Thursday, December 18, 2014

John 20:1-31

Peter and John sat together the day after Passover Sabbath, quietly pondering what they would do now that Jesus was gone. They had both watched the horrible scene unfold before their very eyes. John respected Peter for his boldness in the garden, but Peter bore the shame of a three-fold denial. Instantly, the door burst open, and Mary Magdalene rushed into the room.
Between gasps of air and sobs, she formed the words, “They have taken His body.” Their minds swirled as they rushed down the road to the sepulcher. Would the religious leaders desecrate His body? What else could they want with it? Wasn’t it enough to kill Jesus, why this too? What would His mother think when she found this out? John arrived at the entrance of the tomb and looked in to see something unexpected. The grave clothes were still there. John makes a special note that at this point, he believed. He doesn’t explain what he believed, perhaps it was simply that the tomb was empty, but that point basically goes without saying, what rather seems to be the indication is that John realized that Jesus had risen from the grave.
Two days earlier, Jesus had hung on the cross, but now He was raised from the dead. This was the greatest thing that John could have imagined. As John and Peter departed, Mary stayed behind and wept at the perceived loss of Jesus. In the midst of her tears, she was interrupted by the questioning of two angels from inside the sepulcher. “Why are you crying?” they asked. As she answered them, “Because they moved the body of Jesus and I don’t know where they took it;” turning, she saw a man that she did not recognize. Immediately, He asked her the same question, “Why are you crying?”
Her answer to Him was similar, “If you have moved His body, please tell me where, so I can see Him.” She never expected the response that she received, “Mary.” Turning quickly, she looked up at His face. “Rabboni!” In excitement, Mary’s tears of sorrow turned to sobs of joy. Jesus was standing directly in front of her. After He explained that He would visit with His disciples, He departed. An elated Mary sprinted back to the disciples to tell them that she had just spoken to Jesus in the garden and that He was risen. The disciples hurriedly gathered together to discuss the news of Jesus as Mary had shared.
Gathered in a room for the first time since His execution, the disciples discussed what had happened. Because they could all be arrested and imprisoned if they were caught by the Jewish leaders, the door was bolted shut. Immediately, Jesus appeared standing in the middle of the group. Jesus had risen, and now He was with them again. All of the disciples had gathered, except Thomas. Even as the other disciples tracked Him down and explained, Thomas refused to acknowledge the possibility. That is, he doubted until a week later when Jesus came and showed Himself to Thomas.
Lest we read this incredible story and miss the point, John stalls and explains His purpose for writing the entire Gospel account. “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” The evidence had been lain out clearly, now, John had given the last piece of evidence pointing towards the Deity of Jesus, He had risen from the dead. All of the other miracles were evidence enough. This by itself was evidence enough. John knew that the case had been made. The need for any more proof was completely gone. Any skeptic reading the account, denying the facts would do so not because of a lack of clarity or because of evidence to the contrary, rather they would simply refuse because they did not want to believe what was plainly in front of them.

Food For Thought: In what order did Jesus reveal Himself to His disciples following His resurrection?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

John 19:31-42

Jesus was dead.
Physically, His body was lifeless. Even as the other malefactors were struggling to live, He hung their limp. Because of the time of the day, and the fact that in a few short hours, the Passover Sabbath would be taking place, the hypocritically religious Jewish leaders petitioned that Pilate expedite the executions so the city of Jerusalem would not have this disgusting spectacle watching over it through this holy time.
As the Roman soldiers smashed the shins of the first two criminals, resulting in eventual asphyxiation, they realized that Jesus was already dead. He wasn’t fighting for breath anymore like the others. But, to ensure that He was dead, they took the extra step of stabbing His heart with a spear, causing immense amounts of blood and water to flow out of His chest.
After the Roman soldiers and the Jewish leaders were convinced that Jesus was dead, His body was lowered off of the cross by some of His friends, Nicodemus and Joseph. Nicodemus had come to Jesus by night, and had heard the great truth from the very lips of Jesus, “Even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish.” Now, Nicodemus handled the lifeless body of Jesus, and hurried with Joseph his friend to carry the body of Jesus to a nearby tomb.
There in the cold, chiseled, stone tomb these two men laid the lifeless body of Jesus. Without a doubt, as they wound the spices and linen clothes around the dead body of Jesus, they anointed Him with their tears too. This was the one who selflessly had healed thousands. This was the One who had stopped to feed a starving mob, who had raised Lazarus, who had calmed the troubled sea. Now, here He lay, helpless, lifeless, and dead.
This is an important point that must be understood as we see the gospel account according to John. The Roman executioners were convinced that He was dead. They were professional killers, there was no one more qualified to determine whether or not Jesus had died. Furthermore, after being ordered to execute a man, if they failed to carry out perfectly that order, they themselves would receive the punishment of death. These Romans knew that Jesus was dead.
Furthermore, the Jewish leaders, the enemies of Jesus, looked on at Jesus and saw very clearly that He had died. There was no doubt in their minds that they had finally killed Him. They had sought to kill Him for years now. They were finally rid of Him. Despite the grotesque nature of His death, they would certainly ensure that this foe of theirs was completely dead before allowing Him to come down from the cross. They hated Him, and their hatred would see this through to the end. They must have been disgustingly overjoyed when the blood flowed from His heart. He was done. He was dead.
Finally, the disciples of Jesus received His body from the cross. They did not carry Him back to their houses and try to resuscitate Him. There was no use. They could see clearly that He had died. Rather, they wrapped His body and buried Him. In their minds, there was no doubt that He was dead. Every character in the story was convinced that Jesus was dead. This leaves only one possible conclusion when we read this account. Jesus was dead. He had given Himself to die on the cross. There was no life left in Him when He was placed in the ground.
Food For Thought: How do we know that Jesus was dead when He was placed in the ground?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

John 19:17-30

Cowardly Pilate refused to intervene against injustice, and with the whole of history watching, condemned Jesus to die. Those who wanted to kill Jesus from the earliest chapters of the story had finally found a henchman to carry out their loathsome deed. It had cost them nothing but peer pressure, but it cost Jesus His life.
In this moment the desperate situation of humanity was revealed. The closest followers of Jesus had disappeared under the oppression of the evening. The religious leaders had partaken in deception to secure the execution of an innocent man. The political leader, placed as God’s minister for justice, had knowingly carried out injustice to appease a mob. In this scene humanity was revealed in its truest measure, broken and fallen.
The necessity of a Savior was apparent. The Savior that the masses wanted was one who would liberate them from the oppression of a Roman regime. The injustice of the religious leaders revealed that any liberation from Rome would have simply resulted in a different kind of tyranny. What the condition of every heart indicated, wasn’t the need for a political Savior, rather, everyone, the whole world, needed a Savior to come and save them from their own sin and the penalty of God’s wrath that it precipitated.
The sins at the crucifixion were not isolated maladies. No, they were symptoms of the greater infection that goes to the very marrow of humanity. By heredity, and by choice, all are sinners. The cross simply exposed in each character what was already latent in their hearts.
John set the stage for this perfectly. From the first chapter of his book, we learn that the “Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world” was already here. As the evil men raged with murderous hatred, they perfectly carried out the Divine plan that was the only hope for their own salvation. This Sovereign plan that came from the mind of God and spanned the millennia of human history was now being fulfilled. If they stayed their vehement blasphemies they would notice that they did not need to drag Jesus to the cross, He had been walking there willingly. Blinded with hatred, they failed to realize that He had delivered Himself to die.
He had come to save mankind. He was truly Savior. It would be through His death that He would accomplish forgiveness of sins for mankind. Access to God would finally be a reality for all who would believe in Him. Jesus had come to fix what Adam had broken. It was a humiliating work as He was shoved down the path called Gabbatha to a hill called Golgotha. There he was stripped of His clothes and nailed to the cross. This moment of shame was why the Son of God had come to earth. Loving, caring, gentle, dying Jesus hung bleeding on a cross.
But it was more than nails and whips that bruised Jesus. In His offering Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, Jesus received the wrath of God on Himself. God’s righteous judgment of sin was poured out on Jesus. Whereas, before, all who died in their sins faced the wrath of God for sin, now Jesus was taking that wrath on Himself and offering forgiveness of sins to those who would come in faith.
“It is finished.” 
These were His words as He bowed His head and died. The work was finished. He had completed what He had come to accomplish. Now, salvation could be had. Sins could be forgiven. For the first time in the history of mankind, hope was fulfilled. Jesus had come, and now He offered salvation to all those who would come in faith to Him.

Food For Thought: What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished.”?

