Following Jesus Requires Sacrifice

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John 12: 20 – 28

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

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The passage right before the verses above described for us the “Triumphal Entry” of Jesus into Jerusalem.  The crowds proclaimed that their Messiah, their King, who had come from the royal line of King David, had just entered into Jerusalem.  They were all ready to proclaim Jesus as their Royal King of Israel.

No doubt this caused a great stir among the people, for the local residents of Jerusalem as well as those who were visiting there to celebrate the Great Feast of Passover.  Our passage here starts out then with some foreigners, some Greek-speaking men who had come in from some outlying area or some distant land and they hear reports about Jesus.

They wanted to meet Jesus, but notice who they approached first?  They went to Philip, who probably came from a Greek culture background himself since he had a Greek name.  So these men took the path that made the most sense to be able to gain an audience with Jesus – they approached Philip who would be sympathetic to their request to meet this very famous man – the Man who could do the miraculous.

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Jesus’ response though did not line up with this desire of the people who wanted Him to become their new King on earth.  He does declare in verse 23 that it is finally the time for people to know who He is exactly.  His favorite term for Himself “The Son of Man” contains both the idea that He is God’s Son, and also the idea that He is truly a man who had come to live among us.

And now He says that the time had come for Him “to be glorified”.  It is always hard to translate the word “glory”, but each time we do, we learn more about what it means.  Within this context, Jesus was saying that it was going to be revealed just how “wonderful” and “glorious” the true nature of Jesus really was.

The surprise comes is in the next sentence.  We should expect that someone who is the Majestic Son of God, who had just been publicly acclaimed to be the King of Israel, and who will now at this point reveal the true identity of Himself to the people, we would expect Him to ascend the throne in Jerusalem.

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Instead, we see Jesus speaking out one more time in metaphorical language.  He states that a seed by itself is nothing.  To be something of great value, it must be dropped into the ground where the seed will figuratively “die” as it breaks into small pieces.  But from these broken pieces, many roots can shoot out of this one seed and actually bear much food for the people.

You see, Jesus’ path forward required Him not to go forth in a victory march towards a throne, but to walk the road of shame and suffering, and to die on the Cross, in order to win people back to God.  Jesus recognized that those who would follow Him, must be ready to fully give up their lives and souls to God, and count the things of this life as being of such low worth compared to the promise of eternal life with God.

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This is not to say that it was an easy thing for Jesus to make the decision to give up His life on our behalf.  We see Him in verse 27 wrestling with this decision.  If it was possible to fulfill the will of God without having to actually die on the cross, I believe Jesus would have chosen that path.  But He has barely asked this question of God when He also states the answer – He knows that this was the path that He must walk.

And so Jesus asked God for something else: He asked for God to reveal His true and glorious nature.  And God’s voice answered back that He already had and will again do just that.  What was He referring to?  I believe it refers to how God showed His awesome power in resurrecting Lazarus (from John 11) and how He would raise Jesus from the dead (John 20).

The promise and the challenge for us are in verse 26.  If we truly want to serve Jesus as the Lord of our lives, we are to follow in His footsteps.  So we must also be ready to lay down our lives for God.  That is the challenge.  The promise is that we will be with Him where He goes.  And where will that be?  By the side of God in Heaven for all eternity.  Praise God!  Praise the Lord!

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Please Tell Us, Is Jesus The Messiah?

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John 10:22 – 30

22 It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication. 23 He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”

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There are twenty one chapters in the Gospel of John.  Our study today is in the middle of chapter ten.  By the law of averages, you might think that we are about half way done telling the story of the life and ministry of Jesus.  But that is not true.  Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his public ministry.  It lasted about 3 1/2  years long.  This festival that Jesus attended would have been about four months before he died.

We will see when we get to the start of chapter 12, that the majority of the second half of this book deals with the final week of Jesus’ life.  Those last ten chapters cover the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, his arrest, trial and crucifixion, his burial and resurrection and his final appearances to the disciples.  Suddenly, a lot happened in a very short time.

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But notice what the people are saying to Jesus in verse 24 of our passage above.  For three years Jesus had gained quite a reputation with all of the miracles he had performed and the incredible teaching and preaching tours he had gone on throughout the provinces of Galilee, Samaria and Judea, and on the far side of the Jordan River.

