Matthew 11:20-24: A False Facade

Read: Matthew 11:20-24
A common objection to belief often used to create a façade of credulity often goes, “If God would only show me a miracle, I would believe.” The problem with this is that even in the day of Jesus, those who witnessed miracles abundantly still did not repent and believe the gospel. This is precisely why Jesus starts pronouncing judgement on cities in Israel where he had performed miracles. Jesus mentions three cities all relatively close to one another on the north side of the Sea of Galilee: Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. Chorazin is only mentioned here and in the parallel passage in Luke, so what miracles were performed there is unknown. But Jesus did perform miracles near Bethsaida such as feed the 5,000 (Luke 9:10) and healing a blind man (Mark 8:22). In Capernaum, he healed the centurion’s daughter (Mathew 8:5) a paralyzed man (Mark 2:1) an official’s son (John 4:46), and many others (Luke 4:38-44). All in all, the miracles that Jesus had performed in the area would have been well known.

Even with the miracles though the people did not believe. Jesus says that there will be more mercy on Tyre and Sidon, two cities north of Israel in Phoenicia, that were known for paganism. Jesus had ministered in this region when he healed a Canaanite woman’s daughter (Matthew 15:21–28). There he says that he was sent to the children of Israel, but nevertheless heals the woman because of her faith. Moreover, Jesus likens Capernaum to Sodom. Sodom was an Old Testament city that was destroyed in Genesis 19 for their sin, and even so Jesus says that they will receive more mercy than Capernaum because Capernaum did not believe. These harsh pronouncements against the cities comes on the heels where Jesus talks about John’s message not being received and before Jesus calls those who are not “wise” to rest.  Jesus himself was not accepted in his home town as a prophet either (Luke 4:14-30).

Miracles in Jesus’ day were given as way to vindicate his message, yet even with the miracles people did not believe. Even today though, people will still not believe. It’s not for lack of evidence though. God has made himself known in history (Hebrews 1:1), through creation (Romans 1:2), and through conscience (Romans 2:14-15).  All in all, the myriad of was God is revealed makes his existence plain and the need for repentance clear. If this is so then, whatever objections one might give to not believe and repent are largely a façade for a deeper problem, a sin problem that keeps one from acknowledging sin, repenting of it, and receiving Jesus’ forgiveness. Christians should not lose heart though. Even when many won’t believe, some will. And odds are, it will be the least expected ones who will come to faith when they do!

Lord, you have made yourself known

Help the lost to so they can believe!

Hebrews 11:1-2,39-40: Faith Defined

Read: Hebrews 11:1-2, Hebrews 11:39-40

The English word “faith” can be confusing at times. Often times, atheists and skeptics define faith as believing things without evidence or proof. Such “faith” merely accepts what it sees, credulously and regardless of its actual truth. There is also the notion of faith though: allegiance to a person. One may assert that they have faith in their spouse or faith in their friends, expressing their loyalty and fidelity to these individuals. Hebrews 11 has been called the “Hall of Fame of Faith” because it contains a list of people who had faith in God. But the author of Hebrews launches into this list and closes this list explaining the nature of faith. He defines faith using two phrases that have been translated any number of different ways such as “the assurance of things hoped for” and “the conviction of things unseen”. There are several key words in the Greek:

  • υποστασις (hupostasis) – this is the word is translated “assurance”. It carries the idea of something being placed under another object as a foundation is placed under a house. In the abstract sense, it is firm trust or confidence in something.
  • “ελπιζω” (elpizo) – this is the world translated “hoped” and carries very much the same meaning. For this reason, most all English translation all translate this word the same.
  • “ἐλεγχος” (elegchos) – this word is translated “conviction”. It could be translated as “proof” or “evidence”. The idea here is that something is being tested to be true.
  • “βλεπω” (blepo) – This word is the general Greek verb that means to “see”, both metaphorically and literally.

The author asserts before he launches into the list in verse 2 and closes the list in verse 39 that through faith the people in the list obtained a “testimony”, “good report” or “approval” from God. The object of the faith of the people in this list is a person, not some set of facts. Rather, Hebrews 12:2 tells its readers to fix their eyes on Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of the faith. In other words, he is the beginning and the end of faith. The faith of believers is forward looking with confidence and conviction to what is “hoped” for and what is “unseen”, namely the promises and works of the Person of the faith.

