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Now displaying: 2015
Jul 24, 2015

Northwest Community Evangelical Free Church

Dave Smith 

THIS Jesus - Jesus, King Over Nature                                                          Study #3 (John 6:1-21)

Introduction: Chronological snobbery…

               You may have heard your friends dismiss the stories of miracles recorded in the Bible. If you have, they may have done so on the basis of the supposed gullibility of ancient peoples.

 

               Your friends may say, “People who lived a long time ago were so gullible they’d believe anything.”

 

               Thanks to C. S. Lewis, we have a term to describe this reason for disbelief. Lewis called it “chronological snobbery.”

 

               The term actually refers to the temptation to believe that all new ideas are better than all old ideas. But the term can easily be applied to a consideration of the miracles we find recorded in the Bible.

 

               Of the miracles, someone might say, “Well, ancient peoples thought that thunderstorms were the result of battles between the gods. We know the science behind storms. Ancient peoples were stupid.”

 

               Or, “Show someone from the first century what a smart phone can do and he’d say, ‘IT’S A MIRACLE!’ because he doesn’t know about cell tower technology and microchips. We know it’s not a miracle because we know that there is science behind it (even if we, personally, don’t understand the science behind it).”

 

               But the argument against belief in the Bible’s miracles on the basis of ancient people’s lack of scientific sophistication breaks down when we note the miracles that are actually recorded.

 

               Among the miracles recorded in the Old Testament, we read of:

·        people with leprosy who suddenly don’t have leprosy anymore;

·        a body of water parting for the Jews to pass through and closing over the Egyptian army;

·        fire falling from heaven and consuming sacrifices on an altar.

 

               Stuff like that. And stuff like that isn’t just incredible for ancient people. It would be incredible for us, too, if we saw it.

 

               The miracles of Jesus are just as miraculous.

 

               If we watched water become wine today, we’d call it a miracle. If a man who had been lame for thirty eight years jumped up and walked after nothing more than a word from Jesus, we’d call that a miracle, too.[1]

 

               This morning we are going to explore a couple more of Jesus’ miracles (what John calls “signs”).

 

               While exploring, we’re going to avoid the mental crime of chronological snobbery. We’ll read these signs carefully to see what they tell us about Jesus and His ways.

 

               First, though, an IOU. I owe you a pastoral apology for a sermon error last week.

               You may recall that last Sunday we explored two of Jesus’ miracles. First, He healed a nobleman’s son in Capernaum (a long-distance healing from Cana) and then He healed a lame man at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem.

               If you remember that you may also remember that I said that this was the only example of two miracles appearing back-to-back in the Gospel of John.

               And that is true - except for the two we’ll see today (and any others I have may have forgotten about). Oh well…

By way of review…

               So far in our look at THIS Jesus, we’ve seen three of His “signs.” These signs have all told us something about His power and His mission that we wouldn’t have known without them.

               Turning common water to wine says that He intends to turn you and me into stunning trophies of grace.

               Healing a nobleman’s son AND a lame beggar tells us that He loves the spiritually alert and the superstitious, the morally upright and the not so much, the socially connected and the poor.

               Today’s two signs will tell us something else profound about Jesus’ mission.

               Now, so far in John’s Gospel, Jesus has moved back and forth between the regions of Galilee in the north and Judea in the south, with one brief stopover in the in-between land of Samaria.

               John starts off by telling us the where and the when of Jesus’ next actions.

 

Galilee at Passover: The Where and the When (John 6:1-4)

 

               Geography and chronology (vv. 1, 4)

 

               [1] After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the sea of Galilee (or Tiberias)…[4] Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near.

 

               The Sea of Galilee[2] was (and is) the predominant geographical feature of that region. For thousands of years, it has been the area’s center for commerce and population.

 

               Most of His disciples were familiar with that region, and with the sea, as well, as several of them were fishermen. Galilee was Jesus’ own boyhood stomping grounds.

 

               Mountains rise from the Sea of Galilee to the east and west, while the Sea itself is much longer, north to south. It is, from all reports, beautiful.

 

               And, John tells us that it was Passover season, not far from the season in which we find ourselves this morning. It is springtime. The weather is warming. Everything is in bloom.

 

               Jesus is right smack in the middle of all of this natural beauty and He is about to be surrounded by large crowds of people.

 

               The company He keeps (vv. 2, 3)

 

               [2] A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick. [3] Then Jesus went up on the mountain[3], and there He sat down with His disciples.

 

               His decision to climb a mountain looks a little bit like an evasive maneuver, like He’s trying to get away from the crowds. That is possible, but if that was the case, it was a very unsuccessful attempt, because up the mountain the people came.

 

               Philip was one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, and Philip hailed from the village of Bethsaida, a fishing village close to the mountain on the east side of the Sea where they were.

               Jesus turned to Philip and asked a question that pointed out a problem caused by this approaching crowd.

 

The Feeding of the Five Thousand (vv. 5-15)

 

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (vv. 5-9)

 

               Jesus and Philip (vv. 5-7)

 

               [5] Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?”

 

               If anybody knew where was the closest HEB or Taco Cabana to find some good food, quick, for the hungry crowd, it would be Philip.

 

               Now I believe that Jesus asked this question of Philip early in the day, while the crowd was just arriving. He is planting in Philip’s mind the fact that the growing crowds represent a growing crisis.

 

               The people will be with them all day long. There will be hours of teaching and healing before any action is taken to address the lack of food.

 

               Philip hears Jesus loud and clear with an assessment of the resources it would take to feed a crowd this large.

 

               [7] Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.”

 

               That’s a lot of money - and they didn’t have anywhere near that much money. Philip knew that no matter how they sliced it, they didn’t have the resources to feed this many people.[4]

 

               Then, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, contributes to the conversation, but his comment is a throwaway. Even as the words leave his lips he knows he’s not being helpful.

 

               Andrew’s report (vv. 8-9)

 

               [8] One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, [9] “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?”[5]

 

               And just so that we’re clear about the amount of food that Andrew is talking about, the “barley loaves” he mentions are like undersized tortillas and the word “fish” describes a sardine-sized tidbit.

 

               Andrew’s point is NOT to suggest that he has a solution to the problem. It is to say that there is NO SOLUTION to this problem.

 

               John has already told us[6] that Jesus knew full well what He was intending to do and that His question to Philip was to “test him.”

 

               We wonder if Philip and Andrew passed the test. We don’t know. We are not told. We never get to see their report cards.

 

               But, it is at least clear that they believed this big crowd was in big trouble and that there is no solution. It never dawned on them that Jesus was the Solution.

 

A Miracle of Multiplication! (vv. 10-13)

               Seated (as if) for a meal (v. 10)

               [10] Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

               That’s five thousand, only counting the men. Add in the women and children and there are easily fifteen to twenty thousand people present.[7]

               This whole scene reminds us of a giant, spring picnic. The weather is perfect. The grass is green AND there are no fire ants.

 

               But this would have been a really tough assignment for the disciples to carry out because they were seating people as if for a meal - and there is no food.

               Hold on. Food’s coming.

               The miracle-working hands of Jesus (v. 11)

               [11] Jesus then took the loaves and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.

               The miracle is recorded very matter-of-factly. Nothing dramatic. No thunder in the background. No rising crescendo of music as the scene unfolds.

               Jesus simply offered a simple prayer of thanks to the Father for what has been provided, and then passed out the multiplying fish and loaves, until everybody had their fill.[8]

 

               Now, despite the fact that the Bible records this event as a Class A miracle, some, in reading it, have concluded otherwise.

 

               Alternative understandings…

 

               I have read that what we have here is a miracle of sharing.

 

               That is, when the grown-ups saw the generosity of the little boy who was willing to share his lunch, they all got out their hidden stashes of food, so that everyone had enough to eat. (This is actually the version I was taught in the church of my youth.).

 

               I have also read what is called the “sacramental” interpretation.

 

               According to this view, what happened was that the boys’ fish and chips meal was enough to give everyone a taste in this, the world’s first communion service. (So, how was everyone “satisfied”?)

 

               Neither of these two alternative explanations work. Why would all four Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - record such a routine event?[9]

 

               Clearly, John wants us to understand that what happened here was a miracle. It was also, just as clearly, a watershed moment for the apostles.

 

               What Jesus has done here was imprinted in their minds for the rest of their lives and it impacted them for the rest of their lives.

 

               Jesus actually multiplied the two fish and five loaves of a boy’s lunch so that thousands and thousands of people had all they wanted to eat.

 

               There were even leftovers, which Jesus saw as important enough that they should not be wasted.

 

               Leftovers! (vv. 12-13)

 

               [12] When they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the left-over fragments so that nothing will be lost.” [13] So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, which were left over by those who had eaten.

               John doesn’t tell us when the disciples got to eat these leftovers, nor if they complained when they were later served the leftovers, nor if they eventually got all moldy at the back of the refrigerator.

 

               But, the fact that there were leftovers is not minor and the note about twelve baskets is not coincidental. That’s one basket of leftovers for each of the twelve apostles.

 

               By this sign Jesus gave them an edible picture of His ability to provide all the resources they would ever need to provide for the needs of people who would come to Him.

 

               In the years to come, Simon Peter, John, Andrew, Philip, and the rest will face enormous difficulties. They will face huge spiritual and human need.

 

               But, they will always have the memory of their own, personal basket of leftovers to remind them that Jesus will provide what they need to do all that He told them to do.

 

               And, of course, multiplying two sardines and five tortillas to feed thousands of people proves what all of the signs prove. They prove Jesus’ power, here His power over nature.

 

               Nor was such a display of power lost on the multitudes. After all, they had been hungry and now they weren’t. With bellies full and tight, they shout out their praise.

 

King Jesus, Indeed… (vv. 14-15)

 

               The crowd presses in, thinking “crown” (v. 14)

 

               [14] Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet[10] who is to come into the world.”

 

               I don’t know what you make of their immediate, gushing praise of Jesus, but I’m not terribly impressed. The praises of crowds are fickle.

 

               The people now know that Jesus is something very special. Maybe He’s the long foretold Prophet, the Messiah.

               Whatever - He’s certainly the kind of Man they are willing to follow, at least for as long as He keeps filling their stomachs.

 

               So what does Jesus do now, at the moment of His greatest popularity 

 

               Well, every ruler who has ever ruled knows exactly what to do in a situation like this. You keep climbing to the top of the heap. You milk the moment for all it’s worth.

 

               Everybody knew that - except Jesus. Jesus left.

 

               That’s right. With the crowds praising Him for His provision, as they were ripe to eat right out of His hand, Jesus got up and left.

 

               Jesus leaves, thinking “cross” (v. 15)

 

               [15] So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.

 

               Jesus was a King, but it wasn’t time for Him to be crowned King, so He left. It is getting real close to the time for Him to go to a cross, but He’s not currently in the market for a crown.

 

               This whole scene has taken place somewhere on a mountain that rises up from the Sea of Galilee, perhaps at a flat spot midway up a peak.

 

               Jesus has turned on His heel to walk farther up the mountain, away from the crowd and its praise. Within minutes of the feeding, Jesus was long gone.

 

               As well, the thousands of people who had just witnessed and taken part in a miracle were fat and happy, too, making their way down the mountain, heading home.

 

               And the disciples? They were each staring at their own personal basket of leftovers, full of food and full of confusion.

 

               Confusion because moments earlier, they had just been witness to - and a part of! - the most thrilling event of their lives. They had seen a miracle on a grand scale. It was a God sighting to end all God sightings!

 

               In response to the miracle, they had heard a huge crowd chant the name of the Man they had each decided to follow.