You would wonder how the people could have asked this question, “If you are the Messiah, then tell us plainly.”  It is kind of like many people today I think that ask the question, “Is there really a God?”  One of my answers is, “Open your eyes and take a look all around you.  The vast beauty of the created Universe, the odds of life happening at all here on earth, and the intricate design of the human body calls out to me that there must be a Grand Designer behind it all.

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Listen then to how Jesus replied to their question: “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name.”  Now you may be thinking similarly to these Jewish people long ago, “What is this proof you are talking about?”  I believe that if we have been listening well to all that has happened and all that Jesus taught in the first ten chapters of John, we would know the answer.

In one of my commentary helps on John, called “The Translators Handbook,” it has this excellent summary that I would like to quote.  It says:

The Festival of Dedication is the last in the series of four important Jewish holy days mentioned in John’s Gospel, beginning in Chapter 5 (the Sabbath, Passover, Shelters, and Dedication). By healing the lame man on the Sabbath day, Jesus indicated his superiority over the Sabbath; by the teaching given in connection with the healing (5.17), he identified himself and his activity with God and with God’s work.

During the Passover Festival Jesus fed the multitude and so revealed that he was the life-giving bread that God had sent down from heaven. And at the Festival of Shelters, Jesus revealed himself as the life-giving water and the light for the world, thus fulfilling the meaning of the water and light ceremonies connected with that festival.

Now, at the Festival of Dedication, Jesus affirms that he is the one whom God has dedicated and sent into the world.

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To those who are really paying attention and are spiritually searching for the Truth, they will find it.  And they will recognize Jesus for who He really is.  And He in turn will recognize them as His people.  This leads us to one very ticklish doctrine that can trip up many people.  In verses 28–29, Jesus states that these people who do believe in Him cannot be snatched out of His hands, nor out of the Father’s hands.

This has led to a doctrinal idea of “eternal salvation”, the idea of “once saved, always saved”.  I really do not want to discuss this doctrinal idea as it has caused more arguments among Christians than it ever ought to have.  I do have one comment that may be helpful, which is based on the text as we have it.

We cannot comment on the will and action of the person who has put his life into the hands of Jesus and the Father, such as, will he/she remain faithful to God or not.  What this passage does say, is that there is no power greater than God Himself which can pull a devoted follower away from God.  My prayer is that all people might come to realize that Jesus is in fact the promised Messiah, and remain in that state of belief.  The promise is that no external force or person can steal that relationship with God away from the believer.  Praise God for that.

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The Truth Will Set You Free

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Could Jesus Be The Messiah?

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John 7:25 – 36

25 Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah? 27 But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.”

28 While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. 29 But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.” 30 Then the leaders tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.

31 Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this man has done?”

32 When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were whispering such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus. 33 But Jesus told them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me. 34 You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going.”

35 The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. “Where is he planning to go?” they asked. “Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe he will even teach the Greeks! 36 What does he mean when he says, ‘You will search for me but not find me,’ and ‘You cannot go where I am going’?”

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This passage in John 7 is a continuation of the confusion among the Jewish people with regards to who Jesus is, as well as the rising confrontation between Jesus and the Jewish leaders. In verse 20 of this chapter, the people appear to be shocked when Jesus suggested that there were people who wanted to kill Him.  But now we see in verse 25 that many in the crowd have heard and believe that this threat to kill Jesus is real.

The fact that the religious leaders were not arresting Jesus gave second thoughts to the people. Since the leaders were not moving against Jesus, that perhaps meant that they in fact had condoned Jesus’ actions.  This carried the implication that perhaps Jesus could be the great Messiah, the One who would come to save the people from their enemies and rebuild the Jewish Kingdom on earth.

Some people though, who were quite aware of Jesus’ origin and His family, knew that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, raised up in Nazareth and was known simply as “the son of the carpenter”.  That made Jesus look too ordinary for them.  How then could Jesus be the Messiah?  Others though, who had seen His miracles, felt that only One sent from God could perform such miracles and they believed He was the Messiah

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The Jewish leaders though would not listen to any of this.  They saw Jesus as a threat to the rules and regulations of their religious ways of life and they did in fact want to arrest Jesus and ultimately to kill Him.  What is fascinating to read is that twice in this passage, and again later, we will see the leaders try to have Jesus arrested, but they are unable to do it.