Given this, faith does not merely believe that God exists. But even so, believing that God exists is not without good reason either. Paul says that the nature of God is revealed through the created world (Romans 1:20). He also basis his faith in the person of Jesus based on the facts of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-14). Without the facts of the resurrection, the faith of Christians is void. James carries this a bit further when he differentiates between merely asserting that God exists and trusting in the person of God. He says that even demons believe that God exists, but they do not trust him (James 2:19). Faith, then, is more than merely believing that God exists – it is trusting in God with assurance and confidence.

The author of Hebrews is trying to spur his readers on to confident faith in Jesus. He has already shown them from their own lives that faith is of great value (Hebrews 10:32-36) and he is showing them through the lives of their ancestors the value of faith. Christians today are still living between Jesus’ first coming and his return. Attacks come on every side and for any number of reasons Christians can be tempted and begin to falter in the confidence they have in Jesus. They may begin to trust only in themselves or in things other than Jesus. Ultimately, anything other than Jesus will disappoint, because Jesus offers a real hope. Trust in that, because it is of great value!

Lord, help me to be confident in you!

2 Timothy 4:1-5: “Fulfill Your Ministry”

Read: 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Paul’s charge to Timothy is basically three words: “Preach the Word”. This charge comes on the heels of Paul’s admonition to Timothy to stay firmly planted in the scriptures and a description of the source and uses of scripture. Paul gives his charge to Timothy in the “presence” of God and Jesus and who will judge the living and dead. The strong command to preach is qualified with several commands:

  • Be ready in season and out of season. For the one preaching the word, game day is every day. One cannot be lax one day and on the next.
  • Reprove, rebuke, and exhort with great patience and instruction. This comes on the heels of Paul telling Timothy about the uses of scripture which are the aforementioned things (2 Timothy 3:14-16). Scripture is useful for training in righteousness.
  • Be sober in all things. Paul is telling Timothy to not let anything cloud his mind.
  • Endure hardship. This is a guaranteed thing for those who wish to live lives of godliness (2 Timothy 3:12).
  • Do the work of an evangelist. An evangelist is one who declares good news, and in New Testament terms, it is one who shares the good news about Jesus. Paul is charging Timothy to do this sort of work.
  • Fulfill his ministry. This is a command in the most general sense, just in case Paul left something out. Paul is telling Timothy to thoroughly accomplish all that he has been instructed to do.

Paul says that there will come a time when people will not endure sound doctrine, surrounding themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear. They will turn from truth and believe “myths”. The New Testament describes such things as cleverly devised tales (2 Peter 1:16) and fables (1 Timothy 4:7). These things stand in stark contrast to the words of truth from the scripture that Paul is telling Timothy to proclaim and the testimony of eyewitnesses that have been handed to Timothy and the many others concerning Jesus from the apostles.

This charge to Timothy is a popular passage for ordination services in many churches. The charge is very relevant to those who are starting out in the gospel ministry as it outlines what a pastor is supposed to do concerning his ministry. But the application of this text is not limited to just pastors – all Christians should be ready to do what these very things themselves. Most certainly, Christians today are living in a time when people not want to hear sound doctrine, but rather hear what they want to hear. This requires that Christians know sound doctrine and know how to correct and rebuke those who do not endure sound doctrine with patience and love. This way, one can fulfill one’s own ministry as Paul wanted Timothy to do.

Lord, help me to fulfill my ministry!

John 21:24-25: Scratching the Surface

Read: John 21:24-25

The purpose of John writing his gospel is found in John 20:29-30 where John states that he wrote the gospel so that its reader might believe in the name of Jesus. Here, in the last two verses John makes two final remarks concerning the veracity of the testimony that he had just written down. First, John says that the disciples testified and wrote these things, and that “we” know that his testimony is true. This seems to be a peculiar statement in some ways in that a John is self-validating. In other words, he’s saying that his statement is true because he said so. But rather than this, John is probably appealing to what others have said concerning Jesus as a witness of Jesus. When John says that they know his testimony to be true, he’s saying if you don’t believe him, just ask others. Second, John says that there were numerous other things that Jesus did that are not recorded. He supposes that there are not enough books in the world to contain all that Jesus did. John in a way then is only a highlights reel of what Jesus did. He’s just scratching the surface, as there are details that are not recorded concerning Jesus life. His hope is that what he has shown is sufficient to convince his readers to believe.

