How To Know God

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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.”

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Listen Carefully To Jesus’ Words

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John 12: 44 – 50

44 Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

47 “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. 49 For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

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As I read these verses above a few times, I could almost see Jesus crying out in a loud voice as he spoke.  It hit me that these were the last words that Jesus spoke publicly before He was arrested and put on trial.  It must have been so difficult for him as he realized that there were still many people back then who would reject his message, and so reject him as the One who could bring eternal life to them.

There was so much that Jesus had to offer for those who would accept him and his message.  There is the promise of eternal life with God which I just mentioned.  There is also the spiritual reality and truth that those who come to Jesus will not only see who Jesus really is, the Saviour for mankind, but also will come to know God the Father who sent Jesus to this world to save us.

And there is also the promise that those who accept and believe in Jesus will “not stay in darkness”.  Jesus is the true light for those who desire to be enlightened spiritually.  There are so many man-made attempts to become like God, or become “one with the Universe”.  But in Christianity, it works the other way.  Jesus is the true light who came down from Heaven to live among us and share this light with anyone who will put their trust in him.  So mankind does not need to reach out to try to find God, God has already reached out to us through his son, Jesus.

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There is something else that caught my attention as I read this passage.  It says in verse 47, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.”  I am reminded of a conversation I had with someone in high school as we rode on the bus toward home.  He knew that I had expressed an interest in becoming a missionary one day so I could talk about Jesus to those people who had never heard about him and what he had done for all mankind.

He asked me some very pointed questions.  As background though, he started by saying, “So you want to tell others about Jesus so that they can have a chance to accept him and by that means be able to go to Heaven.”  I replied, “Yes.” to him.  He went on, “But you are saying that if the people hear about Jesus and decide to not accept him, then they will go to Hell.”  And I replied, “Right.”

And then he asked me, “Wouldn’t it be better to leave these primitive native people alone and let God decide out of his mercy to let them into Heaven if they have been good enough?  Rather than go and preach about Jesus and have them reject Jesus and for sure get sent to Hell?  Wouldn’t it be better to just leave them all alone?”

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My friend asked some good questions, at least from a human perspective.  For those of us who really do understand what Hell is really like, none of us would wish for anyone to be sent there.  Even God says in his Word that he wants, “all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”(1 Tim. 2:3-4)  And yet in Jesus’ own words, he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

I know how difficult this can be for many people, but the truth is that by our own acts of wrongdoing, in the words we speak, the thoughts we have and the actions we take in life, we find we are unable to stand before a holy God, who cannot allow sinful thoughts and behaviours to exist in his presence.  As Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  And Romans 6:23 tells us that the consequence for all mankind for their sinful nature is death, eternal spiritual death apart from God.

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Praise God though, that Jesus came to tell us that there is a way of escape for all of us.  For those who will accept the death of Jesus to be their substitute payment for their penalty of death, and who believe that Jesus rose from the grave to demonstrate his promise of life after death, then to us, Jesus brings us salvation and the promise of eternal life with God in Heaven.

My friend, listen carefully to the words of Jesus.  Not only from these last words of his in the passage above, but in all the books of the Bible where he speaks to us about putting our faith in him.  Remember, he did not come to judge us of our sins, but to free us from them.  So accept him, and be free indeed.

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What Should We Put Our Faith In?

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John 9:35 – 41

35 When Jesus heard what had happened, he went and found the man. Then Jesus asked, “Do you have faith in the Son of Man?” 36 He replied, “Sir, if you will tell me who he is, I will put my faith in him.” 37 “You have already seen him,” Jesus answered, “and right now he is talking with you.” 38 The man said, “Lord, I put my faith in you!” Then he worshiped Jesus.

39 Jesus told him, “I came to judge the people of this world. I am here to give sight to the blind and to make blind everyone who can see.” 40 When the Pharisees heard Jesus say this, they asked, “Are we blind?” 41 Jesus answered, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty. But now that you claim to see, you will keep on being guilty.”

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We now reach the climax of the story about  when Jesus healed a man who had been blind since birth.  There have been four stages to this story.  First, there was the healing event as recorded in vv. 1-12.  Next, we see the confusion of the Jewish leaders as they wrestled with the miracle which had been performed on the Jewish Sabbath day.  Some leaders were amazed by the miracle, but others who held tightly to their religious ritualism could not accept the idea that Jesus was a man sent by God.

In the third part of the story, the religious leaders questioned the man intently, to find out for sure that he had in fact been blind to begin with, and then to find out what the man thought concerning Jesus.  At this point, the man boldly proclaimed that Jesus must come from God, for never before had this kind of miracle been done among them.  Only a man of God could do such a thing.

It was at this point that the religious leaders “threw him out of the synagogue”.  Now they didn’t literally throw him out of the building.  What this means is that they were cutting him off, excommunicating him, from ever being able to enter back into the synagogue.  That might not mean much to us today, but for that period back then, it was a huge thing.  Let me explain.

