John 8:31-36

Read: John 8:31-36

Being a slave to sin has its consequences, because sin makes one deaf and blind to the truth. When the Pharisees came to Jesus, they did not believe them because they were prideful, in that they were seeking glory for themselves. When Jesus points this out, they go on the defensive trying to do whatever they can to discredit Jesus and trap him into saying something that they could use against him. Throughout the entire discourse, Jesus maintains that he speaks the truth, that the Father is his witness to this fact, and they Pharisees do not believe because they are blinded by sin. Jesus says that if they believed, then the truth would set them free from sin – and rather be a slave to sin, they would be free in the truth. The slavery of sin for the Pharisees was their own personal glory.

The motif of sin as slavery is expounded on in Romans 6 in reference to salvation. The argument Paul makes in the chapter is that everyone who has faith in Christ was a slave to sin, but through Jesus’ death, all who believe are made free from sin. They are, in the same manner that Christ died, dead to sin. But Jesus did not say dead – he rose from the dead. In this way, Jesus was made alive after bearing sin. Those who believe in Jesus are made alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:19 also speaks of the perpetuation of sin: sin resulting in more sin. When sin matures, it results in death (Romans 6:23, James 1:14-15).  Being freed from sin does not make one free as in one is no longer under bondage. One becomes a disciple of Christ, a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:18). The result of righteousness though is sanctification and eternal reward with God – namely eternal life that comes from Jesus (Romans 6:21-23). This is achieved by Christ imbuing righteousness which comes through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). But slaves in God’s house receive an elevated status to sonship through adoption. Those who are in Christ receive a spirit of adoption and are sons of God (Romans 8:10-25, particularly Romans 8:15).

Slavery in the New Testament times was not the typical depiction of slavery common in Western thought. Freemen usually entered slavery for the purpose of paying off debt that was owed to a bondsman. They would indenture themselves for a time to a master who had the right to transfer the debt owed to someone else. The slave, in order to be set free, had to pay off the debt owed. Sometimes, a master could assume the debt and set the slave free. An even more generous master would elevate a slave to a son making him effectively no different than one of his children. When Paul says the wages of sin is death, he is saying in a manner of speaking that the money owed for a slave to sin is death. Jesus then pays the debt owed to master – namely the law – for the slave and then becomes the slave’s new master. The new master then elevates the slave to a status of sonship, and therein is true freedom.

Those who believe in Jesus are no longer slaves to sin. For this reason, sin should not reign over Christians, rather God should. Christians should not make light of price that Jesus paid for their freedom – it cost him his life and he endured much suffering for it. Paul says that grace is not a license to sin, rather something that should compel those who believe to live their lives such that are slave to righteousness although they are free in Christ and have been adopted as sons into the family of God. Those who know Jesus are his disciples and should do what he says!

Lord, Thank you for setting me free! Help me to live in a worthy manner.

 

John 8:12-30

Read: John 8:12-30

Jesus is again confronted by the Pharisees concerning his testimony while he is teaching. They were looking for yet another way to discredit him, and this time they were going after his testimony about himself. Jewish law required the testimony of at least two people (Deuteronomy 17:6, Deuteronomy 19:15). Jesus answers them saying that his testimony is true because the Father testified about him. Earlier, Jesus had been confronted by the Jews concerning his testimony (John 5:31-47). Jesus lays out five different elements that testify to himself: The Spirit, The Father, John, The Scriptures, and his deeds. Jesus had also called out in the temple (John 7:28) saying that they did know where he came from, but what they refused to believe it because of their personal agendas.

When Jesus says that he is the Light of the World, he is talking about the light that he brings, which is truth. The truth exposes sin and illuminates the hearts and minds of those who believe (John 1:4-9). Jesus basically is declaring that the Pharisees did not have the light. John notes that they did not know that Jesus was speaking from his Father (John 8:27), were lost in their sin and would die without the knowledge of Christ (John 8:24). John 7 says that they knew that Jesus was of God, but what John 8 makes clears is that because of their refusal to believe in Jesus, that they were blinded by their sin and would die therein. When Jesus spoke these things, many believed because they realized that they needed the light to free them from their sin.