Monday, December 15, 2014

John 19:1-22

“I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel…cursed is the ground for thy sake…thorns and thistles shall it bring forth…” – Genesis 3:15-18
When Adam and Eve fell from perfection in the Garden, a promise was given that in time a descendent of the woman would come and deliver them from the curse brought on by their sin. It did not mean that He would be exempted from bearing the marks of the curse in His own body. Rather, He would come and bear the curse so that He could free all of mankind from the curse.
After Jesus was lied about, falsely accused, and injustice was carried out in a mock trial, Pilate ordered Him to be severely beaten. Having finished shredding the flesh on his back and legs with a specially designed whip, the Roman torturers took a band of thorns (a direct result of the fall) and twisted them together to make a mock crown. The accusations had been flying that Jesus had come to be the King of the Jews. Less than a week earlier, He had ridden into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey being adorned with the cheers of a frenzied crowd. He was the descendant of King David, the rightful heir to the throne. But those moments were gone. Now, He was being treated like a criminal.
Standing next to a bloodied Jesus robed in purple hints of regal satire, and a crown made of curse-born thorns, Pilate presented his case to the Jewish leaders that were calling for Jesus’s death. “Behold the Man!” Expecting the Roman brutality to satisfy their blood thirst, Pilate looked on at the religious crowd and exclaimed, “See how I have abused Him, aren’t you satisfied?” The response of vitriol from the mouths of Jesus’s enemies demonstrated that Satanic hatred has no boundaries, “Crucify Him!”
Unbeknownst to them, when they rationalized their call for execution, they startled the superstitious, Roman Pilate to the core. “He made Himself the Son of God.” John tells us that this statement caused Pilate to retreat with Jesus privately to inquire if it was true. When Jesus refused to answer him, Pilate explained how powerful he was and that he even had the power to kill or to release Jesus. Pilate’s mind was not set at ease at the answer of a confident, truth-holding Jesus, “All of your power is not from you, but is from God.” Pilate could not deny the powerful words that came from the mouth of Jesus, but in fear he succumbed to the lies and will of the Pharisees, eventually offering Jesus to be crucified.
Bearing a cross, Jesus departed from the hall of Pilate. For centuries Pilate would be remembered as the man who knowingly executed an innocent Jesus. Because of cowardice and fear, he had disregarded justice and had partaken in an evil plot by wicked men. Pilate sought to mask his foolishness by attaching the false accusation of insurrection. His claim forever would be that Jesus sought to be the King of the Jews and overthrow the Roman government. Nothing could be further from the truth, and any rational bystander could see that.
How often do we do similar things? Knowing the right and true thing, we succumb to pressure and fear instead of truth and justice. Seeking to please a few, we expend mercy and love. May we see Pilate’s failure today and be encouraged to seek rightness and purity in our own lives.

Food For Thought: Why was Pilate scared of crucifying Jesus? Why did Pilate eventually still crucify Him?

Friday, December 12, 2014

John 18:28-40

Following His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus endured two mock trials at the hands of the ruling Jewish leaders. Ultimately, these trials were just a charade. We know from earlier chapters that it was the goal of the Jewish leaders to kill Jesus whenever they got the chance, and now, they had the chance. The trials that they were holding were not so that they could seek justice. Rather, these trials were simply their way to attempt to vindicate their murder of an innocent man, Jesus.
Eventually, they decided that they needed to report to the local Roman governor, Pilate, and ask for Him to execute Jesus. They had determined that Jesus should die, but Roman law strictly prohibited them from carrying out a death sentence. Now, they were forced to come to the Roman authorities and ask them to do the dirty work of killing Jesus.
At this point, John reveals the lack of integrity that these religious hypocrites had. Since they were headed into the Jewish feast of Passover, they did not want to defile themselves by going into a Gentile building. Ceremoniously, they would be considered unclean according to their own rules, meaning they could not partake of the Passover. This was the most hypocritical thing that could have transpired on this day. At the same time as they lied and sought to murder Jesus, they somehow rationalized the idea that walking into a Gentile building might somehow defile them.
They truly were flagrant hypocrites. Earlier, Jesus had accused them of being whited-sepulchers, with a well manicured exterior, but a rotten pile of bones and flesh on the inside. Their attempt to obey the ceremonial law was of no purpose up against the deceit and murder that was in their hearts. They thought walking into a building would defile them, but they were already filthy with wickedness.
As Jesus came before Pilate, for the first time true justice was extended. Pilate asked the Jewish leaders, “What accusation bring ye against this man?” Pilate would not execute an innocent man, he needed evidence, he needed to weigh the details and determine guilt or innocence. The answer of the Jews revealed that they did not intend to carry out justice. Instead, they just wanted Pilate to kill Jesus. Here, we see a great departure from the desires of God. Blinded by wickedness and hatred, the Jewish leaders who were supposed to be God’s people obeying God’s desires, instead became worse than their pagan Gentile counterparts. In this scenario, the pagan Roman governor acted with more justice and rightness than any of the hypocritical Jewish leaders.
Ultimately, Pilate cross-examined the testimony of Jesus. After his conversation with Jesus, Pilate carried his verdict to the Jewish leaders who were waiting outside, “I find no fault in him.” Having exhausted his legal training, Pilate determined that Jesus was not a guilty man, and that He was certainly not worthy of execution. Execution was something that was reserved for the vile and the wicked. It was something that was reserved for murderers and liars. It was something that was for those who acted like the Pharisees, not the innocent guiltless Jesus. Jesus was sinless. The religious leaders knew it, and Pilate confirmed it. If He were to die, it would be as a sinless Savior.

Food For Thought: What did the Jewish leaders do that was hypocritical in regards to their meeting with Pilate?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

John 18:25-27

“Peter, put away your sword!” The last words Jesus spoke to Peter were a rebuke. In the torch-lit garden, surrounded by hundreds of soldiers, Peter, alone, had defended Jesus. The closest enemy, and unsuspecting too, was Malchus, the servant of the High Priest. In an instant, Peter flailed his sword at the head of Malchus, but when Malchus instinctively ducked, Peter’s sword glanced off the side of Malchus’s head removing only his right ear.
Jesus and his disciples had been completely non-combative up to this point. During all previous altercations, even when an angry mob was about to kill them, they never resorted to violence. This action of Peter must have been alarming for the group of soldiers who planned for a peaceful arrest.
Rebuking Peter, Jesus turned to help the man that had come to arrest Him. Luke tells us that Jesus reached over and touched Malchus’s ear, healing it. Jesus had not come to kill, but to be killed. He had not come to rescue Himself, but to offer Himself a ransom. He did not want to resist, He wanted to redeem.
As the other disciples departed with fear into the night, Peter followed Jesus closely, watching from a distance as He was led first to Annas, and then to Caiaphas. When Jesus was taken into the house of Annas, Peter subtly moved to enter the courtyard. As he entered, he was met by a young girl that was in charge of the door. Immediately, she recognized Peter as one of Jesus’s disciples. Without hesitating, she asked Peter a question that he had not mentally prepared for, “Aren’t you one of Jesus’s disciples?”
He was ready to fight to the death for Jesus. He was ready to make the enemies of Jesus pay for their wickedness. He was ready for everything, except a probing, untimely question from a young girl. In defensive reflex, he stuttered out, “I’m not!” A few moments later, again, he was accused of following Jesus. Now, surrounded by people favorable to the High Priest and hateful to Jesus, Peter was mortified. He had not been ready for this kind of mental torture. The moment of gravity came when Jesus was moved to Caiaphas’s house. It was Caiaphas’s servant whose ear Peter had previously removed with a glancing sword blow. Now, Peter drew near to the property.
As Peter stood warming himself, John tells us that one of Malchus’s kinsmen stood next to Peter, and immediately recognized him. Just hours earlier, he had been with Malchus in the garden and had seen Peter. “Didn’t I just see you in the garden with Jesus?” the man began. Cursing, Peter spat with fury, “I don’t know Him!!” In the distance, the sound of the early morning-call echoed from the throat of a rooster, and Peter’s guilt came rushing like a tidal wave. Hearing the bird crowing took Peter back to earlier that night and the piercing words of Jesus, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.” The words echoed over and over in Peter’s head as tears of shame filled his eyes. Peter hurried out of the courtyard sobbing. On this night, Judas wasn’t the only one to betray Jesus. Jesus was on trial, and Peter had abandoned Him. Faithfulness was too difficult for Peter.

Food For Thought: Peter sinned when he least expected to, but isn’t that how most sin is? List a couple of moments in your life where the stress or frustration of the moment caused you to sinfully surrender to a quick lie or a harsh word. If you have not yet, take some time now to confess and repent of this sin.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