 

               The crowd wanted to make Him King. They’ve come so close to seeing the inauguration of the Kingdom of God on earth that they could nearly touch it. The next moment, it’s all over. Their Rabbi has just let the throne slip from His grasp.

 

               Name any emotion you might wish to - disappointment, frustration, confusion, anger. I’m pretty confident these feelings were all living uncomfortably in the disciples’ hearts.

 

               So, it’s small wonder that they, too, got up and left. Without Jesus. By themselves. In their boat.

 

Walking On Water (vv. 16-21)

 

A Parting of the Ways (vv. 16-18)

 

               Leaving Jesus behind (vv. 16-17)

 

               [16] Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, [17] and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. It had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.[11]

               Now, when Matthew and Mark tell of this incident, they record that Jesus sent the disciples away.

 

               John, who was actually there on that day, doesn’t. He only tells us  that they left without Jesus, almost as if they got tired of waiting for Him.

 

               Jesus certainly did tell them to leave. But I’ve wondered if John’s telling of the story reveals that they weren’t all that unhappy about leaving Jesus behind, given the offering He had just squandered.

 

               It is almost as if they were about as eager to get away from Him as He had been to get away from the crowd. If so, they are about to learn that Jesus is a Pursuer. Jesus is not so easily left behind...

 

               Off they go, into the boat, onto the sea, for a crossing from east to west, near the north end of the Sea of Galilee.

 

               They are mostly experienced fishermen and are very comfortable on the water, even at night, since that is when much of their fishing was done.

 

               Not long after they launched, though, trouble strikes.[12]

 

               Troubled waters (v. 18)

 

               [18] The sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.

 

               These men would not have been surprised at a sudden squall forming on the Sea of Galilee. They were well acquainted with its weather patterns and knew that violent storms could form quickly.

 

               The Sea of Galilee sits at seven hundred feet below sea level, but the mountains on the east and west create a wind tunnel effect, and the ferocious storms that kick up are legendary.

               This night crossing got dicey. If they weren’t facing one of these legendary storms, they were at least fighting contrary winds.

 

               It was a long, hard row of several miles. So, with their backs bent to the oars, they were facing the direction from which they had just come.

 

               And after having rowed for hours, when they looked up from their rowing, what met their gaze but Jesus, coming right toward them -  not rowing, not swimming. Walking.

 

Jesus on the Water, Prompting Fear (v. 19)

 

               [19] Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened.

 

               At the point of this crossing, the Sea of Galilee is several miles distance and the disciples had already rowed over halfway to the seaside village of Capernaum.

 

               That’s when they saw Jesus coming toward them and John wants us to know that this is a miracle over nature. This is another sign.

 

               However, as with the feeding of the five thousand, there have been those who suggest that this was not a miracle at all.

 

               For those who resist the idea that this was a miracle, the main alternative is that Jesus wasn’t walking on water. The disciples only thought He was walking on water. He was walking on a sand bar.

 

               Right.

 

               And the disciples who made their living on the sea rowed their boat right up to a sandbar without knowing it.

 

               And, what is even more troubling, Jesus allowed them to believe that He had walked on water when in fact He had not.

 

               I think it is much more reasonable to simply believe the miracle than to try and concoct another explanation.[13] The disciples’ fear is best explained by the fact that Jesus was walking on water.

 

               John tells us that the disciples were afraid - and so much for chronological snobbery! Who wouldn’t be afraid!?

 

               These days, anybody can walk across Medina Lake. Medina Lake is empty! (actually 3.2% full) But back when it actually had water in it, YOU would have freaked out if someone had come walking ON Medina Lake toward you!

 

               The disciples weren’t at all afraid of a strong wind on the lake in the middle of the night (something that would terrify me!). They were terrified of the raw power of Jesus, displayed in His sovereignty over nature.

 

               So, while standing on the waves, Jesus spoke to His disciples.

 

Jesus at the Boat, Building Faith (vv. 20-21)

 

               The presence of Jesus casts out fear (v. 20)

 

               [20] But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

 

               Consider those words.

 

               The disciples saw Jesus and were frightened. They weren’t frightened before they saw Jesus. It was the appearance of Jesus that frightened them. Why?

 

               It is possible that they perceived Him as a ghost. In which case, Jesus is saying, “I’m not a ghost. It is Me, Jesus. Don’t be frightened.”[14]

 

               That is a reasonable explanation, but I don’t think it is the whole of it. John doesn’t mention that they thought they were seeing a ghost. He says, “they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened.”

 

               Maybe an amplified understanding would read something like this:

 

               “Guys, it’s Me. You aren’t seeing a vision or a ghost. It’s really Me, so there’s no reason to be afraid. I am the same Jesus who, just yesterday, multiplied fish and bread to feed thousands. I am THAT Jesus, the King of creation.

 

               “Remember how the crowds wanted to put  crown on Me. Well, I am a King - but I don’t need a crown. You can see now, again, that I am the King. The Sea of Galilee works as well for me as a sidewalk. Follow Me and don’t fear. Don’t ever fear.”

 

               In a couple of other watery scenes in the Gospels, Jesus stilled the storm on the sea. Here, by these words, Jesus calmed the storm in the disciples’ hearts.

 

               The disciples’ faith-full response (v. 21)

 

               [21] They were willing therefore to receive Him into the boat; and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

 

               The signs we have seen today say something profound about Jesus and His ways. First, they speak of His power.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Power!

 

               Only God-in-the-flesh could do what Jesus does here.

 

 

               By the alchemy of turning water into wine, He changed the essential nature, the quality, of something common into something rich and noble and by the feeding of the five thousand He multiplied the quantity of something very small into something enormous.

 

               By the healings of the nobleman’s son and the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, He showed His power to restore to wholeness things that are broken and by walking on water He show His ability to not even break the surface tension of the Sea of Galilee and to transcend all physical barriers.

 

               These signs shout that Jesus’ claim to deity is legit.

 

               But then, for those of us who are following Jesus and for those of you who are considering following Jesus, these signs signal something else, something more.

 

Remember the leftovers!

               Taking today’s miracles in reverse order, the miracle of Jesus walking on water established Him as wholly other. Nobody walks on water.

               The disciples had seen Him in lots of different scenarios and settings, but they had seen nothing like this view of Him walking toward them on the open water of the Sea of Galilee.

               That’s transcendence, personified, and that’s why they were frightened.

               “THIS Jesus is not who we thought He was when we answered His call to follow. A great teacher - yes. A wise leader - yes. A miracle worker - yes. Sovereign over nature - no, we never saw that one coming.”

               But that understanding of Jesus - as unsettling as it was[15]  - was a critical follow-up to the message embedded in the previous miracle of the feeding of the five thousand.

 

               Let’s call that embedded message, “The Lesson of the Leftovers.”

 

               Remember that Jesus spoke to Philip as the crowds were approaching and asked, [5]... “Where are we (“WE” - not “Where am I...”)  to buy bread, so that these may eat?”

 

               Jesus didn’t take on the sole responsibility for feeding the crowds. This was intended all along to be a “Jesus and” mission. Jesus and the disciples.

 

               He gave thanks; they seated the crowd. He multiplied the fish and loaves; they handed out the food. He was supply; they were distribution.

 

               The twelve were an integral part of His plan to meet the needs of the thousands of people who had climbed the mountain to be with Him.

 

               And the enduring lesson of the leftovers is that His work of bringing spiritual and material help to the people He loves continues to be a Jesus and mission. Now it is Jesus and you. His strategy has never changed.

 

               The sign of the feeding of the five thousand (and the subplot of the leftovers) says that we are able to do more than we are capable of because He who walks on water enables us to do what He commands.

 

               No, He won’t always multiply fish and loaves. But He will faithfully empower us to love and to serve and to give to help needy people in His Name.

 

               God has all the resources necessary. He is looking for available vessels to fill with His strength. He supplies and leaves us to deliver.

 

               If it is resources of strength and stamina, love and generosity, encouragement and hope that you are in need of to meet the needs of those around you, take heart.

 

               If your personal resources seem to be as inadequate as two sardines and five tortillas, relax. Jesus will provide the resources you need to respond with grace to meet the need of the hour.

 



[1] Wand, Jesus’ miracles are recorded in Gospel records between twenty (Matthew and Mark) and fifty (John) years after they occurred. If they hadn’t actually occurred, witnesses would have certainly spoken up and said, “Nope. That’s not what happened.”

[2] The Sea of Galilee was also called “The Sea of Tiberias” and in Old Testament times, The Sea of Chinneroth.

[3] The reference to “The” mountain may indicate that Jesus and His disciples were familiar with this place, possibly as the site of the Sermon on the Mount. So Deffenbaugh, Murray.

[4] Philip, a faithful disciple who has been with Jesus for some time now and has seen several miracles already, doesn’t even consider the possibility of a miraculous provision for the needs of the crowd. The people in the crowd, though, had come to the wilderness setting on the mountaintop precisely to see a miracle.

[5] Barley cakes were the food of the poor. This was not intended to be a lavish banquet. Jesus is simply concerned to meet the needs of hungry people.

[6] [6] This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.

[7] There would have been nothing sexist about only numbering the men. It was simply easier to number the heads of households.

[8] There is a story of a similar miracle of increasing provision of oil for the widow of Zarephath in the Old Testament. (1 Kings 17:8-16)

[9] The feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle (except for the resurrection) that is recorded in all four Gospels.

[10] This great Prophet is spoken of in Deuteronomy 18.

[11] Matthew and Mark tell us that Jesus sent them away. John doesn’t include this detail.

[12] As a friend suggested recently, Jesus, looking down from the mountain said, “Storm, you did a great job when I hurled you against Jonah. I’ve got another job for you here.”

[13] To suggest that it was not a miracle assumes a certain dishonesty in Jesus, as He never dispelled the disciples’ perception that He was performing a miracle.

[14] This view is validated by the explicit account of Matthew and Mark (Luke doesn’t record this incident), who mention that they thought they were seeing a ghost - albeit a ghost who looked like Jesus.

[15] A good friend and member of the church from a few years ago used to use the word “disequilibration” to describe what these disciples were feeling at this moment. Good word.

Jul 16, 2015

Real Talk with Roderick

The Consequences of Keeping Company with Christ (Acts 4:13-22)

 

Introduction

Every sequence has a consequence. If we eat bad food, smoke, drink excessively, fail to get enough rest, and expose ourselves to lots of drama, we age faster and live less time. This has been proven by numerous studies. 

Conversely, if we eat healthy, exercise regularly, drink in moderation (1 Timothy 5:23), and avoid stressful people and situations we tend to be healthier and live longer.  Generally speaking, the quantity and quality of our life on earth is predicted by the nature of the things we put in it. Every sequence has a consequence.

There are consequences to spending time with people. We are influenced by the people we interact with. In the interactions of work, leisure, and love they rub off on us. The company we keep eventually and invariably contributes something to our conduct, to our conversation, to our contemplations, and to the essence of who we are - our character  (1 Corinthians 5:6, 9-11; 1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Timothy 2:22). Consider the words of the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. He says, "Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits.'" And the converse is also true. That is, there are tremendous benefits to spending time with a good person.

People who consistently keep company with Christ are radically changed for the better. In His fellowship they receive His uncanny manners, His determination to win, His commitment to the Father's will, and His love for the lost.  Such people eventually become chief change agents in Heaven's charge against the gates of hell.

Today's message will be show us what happens to fallen people who follow Jesus. They become courageous, more capable, and the cause of change.