Refusing to believe in Jesus has dire consequences: being dead in one’s sin. This means that after one dies, he will be judged according to his faith in Jesus. If what Jesus is saying is true (which it is), then was trying to save their lives from the eternal consequences of sin. It does not seem that the Pharisees were altogether without hope, as some like Nicodemus were open to hearing him out. He says that after he is lifted up, they would see that he was truly who he says he was. Christians today live after Jesus is lifted up, and Jesus says that he is drawing all men to himself. Some will reject him and die in their sins, but others will surrender and let Jesus save their life as only he can do. Belief is not impossible for those that resist God to see, so there is hope yet for those who do not yet believe. Christians should never give up hoping that more will be saved, even the most stubborn hearted people.

Lord, you are the Light of the World! Shine your light brightly on those who resist you the most so they can see you, repent, and believe!

John 8:1-11

Read: John 8:1-11

This is a classic story from the Scriptures, and often used as a proof text that Christians shouldn’t judge. The woman that the Pharisees brought to Jesus was caught in adultery. The law specified that a woman caught in adultery was to be stoned (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22). They brought the woman to her to see if they could trick Jesus into saying something so they could arrest him. They brought the woman, but it raises the question as to where the man that was caught with her was. The text does not indicate this, but they may have fabricated the story just to frame Jesus. Jesus was teaching at the time. He was writing on the ground, but the text does not say about what. He looked at the Pharisees, and says that the one without sin should case the first stone and went back to writing. The Pharisees each go away because they knew that they were with sin – perhaps even so because they had no real proof that the woman was actually guilty. Jesus looks up at her and sees that the Pharisees are gone. He tells her to go, and not sin anymore.

Some might interpret this as judging others. Judgment, on the other hand requires a conviction of sin and an execution of the penalty of sin. For one to judge, one would have to have both the authority to convict sin and the authority to carry that conviction out. Jesus certainly had the authority to do this, as he is God and God is the one who judges the world (1 Chronicles 16:14). Eventually, Jesus will judge the world (Revelation 20:11-15), but that was not his mission when he came to earth (John 3:17). What Jesus did was simply speak truth into the lives of Pharisees about being with sin and it convicts them of their sin. The conviction was self-conviction. John in his first epistle says that the one who claims to have no sin deceives himself and the truth is not in that person (1 John 1:8). If one says he is without sin, he makes a liar out of Jesus (1 John 1:10). Paul asserts that all have sin (Romans 3:23).  The truth that one is with sin should be enough for one to feel self-convicted and realize that the one is also under judgment.

Galatians 6:1-4 outlines how Christians should behave in reference to sin:

  • Those who are spiritual should restore in gentleness those who are in error. This implies that they should speak truth into the one in error’s life.
  • Those who do the restoring should not be tempted in the same manner.
  • Bear the burden together – that is help one another out in times of weakness. This is one way to fulfill the law of Christ which is to love one another he loved them. (John 15:12)
  • Do not be deceived into thinking one is something when he is not. All are sinners, so one should not deceive oneself into thinking he or she is not and become judgmental in doing so.
  • Each should examine himself and not compare himself to others. One should boast will in himself alone rather than comparing himself to others.

While is is true that Christians are in no place to judge as Jesus has the authority to do, Christians should not be afraid to correct another, but they should also be mindful of one’s their own state. This way, it benefits everyone such that they realize that they all realize they need Jesus’ grace.

Lord, help me to speak truth and let truth be spoken to me!

John 7:32-53

Read: John 7:32-53

After Jesus had rebuffed the authorities in the temple, they sent the temple guards to arrest him. Jesus says something that sounds somewhat enigmatic, in that they won’t be able to find him. They supposed he was going to flee the country and teach Greeks in the dispersion. A number of Jews had been scattered throughout the Roman world after they came out of exile some hundreds of years before. They did however preserve their religion and customs as they moved away from Palestine. The synagogue system was set up as a result. What Jesus was really talking that one day he would return to the Father, and they could not find him there.