John 18:15-24

Having been bound, Jesus was taken to the house of one of the Jewish leaders, Annas. Annas is a special character in Jewish history. During the childhood of Jesus, Annas had been chosen for High Priest in Israel. This meant that he was a Levite, probably a descendant of Aaron. As High Priest, Annas had gained so much power that the Romans worried about his control of his countrymen, so they intervened ordering him to step down.
According to the Law, the High Priest was supposed to be a life position, so for the Romans to do this was a move that was in direct opposition to the customs and practice of the Jews. However, while Annas was still alive, he continued to maintain extensive power and influence, even though “officially” he was no longer the High Priest according to the Romans. For example, after Annas was forced to step down, the next seven high priests were all related to Annas; five of them were his sons, one was his grandson, and at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, Caiaphas, was his son-in-law.
Now, Jesus stood in front of Annas, who still was regarded by many to be the high priest since his untimely resignation by Roman coercion. This was to be a trial. Jesus was the defendant, and Annas the sole judge. Nowhere in Jewish law did this little midnight court find any precedent. Rather, everything about this proceeding was filthy, contaminated, and debauched. According to the law, the accused could not be convicted on his own testimony. Rather, the entire Jewish legal system was built on the witness principle, where two or three credible, agreeing witnesses must provide a statement of guilt in regards to the defendant. In the darkness of this night, there were no witnesses, only a conniving and evil, religo-political has-been, Annas.
Furthermore, the trial must not be held simply in the audience of one man, but legally, it must be before the multitude of the members of the Sanhedrin. According to Jewish Law, ample time must be given to call together all of the ruling members. This was not something that could be done legally in the night hours. Rather, time must be taken to ensure that the accused received a fair and unbiased trial. But this would not be the case. The accuser, Annas, was not concerned with fair and unbiased. He had already made up his mind, and would convince his son-in-law, Caiaphas, of the same.
Ever mindful and obedient to the law, Jesus commanded Annas to call witnesses forward to testify of the evil things that He had taught. His ministry had been done in the open, in highly populated areas like synagogues and the temple. Jesus never lost control of the situation. It was not out of control even when one of the foolish guards standing next to Him struck Him in the face. Rather, with a calm confidence, Jesus petitioned the abuser to give the evidence that warranted physical abuse.
The entire pre-trial with Annas was a mockery of justice. From the arrogance of Annas, to the unwillingness to even follow the regular procedures afforded in Jewish law, there was no true trial of Jesus’ guilt. The minds of biased men had been made up. They hated Jesus and they would dispense of Him even if that meant they must dispense of justice and holiness along the way. On this dark, cold night, these evil men stood and looked into the face of the innocent Son of God, inadvertently issuing condemnation and judgment on themselves.

Food For Thought: Name a couple things that Annas did that was illegal according to Jewish law in the pretrial of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

John 18:9-14

As we come to the account of the arrest of Jesus, we must keep in mind that John’s goal in writing the Gospel according to John was to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus is in fact God. Up to this point, John has given clear testimony of the miraculous ministry of Jesus from the many unparalleled healings, to the unbelievable power over nature, and even His ability to supernaturally foretell everything that was currently transpiring in the gospel account at this moment. Jesus was undoubtedly God. The evidence was indomitable.
Furthermore, Jesus had clearly explained hours before that one of His own disciples would betray Him. With the arrival of Judas in the garden, Jesus confirmed His Deity, but the implications of that reality were lost on His disciples as the soldiers moved closer. Now, with the soldiers in the garden, torch light illumining their sweaty, bearded faces, Peter settled his palm on the handle of his sword. He certainly wasn’t as highly trained as the band of Roman soldiers that had come to arrest Jesus, but then again, between the two swords that the disciples had (Luke 22:38)and the power of Jesus, Peter must have figured they could have mustered the strength to overwhelm the midnight band of marauders.
The metal flashed in the darkness as Peter swung his cold blade at the head of the nearest guard, Malchus, smashing the side of his face and slicing off his ear. Immediately, Jesus stepped in and stayed the sword of Peter. By not fleeing, Jesus had already indicated that His desire was not escape. This was His hour. There was no need to fight His arrest; it was a clearly orchestrated unfolding of a divinely Sovereign plan. The Gospel of Luke tells us that as Jesus rebuked Peter, He also reached down and healed Malchus’s bleeding ear.
Jesus was God. Even in this moment. He did not need a sword in the hand of a fisherman to protect Him from a band of Roman infantrymen.
God does not need protecting. He had demonstrated His power by briefly disabling the approaching troop with the breath of His words. If He wanted to stop this event, He didn’t need to use Peter’s inadequate swordsmanship. But He didn’t want to stop this event. This was Passover Day, the day where thousands of lambs would be slain as an image of the coming Savior who would take away the sins of the world permanently. Now, the Lamb of God had come, and He would be offered on this afternoon.
The arrest must proceed. The plan of God could not be stopped. From the birth of Jesus, to the betrayal by Judas, everything had been Sovereignly plotted before the foundation of the world. Now, Jesus would proceed to the court of the High Priest to be placed on trial and to be sacrificed by the High Priest for the sins of the people. As they bound Jesus and began to mistreat Him, we must not lose sight of His power and ability to stop the process at any step with the word of His power. The fact that He didn’t clearly indicates that this was His desire. This was His plan. He had come to be offered as a sin offering for God’s people. Now, at the hands of the priests He would be bound and led to the slaughter.

Food For Thought: Why was Peter’s attempt to protect Jesus with a sword completely absurd?

Monday, December 8, 2014

John 18:3-8

The light of distant torches flickered through the canopies of distorted olive trees as the disciples squinted into the darkness down the mountain. The sound of clinking armor plates and strapped scabbards echoed up the trail to where Jesus and His followers had stopped to pray. Every time that Jesus and the disciples had been confronted up to this point, they had simply walked away through the midst of the crowds and escaped. Confusion must have set in for the disciples as Jesus descended the trail towards the troop that carried torches, swords, and clubs. Estimates place this force of guards and soldiers at 200 or more men, fully armed and ready for serious resistance.
Jesus had brought with Him a group of common laborers, fishermen and a tax collector. If this was going to turn into a fight, it seemed apparent to all those that were there that night, which side would be victorious. As the troop approached, the disciples must have been completely perplexed to see one of their own, Judas Iscariot at the front of the group. Perhaps they tried to rationalize his presence there. Maybe he had been arrested, and now these men had come to arrest Jesus and the other disciples. Or, perhaps, the soldiers and guards had become converts, and had come to help Jesus take over as king.
The confusion must have only thickened as cursing, grumbling soldiers sneered at Judas as he approached Jesus. The other gospel accounts tell us how that Judas greeted Jesus with a customary cultural greeting of a kiss, but John expands the story and tells us that at some point, Jesus stepped forward to address the entire army that had come.
“Whom seek ye?” These were the words of confident omniscience. Jesus wasn’t curious, He just needed them to acknowledge Him. This was not Judas’ moment. It was not the soldiers’ moment. This moment belonged to Jesus. He was God, and there would be no doubting this by the end of the night. Quickly, they responded, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Instantly, He responded with an answer that carried with it the power of the heavens. 
“I AM.”
Instantly, the entire group of soldiers, Judas included, fell backward to the ground. What had just happened? In responding to the soldiers, Jesus was not simply giving an answer. Rather, He was making a statement. If you notice, the conversation was one-sided. Jesus was the only one asking questions, not the soldiers. This moment belonged to Jesus. Now, Jesus had spoken with the authority of God, a name expressly reserved for God in the Old Testament - “I AM.” This was no coincidence. Jesus used the name of God given in Exodus. As Moses went to face-off against the plurality of Egyptian gods, God told Moses that He would offer victory and deliverance through His name – I AM.
The power and authority of Jesus was undeniable in this moment. With confidence He had stepped out to meet the midnight army ahead of his disciples. Now, with the simple breath of His voice, He had incapacitated the entire group that had come to arrest Him. There was no doubting who was in control. If Jesus was arrested, it was by permission. He had not fled when He had the chance. He did not hide as the group approached. This was His moment, and He would march with boldness and courage into the hands of those who would malign Him. He was prepared for their worst, because through it, He could offer us our best.

Food For Thought: Knowing the setting and result of original use of “I AM” in the Old Testament, why do you think that Jesus used it on this night when He was faced with those who were contrary to God?

Friday, December 5, 2014

John 18:1-2

Jesus and His disciples finished praying in the upper room, and departed for a nearby garden just outside of Jerusalem. Hours earlier, Judas had departed in haste into the night, but the other disciples had not taken much note of that. Directly outside the city of Jerusalem was a valley, the Valley of Kidron (spelled “Cedron” in the Gospel of John). Winding through the Valley of Kidron is a brook, that flowed from one end of the valley to the other, with Jerusalem and the temple one side of the valley, and the Mount of Olives and the garden of Gethsemane on the other.
The trip across the brook and up to Gethsemane was a familiar one to Jesus and His disciples, because He frequently retreated from Jerusalem to there to pray and to rest. This was a familiar place to all of His disciples, including Judas. As John records the story, He makes an extra note to inform the reader that Judas was very familiar with this place of quiet and respite. We find in the other gospel accounts that Jesus arrived in the garden and began praying. His prayer in the garden was one of agony, accented by the indifference of His sleepy disciples.
While Jesus and the eleven disciples were headed to the garden, Judas was busily gathering an army of guards and soldiers who could come and arrest Jesus and His disciples. Now, at this point, some reading the story might realize that there is a seeming discrepancy in the details. John has spent a massive amount of time convincing the reader that Jesus is God. There were times where the power of Jesus was demonstrated in His telling the disciples what they were thinking of in that moment. But if He knew the thoughts of their hearts, then He would have known that Judas was going to bring a group of soldiers to arrest Him. If He knew this was going to happen, why would He have ever gone to Gethsemane and allowed Himself to be trapped like this?
The answer to this dilemma is quite simple, really. This seeming discrepancy is not a discrepancy at all. Jesus knew exactly what Judas was going to do, which is why He sent Judas away in John 13:27. Jesus was not falling into a trap. He was walking willingly into the most horrible scenario anyone could have ever fathomed, and His eyes were wide open. There was no surprise, and there was no astonishment. Jesus had come to earth for this moment. Just as He had prayed moments earlier, now, His hour of purpose had finally arrived.
On this Passover night, with the slaughtering of tens of thousands of lambs in Jerusalem for the annual remembrance of God’s provision for and salvation of His people, the omniscient Jesus walked confidently into the arms of the betrayer and His arresting hoard. This was not an accident. He was not tricked. He was finally fulfilling what He had come to do - die a sacrificial death for the sins of His people. Satan, Judas, and the entire crowd that hated Jesus imagined that they had pulled one over on Him, but as they yanked the rope of entrapment around Jesus, they simply tightened the noose on their own necks. It would cost Him His life, but He would be victorious by the end of the day.