The eyewitnesses to Jesus have all passed away, but they did not leave their spiritual progeny empty handed concerning the works of Jesus. A few of them recorded what they saw themselves (as in parts of Matthew and John), and others reported it so that those collating these source could record it as in other parts of Matthew and the books of Mark and Luke. But the gospels are not the only records. In the Bible, there are the four gospels, Acts, and numerous letters by Paul, John, James, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews that all testify to Jesus and what he did. Outside the Bible are historians that account for Jesus as well. The biblical and extrabiblical accounts are corroborated with political history, social history and archaeology among other sources.

Skeptics today like to illustrate two problems they see with the Bible: the reliability of the documents that exist concerning the Bible and the historical accuracy. The Old Testament as delivered to the world today came by way of the work of the Masoretes. They meticulously copied the texts with a great deal of accuracy and attention to detail. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were found and compared to the Masoretic texts, the Dead Sea scrolls vindicated the reputation of the Masoretes reputation as the scrolls were almost exactly the same as the much later Hebrew texts available before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The New Testament is a different story in that there are over 5000 documents that make up the body of available texts, making it the most well preserved ancient document known to exist. From these available texts, scholars have been able to produce what they believe to be an accurate representation of the original manuscripts through careful study of the texts. The historical reliability of both Old Testament and the New Testament are vindicated in a number of ways. First, the writers themselves do not seem to be reporting what they witnessed about Jesus as something that was fictional, rather they believed what they were reporting was true. They paid attention to details concerning people, places, and events such that the events of Jesus’ unfolded in the context of real history. Second, and in part of the attention to details, the history of the Bible is corroborated by archaeology. And third, as mentioned, the extrabiblical evidence, and social history, and political history vindicate this as well.

The witness of John is a part of the whole of the testimony concerning Jesus. At the end of the book, John wants to make known the way of salvation and way to abundant life that can only be found in Jesus. Christians today have this testimony in hand and can use to understand the way of salvation and also give it to others to use so they too can have eternal life that is only found in Jesus. Jesus is the light of the world, the way, the truth, and the life, the good shepherd, the bread of life, the source of living water, the lamb of God, the savior of the world, and ultimately God himself! Believe in Jesus and be saved!

Lord, your truth is revealed! Help all to know it and believe!

John 21:1-14: Telltale Signs

Read: John 21:1-14

The disciples had been out fishing all night. Apparently, they had returned to Galilee after the Passover and returned to fishing for a time. They had seen the risen Lord on two other occasions before this one according to the Gospel of John. John records the other in appearances in John 20 after the resurrection. Jesus had made his way up to Galilee and had a fire going on the shore. The disciples did not know who it was at first, but recognized it was Jesus after they pulled in 153 large fish after following the strangers instructions. They knew immediately that it was Jesus then, and none of them dare asked, “Who are you?” The disciples recognized Jesus by the telltale sign of a miraculous catch of fish. This catch certainly sparked a memory of many of the other miracles that Jesus had performed before this time.

John up to this point had recorded seven other miracles.

  • Turning water in wine (John 2:1-11)
  • Healing the officials son a distance (John 4:43-53)
  • The healing of the man by the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-9)
  • The feeding of the 5000 (John 6:1-5)
  • Walking on water (John 6:16-25)
  • Healing the man born blind (John 9:1-41)
  • Raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44)

Jesus had also raised from the dead and had already appeared to the disciples. There could be no doubt in the mind of the disciples that this miracle was from Jesus too. The purpose of miracles though was to establish that Jesus was one sent from God. These demonstrations of power were among the works that Jesus says was one of the witnesses to his authenticity (John 3:2, John 5:36, John 9:33, John 10:25-38). Elsewhere, Peter affirms these works as a means to authenticate the message he was preaching(Acts 2:22). The case for Jesus’ authenticity had been made and the disciples were well equipped with these accounts to testify about Jesus.