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In the Jewish culture of the 1st century, the synagogue was the very center of a person’s life.  It was a wonderful thing when a Jew was able to travel up to the Temple in Jerusalem for one of the main festivals during any given year.  But week by week, Jews would gather on the Sabbath at the local synagogue to worship God, to hear the Word of God (Old Testament) spoken, and then to hear an explanation or teaching on the passage.

The local synagogue was much more though than just a place to gather for weekly worship.  Young children would be educated in the Torah (the five books of Moses), the other parts of Scripture, as well as practical knowledge for every day living.  The synagogues were the educational system of the Jewish people.

And more than that, every important event in a person’s life would most likely have occurred at one’s local synagogue.  For both boys (Bar Mitzvah) and for girls (Bat Mitzvah) there was a public ceremony celebrating the passage of life from childhood to adulthood.  Later, there would be marriage ceremonies and finally funeral events, and many other social activities that would be held at the local synagogue.

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For this young man to then be excommunicated from the synagogue by the religious leaders was to cut him off from every important social and religious event of life.  He would become both socially and religiously an orphan within the community.  No wonder that Jesus went to see him immediately after he had heard that the leaders had cast him out of the synagogue.

And Jesus’ question then holds much more importance in light of all this.  We don’t know how old this man was, but probably he was a young adult of about 20 years or more.  For all of his life, he had put his faith in the religious Jewish system.  But that system had cast him aside.  Now what was he to do about the spiritual needs of his life.

Jesus then asked him such a crucial question: “Do you have faith in the Son of Man?” (This was Jesus’ favorite title for himself.  It speaks of his humanity and his divinity at the same time.)  When this young man fully realized that Jesus, the Son of Man, was the One who had healed him, he knew that he had found the one person in life in whom he could fully put his trust and faith.

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What about you my friend?  Have you been putting your trust in human rituals and human institutions?  At the end of this whole passage, Jesus said that he came “to judge people”.  Within the context, what this means is that he came to reveal to people where they stood.  The message of the Gospel is that we are all guilty of sin in our lives.  But what do we do about that now that we know that or can “see the truth” of that.

Either we can try to hide from that truth, yet still be found guilty of our sins in God’s eyes?  Or we can own up to them, and come to Jesus, the only One who has the authority and right to forgive sins based on the sacrifice of his life upon the Cross.  The religious leaders would not accept that and will be held accountable for that.  We have the chance though to come to Jesus and put our faith in him like the young man.  Only He can heal our bodies and our souls for all eternity.

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Who Are The Children Of God?

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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. 

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?”

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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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Faith to Believe The Impossible

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John 4:46 – 54

46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.

 48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. 51 As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering.

 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. 54  This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

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Over the past month, we have been looking at the encounter that Jesus had with the Samaritan woman living in Sychar in the Province of Samaria.  Actually, we should say it the other way around, the Samaritan woman had an encounter with Jesus when she went to get water at the well.  And what an amazing, incredible encounter it was.  This woman went from social outcast to the town evangelist and from a woman of shame to a woman of faith.

As we conclude our thoughts on this event, I think that Jesus must have been very refreshed from this encounter with the woman and the people of that town.  He and his disciples had come there tired, hungry and thirsty.  But after ministering there for those few days and seeing so many people come to a faith in Him, I really believe that Jesus probably left there with a lighter feeling and an encouraged heart himself.

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But then Jesus moved on, and so must we in our study of the Gospel of John.  Jesus returned back to the town of Cana in the northern province of Galilee.  Recall in chapter 2 how Jesus had demonstrated his divine power by turning water into wine at a wedding.  That was a miracle.  Or as John writes, it was “the first of his signs”.

Before we go on, let’s make sure that we are clear about something very important.  When Jesus turned the water into wine, this was not some “parlour trick”, it was not “magic”, nor was it meant it any way to be a performance whereby people would recognize Jesus as the “Miracle Man”.  No, there was a very important reason for when, why and how Jesus did miracles.

As amazing and wonderful as miracles are, like the blind being able to see and the lame being able to walk again, miracles were never meant to be the focus of attention.  Rather, miracles were to point to the One who was able to do the miraculous.  That is why John calls them “signs”.  The miracles were to point people to Jesus, and to open their eyes and their hearts to believe in the Doer of the miracles.

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Knowing this will help us to see why Jesus seems so frustrated and irritated when this official greets him at Cana and asks for Jesus’ help to heal his very sick child.  As a parent myself who has seen a son suffer from leukemia, I can really identify with the father’s one great request, “Lord, please heal my son!”  But it is not our pleading and begging that will get the attention of Jesus and the answer we want.  It is faith in Him as the Great Physician.

Notice what happens next.  The official is desperate to have Jesus come to his house to take a look at his son.  Perhaps he thought that if Jesus could just see how much suffering the child was going through, then maybe He might heal the boy out of compassion.  But what does Jesus do?  He tells the father to go, and that the boy will live.

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Now here comes the critical moment in this story.  The father could have kept begging Jesus to come, maybe even taking his arm and trying to pull him along with him.  But no, this is the true moment of decision.  Does the man have enough faith to take Jesus at his word?  Can he actually believe the impossible, that simply by speaking a word, Jesus has the ability to heal his son?

