Ecclesiastes 5:8-18: Wealth for Wealth’s Sake

Read: Ecclesiastes 5:8-18

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes often mentions wealth in his book and the relationship of wealth to life. His general thinking is that wealth for wealth’s sake is meaningless for a number of reasons.

  • The one who pursues wealth for wealth’s sake is never satisfied with what he has.
  • As one’s wealth amasses, so do those who consume it. Wealthy people are often surrounded by people who want a piece of the wealth for themselves. They are only interested in the owner because he or she is wealthy, no more.  The preacher says that such people have no benefit to the owner because all they do is stare at the wealth.
  • Wealth can be lost in misfortune or stolen.
  • People are born into the world naked, and they cannot take wealth with them when they die.

On the other hand, the Preacher thinks that people find much satisfaction in enjoying the fruits of their labor. Wealth for wealth’s sake has little satisfaction in such pursuits but the one who stops to enjoy what he or she has worked hard for finds satisfaction in this sort of work. The Preacher is saying that having money is evil; rather one should take the time to both work hard and then reap the benefits of his or her work. He sees this as a gift from God (Ecclesiastes 3:13, Ecclesiastes 5:18, Ecclesiastes 8:15, Ecclesiastes 9:7-9). The Bible does not condone having money but that it should be used for good (1 Timothy 6:11-21, Proverbs 3:9-10) rather than evil (James 5:1-6), but the pursuit of money for the sake of being wealthy is shunned (Proverbs 23:4-45, Matthew 6:19-20). The Bible teaches too that contentment is good (1 Timothy 6:6-8, Philippians 4:11) and that it is better to be righteous than wealthy (Proverbs 15:16-17, Proverbs 16:8).

Christians would do well to listen to the wisdom of the Preacher and consider the end goal of one’s pursuits. The end goal of every pursuit should be in accordance with the purposes of God. Psalms 67 teaches that God blesses so the blessed can bless others. In doing so, the ends of the earth will fear God. Work therefore should be to the glory of God. Paul encourages that whatever one does, one should do it as unto God rather than man (Colossians 3:23-24). Even so, as the Preacher says, people will only be interested in a person for his or her wealth rather than being genuinely interested in the person. The best thing to do is fear God, then everything else will follow suit. It is only in this that one can find real meaning!

Lord, let me honor you with all I have!

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 19:16-30: “It is Finished!”

Read: John 19:16-30

Jesus’ had been scourged and put on public to display to be humiliated by the Jews and priests in the temple. The chief priests had set Jesus up so that they could incite a riot among the people, falsely accuse Jesus of something, and force Pilate to kill him so the priests could get their way and have Jesus removed. In their eyes, they had succeeded at doing this. God had allowed these things to transpire to bring about the redemption of mankind. Jesus was taken from the Praetorium baring his cross. They took him out to a place called “Golgotha” meaning “Place of Skulls”. They crucified Jesus was 2 other people with Jesus in the middle. Pilate placed a sign in three languages that read “Jesus the Nazarene: King of the Jews” in reference to the accusations made again him. This was customary to do to note the crime that the one being executed had committed. The high priests in protests say that the sign should have read “He said ‘I am King of the Jews’”. This statement was neither true in any respect, and Pilate probably in an effort to show that he did have some sort of backbone rather than being a people pleaser, placed the sign over the purported king of the Jews to show Rome’s dominance over Judea.

Jesus had already been scourged and had undoubtedly lost a great deal of blood. John does not provided details as to what crucifixion entailed, but history notes that the Roman would nail the convicted to a stake. Thomas wanted to see the holes in Jesus’ hands when he saw him after the resurrection (John 20:25) and Peter notes that godless men nailed Jesus to the cross (Acts 2:23) in his sermon. Paul uses it as a metaphor concerning sin (Colossians 2:13-14) – that is the payment of debt owed by sin was nailed to the cross and Jesus died.

After Jesus had been crucified, they took his garments and divided them among the soldiers, then cast lots for the seamless garment. John says that this was a fulfillment of Psalm 22:18, or even more so, Psalm 22 in its entirety. Matthew 27:46 notes Jesus quoting from this Psalm. The Psalm speaks of one who feels abandoned by God with the enemy closing in around him. It creates a poetic valley starting in verse one and descending to more into agony. The descending ends with verse 18 with people casting lots for his cloths. In verse 19, the ascension starts out of the valley saying God is not far off and works towards the entire earth worshiping before the Lord. The Psalm is foreshadowing what is to come next after agony: the resurrection. And through all this the world would be drawn to Christ (John 12:32).