Miracles, however, are not the way that God primarily reveals himself to people today. Jesus performed miracles to authenticate himself. The disciples did perform miracles too, but they did so in the name of Jesus. But even so, the principal way that the disciples talked about Jesus was by going into all the world testifying about what Jesus had done. Many more believed because of the testimonies than they did from the miracles. When Jesus gave the Great Commission, he told the disciples to “teach” (Matthew 28:19-20). Mark says go and “preach” (Mark 16:15-16). Luke says that this will be “proclaimed” in all nations (Luke 24:47). Acts 1:8 says that they will be Jesus’ witnesses – that is they will testify about him. 2 Timothy 2:2 says that Timothy should teach what he received from Paul to others who will be able to teach it to even more. The proclamation of the gospel is a verbal event, not by acts of power. Paul said in Romans 10:17 that faith comes by hearing. If God wants to demonstrate his power, he can, and sometimes he does. But as a mode of operation, Christians are to be about the business of proclaiming the resurrected Christ to all nations rather than looking for signs and wonders or trying to do such things themselves. Besides, Jesus said the telltale sign of Christians will be their love for one another (John 13:35), not the signs and wonders they perform. In this form, the world will see the love of Christ and hear the witness of Christ!

Lord, help me to represent you well by loving others and proclaim your truth to the world too!

John 20:11-31: Eyewitness News

Read: John 20:11-31

John states that his purpose in writing his gospel was so that some might believe in Jesus. His intent from the beginning of the Gospel was to teach about the truth claims of Jesus and show how that there were a number of witnesses that attest to the veracity of what Jesus said about himself. One of the ultimate proofs of Jesus’ claims was the resurrection, because the entire hope of Christianity hangs on this single event. John notes that the followers of Jesus did not understand that Jesus was rise again from the dead, but after it happened they realized what Jesus was talking about. For this reason, Jesus’ resurrection became a central part of the message that the Christians preached all over the world. Paul says that without the resurrection one’s faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14). But to ensure the Corinthians believers that the resurrection did indeed happen, Paul mentions the post-mortem appearances to the disciples and followers of Jesus who were eyewitnesses of the risen Jesus.

John records Jesus first appearing to Mary, who does not realize who Jesus is. She first sees two angels sitting in the tomb where Jesus had been laid. They ask her why she was weeping, and she turns to meet Jesus face to face, but does not recognize him at first. She later does recognize him and clings to him. Jesus tells her to go tell her to go tell the others that he was going to ascend to the Father. She runs to them and tells them that she has seen the Lord. The next appearance Jesus makes that John records is in a room where they are shut up for fear of the Jews. Jesus appears among them saying “peace” three times. They were probably scared witless because they thought they were seeing a ghost. Jesus cleared their doubts by showing them his wounds from the crucifixion – he was real live flesh and blood. A week later at his second appearance, Thomas would not believe it either, but he saw Jesus wounds and declares that Jesus is his lord and God.

Jesus then says that the ones who believe without seeing are the ones who are blessed. The ones who believe without seeing are all the Christians who have believed since the time Jesus ascended to be with the Father, save the exception of a few such as Paul who saw the Lord after the ascension (Acts 9:4-5). But Christians are not left empty-handed. In fact, Christians have plenty of historical documentation to prove that Jesus did indeed exist, and did indeed rise from the dead. Often times, Christians are asked to prove Jesus without using the Bible. Most want to exclude the Bible because they think it altogether unreliable and historically inaccurate. But if the Bible is such as this, then they should have no reason to fear it. Rather the truth of the matter is that the Bible is historically accurate and the evidence powerful such that one cannot deny it.