Food For Thought: Was Jesus surprised by the army of soldiers that came with Judas? Explain your answer.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

John 17:20-26

Have you ever seen a painting or a sculpture of the Last Supper? Perhaps you have seen the famous one by Renaissance Master Leonardo da Vinci. Well, did you know that as Jesus sat at the table that night, He had you and me on His mind? Not only did He think of us, He even spent time in prayer for us.
After praying for His own glory and for His disciples, Jesus finished His prayer at the Last Supper by praying for the church. It is a staggering thought that nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus was praying for us, here in America in 2014. This was the grand reality of His prayer, that as He prayed on that evening before His crucifixion, He had believers from all over the globe, through all the centuries of time on His mind.
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.”
We must realize too that as He prayed that prayer He had not yet died on the cross for sin. This means that His disciples were sitting there at the table, oblivious to the fact that shortly thereafter He would be taken away and executed. But this was not something He was unaware of. Rather, He had been speaking freely all evening about His impending self-sacrifice. Shortly, He would demonstrate that His love for those who believed in Him was genuine.
He had begun the evening by humbly washing the disciples’ feet indicating that He truly loved and cared for His disciples. But it would be days later, when they realized that He had given His life as a substitute for their sins, that they would ultimately recognize the depths of His selfless love for them.
We have the benefit of seeing the entire experience in hindsight. We see His prayer for us, followed immediately by His sacrifice for us. The authenticity of His care for us is inarguable. So, we understand that He prayed for us, but what did He pray for us?
In verses 21,22,and 23, Jesus continually asked God “that they may be one.” His desire for us, reflecting the desire of God for us, is that we would dwell together in a very distinct unity. Some would understand this unity to mean that all Christians everywhere should drop their denominational distinctions and theological differences and build a sort of ecumenical hodge-podge. Rather, if you recall, Jesus was praying for the sanctification of His followers just a couple verses earlier. Now, as He prayed for unity, there was a basis for that unity – holiness. It was the desire of Jesus that believers everywhere, regardless of cultural differences, would be able to unite under one common purpose - holiness.
Jesus still desires that we, as His followers, dwell together in this same purpose. It is not good enough to say that we are Christian. It is not sufficient to be warm bodies in pews. Rather, understanding that Christ only prayed those things that were the will of God, we can clearly see that God desires us to dwell together in unity and holiness. We should seek to create community with other believers that finds its moorings not in a favorite sport or hobby, but rather that finds its foundations in the purity and holiness that God desires and that our Savior Jesus prayed for and then died for.

Food For Thought: What phrase did Jesus say that tells us that He was praying for us too on the night of the Last Supper?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

John 17:6-19

As Jesus prayed following His teaching at the Last Supper with His disciples, He began by asking God to glorify Him in three very specific ways. He prayed that He would be glorified by becoming the source of eternal life for all those who would come in faith to Him. He prayed further that He would receive glory for completing His task of total, humble obedience to the Father. Finally, He prayed that He would be glorified by returning to His pre-incarnate position with the Father in Heaven.
After praying for His own glory, Jesus turned His prayer in a different direction. Having prayed for Himself, He continued by praying for His disciples. They had followed Him faithfully for several years and now, before He would depart from them, He petitioned God on their behalf for some specific needs.
Jesus prayed for His disciples that as they had already been obedient to His commands (v.6), and had put their faith in Him (v.8), that they would continue in that obedience and faith. The indications of a true disciple were these very things that Jesus was praying. Their obedience to the commands of Christ, namely loving God and loving others, would be a continual confirmation that they were truly His followers. Judas had departed in greed and self-service to betray Jesus and all those that were assembled with Him because Judas was not a true disciple; His lack of love indicated that.
Jesus moved on from praying for their holiness and love to praying for their unity. It would be the desires of Satan to separate them. Jesus had already warned Peter that Satan desired to devastate him (Luke 22:31); now, Jesus prayed against that work of Satan. In Philippians 2:2, Paul wrote of this need for unity when he wrote, “[be] of one accord, of one mind.” Praying for His disciples, Jesus asked God to draw His followers into a unity that mirrored the unity found in the Trinity (v.11).
"That they may be one, as we are."
Christ continued His prayer acknowledging the Father’s will that even though Jesus must depart, His disciples would stay in the dangerous world to declare the news of the gospel. It would not be an easy road ahead, but Jesus did promise that it would be a victorious road. There might be trouble and trials, but Jesus prayed that God would take care of His followers.
Finally, after praying for obedience, love, unity, and even strength in their trials, Jesus prayed for the spiritual growth and maturity of His followers. He asked God to sanctify, or to cleanse and mature them. The means by which they would grow would not be through abstract spiritual impressions, or subjective revelations, no, Jesus prayed only according to the will of God. It is God’s will that His people receive the nourishing flow of cleansing from the one fountain of sanctifying truth, the Word of God.
"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."
By extension, this prayer at the Last Supper went beyond the eleven sitting at the table and reaches out through time to us, the followers of Jesus. His prayer for the eleven is a prayer that He continually intercedes and offers in Heaven even now. He prays that we, His people, might continue in faith, obedience, love, unity, and that we might continually grow through the sanctifying power of the Word.

Food For Thought: Put in your own words a few of the things that Jesus prayed for His followers.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

John 17:2-5

For thirty three years Jesus had been on the earth obeying God and ministering to those around Him. Now, the great culmination of centuries of prophecy was being accomplished in one day. As Jesus continued in prayer to the Father, He prayed for something that for us would be unusual to pray.
“Glorify thy Son.”
It was the desire of Jesus that through His sacrifice on the cross, He would be glorified. But how did He plan to be glorified? What would take place that would bring Him glory? As Jesus continued praying, He gave a few ways in which He was going to be glorified.
According to verse 2, Jesus would be glorified by becoming the fountain of eternal life for all those that came in faith to Him. Anyone who would receive the blessing and forgiveness of God must come through Jesus. He was the exclusive way of salvation. Eternal life could only come through Jesus. Every single person that God had chosen for salvation would come in faith to Jesus and would receive eternal life.
In verse 4, we see that Jesus would be further glorified in His completion of the work that God had sent Him to do. Namely, Jesus would be glorified by becoming a substitute for sinners. Jesus had lived a sinless life in obedience to God. He would then become obedient to God in His death on the cross. In this sacrifice, He would surrender His righteousness to those who came in faith, and bear in Himself the punishment for their sin. In submitting Himself obediently to God, Jesus would become the glorious supply of redemptive power.
Jesus asked God to glorify Him by making Him the source of eternal life for all those who would believe, and He prayed that God would glorify Him through His obedient substitutionary death. Finally, Jesus asked God to glorify Him by returning Him to His original place of honor in Heaven. For thirty three years Jesus had been humbled to exist as a lowly human subject to human deficiency like hunger and exhaustion; and He bore the humiliation of mockery and scorn by evil men. With His glory limited, Jesus had patiently waited for the day that His full glory would be returned to Him. He would return to Heaven to be with the Father, and the glory that He had in the beginning would be restored to Him. No more weariness and no more jeers. He would be once again the glorious Son of God that had existed with God the Father and God the Spirit since the beginning.

Food For Thought: As Jesus prayed, He asked God to accomplish things that were already going to happen. Read 1 John 5:14. Why did Jesus pray with confidence for these things in John 17?

Monday, December 1, 2014

John 17:1

The last supper had finished a while earlier, and Jesus sat teaching. Knowing that arrest, imprisonment and a mock trial would happen in the next few hours, Jesus reiterated several promises to His disciples to offer them encouragement during the most harrowing moments of their lives.
As a loving Shepherd comforting and guiding His sheep, Jesus gave promises of joy and peace, of support and sustenance, of a coming Comforter, and of unhindered fellowship with God the Father.

Jesus concluded His teaching, and sat back. In John 16:33, He said to His disciples, “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Ultimately, the concerns of the next day would be shrouded in this reality, Jesus was not defeated, rather, He was the victor. The sky might blacken, the disciples might flee, but Jesus was finally fulfilling what had been in motion since before the first word of the Genesis creation. 
As Jesus prayed to the Father, His words glistened with the redemptive truth that had lain unmined throughout the Old Testament. From the lips of Jesus came the words that would shake the pillars of Heaven and the heart of all those at enmity with God.

“Father, the hour is come.”

