they go back to worship God at the Temple in Jerusalem.  He ordained common people rather than Levites to be the priests, and he set up pagan shrines and substitute festivals to keep people from returning to Jerusalem.

This began the institution of idolatry among the Jewish people of the north.  Then when the Northern Kingdom was captured by Assyria in 722 B.C., the Assyrians polluted the Jewish blood line by scattering many of them among the provinces of Assyria and also by bringing in outside people into the land of Samaria so that there was a lot of intermixed marriages which led to further idolatrous worship.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

So for the Jewish people to call Jesus a “Samaritan devil”, they were accusing Him of being an idolator and a religiously impure person.  And if that was not bad enough, they then said that He was possessed by a demon, which would mean that Jesus was being accused of being under the control of Satan and everything He taught and did was of satanic origin.

How backwards could it get?  The truth was the exact opposite of what the people were saying.  They were the ones who were blindly following the path of religious ritualism, which does not allow room for a living relationship with God.  They were the ones who had “hearts of stone” as Isaiah prophesied, and were not walking on the path of “righteousness by faith” as Abraham demonstrated.

And it was this very faith of Abraham which looked forward and saw that ultimately there would come a day when there would be the One who would finally deal with the problem of human sin through the giving of His life to pay the penalty of sin on behalf of all people who would put their trust in Him.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

If we can accept the fact that Jesus is one Person of the divine Godhead who came to earth to help bring people back to God, then it should not be hard to believe that through the eyes of faith, Abraham knew of the Savior who was to come.  And Jesus makes this claim to be such a One when he stated that “before Abraham was even born, I AM”, meaning that Jesus existed even before the time of Abraham.

The people who were so blind to the truth of who Jesus was, did at least catch the implications of what He was saying.  Jesus finally used the personal name of God (see Exodus 6:2-3) to explain His eternal nature as God.  They could not accept that truth and would rather have killed Jesus by stoning Him, than to change their views and beliefs.  I pray that you, my reader, would not be blind as well to this truth that Jesus always exists as the ever-present “I AM”.

* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please share it and invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

Who Are The Children Of God?

1 Comment

John 8:38 – 47

38 I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” 39 “Our father is Abraham!” they declared. “No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. 40 Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. 

41 No, you are imitating your real father.” They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.” 42 Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. 

45 So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! 46 Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This passage is the second of three in which Jesus is talking specifically with those who were professing to say that they believed in Him.  Go back to verse 31 and you will see how Jesus switches His audience from the whole crowd of Jews gathered there in the temple in Jerusalem, to “the people who believed in Him.”

Having said that, this makes it even more shocking as we look at what it was that Jesus says to these people.  In this passage, Jesus accused these people of not being true descendants of Abraham, but rather that they were liars, rejecters of Jesus and His teachings, and doers of evil like their father the devil.  Ultimately, Jesus says that they were not true believers in Him.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Wow!!  That sounds extremely harsh, doesn’t it?  Especially in light of verse 31 which identified them as “people who believed in Jesus.”  I encourage you then to go back and read last week’s article, “The Truth Will Set You Free.”  In that article, I suggest that while these people may have given mental assent to the truth statement that Jesus was the Messiah, they were not prepared to give their whole lives over to Jesus and move from theoretical knowledge about Jesus to experiential knowledge of Jesus.

Now before we look at the details of this passage, let us remind ourselves that just as other verses in the Gospels point out, Jesus always knew what was in the hearts of the people with whom He talked.  So let us look for clues in this passage which will help to reveal to us what was really going on in the hearts of the people.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

As I looked more closely at this passage, I believe I discovered at least four places which give us some insights into the state of their hearts.  First of all, in verse 38, see how Jesus refers to “my Father” and “your father”?  Everyone by this point would know that Jesus was stating that “His Father” was God.  So note the response of the people when Jesus mentioned “your father”.  They immediately state, “Abraham is our father.”

Sorry folks, that’s the wrong answer.  We should never place a person in the place of God.  And this obviously shows that these people were concerned more about their blood lineage to a man of faith, than being concerned about their relationship with God.  They were believing that by following the examples of Abraham, that they would be found worthy by God.