 

(Acts 4:13-17)

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. 14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

The confidence of the apostles could not be missed. However, it looked nothing like the confidence of the council (Galatians 1:14; Philippians 3:3-6; Acts 22:3). They were proud of their great learning, their positions as spiritual leaders, and their associations. These fishermen had none of those things and yet stood before them without fear. Although they lacked formal education they were not afraid to go into the temple and teach and could use logic and Scripture to defeat an opponent (Acts 2:16-22; 2:25-35; 4:11). Although they were not schooled in the work of leading the congregation they had no problem calling for people to repent and follow Christ.

As the council marveled at the boldness of the Galileans they suddenly became aware of the cause of the confidence, the basis of the boldness, and the source of their abilities: they had been with Jesus.

  • Jesus Exhibited Learning Beyond Explanation (Luke 2:41-47; John 7:15)
  • Jesus Easily Defeated His Enemies in Arguments (Matthew 22:15-22 - Jesus uses Scripture and logic to defeat the Pharisees and Herodians; Matthew 22:23-33 - Jesus uses only the Pentateuch to prove resurrection and defeat the false doctrine of the Sadducees; Matthew 22:41-46 - Jesus proves that his enemies' have a model of messiah that is too limited and that it cannot be reconciled with Scripture.)
  • Jesus Used Miracles to Prove His Message (Matthew 9:1-8 - the raising of the paralytic proves His claim to having the power to forgive sins; John 8:56-9:11 - the healing of the man born blind proved his claim to deity; John 11:1-44 - the raising of Lazarus proved His claim to be the resurrection).

The rabble rousing rabbi from Nazareth had left a painful impression on the religious leaders of His day. His disciples' were leaving the same impression. F.F. Bruce says it this way:

None could match him in his sure handling of the scriptures, his unerring ability to go back to first principles for the confirming of his own teaching and the discomfiture of his opponents. And plainly he had imparted something of that same gift to his disciples. Not only so, but he had supported his teaching with the mighty works which he performed; now Peter and John were doing the same.

Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts (p. 95). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Jesus pattern of life, poise under fire, and power to effect change for good was not forgotten. The memory is fresh in the minds of the men who murdered Him. And now they are confronted by a motley crew of men that are just like Him.

The consequence of keeping company with Christ has caused the disciples to have His character. They look like their Leader.

The apostles, men who once fled in the face of fierce opposition, now stand toe-to-toe with their enemies. They are confident, they are capable, and they are causing a change for good. Why? Even their enemies cannot deny the effects of spending time with Jesus. Robert Coleman, author of the classic Master Plan of Evangelism puts it this way

Jesus chose from the larger group about him the Twelve “that they might be with him” (Mark 3:14; see Luke 6:13). He added, of course, that he was going to send them forth “to preach, and to have authority to cast out devils,” but often we fail to realize what came first. Jesus made it clear that before these men were “to preach” or “to cast out devils” they were to be “with him.” In fact, this personal appointment to be in constant association with him was as much a part of their ordination commission as the authority to evangelize. Indeed, it was for the moment even more important, for it was the necessary preparation for the other.

Coleman, R. E. (2006). The master plan of evangelism (p. 35). Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.

The point is summarized in Mark 3:14

14 Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach

Much time alone with Jesus is the secret to becoming like Jesus.

Conclusion

What are we to do in the light of the truths advanced and affirmed by this passage? Going beyond mere intellectual ascent to these facts how should we then live? We must wholly reject the idea that we are condemned to the the criminal behaviors of our past. The notion that we can never have the skill and courage to explain the truth, defend the faith, or help do great and lasting good must be regarded as lies from the pit of hell. We have the mind of Christ and are destined to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). The key to better character is Christ. That is, if we are to escape in practice the gravity of our depravity we must spend time with the Lord Jesus Christ. How?

  • Request His Presence - Pray for His leading. Speak to the Spirit of Christ and ask for Him to be at work in your times of reading, meditation, and worship to show you the truth and guide you in worship.
  • Read His Word - Spend time in the Scriptures (1 Peter 2:2). But do not do it as a mere academic activity. It has to be more than muddling through the morass of words in commentaries, dictionaries, and the endless lectures of seminaries. Reading His word means coming to Him in prayer and staying in dialogue with the Lord as you read.
  • Write It Down - Write your observations down. Write down your questions, consternation, and concerns. In the writing of your questions you formalize your thinking and prepare yourself for better praying. God wants you to come to Him with your questions.

In His grip by His grace,

Roderick L. Barnes, Sr.

Jul 8, 2015

Real Talk with Roderick
Feeling Inadequate?

More important than the capabilities of the person called is the Caller Himself and the content of the person's calling. Your talent, or lack thereof, becomes irrelevant when you are summoned to serve; where we lack His grace is sufficient.

Jun 29, 2015

Northwest Community Evangelical Free Church

(March 8, 2014)

Dave Smith

 

Sermon manuscript

 

Sermon series: THIS Jesus

 

 

A Tale of Two Healings                                                            Study #2

(John 4:43--5:18)

 

Introduction: Signs we have known and loved…

 

               There are signs, and then there are signs. 

               Some signs are crucial for safe driving or good navigating. We depend on STOP signs and YIELD signs and speed limit signs.

 

               Of course, some signs are just plain silly. 

               Like the church sign that reads, “Don’t let worries kill you. Let the church help!” or Dr. Clark’s Weight Loss Clinic which announces, “We’re expanding!”

               Or this one, posted outside of a town hall meeting:

“The purpose of this meeting is to answer any questions regarding the upcoming meeting to amend the voting requirements required to amend the documents for material alterations to the common elements and regular amendments to the documents.”

 

By way of review…

 

               The message of John’s Gospel revolves around signs Jesus performed. His miracles were signs that pointed beyond the miracles themselves to something important about Jesus and His ways.

 

               Last Sunday we saw the first of His signs in John, chapter 2 when He turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana.

 

               By that “sign” He showed that He was all about taking something common and turning it into something noble and beautiful and fresh. He did that with water, and He’s been doing that with His followers’ lives for the last two thousand years.

 

               Jesus intends to make out of each of us here today a stunning trophy of grace and that is part of what the sign of the wine says.

 

               Following that miraculous sign event, Jesus traveled from the little village of Cana to Jerusalem to observe Passover. When He got there He found the Temple in such shambles that He was compelled to use a whip to drive out the moneychangers.

 

               John tells us that while Jesus was there in the capitol city, Jesus did other, unnamed signs (2:23) which prompted many people to believe in Him. Then, He had redemptive conversations with two people, and John records those conversations one right after the other.

 

               He spoke with Nicodemus, “the teacher of Israel”, a respected member of the Sanhedrin, about eternal life. He told Nicodemus that he would have to be “born again” if he was going to see the kingdom of God.

 

               And then He spoke to a woman of Samaria who had lived badly, but who had a genuine spiritual hunger. He told her that He Himself was source of the living water for which her soul thirsted. He urged her to trust Him - and she did, and then went out and told everybody in the village about Jesus.

 

On the road again - to Cana of Galilee (vv. 43-45)

 

               After this trip through Samaria Jesus made His way back, north into Galilee. It is in Galilee that we will see Jesus perform anther sign, the first of two we’ll observe today.

 

               John tells us that the citizens of Galilee were eager to welcome Jesus back, for one primary reason.

               Many of them had gone to Jerusalem for Passover and had seen Jesus perform lots of signs there. They couldn’t wait to see Him do more of the same in Galilee, too.

 

               Jesus landed again in the little village of Cana, where He had performed His first miracle. This time He was nearly accosted by a man who was desperate for a miracle.

 

Serving the Insider with Amazing Grace (vv. 46-54)

 

An Urgent, Fatherly Plea from a Believing Royal Official (vv. 46-49)

 

               A heartsick father (v. 46)

 

               [4:46] Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum.[1]

 

               This man may have been an official in the royal court (presumably Herod’s court), but he was a father, first. Father’s are always, first, fathers. This father was in a panic because his son was very, very sick.

 

               He had evidently heard that Jesus was back in Cana and had left Capernaum to seek help for his son.

 

               A desperate, pleading father (v. 47)

 

               [47] When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death.

 

               The boy didn’t have a head cold. He was at death’s door. It’s not hard for any of us to put ourselves in this father’s shoes. He’s at his wit’s end to save his son.[2]

               When a child of any age is sick, sad, or in trouble, hurt, in danger, or in rebellion, parents panic and grieve.

 

               This man has come to Jesus to seek his son’s healing. Now, whatever beliefs he had about Jesus at this point were very elementary. But he came, faithfully, trusting that Jesus could do something if He was willing to.

 

               The text implies that he was asking over and over and over again (“was imploring” denotes asking repeatedly).

 

               Perhaps surprisingly, Jesus’ initial response wasn’t an encouraging one.

 

               A reproof from Jesus (v. 48)

 

               [48] So Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.”[3]

 

               I get the sense that Jesus may have been testing this father, trying to see if he was just out to get a flashy show of power, or if there was more, more true zeal, more faith, more love, to his request.

 

               He soon saw that this nobleman wasn’t just interested in seeing “signs and wonders.” He was desperate for his son’s life to be saved. If anything, the father became more insistent after Jesus’ reproof.

 

               A persistent father (v. 49)

 

               [49] The royal official said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

               He wants Jesus to come to his home in Capernaum, stand next to his child’s bed, lay His hands on him, pray for him, and raise his son to full health.

 

               Clearly, at least as he sees it, if there was going to be a healing, Jesus’ physical presence was required. That is why he was asking Jesus to come to his home.

 

               And, just like that, Jesus turned from reproof to decisive action. He will heal the man’s son. In fact, He does. Just like that.

 

Serving a Desperate Dad and Son (v. 50)

 

               [50] Jesus said to him, “Go; your son lives.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off.

 

               Jesus will not go to the boy’s bedside. He won’t come to the house. He’ll stay right where He is in Cana and won’t go to Capernaum.

 

               His words here are not to be read in terms of a prophecy, like, “Your son will be healed.”

 

               No, this was a word of power, as in, “Let there be light.”

 

               And off the father went, in the most literal way imaginable, walking to Capernaum by faith. The Bible says that he believed, and when Jesus said, “Go” He gave this dad an opportunity to exercise that faith.

 

               I wonder what that walk was like. Was he attacked by doubts as he traveled? Was he more fearful or eager as he walked home? Did he dread what he would find when he walked through the front door, or was his faith in Jesus’ word firm?

 

               He had to spend a night on the road between Cana and Capernaum (can’t you imagine that THAT was a long, sleepless night!?), because when he arose and started for the homestretch, a group of his personal slaves met him with some astonishing news.

 

 

Performing a Long-Distance Healing (vv. 51-53)

 

               Healed... (v. 51)

 

               [51] As he was now going down,[4] his slaves met him, saying that his son was living.

 

               So, everything’s fine! He’s outside playing with his friends!

 

               And I love the one question he had for his slaves.

 

                ...by the word of Jesus! (v. 52)

 

               [52] So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” [53] So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives”; and he himself believed and his whole household.

 

               He asked the question because he just had to know. And sure enough, the hour at which his son was healed was the hour at which Jesus said, “Your son lives.” The recovery wasn’t coincidence or dumb luck. His son was healed by Jesus, long-distance.

 

               And that led the man and his household (wife, children, and slaves) to read this “sign” - Jesus is trustworthy and they all placed their faith in Jesus.

 

Reading the signs…

 

               [54] This is again a second sign that Jesus performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.

 

               The first sign was the water to wine miracle. This second one says something about Jesus’ compassion to respond to the desperate longing of someone for another’s blessing. It says something about power, especially the power to heal with a long-distance word.