This was the day that the serpent’s head would be crushed. It was on this day that the shadowy cloud of Passover sacrifices would be melted and the world would watch as the Lamb of God would take away the sins of the world. It was on this day that the prophecies of the coming Messiah would be fulfilled in the suffering of the Savior. There was no going back. The roller coaster cart had crested the top of the hill. There was no disembarking. The next day would be a whirlwind of terror, abandonment, agony, and prophetic fulfillment. This hour, His hour, had come. And while the clouds of darkness rolled in, Jesus laid a clear example for us. He did not plan to face this alone. Rather, in John 16:32 Jesus told His disciples what He now demonstrated for them in His praying, “I am not alone, the Father is with me.” Knowing the gravity of what was going to transpire; Jesus turned instinctively to the Father and asked Him for His will to be fulfilled and for His power to be demonstrated. 

Food For Thought: If Jesus knew that God would grant victory to Him, yet He still prayed asking God to do so, what does that teach us we should be doing even when it seems like the outcome is inevitable?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

John 16:16-33

“Let not your heart be troubled…” these had been the words that Jesus started the conversation with on this dark, disconcerting night. He then explained that while He would go away for a while, it was necessary, because He had to prepare a place for His disciples. Losing Jesus was an understandably disheartening reality for the disciples, so Jesus addressed their concern by letting them know that He would not leave them comfortless. He would send the Holy Spirit to dwell with them and to dwell in them. He would give them strength, and He would guide them into the truth.
As Jesus finished addressing His disciples, He explained one last comforting truth to them, God the Father loves you. In essence Jesus said, “Your faith in me, ties you in an inseparable relationship with God the Father.” He further encouraged them that from now on, they should come to the Father in prayer and ask Him to provide for them, and protect them, and to accomplish His will in them. This was one of the greatest realities that Jesus could teach His disciples. After Jesus completed His work on the cross, believers could have unfettered access to God the Father.
In a couple hours, Jesus would be arrested and taken to His fake trial. Knowing that this would be devastating to the confidence of the disciples, Jesus forewarned them that they would all be scattered into the night. His comfort for them in light of this scattering was to tell them to not worry about Him. How selfless! “You are going to be scattered, but don’t worry about me.” He was telling them that while He was captured and being beaten, they didn’t need to worry for Him. In this selfless, loving moment with His disciples, Jesus taught what faith in God the Father looks like.
“Everyone will leave me, yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” During His final hours, as Jesus marched to the cross, God would be with Him. He would not be alone on this road, God the Father was with Him until the end. This confidence and assurance was what Jesus wanted His disciples to hear before they were forced to flee into the night. “These things have I spoken to you, that in me ye might have peace.” Because of Jesus, there would be no tribulation too great, no trial to disturbing, no long night too overwhelming that His love and grace could not offer peace to His followers.
So, how would the disciples respond on this night, after hearing the message of peace and access to God? By the time the night was over, Jesus would be bound, and on trial. The disciples would forget the teaching of Jesus, and would flee. The two that didn’t flee, Peter and John, would find an entirely different set of concerns as they followed Jesus from one hostile environment to the next. It would eventually be Peter, the bold one, that denied Jesus. The disciples would not learn it yet, but eventually they would. Eventually the Comforter would come, and would equip them with strength for moments like this.

Food For Thought: In His final teaching before going to the garden to pray and be arrested, what truth did Jesus reveal for His disciples?

Monday, November 24, 2014

John 16:12-15

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 
– 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Hours before His capture and execution, Jesus reiterated a promise to His disciples. “The Spirit will come.” In John 14:16, He had already explained that upon His departure, He would send “another,’ a “Comforter.” Jesus referred to this Comforter as “the Spirit of Truth.” Now, again, Jesus reiterated this promise, but continued with a further explanation of the purpose for which He was sending the Spirit of truth.
According to Jesus, the Spirit (the Holy Spirit as He is commonly called) would come to guide the followers of Jesus in the truth. But what truth does He guide the followers of Jesus into? We can understand that the truth that Jesus is speaking of in this context is the truth about Himself. It would be the ministry of the Spirit of truth to guide the disciples in their understanding, assimilation and presentation of the Jesus.
Worded in a different way, it would be the job of the Holy Spirit to lead people to understand and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. It would further be the ministry of the Spirit to guide people in the truths of obedience to God, revealing at every turn what it means to be genuinely Christ-like. The Spirit would have the ministry of guiding people into the truth of the gospel and the truth of Christ-like sanctification.
When we see this ministry of the Spirit, we must further understand for us what that means. We are not to sit around waiting for the Holy Spirit to reveal to us new things from strange sources. We don’t need extra revelation, like the Book of Mormon, or publications from the Watchtower Society. We don’t need new revelation, we need illumination. We need the help of the Spirit of truth to teach us the truth that has already been revealed in ages past. So we must be actively pursuing that truth by reading the pages of Scripture, so that the Spirit of truth will teach us the truth of Jesus.
It is the ministry of the Spirit to teach us the truth that is found in the Scriptures. When we further realize that the Holy Spirit of God was at work in the writing of Scripture, we can understand that there is none more qualified to help us understand the true meaning of each text. Like Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote in 2 Timothy 3, it is through the Spirit-illumination of the Scriptures that followers of Jesus can live rightly and be equipped to do what God has called us to do.
It is by the Spirit that we understand the gospel, and it is by the Spirit that we obey the Word of God. The Spirit of truth truly is given as a gift from God for us. If we are followers of Jesus, He labored to draw us into the family of faith, and now, He labors to guide us in the truth.

Food For Thought: In what two areas does the “Spirit of truth” guide the followers of Jesus?

Friday, November 21, 2014

John 16:1-11

The angry crowd screamed murderous words as they moved down the dusty Jerusalem trail. It had been just over ten years since Jesus was led down the same streets to be executed by the Romans. Now, one of His closest followers, James the brother of John, was being physically and verbally tormented. King Herod of Judea had issued the order for his execution, and James refused to put up a fight. Church historian Clemens Alexandrinus writes that one of the executioners was so moved by the courage of James that after apologizing to James, he was forced to join him in execution. Moments later, James knelt, prayed, and felt the swift cold sword blade blow against the back of his neck.
Ten years later, as church history tells, Philip witnessed to the wife of the Roman Proconsul, and she was converted. Enraged by this, the Proconsul ordered that Philip not only be scourged and crucified, but that to increase the agony, Philip should be crucified upside-down. The apostle Philip was then savagely beaten, and dragged to the edge of a town called Hierapolis, in what is now modern-day Turkey. There in classic Roman fashion, the bloodied Philip was nailed to a cross to be crucified. As Philip died on the cross, he continued to preach the gospel to all those gathered around.
Around the same time, Nathaniel the brother of Philip, and by then a missionary along the Caspian Sea, was captured. Church history explains that the first stage of his torture was a practice known as "flaying," or being skinned alive. While still struggling in pain, he was then beheaded near the modern day capital city of Baku, Azerbaijan.
The Apostle Peter was eventually captured, tortured, and ordered to be crucified during the reign of Nero. When it became clear that he was going to be crucified, church historians tell us that Peter requested to be executed in the excruciating inverted position like Philip. His reason for the added torture- he did not count himself worthy to die in the same fashion as Jesus.
The Apostle Thomas labored in the region that is now modern day Iran and Iraq before travelling to southern India as a missionary. While ministering in India, he was run through by angry natives with multiple spears. Unrelenting in his preaching while he was assaulted, Thomas was eventually thrown into the flames of a burning oven where he finally died an agonizing death.
The night that Jesus was captured to be executed, He had explained to His disciples, "And these things will they do to you, because they have not known the Father...but these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of is expedient for you that I go away."
Jesus knew that momentarily He would be taken from His disciples and they would be scattered. He knew also that eventually they would be strengthened and encouraged by His resurrection. However, the ultimate strength that they would receive would come in the form of the indwelling, empowering Holy Spirit. They could not receive this comforting Strengthener unless Jesus departed.
Having foretold of their coming persecution, Jesus then encouraged them with the promise of the coming Spirit. He would come to work in their hearts. He would give strength where there was weakness. He would reveal truth where there was darkness. And He would bring the words of Jesus to remembrance as each of the disciples were executed. This night and these words would never be forgotten. Rather, as each disciple met death at the hands of wicked men, their minds must have rushed back to this moment with Jesus as He explained the harrowing yet honoring future events for each of them.