In John’s gospel, in the first eight chapters, twice Jesus said the words, “My time has not yet come,” (2:4; 7:8) and John commented twice saying, “His time had not yet come,” (7:30; 8:20)  There could be a number of things that Jesus (or John) is referring to when He says this.  It could refer to Him revealing His true nature or His time to die on the cross.  But it most likely means in this context, it was not time yet for Him to be arrested.  He still had some important things to teach as we will see in the next few chapters.

Jesus’ next words really confused the Jewish leaders when He said they will not be able to go where He was going.  Undoubtedly this does refer to the time after His resurrection when Jesus would return to His Father in Heaven.  The leaders think Jesus will slip away to some other geographical area.  They don’t realize the spiritual implications that they would not follow Him to heaven when they would die.

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Let’s consider what this passage has to say to us now today.  What do you think about who Jesus is, what He taught while on earth, and where He went to be after His death and resurrection?  Are you as confused and offended as some of the people were when you hear the story of how Jesus came to earth, born to a poor family inside of a stinky animal shelter?  Do you think that God is supposed to reveal Himself suddenly with divine miraculous powers rather than show up among us in the form of a man?

Is it possible that you may be so religious (like the Jewish leaders) that the form of how you are supposed to worship God is more important that the Person whom we are to worship?  Are you certain that after this life you will be accepted into God’s presence to live in Heaven forever?  Have you based that hope on the things that you have done to earn God’s favor?  Or are you trusting in what Jesus did for you on the cross?  Keep these questions in mind as we move forward in John’s gospel.

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Witnesses Who Tell Us Who Jesus Is

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John 5:31 – 47

31 If I speak for myself, there is no way to prove I am telling the truth.32 But there is someone else who speaks for me, and I know what he says is true. 33 You sent messengers to John, and he told them the truth. 34 I don’t depend on what people say about me, but I tell you these things so that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that gave a lot of light, and you were glad to enjoy his light for a while.

36 But something more important than John speaks for me. I mean the things that the Father has given me to do! All of these speak for me and prove that the Father sent me. 37 The Father who sent me also speaks for me, but you have never heard his voice or seen him face to face. 38 You have not believed his message, because you refused to have faith in the one he sent.

39 You search the Scriptures, because you think you will find eternal life in them. The Scriptures tell about me, 40 but you refuse to come to me for eternal life.

41 I don’t care about human praise, 42 but I do know that none of you love God. 43 I have come with my Father’s authority, and you have not welcomed me. But you will welcome people who come on their own.44 How could you possibly believe? You like to have your friends praise you, and you don’t care about praise that the only God can give!

45 Don’t think that I will be the one to accuse you to the Father. You have put your hope in Moses, yet he is the very one who will accuse you. 46 Moses wrote about me, and if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me. 47 But if you don’t believe what Moses wrote, how can you believe what I say?

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Jill and I enjoy reading books.  We do have slightly different tastes in the stories we read though.  I’m much more of the science fiction intense espionage kind of guy, while Jill likes to read a good suspense legal thriller with lots of courtroom drama.  So I will read about aliens and distant galaxies or a book by Tom Clancy, and Jill might read an Agatha Christie or John Grisham novel.  But I can appreciate a good legal thriller too.  And that is partly what we have here in these verses of John.

When we watch a legal fiction story on TV today, we all watch as the sleuths and the police search to find the one witness who will “make the case” and put the bad guys away for good.  Sometimes, the most important piece of evidence is not even a person, but an item which ties the criminal to the crime.  And now in our modern scientific world, all that is needed sometimes is just a tiny bit of DNA to close the case.

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That is not what it was like though in first century Judaism.  When someone was accused of wrong doing, it was very clear in the Law of Moses what standards needed to be applied in the case.  Deuteronomy 19:15 tells us what that was: “One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”  This standard for gathering solid evidence of something needs to be kept in mind as we look briefly into John 5:31-47.