               As we keep reading we come immediately to the next of Jesus’ signs and this one takes place, again, in the city of Jerusalem.

 

Serving the Outsider with Amazing Grace (vv. 1-18)

 

Setting the Scene for a Miracle (vv. 1-5)

 

               Jesus, back in Jerusalem (v. 1)

 

               [1] After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

 

               John doesn’t bother to tell us which of the Jewish feasts was being celebrated at this time. It probably wasn’t Passover as John is careful to tell us when Jesus was in Jerusalem for a Passover.[5]

 

               But then, the big thing was not which feast was being observed, but the setting in Jerusalem to which Jesus was drawn at the feast.

 

               John gives us that setting.

 

               The pool of Bethesda (vv. 2-4)

 

               [2] Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes.[6] [3a] In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered [waiting for the moving of the waters; [4] for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.][7]

               Most authorities are agreed that the end of verse three and all of verse four are not a part of the original Gospel of John. So, the Bible doesn’t teach that an angel of the Lord came down and stirred the waters, and that the first one in the water was miraculously healed.

 

               But, that was the local legend at the time.

 

               Around the world, sick and diseased people flock to waters that have supposed healing powers. Hot springs and mineral springs are famous for their healing powers. The same was true at this pool, Bethesda, in Jerusalem and lots of people went to this pool, hoping for healing.

 

               Included in that big crowd was one especially pitiful man.

 

               A helpless invalid at the pool (v. 5)

 

               [5] A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.

 

               We are not told how old he was, nor what was his specific ailment. All we know is that it was chronic and that it involved his not being able to walk. From a human perspective, the man’s situation was hopeless.

 

               I suspect that lots of healthy people walked by that pool, walked by those crowds, and walked by this lame man.

 

               Unlike the crowds who walked by, though, Jesus saw the lame man. Jesus asked him a very perceptive question.

 

Healing a Lame Beggar (vv. 6-9a)

 

               A discerning Jesus meets a long disabled man (vv. 6-8)

 

                              Jesus’ insightful question (v. 6)

 

               [6] When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?”

 

               That’s not a silly question.

 

               For this man to “get well” meant the loss of a good steady supply of money from begging. It meant the necessity to work. It meant the loss of the pity of those he had come to depend on.

 

               “Getting well” would mean change, and change is scary, even when it’s for the better. Change usually involves a process of struggle and trouble and some re-adjustment. Status quo, even a painful status quo, is, at least, familiar.

 

               Jesus’ question to the man was right on the mark. Well, this guy DID want to “get well.”

 

               But he did also have a problem. When it came to healing at the pool of Bethesda, it was survival of the fastest. And this man, being lame, could never get to the front of the line to be first in the pool.

 

                              The man’s courageous answer (v. 7)

 

               [7] The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

 

               All of a sudden it is clear that this man was a man of faith. Not that his faith was in Jesus! Not even necessarily in God. He superstitiously believed in the healing waters of the Pool of Bethesda.

 

               He didn’t know who Jesus was and he didn’t ask Jesus for any help (not even for help to get into the pool first). But he was clearly desperate to “get well.”

 

               So, with no reference to healing waters, Jesus spoke to the man’s need.

 

                              Jesus’ words of healing power (v. 8)

 

               [8] Jesus said to him, “Arise, pick up your pallet and walk.”

 

               Now, put yourself on this man’s pallet for a moment. He had been lame, diseased for thirty eight years.

 

               Now, some Guy he doesn’t know at all shows some interest in him, but gives him no handouts, and issues a command to stand up and walk.

 

               If you were this man, what would you have been thinking? Maybe something like, “This is either an incredibly cruel hoax, or the best day of my life.”

 

               Jesus is challenging this man to take an enormous “step” of faith - as great as the assignment to the father to go home to his dying son in Capernaum.

 

               If this man took Jesus seriously and Jesus didn’t deliver he would risk devastating disappointment, ridicule from others for trying such a foolish stunt, and physical pain from the vain attempt to stand.

 

               At the same time, if he chose to not take advantage of the Lord’s command and Jesus WAS able to heal, then he would lose the only chance he would ever have to walk again.

 

               He may have felt terribly torn between the two options, but he finally came to see that NOT obeying Jesus was the greater risk. So, by faith, he moved.

 

               A powerful Jesus heals this unsuspecting man (v. 9a)

 

               [9a] Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.

 

               Can you imagine the state of his heart when he realized that the state of his body has changed? He made an attempt to stand and then found that he was able to walk around?

 

               Talk about joy! Talk about the best day ever!

 

               I love to think that he had hours of walking around and hours to relish the glory of his strong legs. That’s a nice thought, isn’t it?

               But he probably didn’t have that much time to simply do a happy dance because a dark cloud was quickly looming on the horizon.

 

               The ominous note that sounds at the conclusion of the story is John tells us, [9b] Now it was the Sabbath on that day.

 

               “Ooops, sorry Jesus. You erred in performing this sign in terms of timing. You did it on the Sabbath, a day of rest meticulously enforced by the rulers of the Jews in Jesus’ day.”

 

               During the three years of His ministry, much of the opposition Jesus faced was from the Jewish leadership regarding the observance of the Sabbath.

 

               Their rules about what could and could not be done on the Sabbath were very stringent and legendary.[8]

 

·        Spitting on a rock was OK, but you couldn’t spit on the dirt (because the spittle and the dirt together made mortar). 

·        Pulling out a grey hair was not OK.

·        Wearing dentures was not OK.

·        Writing was forbidden.

·        Putting vinegar on your teeth to alleviate a toothache was forbidden.[9]

 

               The Rabbis had so strictly regulated the Sabbath by the time of Jesus that the seventh day had ceased to be a day of rest, and had become a terrible burden.[10]

 

               On this Sabbath, the Jewish rulers came to harass the man who had been healed on the happiest day of his life with an accusation of Sabbath-breaking for cot-carrying.

               Before we conclude, I want us to see the final scene of this episode because it reveals the increasing opposition Jesus came to face, much of that because of this episode!

 

Post-Healing (vv. 10-18)

 

               Harassed on the Sabbath (vv. 10-13)

 

               [10] So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.”

 

               From this comment it is clear that the pressing needs of simple people had ceased to be of any real concern to the religious rulers of the day.

 

               Sure, they noticed that the man could now walk. They would have even admitted that a miracle had occurred.

 

               But he was carrying his cot - and they were more concerned with the breaking of their tradition about no cot-carrying on the Sabbath than they were willing to rejoice that a man who had been lame for thirty eight years can now walk. How heartless!

 

               Isn’t it striking how unstruck these guys were with the miracle?

 

               Actually, when we look through the Bible we’re struck by how infrequently genuine, deep faith is built by miracles.

 

               Now miracles are wonderful things and I’m sure not voting against them. But in the periods of biblical history when there were the greatest number of miracles, we certainly don’t find the most mature, widespread faith among the people of God.

 

               There were lots of miracles in the days of Moses and Joshua and in the days of Elijah and Elisha. Those were days of rebellion and apostasy.

 

               During the time of His earthly ministry, Jesus performed a lot of miracles - and was crucified.

 

               As often as not, the response to the miracles of God and to the supernatural was a hardening of the spirit, not faith. And that is just what we see here, not only from the rulers and the Pharisees, but even from the man who was healed.

 

               The rulers demanded that this healed man defend his evil, cot-carrying ways. He seems to me to be very quick to tell them that he was just following orders.

 

               A dilemma for the healed man (vv. 11-15)

 

               [11] But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.’”

 

               He didn’t even know who it was who had healed him. So he placed the blame for his break with Sabbath-keeping tradition on “good ol’ what’s his name.”

 

               The rulers pressed to find out who it was who gave him this diabolical command.

 

               [12] They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk’?”

 

               I think that they probably suspected Jesus, but the man who has been healed couldn’t tell them that it was Jesus. He didn’t know and he had no idea as to who Jesus was.

 

               So, reluctantly, the Pharisees, who had been wanting to have some crime to pin on Jesus, let the healed beggar go.

 

               And he headed straight for the Temple, a place he had not been able to go to for a long, long time.

 

               That was also where Jesus had gone after having slipped away after the healing. And here, for the second time, Jesus looked for and found this man.

 

               [13] But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place.   [14] Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.”

 

               Jesus’ comment makes us think that this man’s illness was the result of divine discipline 38 years earlier (and perhaps it was). So, He warned him to lead a holy life, and with that, they parted ways.

 

                We don’t know anything else about this man’s life. We don’t know if he ended up believing in Jesus, following Jesus, living for Jesus.

 

               All we know is that as soon as he had the chance, he went right back to the Jewish rulers, who had been wanting to accuse Jesus of a Sabbath crime, and snitched.

 

               [15] The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

 

               Now the rulers and Pharisees have a witness. Now, He has been named as guilty. And they immediately ramped up their opposition against Jesus.

 

                              3. The price a Savior is willing to pay (vv. 16-18)

 

               [16] For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. [17] But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” [18] For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

 

               The persecution, harassment, opposition, including death threats, picks up steam here. Jesus doesn’t at all back down, but meets them head on.

 

               They accuse Him of breaking their traditions and He responds with a claim that He was simply doing what His Father - God! - is doing. Jesus is doing the kinds of things that only God can do.

 

               And the opposition absolutely “gets” that Jesus was claiming equality with the Almighty.

 

               What I don’t want us to miss, though, and what I have missed every time I have read this story my whole life, is that the opposition ramped up against the Lord right after the man He had healed identified that it was Jesus who had healed him.

 

 

Conclusion:

 

               In moving through the life of Jesus on our way to Easter, we are using His “signs” as a template for understanding Him and His mission. Certainly, each and every sign showed His power. The signs are miracles only God could perform and they all demonstrate that Jesus is, as He claimed to be, God in the flesh.

 

               But I am working under the assumption that each of the signs will tell us more, and that if we will look carefully at these signs we will see something  about His ways.

 

               In thinking about these two signs of healing we have seen today, it has struck me that nowhere else in the Gospel of John do we find two miracles placed right next to each other, prompting me to think that, perhaps, John wanted us to take them together.

 

               I then remembered that these healings took place immediately after Jesus had conversations with two people, back to back, also unique for John’s Gospel.

 

               Then I started noticing some parallels between the two conversations and the two miracles.

 

               Jesus spoke with Nicodemus, “the teacher of Israel”, a respected Rabbi and a Pharisee who was upright and very moral. And, Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman, a member of a despised race and famously immoral.

 

               Jesus healed the son of a faithful nobleman who had a high social standing. And, Jesus healed a lame beggar with no social standing at all.

 

               Jesus was approached by Nicodemus and the nobleman; He Himself took the initiative with the Samaritan woman and the lame man.

 

               In this section, Jesus’ reach extends to the extremes of the moral and religious spectrum.  He was equally interested in people at either end, even in people who showed no interest in Him.

 

               Perhaps what the signs we see today are saying about Jesus is that there is no one who is outside His target group. No matter where someone may be on the continuum of human decency, spiritual interest, or biblical morality, Jesus is for you.

 

               With Jesus there is no “us” vs. “them.” We are all “them” and He wants us all to become His glorious, “us.”

 

               These two signs point to a Jesus who is equally passionate to serve the insider and the outsider. He loves the biblically literate, moral Nicodemus AND the immoral Samaritan woman; the trusting nobleman and his son AND the superstitious lame beggar; you AND everyone you know.

 



[1] While we aren’t told how old this boy was, by the language used, I would guess that he was a pre-adolescent.