Food For Thought: Why would Jesus tell His disciples that they would eventually be killed? Besides just telling them of their impending death, what did Jesus promise to do for them?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

John 15:18-27

“They will hate you.” These are not the words that the disciples wanted to hear from Jesus, but this was the truth. When the Holy Spirit came upon those whom Jesus had chosen, they would become proclaimers of the truth. They would be witnesses of the events and the power that they had experienced. But this witnessing would not be without a cost. For Jesus and any who would follow Him, this truth-proclamation had a certain end: persecution and death.
Jesus explained that a natural, sin-caused enmity exists between God and man. The world and those in it are naturally filled with animosity toward the three-fold message of the gospel. Because of rugged individuality, the first point of contention for the world is that they are owned by someone else, God. In self-justifying self-righteousness, they are further offended when they are accused of being sinners. Finally, their self-sufficiency is insulted when it is explained that they need to rely on someone else, Jesus, because they are not good enough on their own. To an unregenerate person, the entire gospel message is demeaning and defaming. Because of this, in hatred, nonbelievers hate gospel messengers.
Sadly, this hatred is compounded by some Christians who hear Jesus say, “they will hate you” and misunderstand Him to be saying, “and you should hate them.” Instead of living a life that is open and engaging and based on the love of God towards sinners, some who claim to be Christians live lives of hatred, constantly looking to tell people that God hates them, and that they hate them. In their minds, they erroneously imagine that Jesus taught that Christians should hate everyone who isn’t a Christian. They would go on to misquote passages like 1 John 2:15, “love not the world, nor things in the world.”
Failing to see what Jesus actually taught and even what Jesus demonstrated, they dismiss any who are non-Christians. Instead of building friendships with nonbelievers they isolate themselves with passages like James 4:4, “friendship with the world is enmity with God.” Instead of studying scripture, some ministers preach generic messages of heretical, hate-filled doctrine denying the gospel that saved them.
In Romans 5:8 Paul writes, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Furthermore, Paul explained in Romans 9:2-3, “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Believers will be hated and abused but this does not give license for believers to be hateful and abusive. Rather, Jesus explained further in Luke 6:28, that when we are hated and abused we should “bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” Any reaction less than love is anti-Christ. In attempting to attack the world, some have inadvertently demonstrated the character of the sinful hating world.
The mark of a true believer is their love for others. It is not beneath a Christian to offer forgiveness and love to those around them. The example of Christ on the cross was not that of a spitting, cursing, angry Jesus, rather, 1 Peter 2:23 tells us that “when He was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” The basis for the silence of Jesus in the face of such hatred was His trust in the goodness and justice of God. As followers of Jesus we can respond with Paul in Romans 8:31, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Declaring the truth will bring animosity, it always has. But let us love like Jesus, and let us trust in the God who will always judge rightly.

Food For Thought: What will be the reaction of the world to the declaration of the truth? Why do you think that some people never feel any persecution in their lives?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

John 15:12-17

After explaining that He was the vine from which His followers gained strength enough to obey His commands, Jesus further explained that the evidence of a true disciple was that he was a fruit-bearing disciple. But what about those who came to every gathering in Jerusalem? What about those who watched the miracles of Jesus in Bethany and beyond? What about those who were the family members of Jesus? Jesus explained that all of these things could be true, but fruitless followers were not true disciples. The true disciples were the ones that obeyed the commandments of Jesus. (John 14:15)
The teaching of the delineation between true disciples and false disciples came on the night that one of the closest disciples to Jesus, Judas, would betray Him. Jesus was not oblivious to this, but instead, had been planning for the betrayal by Judas all along. Now, before the other disciples would learn of the treachery of Judas, Jesus explained that there was a distinction between true and false disciples.
What is the difference? Jesus explained that primarily, true disciples evidence their discipleship by bearing fruit. Jesus further explained that another major evidence of true discipleship is the relationship that the disciples have between each other. A true disciple loves the other disciples. There is no ill-will or defrauding, no, there is only love. A true follower of Jesus loves all other followers of Jesus.
I am certain that in a room with twelve people, there were strong personalities. I think of Peter and the boldness with which he often spoke. I recall the words of John and James, the sons of Thunder; Thomas with His impetuous questioning; and what about the disciples who never said anything? There were certainly differing personalities in the group, but difference was not reason enough, according to Jesus, for any of them to not love the others. Rather in spite of their diversity, they should love one another. According to Jesus, this is the mark of a true disciple, an unbridled compassion for all other disciples.
But why should we love all other believers this way? Didn’t Jesus know that there were going to be some difficult people who would become believers? Jesus gives two major reasons why we should unhinderingly love other followers of Jesus.
First, He chose them. If they had come to faith on their own, we could resent them sinfully wishing they had never become followers of Jesus. But according to Jesus, the only reason that they became followers of Jesus was the grace of God alone. How then can we pass judgment on those God has chosen to extend grace to? Second, not only did He choose them, but Jesus further explained that we should love others because He too loves them. If we are truly followers of Jesus, then we would seek to do everything that He does. We would speak as He speaks, work as He works, and love as He loves. He is our great example, and there is not one believer whom He does not love. Therefore, it is our pattern to extend love to everyone whom Jesus loves, regardless of our sinful disposition or past experience. The pattern of life for a true disciple is an unwavering love for all other disciples.

Food For Thought: What two reasons does Jesus give for why we should love the other followers of Jesus?

Monday, November 17, 2014

John 15:1-11

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
We understand that it is based upon the saving work of Jesus Christ alone that we find forgiveness of our sins and peace with God. This means that we cannot earn salvation; rather, we must come in faith resting alone in the saving work that Jesus accomplished on our behalf. And that faith through which God extends His grace, in the words of Martin Luther, is faith alone, but not a faith that remains alone.
Ephesians 2:10 

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Following this conversion, believers are no longer what they once were. Elsewhere, Paul explains that “if any man be in Christ, He is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things become new.” What Paul is teaching is that the life of a believer is marked by more than faith. This truth mirrors the truth that we have already seen Jesus teach in John 8:31, “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed.” Now, as we arrive at John 15, we see Jesus use another analogy to explain this process of Christian life and growth.
Jesus explained to His disciples on the night before His crucifixion that He was the true source of all life and good works. Those who were truly joined with Him produce fruit in His power alone, and not theirs. In the analogy, there are those that produce fruit and those who do not produce fruit. According to Jesus the fruitless branches are cast into the fire and are burned. In essence, those who are fruitless are the ones who are imposters and not truly believers.
They may have made a profession, or attended Sunday School, or been married to a really good Christian, but their lives were not marked by a constant fruitfulness. Instead, fruitlessly, they hung around, hoping to be mistaken by the pure-eyed husbandman, God, to be one of the fruit-bearing branches. But God is not duped. He can see clearly if there is any fruit on a branch, and ultimately He will cast away the fruitless branches into the fire.
So what about that guy that you know who “walked away from the faith”? He was such a good kid, and always sat up straight in church and mowed Widow So-and-So’s lawn. He was really a sweet guy, and unfortunately just got caught up with the wrong crowd. He always said that he was a Christian, and although he may not live like it now, doesn’t the Bible say, “Once saved, always saved.”?
While salvation is not contingent on our works, Jesus is also clear that fruitless branches are cast into the fire. In James 2:26, we find that just “as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Faith in the present paired with evidential fruit is the assurance from Scripture that any person can have that God has truly saved them.

Food For Thought: If a person is fruitless and has no evidence of God’s grace working in them, what does Jesus say God will do with them?

Friday, November 14, 2014

John 14:27-31

“I’m leaving you, and you should be happy for me!”
This was the latest conclusion that Jesus offered His disciples in the upper room on the evening before Passover in Jerusalem. He had begun with “Let not your hearts be troubled,” and had continued on to explain that there would be “another” who would come and bring strength and comfort for the disciples after Jesus left. But now, Jesus had reiterated “let not your heart be troubled,” and followed it up with, and “if you love me, you will rejoice for me that I get to leave you.”
The disciples had learned to trust Jesus in their hour of need. There were numerous occasions where enraged mobs had rushed upon them, and with supernatural power Jesus held back the mobs so that He and His disciples could escape. On the Sea of Galilee the storms had arisen and multiple times Jesus calmed the storms rescuing His disciples. When they were hungry He provided them with food. He was truly everything they needed. Now, He was going to leave them. And to complicate things, when they were obviously beginning to show signs of sorrow, He told them that they should rejoice for Him.
Before we see His reason for why they should rejoice, we must understand what it means, biblically, to love someone. 1 Corinthians 13 is commonly referred to as the “love chapter” of Scripture. In it Paul articulates what love looks like. One of the defining characteristics about love is found in 1 Corinthians 13:5, “[Love]…seeketh not her own…” In other words, love is not self-seeking or self-serving, but rather as Paul later explains in Philippians 2:4, love is concerned with others’ interests.
Here, Jesus explains to His disciples that if they truly loved Him, they would be thrilled for Him that He finally will be glorified and that He would be with the Father. Jesus loved God so much, and now, He would be with God. So, as He looks at His disciples, He explains to them, rejoice for me that I get to go. Perhaps they were not ready to rejoice because they were self-seeking. They wanted Jesus to be there with them. They didn’t have any regard for what was good for Him; they cared about what was good for them. They should have been excited, but they were not. They failed to share in His joy because they feared it meant the loss of their joy. They did not love Him, they were selfish.
I think that if we are not careful, we can end up having the same bad theology as the disciples. Instead of rejoicing at what Jesus was going to heaven to accomplish for them, they were concerned with having Jesus there with them as their pocket-god to rescue them from peril and provide the next meal for them. Heaven is a terrific place where all who enter are immediately ushered into the presence of the perfect and holy God.
Understanding this could perhaps shift our thinking when it comes to the passing of those we love. There is always grief, and that is natural. But there should not be a long-lasting depression and devastation at the loss of a believing loved one or friend. The separation felt is genuine and should cause a bit of pain, but the separation from a believer is only temporary. Ultimately we can rejoice that they will be enjoying themselves much more now that they have arrived in the presence of God. This should be liberating and exciting for us as we seek to love those who have passed and as we look forward to the day that we too can join them in the joy of heaven.