Now we all realize that Jesus is not actually standing in front of the court and facing accusers at this time.  (That would come later.)  But in many ways, with the persecution of the Jewish authorities heating up, Jesus was being put into the court of public opinion.  Some people were believing that He was in fact the Son of God, and that He had the authority of God Himself to do all the miracles which He did.  On the other hand, there was a growing opposition arising against Jesus, what He did, and what He taught.

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So Jesus challenges his “accusers” in this passage and lays down some pretty solid evidence with regards to who He really is.  First of all, Jesus mentions the testimony of John the Baptist.  Go back to John chapter one and read how John declares that God sent him baptizing people for the express purpose of discovering and revealing who Jesus was.  He saw the Holy Spirit come down upon Jesus at the baptism and then declared, “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

As much as John the Baptist was respected as a great prophet, Jesus then goes on to say that there is a greater witness than John.  He basically says, “Look at the works (i.e. “miracles”) that I do, and they will tell you exactly who I am.”  And in fact, God Himself is called upon as a witness.  God declared openly, “This is My Son in whom I am well pleased.”  (See Mark 1:11)  And further, many of the Jews knew that only a person approved by God Himself could do the kinds of miracles that Jesus did.  Remember what Nicodemus said in John 3:2?  “For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

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Jesus has already given three key witnesses which clearly show Jesus to be “one sent from God.”  But the Jewish leaders might not accept these testimonies.  So then Jesus hits them right where they lived.  He claimed that the Scriptures (i.e. the Old Testament), and even Moses in his writings could back up Jesus’ claim of being the great Messiah and the One promised by God to be the Savior of the world.  How much more evidence did they need to believe in Jesus?

And I now ask this question to all who read this.  Look at the wondrous universe we live in.  Look at the new born baby.  Remember when you “could have been killed” in a near-accident.  Look into the lives of really alive Christians who used to be not so nice people, but God changed them.  How much evidence do you need to know that what the Bible proclaims about God, about Christ, and those who follow Him in loving obedience are all true as well.  Think on that my friend.  Don’t be closed like these Jewish leaders were.

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Jesus, The One Equal To God The Father

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John 5:16 – 30

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

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In this passage, we see the open hostility of the Jewish leaders that broke out against Jesus.  It was bad enough in their opinion that Jesus had performed a miracle on the Sabbath, the holy day of rest for the Jewish people.  (See my last article on “Christian Compassion vs. Religious Criticism“.)  But now they hear Jesus utter words that show that He equated Himself with God the Father.

As I reflected on the blindness of the Jewish leaders, I realized that they did not have the benefit of living in the period of “post-resurrection”, nor the hundreds of years that the Church has had to understand the implications of Jesus Incarnation, His death, and His resurrection.  The Jewish people were all waiting for the Promised Messiah, the One whom God would anoint and bring salvation to His people.

I do wonder though, what exactly they expected to see when they would meet the Messiah.  Would He just suddenly appear, without having any background of a birthplace or a family such as Jesus had?  Was the Messiah going to just appear as some super human and lead the nation to victory against their enemies in this world?  We know that is partly what they thought.  What caught them off guard was that Jesus was rather ordinary, being born in Bethlehem and raised as a carpenter’s son in Nazareth.

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And then Jesus elevated Himself high above all other humans by making claims of being equal with God Himself.  In this passage we see a number of ways in which Jesus is equally compared to God the Father.  We see these similar things:

  • God is always at work in the world, and so is the Son (implying supernatural activities)
  • what the Father does, He shows to His Son, and the Son also does the same things
  • the Father and the Son can both raise the dead and give them new life
  • God gives the authority to judge all men into the hands of the Son
  • people will honour the Son just as much as they honour the Father
  • the Son is the source of Life just as the Father is also the source of Life for all people

That is quite a list of qualities that Jesus attributes to Himself.  No wonder that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Him.  They were actually right to challenge Jesus, for no ordinary man could claim these things.  But Jesus was no ordinary man.  Twice Jesus refers to God as “the One who sent Me”.  As people who now live after the Resurrection, we know that Jesus’ claim to be God the Son was validated by Him rising from the dead.