Gary Habermas, a leading expert in the historicity of the resurrection devised a “basic facts” approach for apologetic purposes.  By asserting some basic facts that most scholars would concede, one can conclude with a high level of certainty that the best explanation for the facts is that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. Other scholars have expanded and revised this list, but here are a few of the facts:

  • Jesus was crucified and died on a cross.
  • Jesus was buried in a tomb
  • The tomb was found empty
  • The disciples and followers of Jesus experienced what they believed to be the risen Jesus on numerous occasions
  • The disciples were radically transformed by this and boldly proclaimed a risen Jesus
  • Resurrection was central to message

The best explanation for these facts would be that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. Other theories have been proposed to explain away the missing body such as the disciples stole it, Jesus did not really die, the disciples hallucinated the risen Jesus, the disciples found the wrong tomb, among other such theories. The problem with these theories is either they are highly improbable (that is it would take more faith to believe them than Jesus actually rose from the dead) or there is no evidence to support them such that they are hardly more than conspiracy theories.

The eyewitness accounts of the followers are recorded in the Bible, which has been faithfully preserved through the ages and has been shown to be historically reliable. Christians have every good reason to believe that Jesus did indeed raise from the dead and for this reason among others good reason to believe that the truth claims of Jesus are true too. John wrote his gospel so that some might believe, and blessed are those who believe without seeing the Lord. The resurrected Lord though is alive and well. The hope of the gospel is real such that one can take it to the bank.

Lord, I do believe. When I doubt, remind me that I have no good reason to doubt!

John 18:28-38: “What is Truth?”

Read: John 18:28-40

After Caiaphas did not produce a case against Jesus, Caiaphas passes the buck and sends Jesus before Pilate who is in the Praetorium, a Roman guard tower adjacent the temple. Apparently, entering the Praetorium would make one unclean because the Jews saw the Romans as unclean. Jesus died before the Passover, and the priests wanted to observe the Passover. Pilate asks why Jesus was brought to him, and the guards do not answer the question rather just says that if he was not an evildoer, they would not have brought him to Pilate. The truth of the matter was that they had no charges to bring against Jesus, rather they wanted him to die so they brought him to Pilate under false pretenses. John notes that this was to fulfill the kind of death that he would die (John 12:33). Jesus says that he “would be lifted up from the earth”, an allusion to John 3:14 and to the serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:8-9). Jesus was to be “lifted up” on a cross (in the manner the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness) at the hands of Gentiles rather than stoned to death by the Jews. Jesus would die by hands of the Jews and the Gentiles and for the Jews and the Gentiles alike. And through this, Jesus would draw all men to himself. (John 12:32).

Pilate was obviously under pressure, so he enters the Praetorium and summons Jesus. Pilate was probably well aware of who Jesus was, as he asks him a question concerning Jesus’ kingship. People had ascribed kingship to Jesus or wanted to make Jesus king on a number of occasions (John 1:49, John 6:15, John 12:13). In Jesus’ day, there were a number of rabble-rousers looking to win back the Jewish independence from Rome. Anyone claiming to be a king or anyone who was likened to a king would have reached the ears of the ones in power, and in this case, it was the Romans. This was probably what prompted Pilate’s question. Jesus asks if someone had told him about this or if he had asked it on his own initiative. Pilate does not answer the question, rather simply asks what Jesus had done because the priests had brought Jesus to him. They obviously had not presented a case against him.

Jesus then answers both Pilate’s questions concerning his kingship and what he had done. Jesus says his kingdom was not of the world and that he had come into the world to testify concerning the truth. Jesus himself said that he was the truth on a number of occasions in John (John 1:14, John 1:17, John 5:33, John 8:31-32, John 8:44-46, John 14:6). Pilate asks a precarious question, “What is truth?” What Pilate intended by this questions is not certain, but in light of what was going on, Pilate probably suspected that the dodgy answers of the guards indicated that Jesus truly was innocent and that the Jews really were not concerned about the truth. For this reason, he was willing to let Jesus go. But even Pilate was not concerned with the truth, as he sought to appease the crowds by letting a robber go in the place of an innocent man.

Just about everyone alive will claim to believe the truth, but not everyone will believe the truth when it forces them to change something they do not want to change. For this reason, people will change how they see truth or just outright lie to suit their purposes. Jesus was perceived as a threat by the priests. It seems that Pilate saw through the nonsense as there was not case against him brought to bear, but even he did not have the gall to stop it. In any case though, Jesus knew that his purpose was to be the innocent sacrifice that would be lifted up by the hands of Jews and Gentiles for Jews and Gentiles. Through the sins of the Jews and Gentiles at hand, Jesus would provide a way for all people to be reconciled to God and in this Jesus would draw all men to himself! Christians should be concerned about the truth because the truth is the source of salvation. If one does not have the truth, then one does not have salvation. Christians should work with God in helping people realize that they desperately need the truth!