[2] Thirty two years ago, when we became parents, nobody told Kathy and me that we were taking on a lifelong assignment of caring for our children’s welfare, investing in their lives, hurting with their every pain, hoping and rejoicing and weeping with their lives’ up and downs. Our three kids are grown now, but I can confidently say that while active parenting stops at a certain point (and it should), yet the role of father and mother never ends.

[3] As He offered this reproof to these Jews, can we imagine that perhaps at the forefront of His mind was the recent memory of the Samaritans who had responded with childlike trust, and apparently never asked for signs and wonders?

[4] Going down in elevation from Cana to Capernaum, which is on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

[5] This feast is then, likely, either Pentecost (50 days after Passover) or Tabernacles (a fall season harvest festival), or the Feast of Dedication (a winter feast).

[6] We don’t know, today, exactly where the pool of Bethesda was located in first century Jerusalem. But, the text does say that it was near the Sheep Gate, which was very close to the Temple.

[7] Most versions/translations of our English Bible tell us why the people were gathered there. If verses 3b-4 are missing from the normal text of verses in your Bible, they are probably at the bottom of the page or off to the side. They don’t appear in the earliest or best Greek manuscripts.

[8] Thousands of Jews allowed themselves to be butchered in the streets of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes rather than lift a weapon in self-defense on the Sabbath!

[9]According to Rav Yehoshua Y. Neuwirth in a book entitled, Shemirath Shabbath: A Guide to the Practical Observance of Shabbath, modern conservative Judaism is just as strict about Sabbath observances as it was in the first century.

[10] You’ll find that Jesus purposefully chose the Sabbath on many occasions to show His power, and to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the leading Jews.

Jun 22, 2015

Real Talk with Roderick

Doing What Daddy Does (John 5:19-21)

 

Exegesis (John 5:19-21)

19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.

 

5:19 The Then Jesus answered (Ἀπεκρίνατο οὖν ὁ Ἰησοῦς) of John 5:19 introduces the Lord's response to the accusation of sabbath breaking. To understand the answer the reader must look back to prior discussion and in particular the murderous intentions of the religious leaders. His opponents have hurled two charges at the itinerant rabbi: sabbath breaking and blasphemy (John 5:18). But Jesus' response is best seen as being His apologetic for healing a man on the Sabbath and not as directly defending His claim to deity. He does not at this time take up the opportunity to argue His deity but uses the assumption of that truth when battling the censure of healing on the Sabbath.

 

Most assuredly (ἀμὴν ἀμὴν) reveals the weightiness of the words that follow and the solemn tone that comes with an answer to accusations of being a law breaker. And then Jesus explains the actions that brought on the dispute.

 

What is His explanation for healing on the Sabbath? Simple: The actions of the only begotten of the Father are also begotten of the Father. In effect, "I cannot do otherwise as I am a Son by nature bound to follow the leading of my Father. People, I am just doing what my Daddy does (John 5:17). My Daddy does not cease from the work of doing amazing good for those in need on the Sabbath." In His defense of His actions Jesus says that He is operating according the leading of His Father and normal living of His Family - the Godhead. The problem is only apparent and results from failing to regard His deity. Or the problem is in the Parent since the Son does not act apart from the Father. "You are upset with me because of what My Father has led me to do. But if you would just calm down and consider the fulness of my identity you would see that there is no blasphemy. ...and I cannot do otherwise."

 

Can do nothing, nothing at all, denotes not only the dependence of the Son on the Father in His working, the negative side of obedience, nor only His imitation of the Father, the formal side of obedience, but also His working at the motion of the Father. The Father is the limit or the law, the Father is the example, and the Father is also the motive, the impulse of His action. The action of the Son is at every point begotten by the action of the Father. The negative side of the obedience of Christ consists in His being unable to do anything of Himself; the positive side consists in His seeing, His intuitive perception of the initiative of the Father (βλέπειν, comp. chap. 8:38, and ἁφʼἑαυτοῦ chap. 16:13).

Lange, J. P., & Schaff, P. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: John (pp. 187–188). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

 

The Jews were perfectly right when in v. 18 they understood that Jesus made himself “equal with God.” This very relation of the Son to the Father makes it simply impossible (οὑ δύναται) that Jesus should do (ποιεῖν, now or ever) anything “of himself,” ἀφʼ ἑαυτοῦ, so that the thing would emanate from him alone and be done by him alone, separate and apart from the Father and thus deviating from and contradictory to the Father’s will—even as the Jews charged that Jesus was breaking God’s Sabbath law. Such a thing is possible for men; even Moses thus did a thing “of himself” (Num. 20:11, 12): but in the case of the Son, since he is the Son, this is absolutely excluded.

Lenski, R. C. H. (1961). The interpretation of St. John’s gospel (p. 379). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House.

 

 

5:20 The Father shows the Son His actions with the intent of moving His only begotten to do likewise. In revealing His works to the Son the love of the Father is shown to the Son. In doing the will of the Father in the way of the Father the love of the Son is shown to the Father. Chronologically the hotly debated actions of the Son are always after those of the Father. In this sense His works are begotten of God the Father and reveal what the Father is doing. Never does the Son of God move ahead of the Father. He is a leader that must, out of their relationship, be led. In this sense, for those who can resist the urge to ruthlessly refute strong statements, the Servant is not greater than His Master or the Father is greater than the Son (John 13:16; 14:28).

 

What Jesus says next is quite remarkable. Instead of trying to downplay the works that are so offensive to the religious leaders He says there are more to come. Who is to blame? Jesus says that the Father is going to show His Son greater works, knowing that imitation is inevitable, with the intent of causing the Son's critics to marvel. Do not miss that the goal of God the Father is not to move them to believe but to being bewildered.

 

5:21 Finally Jesus provides an example of the principles that He has been presenting. Jesus healed a man of his paralysis. But he also forgave his sin. In the latter work was the raising of the dead and the giving of life and the proof of His claim to be able to forgive sin.

 

Exhortation

•     Some Jews are so serious about seeing the sin that they cannot hear what the sign is saying. It says Savior.

•     His enemies are so mad about the miracle performed on a man on the Sabbath that they cannot begin to make out the meaning: It means He is Messiah.

•     His foes are so fervent in their zeal to find fault that they have no time to form faith.

 

Jesus' ministry on earth was not random acts of kindness cut off by His courageous embracing of crucifixion. Whether we see Him turning water into wine (John 2:1-11), healing a man full of leprosy (Luke 5:12-16), raising a man four days dead (John 11:1-44), saving the life of a woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), or rebuking the hypocritical leaders of His day (Matthew 23)... His actions were the outworking of the leading and example of His Father.

 

I have six boys. And I can tell you that a boy's behavior is determined primarily by one thing: the father's example. The son imitates him whether he wants to or not. It is in his nature to fixate on the living of his father or male role model and then start doing what Daddy does. Jesus said as much concerning His own life:

 

19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19, NKJV)

 

As Jesus deals with his angry detractors He explains his angst-causing actions as being the consequence of doing what His Daddy does. Dads, if we want to have a helping hand in the raising of men and women that can stand up for good in the face of growing opposition there is nothing better than showing them the way. The homily of our words is not nearly as loud and does not last nearly as long as the sermon said through our works. If we really want to help move our children in the direction of being honorable adults in a crooked and perverse generation we must exemplify honorable adulthood. What does that look like? Here are five things that will go a long way in helping show the way:

 

1.   Fess Up and Forsake Sin - When you make a mistake make no excuses for it. Confess it and then repent. In the humiliation of confessing your crime and making restitution you will teach courage, humility, and the importance of holiness. Your children will see that integrity means more than image. It means I know that I will be remembered by some as the man who did not always make the right decision. But I am determined to be remembered by sons as the man who always endeavored to live in the light and make it right.

2.   Forgive - Forgive people who fail you. Forgive people who fight you. Forgive your inveterate foes. Do not do it for show but do not fail to show your kids that Daddy is not going to hold grudges or get back at the people that hurt him. But go beyond sentiment and exemplify the character of God by doing something nice for the people that did you wrong. In the forgiving you will cast vision for character and conduct that counters the bitter racism of our own day and that will eventually conquer evil.

3.   Help the Fallen - Be careful but also be intentional in providing real help to those who have screwed up real bad. Never wink at sin. But also never walk away from the person who is willing to change. Let your children see you associate with the fallen in a genuine effort to grieve with them, restore their spirit, and push them back into serving God effectively. (God Almighty, thank you for the saints who did this for me!)

4.   Fight for Family - Generally speaking it is easier to destroy than create. And any fool can find a reason to forsake his family. But it takes real fortitude and faith in God to fight for something that is flawed, feeble, and yet the means by which God raises godly generations. Sometimes Mommy and Daddy will not be able to work it out. But real men have a real role in the raising of their own kids. You cannot be there often? That suck! But be there as much as you can. Christians are always complaining about taking how they are taking "Our Father who art in heaven" out of school. Much more damaging is the father who ain't there at all. Be there as much as you can, man!

5.   Forge Ahead - What does this mean? This means never giving up. This means never giving in.  Because winners never quit and quitters never win. (caveat lector: If you read it right it rhymed.) No matter what happens, Fathers, keep the faith. No matter how many times you fail show your children the excellence of being exceedingly determined to follow Jesus (Micah 7:8; Psalm 37:24; Proverbs 24:16; Job 5:19).

 

If you do these things there is no guarantee that your children will appreciate it immediately. But one day they will. One day the son that refused to preach will take up the example of his role model. (Thank you, Grandad.) One day the boy that rebelled against your every word will remember your determination to help him succeed... especially through the pain of chastening. One day, without realizing it, lessons that could not be taught will have been caught and your children will find themselves doing what Daddy did.

 

In His grip by His grace,

Flawed Dad

 

 

Jun 17, 2015

Real Talk with Roderick

(Acts 3:1-10)

 

(Acts 3:1-3)

1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; 3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.

3:1 We have seen these two men together in the past. When the Lord is transformed on the mountain Peter and John are there with James. They are together with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. We see them running together to the tomb of Jesus when the women say that the body is missing. And they are together in a boat when Jesus appears to them on the shore after His resurrection. Finally, when Jesus would talk with Peter alone these two men are not entirely separated; the disciple whom Jesus loved was compelled to walk nearby. And so we are not altogether surprised to see that Peter and John will be frequently found together in The Acts of the Apostles (Acts 3:1, 3, 11; 4:13, 19; 8:14).

 

They are a dynamic duo. Peter tends to be the speaker but John is always there, also with power, supporting the actions and words of his friend and fellow apostle. Their pairing may have been merely the outworking of their friendship. More likely it was also their commitment to the earlier commands and ministry conventions of Christ; He sent them by twos (Luke 10:1). And it is by twos that they are going to pray... and to preach if given an opportunity. It is by twos that Peter and John, still Jews and still practicing Judaism, are going to the second and last offering of the day. It would have been about 3:00 PM.

 

    The time of the apostles’ visit was the “ninth” hour, three in the afternoon, i.e., the hour of prayer. It was also the time of the evening Tamid, one of the two sacrifices held daily in the temple.3 These had become prescribed times of prayer, and people would come to the temple at the sacrifice times to observe the ceremony and pray.

    Polhill, John B. (1992). The New American Commentary: Acts (Vol. 26, p. 126). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

 

    The apostles continued to live as observant Jews, attending the set services of worship in the Jerusalem temple. The two principal daily services accompanied the offering of the morning and evening sacrifices. One afternoon, as two of the apostles, Peter and John,6 went up the steps leading from the outer court to the inner courts,7 in order to be present in the Court of Israel for the service of prayer which accompanied the evening sacrifice (about 3 p.m.),8 they were arrested by the sight of a cripple who lay begging at the “Beautiful Gate.”

    Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts (p. 77). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

 

Throughout the narratives of Acts, especially when Peter is present, their will be a problem and a display of apostolic power, a dilemma and a dispensation of spiritual truth, an evil adversary and actions of courage and correction. Get ready!

 

3:2 Luke introduces another character and thereby the problem: a certain man lame from his mother's womb. In the gospel of John we were introduced to a man with the problem of blindness from birth (John 9:1-7). In that record we are witness to the power of the Lord to help or heal in a way that was (1) unprecedented (John 9:30-33), (2) readily recognized as a sign, and (3) the cause of controversy (John 9). This man, carried to the temple to beg, was laid at gate of notable beauty. As people entered the temple to pray and to observe in reverence the sacrifice many would have had a heart that was prepared to honor God in giving to the poor (Proverbs 19:17; 28:27). This man's placement and timing was aimed at making the most of the moment.

 

They say that beggars cannot be choosers. However, those that would beg successfully must be careful in choosing the time and place when asking for alms.

 

It was prime time for receiving alms. The rabbis taught that there were three pillars for the Jewish faith—the Torah, worship, and the showing of kindness, or charity.4 Almsgiving was one of the main ways to show kindness and was thus considered a major expression of one’s devotion to God. With their minds set on worship, those who entered the temple for the evening sacrifice and prayer would be particularly disposed to practice their piety by generously giving alms to a lame beggar.

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 126). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

 

3:3 The man, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked them for a gift. It is certain that he did not expect anything more than financial assistance (Acts 3:5). But for that he had petitioned the wrong men (Acts 3:6).

 

(Acts 3:4-8)

4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” 5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.

Peter's eyes are fixed on the man. Why? Because he has been with Jesus and has learned to look at things differently. Where some will see only the obstacle Peter has learned to see the opportunity. Where some see only the problem Peter has learned to see the possibility. Where some see only a crippled man asking for a handout Peter sees the chance for Christ to provide some help up. The big fisherman can remember leaving the temple with Jesus and coming across a man who was born blind and seeing his Teacher make the most of that moment (John 9:1-11). 

 

It was not too long ago that his Teacher taught him that the tragedy of a congenital defect can become the triumph of Christ's power on display. This apostle sees that this man's handicap is not a burden but a blessing because the glory of God's ability to help or heal is seen most clearly in the ones that are hopeless or dead.

 

    The fact that he was born lame makes his healing all the more remarkable (cf. 4:22).

    Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 126). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

 

The reference to “the name” is not incidental. In the biblical sense a name is far more than a label. It represents a person and is an extension of that person’s being and personality. To invoke the name of Jesus is to call upon his authority and power.10 In a real sense, then, Jesus through Peter continued his healing ministry. With a healing touch common to miracle narratives, Peter grasped the man’s right hand and lifted him up.

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 128). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

 

Day by day he sat there at the threshold to the place of worship, but he could not enter. He was lame, blemished, and denied access to the inner courts (cf. Lev 21:17–20; 2 Sam 5:8).13 At this time not only had he received physical healing, but he had found spiritual acceptance as well. For the first time he was deemed worthy to enter the house of worship.

Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 128). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

 

On the present occasion, the very conduct of the former crippled man was itself a token, to those who had eyes to see, of the advent of the new age.15 Of the new age it had been said long before, “then shall the lame man leap like a hart” (Isa. 35:6).

Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts (p. 79). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

 

6 Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert. (Isaiah 35:6, NKJV)

 

Jun 15, 2015

Northwest Community Evangelical Free Church

(March 1, 2015)

Dave Smith

 

Sermon Series: THIS Jesus!

 

Water to WineStudy #1

(John 2:1-11)



Introduction: Searching for the REAL Jesus…

In his book, The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey describes an oil-based painting that hung in the church of his youth. It depicted Jesus with long blonde hair and blue eyes. Jesus is drawn as a shepherd with milky white skin gently holding a small lamb.

Yancey remembers that when he was a child he felt comforted by that image of Jesus. He liked to think of himself as that little lamb, cradled in Jesus’ arms.

From the perspective of adulthood, however, Yancey has come to have a very different “take” on that image. He now refers to it as a “Mister Rogers Jesus,” a Jesus with no hard edges. And, in retrospect, he recognizes that it is neither a very compelling nor a very biblical picture of Jesus.

There are lots of other images of Jesus out there.

A variety of Jesus’...

 

Some today view Him as a Che Guevara figure who is out to overturn the world’s governments by revolution.

Others see him as less aggressive. In one famous painting, Jesus is pictured knocking on the United Nations building, the Answer to international tensions, if anyone would just let Him in.

Modern opinions of Jesus hold Him to be a either a Galilean charismatic or an unorthodox rabbi, a Pharisee or an anti-Pharisee, an unkempt, radical, counter-cultural misfit or an hallucinogenic leader of a sacred mushroom cult.

There is truly no shortage of ways to view Jesus.

Near the end of John’s Gospel, we read that if all the things that Jesus did were written down, even the world itself would not be able to contain the books (John 21:25). Thousands of books have been written about Jesus - many of them very good books.

But except for a few scant references from the secular writings of His day, we all rely on the same basic source material.  And the best and most reliable source material for learning about Jesus remain the four Gospel accounts found in the New Testament.

And frankly, we wish the Gospels gave us more.

 

About THIS Jesus...

 

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John give us very few details about His family life, childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood.

We don’t have a clue as to His physical appearance - except that He certainly was not a blue-eyed, blonde-haired male with milky white skin. We don’t know His height, weight, or muscularity.

In His lifetime, Jesus spoke to fewer people than have been in any of hundreds of stadiums Billy Graham has filled to preach about Him. And yet, today history divides by “before Christ” and “in the year of our Lord.” Today, people worship and curse in the Name of Jesus.

If you can gauge the size of a ship that has passed by the wake it leaves behind, then the ship of Jesus’ life was, without question, the largest ship in history.

 

Looking for THIS Jesus...

 

For every reason we could list, it is worth our while, every once in a while, to clear away the fog, do away with that Jesus and that Jesus and that Jesus and investigate THIS Jesus, the Jesus of the New Testament.

That’s because, of all the reasons to believe in Christianity, He is the most compelling.

It is not evidence for creation. It’s not the increasing  archaeological evidence for Noah’s Ark or for Moses’ Exodus or for the downed walls of Jericho that drives us to embrace the Christian way.

It is the Person of Jesus.

A right understanding of Jesus draws us to faith, while the biggest show-stopper to faith is a faulty view of Jesus.

So, I propose that over the next several Sundays we allow the Apostle John to lead us into the understanding of Jesus he obtained via firsthand exposure. From now through the Sunday after Easter, we’ll be looking for evidence of what Jesus was really like from John’s Gospel.

John’s record of Jesus begins differently from the other three.

Matthew and Luke give us genealogies and birth narratives and the launch of Jesus’ ministry with temptations in the wilderness. Mark skips the birth stories and goes right to the temptations.

The other Gospels give us the Sermon on the Mount, the Transfiguration, and parables. John gives us none of that.

What John does do, however, is give us a very tightly focused picture of Jesus, and He begins at the beginning, the very beginning.

Listen closely to John’s opening. His first words have more in common with Genesis 1 than they do with Matthew 1 or Mark 1 or Luke 1.



Prologue to Consideration of a Saving Lord (John 1:1-51)

 

The Prologue (vv. 1-18)

 

Meet “the Word” (vv. 1-5)

 

[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] He was in the beginning with God.[3] All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. [4] In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. [5] And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

 

You and I hear the word “Word” and think, “A word.” Big deal.

 

But to John’s audience, the “Word” was a very big deal. The world was created by the Word of God. When the prophets thundered their messages, they would often begin, “The Word of the Lord…”

 

The Word is the communication and the revelation of God.

 

But John’s Word is more than that. The Word IS God. Not “godly.” Not “god-like.” Not “a god.” GOD. The Almighty.

 

And, in the Word was life.

 

Not dependent life, like ours. Independent life. The Word is the source from which all creation draws life.

And the life within the Word serves as a lighthouse, directing us to God’s life.

 

So John has introduced us to the Word. The Word is an eternal, creative, cosmic life force.

 

He now brings us in from eternity and infinity, crashing back in to the flesh and blood world of planet earth.

 

Meet John (vv. 6-8)

 

[6] There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. [7] He came as a witness, to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him. [8] He was not the light, but came to testify about the light.

 

This is not John the author, the Apostle John, but the other John - John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a untamed and untamable man who dressed in unclean animal skins and ate locusts and honey. He is among the most intriguing characters in the Bible.

 

He enters the story of Jesus from the deserts to the east of Palestine, calling people to repentance by baptism in the Jordan River.

 

John was a no-nonsense ascetic. Leather-skinned from exposure to the wilderness and leather-lunged to condemn sin, he was all zeal and thundering passion for God.

 

John was a man sent from God, but John was not the star of the show. He was the prequel. He came to bear witness of the light that the Word shines into the darkness.

 

John, the author, shifts back to a focus on the Word now, emphasizing that the Word is a Person.




Meet the God-Man (vv. 9-18)

 

The rejection of the true Light (vv. 10-11)

 

[9] There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. [10] HE was in the world, and the world was made through HIM, and the world did not know HIM. [11] HE came to HIS own, and those who were HIS own did not receive HIM.

 

The transcendent, eternal, creative Word is a Person. And by the time we come to verse 11, we can’t resist the temptation to draw the line between the Word and Jesus!

 

Jesus came home to the Jews, His own people, who should have welcomed Him the way we welcome returning heroes. By and large they didn’t.

 

BUT those who did not reject Him found life, abundant, free, and eternal.

 

The reception of the true Light (vv. 12-14)

 

[12] But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, [13] who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. [14] And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

Very briefly we’ve traced the Word’s story from creation (“In the beginning was the Word…”), to a birth at Bethlehem when the light first shined (“the Word became flesh”) to Calvary where the light was rejected.

 

John’s Prologue gives us the heart of the Christian faith, and it is this: That the Word of God took on flesh for our salvation, in the Person of Jesus.

 

During the three years John spent as an apostle of Jesus, He lived with the Word. He walked the streets of Nazareth with the Word. He watched the Word’s healing hands at work and he heard the Word’s life-giving message.

 

When we think of seeing God’s glory, we may think of visions and miracles and spectacular shows of power. John says that in all human history, the glory of God was most clearly seen during the thirty three years of Jesus’ life when He lived “in the flesh.”

 

And THIS that we now read is the vision the Apostle John wants us to take forward into our exploration of Jesus.

 

Grace upon grace… (vv. 15-18)

 

[15] John testified about Him, and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.” [16] For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. [17] For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. [18] No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

 

Anyone who believes in Jesus receives grace upon grace upon grace upon grace, wave upon unending wave of grace, from God.

 

On the day you trusted in Jesus for your salvation and passed from darkness into light, God gave you the gift of grace. The angels were jumping up and down, shouting, “He is forgiven! He is forgiven!!”

 

And on every day that follows, when you sin, because you are child of God through faith in Christ, the angels continue to shout, “He is forgiven! He is forgiven!!”

 

The wonder of grace never fades because we remember the enormous problem that our sin caused and the lengths to which God went to solve our problem.

 

He sent His only begotten Son, the eternal Word, to earth to be clothed in flesh and to offer Himself as a sacrifice on a Roman cross so that we could become children of God.

