When the woman came to the tomb of Jesus bringing spices to anoint His body they were greeted by an angel who said, “He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee” (Luke 24:6). In the battle of faith, when doubts and confusion tries to come in, we must be determined to “remember;” we need to remember what God’s word says and what He has spoken to us. Later, Jesus would appear to two disciples in another form. Because they didn’t believe the woman who said Jesus was risen, He responded to them by saying, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! (Luke 24:25). Let’s not be “slow” but quick to believe and live by God’s word. Thomas said he refused to believe until he saw and touched Jesus for himself. When Jesus encountered him he said, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). We are blessed when we trust Him before we see it with our eyes. He is worthy of our trust and commitment to Him; He is faithful and good! John wrote these words at the end of his gospel: “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” (John 21:25)
As Jesus was on the cross, He prayed in Luke 23:34, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." Obviously He is the perfect example for us to follow in love and forgiveness. When things are spoken and done against us in life we must be watchful that we don’t take anything “personal;” we don’t fight against flesh and blood. Jesus Christ prayed for the very ones that put Him on the cross, making it obvious He wants to extend mercy and forgiveness to everyone. Let’s not feel that we need to protect ourselves, our reputation, and our own happiness; let’s let God do that so we can freely forgive like Jesus.
Jesus continues to extend grace and mercy to a man who taking his last breaths next Him on a cross. First the man says to Jesus in Luke 23:42, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." Jesus came to save sinners and in His darkest hour He didn’t give up His focus of doing so. Don’t let injustices and wrongs done to you and others stop you from loving and doing what matters. If Jesus could continue to intercede and win the lost while nailed to a cross, certainly we can do it in any of our life crises.
There is so much contained in these four chapters, it makes it difficult to even know where to start; pages could be written about so many of these verses. I’ll use that introduction to exhort you to read and take extra time to meditate on these chapters yourselves. Let me just make a few points from the beginning that may help you out.
The King James and New King James versions use of the word “mansions” in John 14:2 has created a lot of confusion. The King James Version translates this same Greek word as “abode” in John 14:23 when Jesus is talking about the Father and Him living within the believer. So, it should be translated "abode" or "room" in verse 2 also. When Jesus speaks about the “Fathers house,” He isn’t talking about the afterlife; He is talking about living within the presence of God now. Jesus has made an “abode” or a “room” for you to live in right now in the presence of God. When Jesus speaks of “coming again” in John 14:3, He isn’t speaking of the rapture or His second coming as some have suggested; that would contradict much of what He says after that. He is talking about coming again to live within us and us within Him by the Holy Spirit. He says in John 14:18, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” How would this be accomplished?… by the coming of Holy Spirit! In John 14:26, Jesus said the Father would send the Holy Spirit in His name. Jesus says in John 14:28, “I go away, and come again unto you,” and in John 16:16 Jesus says "A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father." We "see" Jesus again because the Holy Spirit was sent when He went to the Father.
Peter had a confidence that He would stand up for Jesus Christ regardless of the price, but his confidence was mostly rooted in himself. Peter says in Luke 22:33,"Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death." Just previous to this, the Lord Jesus said to him in Luke 22:31-32, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." Satan wanted to use the pride of Peter to be able to completely sift him away from Jesus, but the Lord prayed for Peter so that he would “return.” Peter ended up denying Jesus three times, just as Jesus predicted, but because of his repentance, he was restored. After he was restored, he was in a position to “strengthen” his brothers. We can despise someone who fails, but don’t write them off; God wants to bring restoration to them and use them to help others where they failed.
Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." It’s our willingness to put others above ourselves and serve them that reveals that we have truly learned the ways of Jesus Christ. Jesus preached, taught and did miracles, and we should too, but what really shows we are His disciples is our love.
Jesus says in John 12:25, that the only way to “keep” our life for eternity is to “hate” our life in this world. Those are some strong words that we need to take heed to. We must have no esteem for this life; eternity is what matters. We mustn’t have esteem for what we have to go through or what we will miss out on in this life; if we do, we will miss out on what God has for us for eternity.
Jesus goes on to say in John 12:27, "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” Notice what caused His soul to be “troubled;” it was His very “purpose” that He had come to earth. If we think the plans and purposes of God for our life won’t cause us trouble in our soul, we are greatly mistaken. He has given us joy and He wants the fruit of joy to grow in our life, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be difficult times.