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And it was the will of the Father that caused Jesus to leave Heaven and come down to earth.  He in fact was the awaited Messiah.  And the promise here is that for anyone who will accept Him as the One who is equal with God and who was sent by God the Father, that person is able to come to God by means of Jesus (like walking across a bridge) and will no longer be under the penalty and curse of death, but will receive the gift of eternal life with God forever.

It really is too bad that the Jewish leaders did not have all the information and insight that you and I have today.  So it is easy to criticise them as being so blind that they could not see Jesus for who He really is.  But I wonder if we would have done much better ourselves?  The key thing right now is for us to not miss the point, namely that Jesus really is the One who is equal to God the Father, the Author of Life, and the One who saves us from death and brings us into eternal life.

The Power Of A Testimony

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John 4:28 – 30, 39 – 45

28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.

39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

43 After the two days he departed for Galilee. 44 (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) 45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.

                                

This is the third and final section in John chapter four that highlights the Samaritan woman, with whom Jesus had spoken.  In the earlier section of this story, Jesus had shown to the woman his omniscience by describing in detail the true nature of her relationships with multiple husbands.  That prompted the woman to consider Jesus to be a prophet.

But as Jesus and the woman talked further about the true nature of worshipping God, an even greater aspect of His nature became clear to the woman.  In her desire to worship the true God, the woman mentioned the promise of God that an anointed man, the Messiah, would be sent by God to teach all people about God.  Jesus responded by saying basically, “I am that Man.”  (Read the earlier article here.)

    

Now recall how this woman had come to the well in the heat of the day to draw water.  (We drew attention in the first article to the idea that this suggests that she was an outcast from the nearby town since the practice would have been for the ladies of the town to go together in the cool of the morning to draw water.)  But now in the excitement of the moment, this woman dropped her jar and ran back to town to testify to the town’s folk that just perhaps she had met the promised Messiah, the Christ who would come to lead God’s people.

If we are seeing this event as it really happened, that was quite a bold move by that woman.  If she had been a social outcast, having been married to five men, and now living with a sixth man, then it would be highly doubtful that the town’s folk would stop to listen to anything this woman had to say.  But she was so excited and so hopeful and so insistent on what she had experienced, that the people really had to come out to meet Jesus and find out for themselves.

    

In fact, this woman’s testimony concerning the nature of who Jesus was and what He had done was so powerful that it says, “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him…”  That is a pretty strong testimony, wouldn’t you say?  So the people ask Jesus to stay with them a few more days, and as they too came to see the real Jesus, they too put their trust in Him as God’s anointed Messiah, the “Savior of the world.”

This would be a good spot for us all to stop and reflect on our own faith in Jesus.  Especially for those of us who have believed in Jesus for many years.  Do we still have the desire to tell others about Jesus with great excitement and energy?  Did we have that kind of excitement when we first accepted Jesus into our lives?  Perhaps we need to reflect a bit more on the amazing freedom and salvation from sin that Jesus gave to us when we stepped out of darkness and into His light.

    

Our passage goes on, and we see Jesus is ready to leave the Province of Samaria.  But I wonder if He did it with a bit of a heavy heart.  No one is quite sure what John meant when he wrote in verse 44, “Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown”.  This clause is being used differently than how Matthew, Mark and Luke used it, when Jesus was not accepted in his home town of Nazareth.

It is possible that Jesus was thinking of how his own people in general, the Jews, were not very receptive to Him, which stands in strong contrast with how the Samaritans believed in Him.  Or it might refer to Jerusalem where He had just come from.  And how awfully sad it is that the Holy City, where the Temple of the Living God stood, was the very place that Jesus, the Son of God was most rejected.

    

And yet, there was still an openness and acceptance that Jesus found among the Galileans.  Perhaps it really is true that God can be found better by those who live more simple and down-to-earth lives.  It seems to me that the hustle and bustle of the “big cities”, and also the highly institutionalized religious centers, are not the places where the lowly and humble Jesus can be found.

And what about you my friend?  Has the busyness and distractions of life, and even “religion”, kept you away from having a deep personal talk with the Lord, such as this Samaritan woman had?  Open your eyes, and your heart, and let the testimony of this changed woman also help change your life.

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