Food For Thought: What did Jesus mean when He said “If ye loved me, ye would rejoice.”?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

John 14:15-31

Recently Graham and Cecelia have been watching a PBS show called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. This show is a sequel to Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, with a matching theme song and a very similar purpose – teaching manners and morals to young children. At random, I hear Daniel Tiger, the main character, singing a little jingle to teach the kids a new moral lesson. Graham and Cecelia really enjoy these, so often I hear them singing along and sometimes even a few days later as we are driving down the road. A recent one that has stuck with them goes like this, “Making something is one way to say, ‘I love you.’”
"Making Something" - Daniel Tiger Video

It has been pretty cool seeing Graham thinking this one through. Having “made” something for his mommy, he will get excited and be ready to give it to her so that she can see that he loves her. “Daddy, I made this for mommy because I love her.” He may be only 3, but he gets the lesson that he learned from Daniel Tiger that if you want to show your love, there should be some action to match the words.
With a greater force than a fluffy, animated, cardigan-wearing, cartoon tiger, Jesus addressed His disciples in the upper room on the night before Passover. His premise was a similar one, but with much more weight - “If you love me, keep my commandments.” With this one statement, He had raised the bar above a children’s song, and brought gravity to the calling of discipleship. There is perhaps a number of ways that you can show love for someone, but when it comes to loving Jesus, this is the one way that He gives us to demonstrate our love for Him. We have one option. Obedience is the only way of love.
But if the disciples were honest, this was an overwhelming task. They had tried to live by the law of Moses, and had failed. Now, Jesus had come and had through clarification helped them to understand that in and of themselves they could not obey His commands. So how could they demonstrate their love? But Jesus continued on, “I will send you another Comforter to abide with you forever.”
There are two words in this verse that are of massive importance. The first is “another,” this word is not a generic word in the Greek with broad meanings like in English, rather in Greek, this word “another” literally means “one who is exactly the same in essence.” Jesus was promising to send one who was going to be there for the disciples as He had been. The second word of massive importance is “Comforter.” This word has a two-fold idea: 1) one who comforts and consoles, 2) one who strengthens. The word “comfort” itself even comes from two Latin words: 1) com - with, 2) fortis - strength. This Comforter would be one who could come along side the disciples and endue them with His strength.
It was true that in and of themselves they could not obey God, but with the indwelling Holy Spirit, they could receive the strength to obey. He could teach them the truth of God, and help them obey God, so that they could fully love God. The command of Jesus to love through obedience was not an impossible command, rather, He would equip believers with the ability to obey what He commanded.
And why was Jesus saying this to them on this night? Because He had just explained that He was going away. Their hearts were troubled, and they were upset. In loving them unto the end, He spoke these words of truth to encourage the disciples and dispel their fears of abandonment. He would give them His Spirit so that they would never be alone and so that He could abide in them forever.

Food For Thought: What two words from John 14:16 are of massive importance when truly understood? What do they mean?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

John 14:5-14

We often find the disciples asking questions to further understand the words that Jesus has spoken. I think if we were honest, if we had been with Jesus and heard Him speak it the first time, perhaps we too would have the same questions that the disciples had. But, thankfully, we have the words recorded, so that we can study them and learn them and have the Holy Spirit illumine them now.
As Jesus foretold of His departure to His disciples, Thomas voiced a concern that probably many of them were feeling, “We don’t understand where you are going, and how will we get there?” Jesus had just finished saying He was going to His “Father’s house” which we understand clearly to be Heaven. If Thomas had known that Jesus was talking about Heaven, he could have asked instead, “How can I go to Heaven?” Jesus answered Philip’s question by giving one of the most exclusive statements of the entire Bible, “I am the way…no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Jesus left no wiggle room for any to think that He was simply “one of the ways,” no, He claimed with confidence that He was the only way.
Philip then asked Jesus to show him signs that demonstrated that Jesus was in fact from God and that this was true. After following Jesus for nearly three years, through this question we can see that there were still some disciples who had not fully understood the truth about Jesus. Now, Philip asked Jesus to show him how that Jesus was God. Lovingly, Jesus would take the time to teach Philip that he didn’t need Jesus to demonstrate anything.
The time for demonstrations was over. Jesus went on to teach Philip a great truth about his reaction to the claims of Jesus. In verse 11, Jesus says, “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” Philip expected to see the deity of Jesus in this moment, but Jesus explained that Philip should already be past seeing and what he really needed was faith in what he had already seen. But why didn’t Jesus just do something spectacular to convince Philip in this moment?
Jesus had already done unbelievable things: healing the lame, healing the blind, raising the dead. This was not the time for more demonstrations, the demonstrations were done, now was the time for belief. Philip’s request was laced a thread of disbelief that if he had voiced more clearly would have sounded something like this, “I know you raised Lazarus from the dead and have power over a raging storm, but show us that you really are God.” What else could Jesus do? What else did Jesus need to do? It wasn’t for lack of evidence that Philip asked the question, it was because of his lack of faith in what he had already witnessed Jesus do.
In the end, Jesus made a promise that extended to His Apostles, “the works that I do, you will be able to do.” We will eventually see these same faithless disciples filled with faith accomplishing the miraculous in the name of Jesus. Having understood the truth and believed it, they became signal bearers of the same, carrying the truths of Jesus throughout the entire world to the glory of God and of Jesus.
Food For Thought: What did Jesus tell Thomas was the only way to get to the place that He was going? Why didn’t Jesus do a massive demonstration of divine power for Philip? What was Philip lacking?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

John 14:1-4

The night was young as Jesus began teaching His disciples, “Whither I go you cannot come.” After years of faithfully following Jesus, Peter answered Jesus with anxiety and emotion, “Lord, whither goest thou?” Peter obviously struggled to understand Jesus, so He clarified His statement further, “Whither I go, thou cannot follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” Even the proposition to eventually be able to follow Jesus was not good enough for Peter, “Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.”
The next phrase that Jesus spoke must have been unnerving for everyone in the upper room. Before Judas left, Jesus had said, “one of you shall betray me.” When Judas departed, the majority of the disciples assumed that he was just going to prepare for the Passover feast or to give money to the poor. They were not yet thinking that Judas was going to betray Jesus. This misconceived notion was probably furthered by the next statement of Jesus to Peter, “The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.” In essence, Jesus just explained to the boldest disciple, Peter, that by the next morning he would disclaim and reject Jesus not just once, as if it were an accident, but three separate times.
This was a nuclear reality. As it seemed to the disciples, it was Peter who would betray Jesus. Peter was one of the closest to Jesus, how could this be? Certainly the tension was thick in the room as Peter reeled from the unhesitatingly accusing prophecy of Jesus.
While the burn was stinging, Jesus poured an ointment of comfort to settle all the hearts of those at the table. “Let not your heart be troubled.” Their hearts were certainly troubled. Jesus was about to leave and go away without them. He had been talking about dying, and now, He was talking about betrayal and Peter falling away from the faith. John began chapter 13 with, “He loved them unto the end.” Certainly as they sat around on this dark night, He was there to speak comfort into their darkness.
The loving, empathetic, compassionate Jesus gave them hope. “You believe in God, believe also in me.” For centuries, the people of God had learned to rely on God. It was ingrained in their genes to constantly look to the God Who had delivered their forefathers. Now, Jesus was telling them that as much as they trusted God, they could trust Him.
There was a purpose for His leaving them. He was leaving them for a short time so that He could accomplish an incredible opportunity for them. He was leaving so that He could create a place in Heaven for them. For us, the word “mansion” is a bit misleading or even distracting. Jesus’ point wasn’t that they would have a giant house with a butler, statues, and a wrought-iron gate, rather, the word used by Jesus and the word chosen by the translators simply stated would be “Heaven is filled with places for you to stay.”
Jesus went on further to explain that He was the one who was preparing the places for them to stay, and that He would come back again so that He could take them there. Again, they could trust Him, as much as they trusted God the Father. He would do this. By His death He would accomplish this for them.

Food For Thought: Why perhaps were the disciples “troubled” as we enter chapter 14? What is a “mansion” in old English?

Monday, November 10, 2014

John 13:31-38

Judas hurried out of the room into the darkness of the night. Jesus sat with the other eleven disciples in the upper room. He had many things that He wanted to teach them in this last night together before His crucifixion. As soon as Judas disappeared, Jesus began teaching what would eventually be John 13-16.
“Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” To be glorified simply means that all of the realities and attributes of a person are revealed or demonstrated. In this instance, Jesus is referencing the fact that momentarily, He will die on the cross and He and God will be glorified. In other words, the attributes and character of God and Jesus are about to be carried out on the cross. But which attributes?
In the crucifixion we see clearly the Holiness of God. God hates sin. Sin is antithetical to His very nature. Because of His Holiness, He pours out His unbridled wrath on all sin. When Jesus offered Himself on the cross, He became the propitiation for our sins. 