At the end of the Festival of Booths, Jesus starts teaching again about Living Water again, the same message that he had given the woman at the well in John 4:7-13. Jesus says this in regards to the Spirit, but the Spirit had not been given yet. The Spirit of God was promised to come after Jesus was crucified (John 14:16-31). The people in Jerusalem did not know what to think about Jesus as a whole. Some thought he was a Prophet, and other thought he was the Christ. They debate the Scripture in saying that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem and would be of David. The guards did not arrest Jesus because he spoke with authority. The Pharisees then accuse them of being led astray by Jesus’ teaching. They say the crowds are ignorant and accursed because they do not know the law, and that none of the Pharisees believed him – a direct appeal to their own authority. They then suggest that Jesus was from Galilee, and the Scriptures don’t say anything about a prophet coming from Galilee.

But the Pharisees were wrong on at least six counts:

  • First, they appealed to their own authority, a blatant fallacy in its own right and vindicates what Jesus was saying earlier in that one who speak on his own authority seeks his own glory (John 7:4).
  • Second, they make and argument from silence in that the Scriptures say nothing about a prophet coming out of Galilee. This does not mean that one will not.
  • Third, they were just plain wrong: Matthew 4:15-16 ascribes Isaiah 9:1-2 to Jesus, describing the region of Galilee as a place that will see a great light. Also Jesus was of David’s line and was born in Bethlehem.
  • Fourth, the Pharisees had been exposed, and they knew it, but they were jumping to conclusions. Nicodemus attempts to intercede on Jesus’ behalf, saying they were making a hasty generalization without hearing Jesus out.
  • Fifth, they poison the well against the masses saying they are uneducated and attempt to associate the guards with them — these are ad hominem attacks.
  • Sixth, they attempt to silence Nicodemus by accusing him as being a sympathize– a genetic fallacy.

What is certain is that the Pharisees were backed against a wall and were doing anything they could to wiggle they’re way out. John says that they went home after this, perhaps in an attempt to save face because they knew they had been put to shame.

Jesus’ message is truth, and when he speaks, no falsehood comes out of his mouth. Those who oppose Jesus will feel exposed by the truth. A Christian’s job is to speak the truth. But at the same time, a person should also be willing to be corrected. The Pharisees were unwilling to be corrected, so they dug themselves in deeper such that they were willing to say and do anything so they did not have to admit they were wrong – even lying about things. Christians should maintain a great deal of humility such that they can be taught, but not as to be carried away by whims. The anchor Christians have is the Bible from which doctrine comes, and with the Holy Spirit, Christians can arrive at the truth (2 Timothy 3:14-17). But do not discount the work of faithful teachers either. The spiritual mature are to correct those who are in error (Galatians 6:1, 2 Timothy 4:2).  The ones under authority should be willing to be corrected by those who are over them.

Lord, help me to understand and speak truth!

John 7:14-31

Read John 7:14-31

Jesus did eventually make his way to the Festival of Booths in Jerusalem, but he did so in secret because he was not trying to make a name for himself, rather do the will of the one who sent him. Jesus’ goal was to be in sync with the Father, and draw people to the Father…not merely himself. And Jesus said that his preaching was not his own, but the one of him who sent him – the Father. If a person speaks in his own authority, then he seeks his own glory, but Jesus was seeking the glory of the Father. The ones who know this are the ones seeking to do God’s will. In a manner of speaking, Jesus says like knows like. He is doing the Father’s will and others seeking to do the Father’s will would recognize it as such. That is more than just obeying the law, but seeking to give God the glory for it when one does rather than seeking glory from another.

Jesus then calls out the ones trying to kill him, because Jesus was a threat to them in that he could expose them for who they really were. They of course deny they are trying to kill him because he had claimed equality with God and healed a man on the Sabbath (John 5:16-23). Jesus was recalling these facts, but they rebutted, saying he was crazy. But Jesus offers another rebuttal to strike at the heart of the matter. One part of the law says that a male child should be circumcised on the eighth day (Genesis 17:12) but another part of the law says that one should not work on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11). Sometimes, the eighth day would fall on the Sabbath. So in order to uphold the law of circumcision, one had to “break” the law of the Sabbath. Jesus was pointing out that they were doing this very thing, such that they were nitpicking what they wanted to from the law. Jesus says the issue is not a matter of the letter of the law, but a matter as to what is right, and if healing on the Sabbath is right, then by all means.