Some of Jesus’ final thoughts were for his mother and John. With Jesus out of the picture and having returned to the Father, there was perhaps a need for someone to care for his mother, Mary. Jesus appoints this task to John, the writer of the gospel. John cared for Mary perhaps for the rest of her life. After this appointment, Jesus drinks “sour wine” (or vinegar as it might be) before finally saying, “It is finished”. Jesus went to the cross knowing this was to be the case, and he had accomplished all that the scriptures had required him to accomplished. John uses the Greek work “τετελεσται”. The word notes any number of things that are applicable to what Jesus was doing: paying debts, finishing the work he had set out to do, fulfilling the requirements of the law among any number of things that the work on the cross was mean to do.

We know the details about what happened to Jesus while he was on the cross through the eyes of those who watched it. What we do not know was the agony and wrath being poured out on Jesus while he was hanging there. If one had to guess, the agony had to be on an epic scale. The penalty for even a single sin is death, but Jesus died a death that was worth every sin ever committed by anyone who has ever lived. Some have estimated that over 100 billion people have been born. If one assumed the average life span of a human was 50 years old for all times and that a person sinned about once an hour there would be a total of 43,800,000,000,000,000 sins (about 44 quadrillion sins) committed. Jesus would have to die a death worthy of 44 quadrillion deaths. 44 quadrillion to most people is a probably a meaningless number. The national debt of the United States of America is about 13 trillion dollars. 44 quadrillion is  3,300 times larger than that. But these are only numbers – estimates to show the magnitude of the suffering Jesus went through to reconcile the human race. The magnitude in reality is beyond comprehension.

The power of God though is demonstrated in the resurrection too when Jesus put death under him and he defeated it once and for all! If God is capable of defeating death once and for all, then even more so – God is worth of the praise of all people. Even though Jesus was surrounded on every side by the enemy, he overcame them by the power of God. And nothing can overcome this power. Not Rome, not the priests, no power or nation, not even Satan himself (Romans 8:38-39). Christians can both be humbled by the price Jesus paid and celebratory because he truly is worth of praise!

Lord, you finished it once and for all! Let the nations be glad because of it!

John 17:1-21: In the World, Not of It

Read: John 17:1-21

Jesus glorified the Father while he was on earth. His mission in part was to make known the name of the Father to all who would hear. Jesus had every opportunity to claim the glory that was given him for himself. Rather than take the glory for himself, he gives it back to God. In John 12, Jesus has many things that could have glorified him, but instead he asks the Father to glorify himself. A voice comes from heaven and speaks in the midst of Greeks and Jews. Jesus could have genuinely have done this because of his oneness with the Father, but he laid this right aside to bring glory to the Father even more so by dying on the cross. In doing so, he would not only glorify the Father all the more, the Father would glorify him (Philippians 2:5-11).

Because Jesus poured into the men out of the world, they were no longer a part of the world. They were granted eternal life and now belonged to the Father. Jesus was not praying for them so that the Father would “keep” them. Jesus says that he had taught them all they needed to know and that he was about to return to the Father. In a way, Jesus was handing off their care to the Father because Jesus was no longer going to be with them. The reason Jesus had chosen these men out of the world was so that he could send them out to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 3:14). The word of God, which is truth, had been given to them. Jesus prays for them and those who would come to believe in Jesus through the words of the disciples and ultimately have oneness with the Father in the same manner that Jesus did by means of the Holy Spirit.

The word of truth went out from the apostles. Many received it and many believed, and they imparted this message to others until even today. The pattern of teaching some and sending them out to preach is seen in Paul with Timothy, when he encourages Timothy to teach faithful men who will teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). This pattern of training up people to send them out to make disciples is well established as the method that God wanted to use to draw men out of the world and to himself. Not every person though receives the gospel with joy. Rather they hate those who believe it because part of the gospel requires that one deal with sin. But in any case, Christians are to be in the world nevertheless making disciples so that more can be made one with God and Jesus will receive praise and worship from every tribe, tongue and nation.

Lord, we are in the world, not of it. Help others to come out of the world into your truth!

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!