John 20:1-10: A Sharper Ax

Read: John 20:1-10: A Sharper Ax

The followers of Jesus had lived with him for 3 years. They practically did everything with him, and Jesus revealed himself to them such that he considered his work finished (John 17:1-18). The work that Jesus had set out to do in his ministry leading up to his crucifixion was to invest in the twelve so that they would be equipped to go out and deliver the message that Jesus gave them so others might believe (John 17:20). The work of Jesus had been accomplished, but the disciples did not fully understand it — yet.

When Mary went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away, she automatically assumed what most anyone would assume: they moved the body. She had gone in the morning in the typical tradition of mourners to the place that the deceased were buried to mourn there. She knew Jesus was dead as did all the disciples and everyone else who watched him die. While she and the other disciples had the head knowledge about Jesus and the resurrection, they had not made the connection with the empty tomb and a resurrected Jesus. When Mary goes to find the rest they go to the tomb and find the burial clothes of Jesus. Peter and the other disciples did not know what to make of what they found either, so they believed Mary’s conclusion that they had moved the body.

The particular references to the resurrection are not given by John, but Isaiah 53 is often applied to Jesus as it speaks to one who died for the iniquities of many, but whose soul was not counted among the dead. Psalm 22 is also applied by Jesus to himself. It does not mention a death and resurrection per se, but does mention one who has been utterly humiliated and reduced such that his bones are showing and his heart is melted, but is raised up in victory such that the world turns and worships God. There are many other possible passage applicable to Jesus too. Jesus after the resurrection open their hearts and minds to the Scriptures (Luke 24:27,44-47). He walked through the Old Testament pointing out from the beginning that it was God’s plan concerning Jesus from the beginning. How Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament is the subject of discussion for much of the New Testament, particularly the book of Hebrews. Hebrews, at a high level, talks about Jesus being superior to the prophets, priests, temple, and sacrifices of the Old Testament. Uncovering the depths of this is no easy task and takes lots of time. It took Jesus 3 years to teach the disciples, and even after this, they still did not fully understand!

Jesus is still revealing his truth to Christians every day. On this side of the cross, Christians have a distinct advantage that the disciples and Mary had not yet received: the Holy Spirit. Two of the roles of the Holy Spirit are to teach believers and remind believers of what they have learned (John 14:26). But the Holy Spirit cannot remind believers of what they do not know, and the Holy Spirit can only teach believers who are willing to learn. For this reason, it is imperative for every believer to move beyond the elementary teachings concerning Jesus so that they can become mature in their own faith (Hebrews 5:11-14, Hebrews 6:1). God will take immature believers, but wants believers to be mature in every way so they can be a useful tool for his kingdom work, much like a sharp ax. A dull ax will do the trick, but requires a lot more work. A sharp ax is much better (Ecclesiastes 10:10)!

Lord, help to know the Scriptures so I can make use of them in my life!

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!

John 4:43-54

Read John 4:43-54

Jesus left Samaria and finished his journey back to Galilee where he came back into the town of Cana where he had turned water into wine. His popularity was apparently growing as many people recognized him from Jerusalem because of the signs and wonders he had done there. A man from Capernaum – a days journey at least – sought him out in Cana asking Jesus to come to his home to heal his dying son. Jesus then addresses the crowds that had come to him (the verbs translated “see” and “believe” in John 4:48 are second person plural, meaning he is addressing more than one person) saying they would not believe unless they are shown a sign. In contrast, Jesus speaks to the man who believes him merely on words and the man departs to find that his son was healed at the same hour that Jesus said he would be healed. This was the second sign that Jesus did in Galilee, the first being the changing of water into wine.

The demand for a sign was a common among Jews. They had demanded a sign from Jesus in John 2:18 when he cleansed the temple.  Nicodemus recognized the signs Jesus was doing too (John 3:2). Signs were commonly perceived as a way to authenticate a messenger (John 7:31, John 10:24-38). John wrote about the signs of Jesus so that people might believe too (John 20:30-31). Right before John declares his intent on writing is the story of Thomas (John 20:26-29), often called Doubting Thomas. The fact that Jesus was among them even though the door was locked was not enough evidence to convince him that Jesus was alive. He had to have tangential evidence for Jesus. Jesus declares that those who do not see him are “blessed”.

While signs are not inherently bad, signs can be misleading. The Bible contains several warnings against false prophets who will be able to perform signs and wonders (Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:22,  2 Thessalonians 2:9).  Likewise, there will be many who performed signs and wonders even in the name of Christ that will not enter heaven (Matthew 7:22-23). What is necessary to steer the course through false signs is sound doctrine accordingly because false prophets can lead one astray by dazzling one with signs. In 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul charges young Timothy to preach the word because there will come a time when people will not endure sound doctrine for one reason or another. Earlier in the letter (2 Timothy 2:2) Paul says that Timothy should teach what he received from Paul to others men who will teach it to others. One chapter earlier (2 Timothy 1:5) Paul talks about the faith that his grandmother and mother possessed, and Paul was sure that Timothy possessed it. This procession of doctrine was not done in the context of signs, but in the context of faith being handed from one generation to the next. Also, Paul says that faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:10-17). Jesus’ last command in Matthew before ascending was for the disciples to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). There is a progression here to: Jesus made disciples, who are commanded to make disciples. There is even some of this going on in the early parts of John too with the early disciples hearing and bring others to Jesus (John 1:35-50) and the Samaritan woman hearing and then going to tell her village (John 4:28-42).

Signs are by no means dead and God still uses signs to draw people to himself. But in any case, signs should always be in conjunction with a message of salvation that is from Jesus, as this is sound doctrine. The plan from scripture for the propagation of the gospel is for the faithful to train up others to be faithful who will do the same. The progression has spanned 2 millennia and reaches Christians today. Part of the Great Commission is like what Paul was doing to Timothy – teaching others to obey the things Jesus commanded. Rather than looking for signs and wonders, Christians should be searching out words of Christ that teach sound doctrine and contain the commands of Christ and trusting in these words rather than some sign.

Lord, help me to trust and obey your words because your words is truth!

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