Jesus then goes back to the original issue – personal glory and testimony. A number of believed in Jesus, probably because they understood and were not pretentious. They allege that they know where Jesus is from and that no one will know where the Christ will come from. On the other hand, Jesus “shouted” in the temple to them, saying they know who he is and where he comes from. Jesus was not speaking about which town he was from, but his origin in heaven, and that they knew this to be the case. They were trying to make it a matter of technicality rather than a matter of truth. They did not believe in God, rather were seeking glory for themselves. Jesus in a sense had just exposed them for who they really were, and they knew it. For this reason, they wanted to seize him, but no one did because Jesus’ time had not come (John 13:2).

Often times, people use religion as a means to gain glory for themselves. They use the guise of piety and abuse the authority of teachers to garner worldly things such as money and fame. Jesus could have easily done this, but was making moves as to not gain popularity and draw people away from God, rather point people to him. The ones who seek the will of the Father will recognize those who are authentic and the ones that are not. The job of the Christian is not to go on a witch hunt, but to continuously do the will of the Father. Others, then, will be able to see through the guise and know who is true and who is not true and believe.

Lord, the glory is yours! Help me to not seek it for myself!

John 7:1-13

Read: John 7:1-13

The Feast of Booths was ordinated by God in Leviticus 23:34-43 to commemorate how the Israelites lived when they came out of exile in Egypt. It is usually celebrated in September or October depending on when it falls on the Jewish lunar calendar. Jesus’ brothers were coaxing him to make a journey to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival. They also knew Jesus works were making him famous and encouraging him not to hide it. What they did not understand was Jesus’ purpose. Jesus was not seeking fame or prestige. His mission was to bring salvation to the world (John 3:16-17).

Jesus tells them that his time has not come because he knew that the Jews would try and kill him if he went to Jerusalem. Jesus says that the world cannot hate them, but hates Jesus because he testifies about evil. They are not “hated” (or “detested”) by the world because they are still of the world because they have not believed. Matthew 10:22 declares that the disciples would be hated for Jesus name. Jesus work exposes sin and convicts people, and because people love their sin, they reject Jesus (John 3:19). The time for Jesus to be offered up comes some time after this (John 13:2). Jesus was a devout Jew, so he made the journey, but later after many had left and in secret as to not draw attention to himself. The Jews were looking for him so they could kill him, but they did not find him. They whispered among themselves because they were not sure what might become of them if they spoke openly about, because they also feared the religious establishment in Jerusalem.

Being hated by the world – that is the things that are evil – is almost to be expected by Christians because of whose name they bear. Persecution is to be expected for those who follow Christ (2 Timothy 3:12). One can reasonably expect that persecution will come from one angle or another nowhere does Jesus tell his disciples to go looking for trouble – trouble will most certainly come to them. Jesus himself was not looking for fame, rather to simply fulfill the mission he was sent to do. When it does come, one should not be surprised, but rather pray for those who do persecute you (Matthew 5:44), escape it if possible (Matthew 10:23), and rejoice and be glad because of the reward that awaits believers in heaven (Matthew 5:10-12).

Lord, I know I’m hated for your name. Help me to endure it and remain faithful to you!

John 6:59-71

Read: John 6:59-71

Apparently, the statements of Jesus turned a lot of people off because they were still thinking with carnal minds. They wanted bread, so Jesus said they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood, something obviously disgusting. Even this disturbed the disciples. Given this, Jesus asks if they took offense at it and explains that he spoke the words in Spirit, such that the one’s with spiritual ears could understand. Jesus also asks them, what if they saw him ascending to where he was before – by implication, heaven. The problem apparently has to do with the fact that had they seen him in his ascended form, they would have probably have rejected him even more so. Being a man seems to make Jesus more approachable, and using human terms to communicate spiritual truth seems to make spiritual truth more understandable. In any case, there would be those who would not believe and one who would betray Jesus.