But even if rituals could win over relationship with God, Jesus went on to point out that they were not really following Abraham’s example anyways.  Scripture tells us that “Abraham believed God and was then considered righteous.”  But his righteousness was backed up with obedience to God’s words.  And these people were even thinking about killing Jesus because they could not accept His words of truth.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

So Jesus implies that they follow the pattern of a different father, meaning Satan.  The people catch that barb and throw one right back by saying, “We are not illegitimate children!”  Here again, the old rumor surfaced about the idea that Joseph and Mary conceived Jesus outside of marriage and that would make Jesus an illegitimate son.  They turned the attention off of themselves who were not obedient children of God, and they turned instead to name calling and mud slinging (false) accusations at Jesus.

Finally, Jesus makes it quite plain.  Not only were these people not really wanting to receive His teachings, and thus they find they were not even in a position to understand what He taught, but Jesus clearly pointed out that they “love to do evil things” just like the devil would have them do.

So we can now clearly see, the hearts of these people were still being ruled by sin and Satan.  There is no room in such a heart for God to do His work of forgiveness and make such a person a child of God.  No, a true child of God has turned his/her back on sin and renounced Satan and accepted Jesus and His teachings into his/her life.  And so I ask in closing, “Are you a true child of God?”

* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please share it and invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

The Truth Will Set You Free

Leave a comment

John 8:31 – 38

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. 37 Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. 38 I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

As we begin to look at our passage above, we must remember that this portion is one small part of a larger section.  To find the extent of the larger context, we would have to go back to chapter 7 beginning with verse 14 when Jesus first stands up in the middle of the Temple courtyards and starts to teach the people during the Festival of Tabernacles.

This festival was also known as “The Feast of Lights” as people lit torches and lived in tents to remember God’s protection and providence during the time of living as nomads for the forty years as they wandered in the wilderness.  Jesus used this background and in the early part of chapter 8, He declared, “I am the Light of the world.”

Jesus’ message is not received by the religious leaders, as we saw in chapter 7.  When Jesus turns and teaches further in chapter 8, it is now to the common Jews whom He was speaking to.  He challenged His audience in verse 24 to believe in Him, or they would die in their sins.  And we see in verse 30, that “many who heard Him say these things believed in Him.”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Now in verse 31, Jesus turned to those who believed in Him and He extended a challenge to all of them.  Notice how He says, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.”  This statement implies that there was a difference at that time between “those who believed in Him” and a “disciple”.  That causes me to ask the question, “What is it within this context that the people believed? And why did that not automatically make them a disciple of Jesus?”

I believe if we are very careful to understand the whole flow of these two chapters in John, what Jesus first presents to people is His claim to be God, the “I AM” of Exodus 6:2-3, the Jewish Messiah, the Anointed One who would come to save His people.  That is an important truth statement which must first be accepted for someone to start on the path to discipleship.

But accepting this truth statement only without a change in one’s being and behaviour is not enough.  Look at what James 2:19 says, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.”  We all must go one step further to becoming a disciple of Jesus: we must “be faithful to His teachings”.  This means that we will not only seek to understand what Jesus tells us, but we will put into practice what He is telling us to do.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

All this will help us to understand properly the famous saying of Jesus in verse 32, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  The biblical word here for “know” does not mean just to have knowledge about a certain fact, but to be fully engaged in doing that which we know to be true.  It is the difference between theoretical knowledge and experiential knowledge.  And it is the daily experience of having Jesus active within our lives that keeps us safe from the grip of sin that we once were experiencing.

Unfortunately the Jewish people do not understand that Jesus is talking about this experiential knowledge of truth that would keep them free from the power that sin has on people.  Ironically, they say they had never been slaves to anyone, when in fact, they were being dominated by all the forces of Rome in that day.

Instead, the Jews looked backwards to their bloodline inheritance of being descendants of Abraham to save them from their sin.  This is still a fallacy for people today.  They say they were “born into a Christian family”, and that automatically makes them a Christian.  But as some people jokingly say, “Well, if someone was born in a barn, would that make them a horse?”  Of course not.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

You see, what it really comes down to is this: if we want to truly be a disciple of Jesus, then we must not put our trust in some external factor, such as lineage, inheritance, rituals or behaviours.  We must look to the inner person of our soul and find out if we have submitted ourselves in obedience to make Jesus Lord of our lives.

The “truth that sets us free” is not mental assent that Jesus is the Messiah, God in the flesh.  Rather, it is the experiential knowledge that Jesus is Lord, and this can only be obtained by submitting in obedience to Him in our lives.  Then, and only then, will we be truly set free from bondage to sin.

* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please share it and invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

Older Entries