And you know the rest of the story.  The man does have faith.  He goes home to find his son well.  And it is made quite clear that the healing happened at exactly the time that Jesus spoke.  Or should I say, it happened at exactly the time that the man demonstrated his faith by accepting Jesus’ word that the boy would live.

What we have here is a story that teaches us what true faith is all about.  Hebrews 11:1 says it so well, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Without any real tangible evidence in front of him, this man believed the impossible, and believed in the One to whom he was speaking.  And this miracle, this “sign” led not only this man, but his whole household into a faith relationship with Jesus.  Now that is a miracle.

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Jesus Is Someone You Can Trust – Pt. 1

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“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 7

TRUST: “A relationship bond that takes a great number of good deeds to earn, and only one bad deed to lose.”

Trust!  Who do we trust these days?  We trust a mechanic to fix our car when it is not working.  Or do we?  Are we skeptical when we see the estimate and wonder, “Do I really need to fix all these things?”  We trust the professor of a class to impart wisdom and knowledge to us, right?  But what if they are wrong, or biased in what they teach?  We trust the pastor or the priest because they are “men of God”, but then we hear about the various scandals that rock the churches and we realize that they are just as human and flawed as we are.

All of us can identify with this question of “Who can I really trust?”  In the consumer market world that we live in, we are bombarded by advertisements and the voices of many who are asking us to trust them, and trust the product or service that they are trying to offer us.  Now for the most part, these many voices are asking us to make decisions that are somewhat trivial, like what shampoo to buy, and where to take our vacation, etc.

But what about the really important questions of life?  For example, “Why are we here?”, “Is there a God?”, and “What happens after we die?”  These are the questions that really matter in life, and so we must be careful as we choose whose voice to listen to regarding eternal and spiritual questions.  There are still many voices out there crying for our attention, but one voice above all must be given a chance to be heard.  And that is the voice and the words of Jesus in the New Testament.

    

 This is now the 7th article in this series, “GOD’S STORY, your story” as we look at the book with this title written by Max Lucado.  In chapter four, Lucado starts by sharing a true story about a pilot of a small aircraft who had a mild stroke while flying and lost his sight.  An air force jet pilot was sent up to help guide the man down on to an airstrip by voice alone.  It took eight attempts, but the blinded pilot was able to safely land his airplane.  How did he do it?  By listening carefully to the voice of the man who he literally had put his life into his hands.

Now many good things are said about Jesus.  Many say he was a good man who helped others.  They would say that Jesus is one of the best teachers of morals and ethics.  Look at the “Sermon on the Mount” for example in Matthew chapters 5-7.  Some world religions other than Christianity would even say that Jesus is one of their prophets.  This is not new, for even in Jesus’ day there were people saying that Jesus was perhaps Elijah or John the Baptist come back from the dead, or another great prophet.  (Matthew 16:13-15)

But Jesus challenged his disciples even more (and us today) when he asked the question, “But who do you say that I am?”  And to answer that for ourselves today, we would need to look very carefully at what Jesus did and said so long ago.  Certainly we notice, even in just a casual reading, that Jesus was one who performed great miracles.  He healed many people.  In fact, he made the blind to see again, the lame could walk, and even those who had died and were buried were raised back to life.  (Read 11:38 – 12:11 and notice how even Jesus’ enemies admitted that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead.)

    

Now follow along with what Lucado says about Jesus on pages 72-73:

Jesus commanded people to pray in his name (John 14:13-14).  He claimed to be greater than the temple (Matthew 12:6), greater than the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8).  He claimed his words would outlive heaven and earth (Mark 13:31) and that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to him (Matthew 28:18-20).

And what about his “I AM” statements?  “I am the light of the world.”  “I am the bread of life,” “the resurrection and the life,” and “the way, the truth, and the life.”  And most stunning, “Before Abraham was born, I am!”

By claiming the “I AM” title, Jesus was equating himself with God.

 It is interesting how some people can be okay with Jesus being a good moral teacher, and maybe even credit him with the ability to perform miracles.  But when we look at the verbal claims made by Jesus, we are faced with two stunning and opposite choices.  Either Jesus was an egomaniac and delusionally deranged!  Or, Jesus was who he actually claimed to be, namely, the very Son of God come down to live among people.

    

Given these two choices, I have chosen to believe that Jesus is God’s Son.  And not just because he “claimed” to be God’s Son, and not even because he did perform some great miracles.  I rest my faith in Jesus ultimately on the fact that he rose again from the dead after being crucified on a cross.  There is just too much proof in the New Testament that this event of Jesus’ resurrection was not a hoax, or just a misunderstanding of his physical condition.  No, Jesus rose from the grave and proved himself to be God in the flesh.

And so, when it comes to the question of who do I ultimately trust with my life and my eternal future?  There is only one really excellent choice, and that is to trust in Jesus.  We may not be able to see into our future (like not seeing the runway), but Jesus will safely guide us to our eternal destination.

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