 

That’s John’s opening salvo, his Prologue. He continues the story of Jesus, tracing the most private season of Jesus’ early public life.

 

After Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, He began to collect disciples.

 

These first disciples included two from among the ranks of John the Baptist’s disciples, one of whom was Andrew. Then Andrew brought his brother, Simon (Peter), who followed Jesus. Then Jesus found Philip, who followed. Philip brought along Nathanael, who also followed.

 

So, by the time we come to the end of John’s first chapter, Jesus had five disciples.

 

The next chapter, where we’ll spend the remainder of our time today, begins with a time stamp (“on the third day” - i.e. the third day after the baptism), a place stamp (“in Cana of Galilee”), and an event stamp (“there was a wedding”).

 

The action takes place in the northern part of Palestine, in the region of Galilee, at the tiny town of Cana. Cana was a village located a few miles north of Nazareth (the city in which Jesus grew up) out on the plains mid-way between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean.

 

Transforming Water Into Wine (vv. 1-10)

 

A Wedding (vv. 1-2)

 

[1] And on the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee and the mother of Jesus was there, [2] and both Jesus  and His disciples were invited to the wedding.

 

Wedding guests

 

You would not likely have found John the Baptist at a wedding. He was a man more given to fasting than to feasting.

 

But it’s not strange to find Jesus there. Trace Jesus’ life through the Gospels and you’ll often find Him at parties and celebrations.

 

I have wondered if Andrew, the former follower of John the Baptist who was now following Jesus, might have had some difficulty with his new Rabbi’s willingness to eat, drink, and party.

 

John and his disciples would have never been invited to a party or to a wedding. Jesus was, evidently, exactly the kind of guy you would want at a wedding celebration.

 

Not that Jesus was some wild party animal. Only that nobody would have thought, “Oh, don’t invite Jesus. He’s such a wet blanket.”

 

Jesus was no grim-faced ascetic. He brought joy and abundant life.

 

Those who were hosting this wedding feast knew that Jesus and His followers either had family or friendly relations with the bride or the groom, so they invited them.




Weddings

 

In ancient Israel, weddings generally took place late in the day and often after dark so that the processions through the city streets would be lit by impressive torchlight.

 

The wedding event itself would begin with a parade of the groom and his friends to the home of the bride.

 

Once at her home, wedding guests would give speeches and toast the couple. Then the wedding party would walk to the groom’s house.

 

There, they would hold a brief religious ceremony, to be followed by the reception and a wedding feast.

 

By the time we are brought into this scene, the wedding is over and the reception is on.

 

Unlike our wedding receptions, though, which may last for some hours, a Jewish wedding feast might last for up to a week. This one had been going on for some time when a problem - a big problem - hits.

 

A Wedding Crisis (vv. 3-5)

 

Mary’s motherly remark to Jesus (v. 3)

 

[3] When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

 

In the first century - and actually throughout biblical history - wine was a staple of the Jewish diet.

 

There have always been warnings against drunkenness, of course. But wine was a welcomed part of any celebration.

 

The guests at a wedding would taste the wine as they traveled from house to house. Sometimes, the couple would drink wine to seal their vows. And, at the reception (again, sometimes lasting for days), wine was served.

 

At this wedding in Cana, they have run out of wine. There is no telling WHY they ran out of wine, but THAT they ran out of wine was a serious problem. It was a breach of etiquette to stop serving wine.

 

When the wine runs out, the party’s over. When the wine runs out, the hosts have egg all over their faces. I read in one source that the couple could have actually been sued over the lack of wine.

 

So, this was a very sobering situation (sorry), and Mary let her Son, Jesus, know about it. It was, after all, only natural for Mary to look to Jesus at a time like this. She, of all people, knew who He really was and that He could do something about it.

 

While others may have had their doubts about Jesus’ identity, Mary was the one person who knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the Son of God.

 

She had given birth to other children after Jesus. Those conceptions were quite normal. Only Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

 

Mary has been waiting a long time, all of Jesus’ life, thirty years by this time, for her Son to reveal His true identity. To this point He has not performed a miracle. This would surely have been a convenient time for Him to do something.

And Jesus had a response to give to His mother.

 

Jesus: “Lady, I know My business.” (4)

 

[4] And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.”

 

By those words, Jesus made a dramatic turn in His relationship with His mother. No longer is she the one to whom He submits. He’s not her “little boy.” Now, He is in control, and He’s not taking orders from Mom.

 

His message is, “My timetable is My own. I’ll handle this. I don’t need your wisdom, your prompting, your suggestions or your nudges.”

 

When Jesus said these things, Mary graciously accepted her new role in her Son’s life. He is now her Lord - and she promptly spoke to the servants at the wedding.

 

Mary:  “Servants - do His bidding!” (5)

 

[5] His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

 

Now it might have appeared to us that when Jesus said, “My hour has not yet come” He was refusing to take action. Not so.

 

He was simply refusing to act on anyone’s timetable but His own. He will perform His first miracle when He has decided that it is time.

 

My own sense is that Jesus had not gone to the wedding intending to identify Himself as the miracle-working Son of God.  But He chose to do what He will now do in response to a need - and it won’t be the last time that Jesus alters His plans to meet someone else’s pressing need.

 

Mary seemed to know her Son well enough to know that He was going to do something and so she put the servants on notice that Jesus is, now, in charge. He is going to be giving them orders.

 

A Wedding Miracle (vv. 6-10)

 

The vessels for the miracle (v. 6)

 

[6] Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each.

 

In the home where the wedding reception was being held there were six stone waterpots holding a total of at least one hundred and twenty gallons of water.

 

These were very large and heavy containers, not the kinds of pitchers that people would carry around. They were kept out of view of the guests and held water that was used for ceremonial hand-washing.

 

The Jews of Jesus’ day took great pains to avoid ritual uncleanness. One rabbinic book of the first century has multiple chapters on how and when a person was to wash his or her hands.

 

Seeing these large containers, Jesus spoke to the servants.

 

Jesus’ really unappetizing instructions (vv. 7-8)

 

Fill the waterpots (v. 7)

 

[7] Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim.

 

So, quick. What do you think was going through the minds of the servants when they heard this command?

I suspect that they were confused. They were wondering what in the world this Jesus guy has in mind.

 

It was their job to keep the waterpots sufficiently filled for various hand-washings, but now they have to fill them, and that’s going to be a job.

 

If you’ve ever had to haul water, you know that this would have taken some time and some effort. But they did what Jesus commanded and filled them all up to the brim.

 

Then, He gave His next command, which probably caused the servants to turn queasy.

 

Present it to the headwaiter (v. 8)

 

[8] And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the headwaiter.”

 

The headwaiter at this wedding was the one responsible for tasting the wine before it was served. So why in the world would Jesus want the servers to take the hand-washing water to him?

 

That water was fine for washing hands, but it wasn’t suitable for drinking. It wasn’t potable.

 

When I went camping to West Texas a couple of weeks ago, my brother-in-law and I were hiking up a stream bed in a canyon. The canyon actually had flowing water that looked crystal clear, like you could just kneel down and drink.

 

We knew better. On a previous trip up this same canyon we had found that some wild donkeys (donkeys, by the way, who had a very diminished sense of personal hygiene) had made a filthy mess of the creek just upstream. The water wasn’t potable and we weren’t about to drink without treating or boiling it.

 

Of course first century Jews didn’t know about microscopic pathogens in water, but they did know that there was drinkable water and there was undrinkable water.

The water in the stone pots was not suitable for drinking - but Jesus had just told them to serve some of it to the headwaiter.

 

They must have thought, “I know what Mary said, but this Guy can’t be serious! When the headwaiter finds out it is only water - and that it is THAT water, he’ll have our jobs, or worse.”

 

Not one of the servants had a clue as to what Jesus was up to. He didn’t wave His arms over the waterpots. He didn’t issue a command to the water to turn into wine. He never touched the water or the pots. As far as they know, Jesus was instructing them to serve hand-washing water to the boss.

 

But, obey Jesus they did. They filled the waterpots. They dipped pitchers into the water. They walked over to their boss, dreading what was going to happen when he took a drink.

 

But as they poured from the pitcher to his drinking goblet, he and the servants saw not the dirty water they had poured in, but the deep blush of aged wine!

 

The headwaiter is impressed (vv. 9-10)

 

[9] When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom [10] and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.”

 

He is not impressed with the miracle, because he didn’t know that a miracle had taken place. He’s impressed with the quality of the wine.

 

There is no response recorded from the bride, the groom or the guests because what had really happened wasn’t widely known.

 

This miracle was like a lot of my jokes. Subtle. My jokes are often so subtle that nobody gets them. And nobody “got” this miracle, either, because Jesus did it under the radar.

 

He could have been dramatic about it. He could have waved His hands, muttered an incantation, and then presented the headwaiter with the water-turned-wine, Himself.

 

But He didn’t do that. Jesus minimized the exposure of His power in this first miracle so that the only ones who “got it” were His disciples.

 

And that explains the punch line, the point, of this water-to-wine event. John doesn’t wrap up with, “And they lived happily ever after”, but this:

 

[11] This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

 

Of all the responses they might have had, they believed.

 

They certainly might have become afraid of Him. They might have been impressed with Him. They might have sought to use Him (after all, someone who could do magic tricks could come in pretty handy.)

 

Instead, they believed in Him. They came to trust in Him more than they had before.

 

The end game of God’s work in the lives of Jesus’ followers is always that we would trust Him and our faith would grow.

 

So, the bottom line of this episode in the life of Jesus is what it says about Jesus. It is a “sign”, John tells us, pointing to something beyond itself.

It was a sign that shouted, “Trust Jesus! He is more than man. He is the God-man who can do what only God can do.”

 

Yes, this “sign” signals that Jesus is trustworthy. But as I have thought about the wedding in Cana this week, I have wondered if this sign signaled something else.



Conclusion:

 

Think of all the miracles Jesus performed and you’ll find that there is more often than not an element of genuine, deep, human need.

 

A crowd is really, really hungry; a little girl is at the point of death; a blind beggar is desperate to see; a demon-oppressed man needs freedom.

 

Here, there is none of that. The only pain likely to be caused by the absence of wine at this wedding is the pain of embarrassment. So why do it? Let’s read this sign carefully to see what it says.

 

Jesus turned hand-washing water into fine wine. He started with a most common element - H2O - made morecommon by its purpose (wash water), and transformed it into something noble.

 

THAT water was the very picture of drudgery and legalistic formalism. Jesus made it tasty. He took something that symbolized a pain and made it a pleasure.

 

That’s what Jesus does. He takes the ordinary and makes it shine.

 

He took plain and common people like Simon Peter, Andrew and Nathanael and Philip and turned them into courageous apostles whose lives were transformed by a transcendent purpose.

 

He’s doing the same thing today with you and me.

Now, I am a no-big-deal, hand-washing-water kind of a guy. I do very normal things. My job happens to be at a church, but I go to work every day, like you. I love my family, like you. I exercise, read, take out the trash, go camping, do yardwork, drive, eat. Just like you.

 

But because of Jesus, my everyday, ordinary, H2O life is layered with transcendent meaning and purpose. Same for you.

 

Jesus infuses every activity with richness. Every interaction with someone holds potential for a God break-through. Every event brings an invitation to pray to Almighty God. All day we are “on mission” for Jesus’ Great Commission.

 

And our H2O lives have become fine wine, transformed by the same Jesus who built faith into the first disciples at Cana.

 

And if you are doubtful that Jesus could ever or would ever do this with you, consider this “sign” one final time.