Lord, I see the truth! Help other to see the truth and know!

John 14:7-15

Read: John 14:7-15

Knowing Jesus is knowing God, because they are one and the same. For the disciples, they had a difficult time understanding this because Jesus was sitting there with them, and they saw the Father as a spiritual being whose existence transcended the world in which they existed. Jesus had just promised that he was going away to the Father to prepare a place for them, and Philip, the one Jesus tested when he fed 5000 (John 6:5-6), suggests that Jesus showing them the Father would be enough. Jesus then answers Philip, saying that he had he known Jesus, then he would also know the Father. Apparently, Philip hadn’t fully understood at this point. Jesus points Philip to the “works” that he was doing as a means to know that Jesus was one with the Father, and that the Father is working through him.

It’s not certain as to what “works” is referring to here. The word translated “work” and “works” is the Greek word “εργον” and is used exclusively in scripture to refer to deeds and works, but works can refer to miracles, acts of kindness, service, among other things. The deeds to which Jesus is appealing to are perhaps the entirety of his ministry from his words and deeds. Jesus follows this saying that they will do greater works then he does because he goes to be with the Father. One could mistakenly take this to mean that the disciples are greater than Jesus, but that’s not what Jesus is saying. Jesus says in John 6:29 that the work of God is to believe in Jesus and around work center his works. The works that they will be doing are greater than those of Jesus because Jesus will not be present because he is going to be with the Father. Jesus knew that they would go out from Jerusalem and declare to gospel to the ends of earth (Acts 1:8). The greatness of this work is greater in scope.

One of the most often misquoted passages in all of scriptures comes from John 14:12-13. Taken in isolation, it would seem that Jesus is offering the disciples a cosmic genie who will grant their every wish. What is certain is that the disciples early on were able to perform miracles. The purpose however was to authenticate their message and for the propagation of the gospel beyond Jerusalem to Samaria and Judea, to Antioch, then to the rest of the world. Knowing that the work of God is to believe in Jesus, this makes sense. Three observations in the text support this. First, Jesus says that he acts on the Father’s initiative because the Father is abiding in him. Christians have the same sort of relationship with the Father with the Holy Spirit abiding in them such that they should act on the Spirit’s initiative. Second, the purpose of asking for something from God is so that God would be glorified. Third, these verses are immediately followed by a statement concerning love and commandments. Those who love Jesus will obey his commandments, such that asking for something in Jesus’ should be in accordance with his commandments. The context indicates that asking for Jesus’ help should be done in the context of his abiding in one’s life, for his glory, and in accordance to his commands.

God’s commission to all who believe is to be involved in his work – that is to believe in Jesus. Even the purpose of John’s writing of his gospel so that some might believe (John 20:29-30). When Christians ask something from God, he or she should ask in accordance to what God would want so they can point others to Jesus. When the world asks about Jesus, Christians should be able to point to Jesus in their lives as Jesus should be making a difference in their lives. In other words, the deeds that people do should be a testimony to that brings glory to God. This way, many can know and believe that Jesus is God and that Jesus can save them from their sin!

Lord, let the works of my life and the things that I ask for bring glory to your name!

John 14:1-6

Read: John 14:1-6

Jesus had just told the disciples that he was about to leave them, probably to their surprise. Many of the Jews thought that the messiah would be a lasting messiah, not one who would leave them only after such a short time (John 12:34). To console them, Jesus says two things: he goes to prepare a place for them and that he will return for them. These words probably provide some level of comfort, but they still do not understand what Jesus is talking about. Jesus is not talking about a place on earth, rather that he was going to return to be with God (John 13:1). John gives glimpses of this place in Revelation 21:22-23 and Isaiah 6:1-5 describes the place of God. Jesus was going to return to the glory which he left in order to become a man, serve others, then die (Philippians 2:5-9). Jesus return was probably also difficult to understand too. Jesus says after the resurrection that his return will be in the manner in which he goes away (Acts 1:11) and with trumpets and voices to which he will call all those who believe in him to be with him (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