Jesus explains the matter that the ones who understand him are the ones who the Father grants. From John 6:46, this is in the context of drawing with a struggle. God is, in a manner of speaking, dragging people to himself, but only a few. At this point, Jesus was not drawing all men to himself, as this would happen after he was lifted up (John 12:32). But even as this point some of the ones be drawn were struggling against him and would not believe, so they left Jesus. When Jesus asks if the Twelve is they wanted to leave, they do not. Peter asks a rhetorical question: “To whom shall we go?” For they knew Jesus had eternal life. Jesus had even chosen the 12 and was drawing them, even though he knew that one was going to betray him.

Jesus is trying to get the attention of people then, and he is still trying to get the attention of every man. Sometimes, the tactics are loving and filled with compassion – such as feeding people. Other times, they seem disgusting or shocking. Whatever tactics God uses to get ones attention, there are going to be some who struggle to understand and some that will not believe. Christians who are delivering the message should not feel discouraged for this. It is God’s job to draw them, not the messengers. The messengers job is to simply be obedient and deliver the message. The messenger can take great joy when one does believe (Luke 15:6-7)!

Lord, many won’t believe, but help me to rejoice when one does believe!

John 6:41-58

Read: John 6:41-58

Jesus continues his conversation with the Jews over the matter of bread here. The Jews were grumbling because Jesus had likened himself to the bread that the Jews leaving the wilderness received from heaven and had not given them what they were expecting: another free meal and a king. Jesus then commands them not to grumble among themselves because of what he said perhaps because he sees that they don’t understand, and then states that God draws men to himself. It is difficult to understand this passage in light of the fact that John affirms elsewhere that people are unwilling to believe on their own volitions (John 5:40-44). “ελκυση”, the word translated “draw” is used in the context of  “drawing” in a fish (John 21:11-10) or “dragging” one to court (Acts 16:19, Acts 21:30, James 2:6) What is certainly true that spiritual truth can only truly be understood under the influence of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-12, 1 Corinthians 2:6-16) but Hebrews 6:1-8 explains that some receive enlightenment from the Holy Spirit and reject it.  John 12:32 says that after Jesus is lifted up that he would draw all men to himself. The draw here is not something without struggle, as in taking one to court or pulling in a load of fish. God speaks truth, but men have the ability to resist it, and this is precisely what is going on here: God is drawing people to Jesus but the people are resisting for one reason or another.

Jesus wants them to believe and have eternal life. He notes that the manna from heaven was eaten, and the people in the wilderness died. Jesus probably says this to get their attention: If all he gives them is real bread, even the sort they ate in the wilderness, then they would die without hope. He wants to give them so much more, namely eternal life. Jesus then gives them another parabolic statement, probably to get them to stop thinking about bread. He makes it more clear that he is talking about himself saying that that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will have eternal life. Obviously the Jews do not get that either, in that they reject it. The connection between the person of Jesus and the bread of life could not be clearer at this point in that they are the same thing. It should have been abundantly clear to the Jews that he was talking about himself when he was talking about bread.

God is working to draw all men to Jesus, but man is resisting him even unto today. The battle for the hearts of men is still raging. God is sending people to every corner of the globe to spread the message of eternal life. While it is a good thing to provide for the physical needs of those who are in need, one day these people will be in need again and will ultimately die. What people need more than anything is spiritual truth. All people will die one day, but only those who believe in Jesus will receive a resurrection to Life. Christians today should be involved in this work by telling people how they can find the bread of life who is Jesus and not hindering God as he draws them to Jesus.

Lord, draw all men to yourself!

John 6:26-41

Read: John 6:26-41

Jesus is the Bread of Life. Jesus had just fed 5000 people, no small feat. Before that, he was performing signs and wonders. He had made his way across the sea to escape the people who were trying to make him king. Jesus was not looking to a political revolutionary, but to bring salvation to those who might believe. Apparently, the people who followed Jesus were looking to get their bellies filled again, but Jesus tells them to seek something more lasting: food that endure. The people do pose a valid question: What shall they do? Jesus had just told them to do the work of God. What they did not understand, so it seems, was that Jesus was talking in parabolic terms, using common elements from life to communicate spiritual truth (John 3:3, John 4:13-14). Jesus answers them, saying that the work of God is to believe in Jesus, and in a typical Jewish fashion, the people ask for a sign. (They followed him because he fed them, not because of signs).