“The doctrine of the propitiation is precisely this that God loved the objects of His wrath so much that He gave His own Son to the end that He by His blood should make provision for the removal of this wrath…” - John Murray, The Atonement
In propitiation, God’s wrath was diverted from believers and to the crucified Christ on behalf of those who were formerly at enmity with God. In God’s execution of wrath on sin, even at the expense of His own son, His Holiness was glorified or demonstrated. Also, by executing His wrath on Jesus, He demonstrated His Justice in forgiving us of the sins for which Christ had paid. In Christ on the cross, God would be glorified as Holy and Just.
And on the cross, Jesus would be glorified as a loving Savior. His love had been demonstrated in the countless interactions He had with the social misfits and rejects of Judea, but now, He would act out the greatest demonstration of love. On the cross, He would be glorified as He demonstrated His love by substituting Himself for all those who would believe in Him. The cost to Him, the unbridled wrath of God, was worth the glory for Him in the end. His love would be undeniably demonstrated for all to see.
This vociferous love would become the defining characteristic of Jesus. It is no wonder then, that He would explain that any who would follow Him must have this same self-sacrificial lifestyle. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 

"God gave the world the right to judge us on our love." - Francis Schaeffer, The Mark of a Christian
If you claim to be a believer and a disciple of Jesus, there will be a great amount of evidence. Your lifestyle will demonstrate whether or not you are a true disciple of Jesus by the love you have for those around you. Inspect your own life, realize that you are not judged by how well you love the few closest to you, but rather by the way you love everyone else, especially those who do not often love you in return. Believers are loving and kind even in the face of being defrauded, mistreated, and maligned.

Food for thought: Who is someone who seriously bothers you? If you were given a letter grade for how well you are demonstrating your love to them, what would that grade be? What should you do about it?

Friday, November 7, 2014

John 13:21-30

Jesus loved perfectly. As we read John 13, this limitless love is contrasted immediately with the wickedness of Judas. As penman of this gospel account, John included details that would later come to light, but that while he was yet a character in the story he did not know. At the time, no one suspected Judas, so much so, that even after Jesus made it explicit that it was Judas that would betray Him, the disciples still missed it.
It was one of the most intimate nights between Jesus and His disciples. He knew that He was going to be executed very soon, and He wanted to give some last words to His disciples. He knew that their faith in Him was going to be shaken when He was beaten and crucified. He knew that many of them were fixated on a Messiah that was crowned and enthroned in Jerusalem. He knew that the shock of His arrest and mock trial would be enough to melt their hearts and make even the most faithful become doubters.
So He taught truth. There is nothing that anchors the soul in hard times like Truth. In the season of life when the wind blows and the torrent pours sorrow upon sorrow, the one who is fixed on Truth will be able to survive. There were several doctrines that He would teach on this night, and this Truth would resonate in the minds of the disciples for the rest of their lives. “Serve one another.” “Trust in God and trust in Me.” “Love one another.” These were the words that He would equip them with for the most harrowing day of their lives. But not everyone at the table was interested in the Truth that Jesus was teaching.
“One of you will betray me.” As Jesus spoke the words, it must have been strange for all sitting there except Judas. With a lump in his throat and his guilty mind swirling, he must have played innocent for a moment or two, since the other disciples apparently never suspected him. Jesus then indicated that it was Judas and gave the permission, “Go do what you have planned.” That was the entire interchange, and it was lost on all of the disciples. Judas left, and did not return for the rest of the evening.
What type of bitterness and anger would have to be in a person for them to hear the words of Jesus and choose to betray Him? How evil would you have to be to give the pretense of friendship while all the while subversively plotting to destroy someone? So Judas walked out into the night, and surrendered himself to the will of Satan. Together, Judas and Satan would seek to rid the planet of the Son of God. They would have Him murdered so that He would no longer be a problem. Unbeknownst to them, their act of extreme depravity would simply serve to accomplish the very plan of God. They were not going to overthrow Jesus; they were merely lending themselves as servants of His will.

Food for Thought: What were the two reasons that John gives for the disciples thinking that Judas was leaving the table?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

John 13:1-20

Jesus was clearly God. His works demonstrated it. But stop and think about that for a moment. Jesus is God. Mankind and God could not be more different in their attributes. But Jesus as God limited Himself, and came to the earth for a great purpose. God, the omnipotent, took on frail human form. The one who created galaxies, confined himself to a flesh and blood body. Think about that! God who inhabits the far reaches of the universe and of heaven, bound himself to a tiny speck of dust planet that He had created. This is impressive to think about. The great Divine draped in humanity.
When we come to John 13, we find the clear demonstration of what this great truth looks like. Jesus had finished His public earthly ministry, and now, He sat at the table with His disciples for the Passover supper. It was finally the night that He would be betrayed and arrested, and by the next sunset, He would be killed. John pens the beautiful reality that was driving the mission of Jesus on the planet, “Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world, unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.”
The life of Jesus was marked by His love for others. In John 3:16, Jesus had told Nicodemus that it was love that had motivated God to send Jesus into the world. Now, we see that the ministry of Jesus could be summed up in love. He loved “His own.” Those who, according to John 6, the Father has given to Jesus would come to Him and He would offer them His love. Now, the night before His upcoming death, He gave one last great demonstration of Who He is, and what He came to do.
Rising from the supper table, John writes that Jesus “laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.” He was the Rabbi. His clothes were the distinct garments of authority, power, and position. But in this instance, He removed the distinctive clothes of power, and wrapped Himself with a servant’s towel. It was the common slave who would wear a towel, not the Rabbi. Not even the disciples were expected to wash feet, it was a job reserved for the lowest of the low. But Jesus, the most revered, set aside His power and authority, humbled Himself, and served those He loved.
But this was just a picture, an image, of what Jesus had already done in coming to earth. By coming to earth, Jesus had already humbled Himself immeasurably. The difference between God and man is a gap of infinite dissimilarity. When Jesus had come to the earth, He had removed His Sovereign robe of divinity. He willingly set aside His position and power and was bound in the form of a servant.
Mankind was to serve God. Humanity was nothing more than a race of servants. But God, in Jesus, came and took on the form of a man, and humbled Himself becoming the perfect servant. Having come to serve God perfectly, He also served others perfectly. But why would Jesus give up everything? Why would He come to earth and be abused by those around Him? Why would He suffer estrangement and hatred? Love. The driving reason always was love. From the beginning He loved. To the end, He loved. Even now, He loves. This is Jesus, the loving, humble, self-sacrificing, serving Messiah.

Food For Thought: Read Philippians 2:2-8. What similarities do you see between what Jesus did in John 13 and what Paul explains Jesus did in Philippians 2?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

John 12:34-50

Imagine with me for a moment that you and I walk to the street in front of your house. As we approach the curb, you notice a little Ford Escort. It is tan, a bit rusty, and about thirty years old, nothing really to oogle over. As we walk around the car, you notice that this car is the most basic car ever, perhaps even a bit underwhelming. However, when we climb into the car, I explain to you that under the hood is a brand new modified engine from a Ferrari Enzo. I further explain that while this car doesn’t look like much, the engine on this car can take us over 200 mph. Clicking the seatbelts, you chuckle with doubt as I brag that we could cover a quarter of a mile start to finish in 11 seconds.
As soon as we click the seatbelts in, I insert my key into the ignition and turn it. Roaring with power that was completely unexpected for this little car, the engine begins to purr like nothing you’ve ever heard before. For the first time since we walked outside you actually start to think that my Ferrari claim is possible. As I double check that you are wearing your seatbelt, I reach into the back seat and grab a couple of helmets, and hand one to you. You laugh as you ask me, “What, am I supposed to wear this?” Without responding I put your helmet in your lap and begin strapping mine on. Not fully convinced but a little bit nervous about the purring engine, you quickly follow suit.
Through my helmet, you hear me holler out, “Let’s do this,” as I slam the car into gear and shove the pedal to the floor. In an instant, you are pinned to your seat with your head thrown back against the head rest. In the next ten seconds you realize that the screaming tires have caught enough traction to propel us hundreds of yards down the road as we head onto the open highway. Slapping from gear to gear, you hear the growl of the engine increase and decrease all the way up through all seven gears. Glancing over at the dashboard, you see the needle on the speedometer inching past 204, 205, 206…and I finally let off the accelerator allowing the car to slow down until we eventually stop.
As we get out of the car, you are gasping for breath as you kiss the pavement, glad to have survived one of the scariest moments of your life. Now, the moment of truth comes. I remind you that one minute earlier you laughed at me when I told you I had a Ferrari Enzo engine in this hoopty looking car, now the evidence had started to stack up. The acceleration, the 200 mph speeds, the growl of the engine, everything seemed to indicate that I was telling the truth. Popping the hood, I show you the engine emblazoned with the word Ferrari and the new bright red and black paint on it. Clearly, my claims were real.
This is what Jesus had done. He had come and demonstrated that His claims were undeniable. He truly was God. He had done everything that would prove that He was God. He demonstrated immense power over nature, healed the lame, cured the blind, and He had finally raised the dead. There was no denying that He was indeed God. He may not have looked like much, but the miracles were undeniable. However, there were those who refused to believe the evidence. It may have been hard to believe at first, just like me with a Ferrari engine in my Ford Escort, but after they had seen everything, there was no excuse for not believing. Then why didn’t everyone believe He was who He said He was? Why does John say, “they could not believe”? Why don’t people believe now that He is who He said He was?

Food For Thought: In today’s text, John quotes Isaiah 6:10. Who does John say has purposed for the unbelieving to remain in unbelief? What reasons were given for the silence of those who actually did believe?