Why did Jesus groan in His spirit and weep in John chapter 11 when He came to where His dead friend Lazarus was? The people thought it was from sorrow of losing His friend, but Jesus knew before Lazarus had died that He would go to raise him from the dead. When Martha questioned Jesus’ command to remove the stone from the cave where Lazarus was, Jesus replied, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" There was no question in the mind of Christ that He would raise him from the dead. The Scripture says that Jesus “groaned in His spirit and was troubled” when He saw Mary and the Jews weeping for Lazarus. Jesus is touched with the sorrow and the pain of those He loves even if that sorrow comes from the weakness and immaturity of their faith. I’m sure the heart of Jesus Christ still groans and is troubled today when He sees His people experience pain and lose; especially when that pain and lose could be avoided by trusting Him.
Jesus heals the man in chapter 9 and it is meant to be a sign to the Jews of how they were blind, but He could give them sight. The blind man that was healed was willing to be ostracized and rejected by the religious leaders to believe on Jesus; this was the way he received true “sight.” The works Jesus did clearly showed who He was, but still some could not see because they thought they already “saw” on their own.
John 9:41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains.
In chapter 10 Jesus continues His message from chapter 9 and speaks about those who are His sheep. His sheep do not trust or follow the voice of strangers (the lying and hypocritical religious leaders), but they recognize the voice of Jesus Christ and are willing to follow Him. Jesus is the good Shepherd that is willing to lay down His life for the sheep and leads them into abundant life.
John 6:2 says, “a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.” Later, after the whole multitude was miraculously fed, Jesus said in John 6:26, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” It seems their reason for following Jesus has changed. Instead of it being because they knew He was sent by God and they needed to get to know His ways, now it was because they were getting their needs met by Him. I wonder how many start off with faith in Christ that is focused right, but after time gets sidetracked. A person may realize they are lost and need a Savior so in faith and in love they devote their life to Jesus Christ, but after time sometimes things change. A person may begin to take for granted what Christ did and begin to focus on their wants and their needs again. Jesus said to the people in John 6:27-29 “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him." Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." The “work” God has called us to is to really believe Jesus Christ and live our life according to that faith. We shouldn’t pursue what we want and try to add Him to it, or try to appropriate His promises as we pursue our own desires. It’s possible to start with a faith that says, “I trust You with my life and I’m going to follow You” to a faith that only says, “I trust you to take care of me and provide for me and get me to heaven one day.”
Jesus told the Jews who persecuted him in John 5:38-40, “You do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”
There is a big difference between knowing what the Bible says, and having His Word abide within you. Jesus said they searched the Scriptures, but it’s obvious they weren’t really searching for Truth from a pure heart. Searching for truth requires humility and repentance; it means we’re going to change as light comes into our heart. Like it says in Proverbs 6:23: “For the commandment is a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life.”
Those Jews show us that people can study the Scriptures (or go to church, etc) out of pride. Knowing what the Bible says is not the same at all as having His Word abide in us. The LORD said He is looking for someone who “is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).
John 2:15-16 says, “He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!"”
The Temple service had become a “business” and Jesus drove them out by force. He made a whip, so He was ready to whip any of the merchandiser's who would not leave; He poured out their money to the ground. Jesus didn't gently ask them to leave; He had authority and He used it to bring judgment within the Temple that day. We need to have a full picture of who Jesus Christ is. He is the One who is coming again “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10).
When John the Baptist said “He (Jesus Christ) must increase, but I must decrease” in John 3:30, he was referring to his ministry. He recognized his ministry was to prepare the way and bring others to Jesus. It’s still true today; church ministry should lead people into a real and living relationship with Jesus Christ so He increases in their life.
Jesus said in John 4:10, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."
In John 4:32-34, Jesus tells His disciples that His food (what motivates Him) is to do and finish the work the Father had for Him to do. Then in the very next verse (verse 35), He tells them to lift up their eyes and see that the fields are ready for harvest. What is your “food;” what motivates you? Let it be to see the Father’s work accomplished; He has a plan to bring in the huge harvest of souls from every tongue, tribe and nation. I pray our heart beats for souls to come into His kingdom.
Read through the Bible with us in 2012! The reading plan can be downloaded below; we are reading in chronological order. Check back often to read the blog posts on the Bible readings and discuss things in the "comments" section.
2012 Bible Plan