Jesus then expounds on his parabolic message about bread. He quotes from Exodus 16:4 – the story about God bringing manna from heaven. The story tells of how the Israelites were coming out of Egypt, and were grumbling against God because they did not have anything to eat. The Lord promises and sends “bread from heaven” for them to eat emphasizing it was God that sent it, not Moses. The people apparently are still looking for real bread to satisfy their bellies because they ask Jesus for this bread.  Jesus then makes the statement in John 6:35, “I am the Bread of Life” connecting himself to the parable. He describes himself as being sent from heaven and the one who gives life. They have seen him, yet do not believe him – perhaps in response to their demand for a sign. The people grumble against Jesus because he likens himself to the bread that filled their bellies.

The people who ate the bread that Jesus had multiplied had seen this and were ready to make him king. They tracked him down again looking for more bread. When Jesus gives them spiritual truth – what they need the most – they grumbled. Jesus for people today is a lot of things. Some see him as a good teacher. Some see him as a philosopher. Some see him as a revolutionary. While Jesus was these things in part, he was more than that. He was the provider of eternal life. Many people come to Jesus expecting him to be one way or another, and generally leave disappointed because Jesus did not meet their expectations. For those who do believe, it is easy to forget where one came from and grumble at God when God does not meet one’s expectations. God’s job is not to make one’s life more comfortable or easier. Many times, believing in Jesus can make one’s life even harder. What Christians have to remember is remember were God brought them from and where God is taking them and not try to make God into something he is not, rather Christians should let God shape them (Isaiah 64:8).

Lord, you are the potter – make me into the vessel I should be!

John 6:16-21

Read: John 6:16-21

Jesus’ miracle of walking on the water is another one of the miracles of Jesus that is recorded in Mark 6:45-52 and Matthew 14:22-33. John’s accounts notes that they went from Jerusalem to the “other side” of the Sea of Galilee before feeding the 5000. Luke places the feeding of the 5000 in Bethsaida on the north side of the Sea of Galilee. They started across the sea to Capernaum, which was not too far away from Bethsaida. While they were rowing, a storm picks up and then they see a man walking on the water. Jesus calls out to them to not be afraid, and he enters the boat. John does not record this, but here the apostles worship Jesus, calling him the “Son of God”. Matthew notes that Peter wanted to come out on the water and meet Jesus, but after he got out of the boat and he started walking to Jesus, be began to sink and called out for Jesus to save him. Jesus does so, but calls him of little faith.

The contrast between faith and fear is more evident in Matthew, but is certainly evident in John’s gospel too because Jesus said to them, “do not be afraid”. The word translated “φοβεισθε” is the base word from which the English word “phobia” comes from. In the Greek language, it carried pretty much the same meaning “fear” in the English language does in that it can have a good connotation and a bad one.  The good connotation is in respect to reverence or awe such as Revelation 9:4-5. The bad connotation is the one noted hear as being the antithesis of faith. Fear is a natural response to circumstances that are beyond one’s control or when something happens and one does not understand. In the case of Jesus walking on the water, Matthew notes that they thought he was a ghost and they did not understand that it was Jesus.

This does not necessarily indict the disciples. But what is apparent is that considering Jesus had claimed equality with God and had just fed 5000 people, they did not think of Jesus first. Christians today are no less fickle than the disciples were in that often times Christians default to fear in light of uncertain circumstances rather than calling out to God. Being fearless does not mean that one should go out of their way to place themselves in fearful situations, but inevitably fearful situations will come. Knowing that Jesus will never leave a Christian (Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5) is an assuring fact. For this matter Christians can rest assured that in any situation Jesus will be there to help one along.

Lord, help me to trust in your in all things!

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