The confusion is illustrated by Thomas’ remarks: he does not know where Jesus is going or how to get there. Jesus answers by saying that he is “the way”, and the place he is going is to be with the Father. The Greek word translated “way” is “ὁδος” which literally means road, street, or path, but can be figurative too. Jesus associates the “the way” with two other concepts that he had associated with himself namely “the truth” (John 1:14, John 1:17, John 5:33, John 8:31-32, John 8:44-46) and “the life” (John 1:4, John 3:15-16, John 4:14, John 5:24-29, John 6:27-48, John 10:10, John 11:25). These two concepts by now were familiar with the disciples, and they believed that Jesus was indeed the way to eternal life, so much so that when Jesus asks them if they want to abandon him too, Peter replies “to whom shall we go?” (John 6:68) In other words, there was no other person who could bring eternal life other than Jesus. Peter affirms this when he speaks before the rulers and elders in the temple. He declares is salvation is found in no one else other than the name of Jesus. When Jesus declares that he is that no one comes to the Father except through him, he is saying that he is the only path to salvation. There is no plan B, path, or means to salvation other than Jesus.

If Jesus is the truth and the life and salvation can be found in no other, then logically it follows that any other claiming to have a way to salvation is false. For many with modern sensibilities that seek to include everyone as to not create divisions among people, this is a difficult truth to accept.  Such people want to think that there are many paths to God and that so long as one is truly committed to his or her path, he or she will reach God. There are two problem with this thinking: The first is obvious: it is contrary to what Jesus said. Second, as a matter of practicality, the only one in jeopardy of not receiving salvation is the one who wants to be inclusive. If the inclusivist is right, then the inclusivist and the exclusivist receive salvation. If the exclusivist is right, only the exclusivist receives salvation. In both cases, the exclusivist receives salvation, so it is more reasonable to be an exclusivist. If the modern Christian wants to be inclusive, then include as many as one can by preaching the one way to the Father to all creation (rather than contradicting the teachings of Christ) so Jesus can make a place for them and call them home when he returns. For we know in the end there will be a great multitude from every tribe, tongue and nation worshiping God (Revelation 5:9)!

Lord, you are the way! Help to share the way with as many as I can!

John 12:44-50

Read: John 12:44-50

After John discusses the reasons why some won’t believe, he records Jesus rehashing some of the things that he had already taught leading up to this point. Jesus “cries out” — that is he spoke in a loud voice so he was sure that many could hear them. From here Jesus outlines who he is and his mission.

  • Believing in Jesus is also believing in God because Jesus and God are one. John asserted the divinity of Jesus on a number of occasions in John 1:1, John 8:45-59, John 10:30, and again here.
  • Jesus came as the light of the world to lead people out of darkness. Those that believe in Jesus will not be in darkness because Jesus is light, life, and truth (John 1:1-18).
  • Jesus did not come into the world to judge the world, rather to save the world. Jesus’ mission this time was to provide a means for men to be saved through faith. Condemnation is already upon them because they have sin and because they have not believed (John 3:15-18).
  • Judgment is reserved for some time in the future (John 5:25-29, Revelation 20:11-15).
  • Jesus’ mission was from God. Over and over in the book of John, Jesus asserts that he is acting in step with the Father and that what he does is of the Father.
  • Jesus’ commandment is eternal life – that is as Paul asserts in Acts 16:31: believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved and Jesus himself offers in John 3:16.

Rehashing the basic facts of who Jesus was, what he came to do, and how one relates to Jesus is a good thing as it reminds people of the salvation of which they have received. Unsound doctrines concerning Jesus and salvation arise often. A quick way to check a purported doctrine is to see if it violates some of the basic doctrines concerning Jesus and his work. Should it violate even one, then it probably the case that the doctrine is not sound. The veracity of Jesus teachings are demonstrated in numerous ways and well substantiated by historical evidence and rest assured that what Jesus says is true.

Lord, help me to stay anchored to the truth of who you are and what you did for me!

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