 

Remember that the headwaiter at the wedding wasn’t impressed that he was tasting wine. He expected to taste wine. He was impressed that the wine was so tasty. He expected poorer quality. Jesus created a better quality of wine than would have been expected at the tail end of a feast.

 

And how much wine was created? It was between one hundred and twenty and one hundred and eighty gallons. For the end of wedding feast in a tiny village. One hundred and eighty gallons of wine. Really?

 

That’s waaaay more than would have been required. But Jesus went overboard (just like He went overboard in the feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000 by providing more than enough food) to show that it is His desire and plan to bless and to transform extravagantly.

 

His grand plan is to make of you such a stunning and impactful player in His kingdom that people will look at you and say, “Look at what God has made out of her! Look at how God has used him!”

 

The same Jesus who turned hand-washing water into fine wine in Cana is actively at work, transforming you.

Jun 12, 2015

Real Talk is a mission of providing people with the help they need to live effectively. Listen in as we take a moment to share the vision.

 

In His grip by His grace,

Roderick L. Barnes, Sr.

Jun 7, 2015

Real Talk with Roderick

Stuff Just Got Real (Acts 2:40-47)

 

Real Faith (Acts 2:40-42; Luke 9:41; 11:29)

40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

The message of Peter did not end with the words of Acts 2:38-39.  He went on at length pressing people for a decision. How did the fisher of men do this? He testified. In the many other words were declarations of what he and the other apostles had seen, had heard, and had handled with their own hands (Matthew 17:1-9; John 20:26-28; 1 John 1:1). In the many other words there were no doubt mentions of the many infallible proofs (Acts 1:3) that had served to convince the apostles that Jesus was risen from the dead with authority and power. Peter pressed the issue of salvation by clearly communicated the facts surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. In doing this he worked to convince the convicted listeners to do something.

 

How did the fisher of men press? He exhorted them. Merely making the truth known was not enough. The Spirit-led proclamation was also an impassioned call to believe and be baptized: "Be saved from this perverse generation." There was summons in his sermon. It was an in-your-face beseeching and an unapologetic characterization of the those who would not hear and heed the call to repentance. The man had become like his Master and now preached like him; Jesus had already named the people of that time Perverse Generation.

  • 41 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” (Luke 9:41, NKJV)
  • 27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” 28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” 29 And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. (Luke 11:27-32, NKJV)

 

As hard as it was to hear it was a message of mercy and hope. In it God was extending His hand yet one more time to the very people that had killed his Son.

 

    But there was a way of deliverance from the judgment which such faithlessness must inevitably incur. The deliverance of which Joel (Joel 2:28-32) had spoken was to be enjoyed by a remnant of the whole people; so now Peter urged his hearers to make sure, by a repentant calling on the Lord, that they belonged to this remnant and saved themselves from that perverse generation.

    Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts (p. 72). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

 

Those who accepted the apostolic admonition of Peter responded immediately in the obedience of believer's baptism (Acts 2:41). They knew that it was not enough to agree with Peter or attend prayer meetings.

  • Intellectual ascension alone is insufficient as an appropriate response to the calling of God. Saving faith moves us to more than just accepting the facts of the gospel. Beyond the confession of my need for a Savior and the acknowledgement of the salvation that has come in Jesus Christ I must appropriate the provision of God by choosing to trust in Him.
  • Inveterate attendance alone is insufficient as an appropriate response to the calling of God. Saving faith motivates a man to more than the keeping of a Christian calendar. If the rebel's response does not come with obedience he has not come at all and his confidence in Christ may be nothing more than the stuff of demons (James 2:19). The first sign of this surrendered life is seen in the act of public baptism.

 

Real Fear and Real Fellowship (Acts 2:43-45)

43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

Signs and wonders had been done by the Spirit through Jesus (Luke 4:14-19) and were now being done by the Spirit through the apostles (Acts 2:43). This is what the prophet Joel had, by the Spirit, predicted (Joel 2:30; Acts 2:19). Seeing the signs and wonders produced a reverent fear among the people.

 

    The former signs said that Jesus is both Savior  and Lord; they were the credentials of Christ. These latter signs say that the apostles are sent by Jesus and that their words should be heeded as His words; respect is due. Godly fear or reverence manifest in respect is the appropriate response when we in the presence of heaven-sent authority.

 

Luke now tells the reader that the fellowship was not characterized by cowering before the apostles and morbid fear of their decisions. He says that it was a community of caring, of sharing possessions, and bearing one another burdens.

 

    Real fellowship is seen not in merely sitting together on Sunday but also in relevant expressions of love Monday through Saturday. It is more than singing songs and saying Amen in the theatrical pauses of self-absorbed preaching. It must meet needs! 

 

Real Favor (Acts 2:46-47) 

46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Do not miss the fact that daily life for the new church involved unity in the fellowship (with one accord), the regular practice of communion (breaking bread from house to house), and worship (praising God). Their unity, solemn meal, and regular worship were enough to make people notice. In fact, though some would not join their growing number, they recognized their fellowship as being good and looked upon it with favor.

 

Jun 1, 2015

Real Talk with Roderick

Cut to the Heart (Acts 2:14-39)

12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Above the sound of the ecstatic utterances Peter has heard the marveling and mocking of the men who have come to investigate (Acts 2:12-13). Standing with the other eleven apostles Peter begins to deliver a message where he will explain the sign, expand his sermon to focus on the Son of David, and exhort the hearers toward salvation through faith in Jesus. There is a boldness in him as he raises his voice (Acts 2:14). But it is not based in the type of arrogance that moves a self-absorbed man to speak because he feels self-entitled to the attention of other men. It is not an arrogance but a confidence in Christ and an outworking of a commitment to fulfill the commission.  The years of being mentored, the time spent praying,  and the pouring out of the Spirit have now come together in him to produce the kind of preaching that changes the world.

 

May 22, 2015

Real Talk with Roderick

I've Got the Power (Acts 2:5-13)

 

(Acts 2:5-6)

5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

The sound of Jesus' disciples declaring the wonderful works of God cannot be ignored (Acts 2:5-6,11). When His followers had been baptized with the Holy Spirit they began, as led and enabled by the Spirit, to speak in other tongues - and not too quietly. When the devout Jewish men from every nation under heaven hear their excited voices they respond by going to investigate. 

 

As the curious multitude begins arriving on the scene where the sound is coming from it is a bit much to take in. A crowd that has come looking for answers gets something else: confusion. Why? This scene does not make sense. Imagine it. Regardless of where you are from you hear people in this group exalting God in your native tongue. And this is all the more remarkable because the people doing this have a hard time speaking their own language.

 

The Power of God in a yielded person

works to make them worship and to

make those who watch... wonder why.

 

(Acts 2:7-11)

7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”

It does not take long for the arriving observers to take stock of the people making the noise: Look,... all these who speak are Galileans. 

 

How did the crowd know that the people speaking were Galileans? There were a few things that may have marked the Spirit-filled group as being from the region of Galilee. Of those things  accent ranks foremost. Remember, the multitude was drawn by the sound of their speech. It would be natural as they neared the group to be able to hear them with increasing clarity. Arriving at the place where the apostles and other disciples were speaking in tongues it would have been obvious to people of that time and region; the Galilean accent could not be hidden.

 

    “The pronunciation, the dialect, ἡλαλία of the Galilæans was defective in the utterance of the gutturals, so that no distinction was perceptible between ה ,ע ,א. Besides, the Galilæns also pronounced the שׁ like ח.” De Wette. The pronunciation of the people of Galilee was uncouth and indistinct; hence they were not allowed to read aloud in the Jewish synagogues. The Talmudists relate a number of amusing anecdotes about the curious misunderstandings occasioned by the indistinctness of pronunciation in Galilee. See Friedlieb, p. 84.

    Lange, J. P., & Schaff, P. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Matthew (p. 498). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

 

    Galilaean speech was easily recognized because of its loss of laryngeals and aspirates; cf. A. Neubauer, “The Dialects of Palestine in the Time of Christ,” in Studia Biblica, I (Oxford, 1885), p. 51; G. Dalman, Grammatik des jüdisch-palästinischen Aramäisch (Leipzig, 1894), pp. 33–40, 42–51; F. Rosenthal, Die aramäistische Forschung (Leiden, 1939), p. 108 n.; E. Y. Kutscher, Studies in Galilaean Aramaic (Bar-Ilan University Press, Israel, 1976)

 

Only weeks prior to all of this Peter, in a moment of terrible weakness, attempts to deny association with on-trial Jesus. But try as he might his accent gives the big fisherman away:

 

73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” (Matthew 26:73, NKJV)

 

The onlookers are all amazed and marveling. These devout Jews cannot 

 

  • The Numerous Languages - There are fifteen countries mentioned in this list. The people from each country came with their own dialect of common languages (Aramaic) or an entirely different tongue (Assyrian).
  • The Notorious Limitations - Without question it is striking that the Galileans are speaking with these other tongues. Although they are considered weak in their language skills they are displaying the power of God for being a witness.

 

What looked like a horrible handicap was actually God's plan for ensuring that the disciples understand this simple truth:

 

The Holy Spirit is Himself the sufficiency

of the weak for the work of being a witness.

 

9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Let us not miss what it seems that the crowed did or could not observe: There is no mention made of the multitude marveling about the sound of the wind or the divided tongues of fire that sat upon each of the recently baptized disciples (Acts 2:3).  While the sound of wind and flames were apparent to the people who were baptized it seems that those who had not received the Holy Spirit either (1) arrived too late to view the tongues of fire or (2) were not able to see the tongues of fire. In either case this sign was not mentioned by the people that entered the company of Jesus' disciples; it seems that they were only given the words of Jesus witnesses - in their own tongues.

 

Some signs are sent to simply to say, "I am with you!"

They come to create confidence that Christ is in me.

 

(Acts 2:12-13)

12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Wha-ever could this mean?” 13 Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”

When the power of the Spirit to bear witness begins working in you there will often be two responses.

  • Marveling - Some will realize that you are operating above your ability and will see the hand of God.
  • Mocking - Some will scoff and cast aspersions on your work. They may even say that the spirit at work in you is not the Holy Spirit.
May 16, 2015

Real Talk with Roderick
How Is Your Foundation? (Matthew 21:42)

My grandparents built a humble home on the east side of San Antonio. Although it was very unremarkable I thought it was grand. One day as I was standing on the porch of their home looking at the brick columns I noticed somthing. I remarked to my grandfather that "Most of the bricks have some sort of rough place and extra concrete on them." It was then that he told me that the house was made of used or leftover bricks. They were not good enough for the former building. But they had made a great home for us.

As Jesus nears the end of His earthly ministry it becomes painfully obvious that the rulers do not regard Him as someone with whom ministry can be built. There is terrible irony in the fact that Jesus was rejected by His own people. However, He was and is in fact the foundation of living. Apart from Him we can do nothing!

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? (Matthew 21:42)

How is your foundation? That is, what are you building your life on? A great job? A good marriage? Romance? Promoting the success of children? Civic duty or the promotion of your nation? Ministry? None of these things are bad investments of time. But they cannot be the basis for life. If the answer is not Jesus the answer is wrong. (Ministry and Jesus are not the same thing. The former is a calling but cannot save or give lasting peace. The latter calls, saves, and gives everlasting life.) You are in fact building on sand and the results will be tragic.

24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

Stop building on a bad foundation. Start today building on a good foundation: Jesus Christ. It will mean the transfer of trust and hope from something that looks promising to Someone that is proven.

In His grip by His grace,
Roderick L. Barnes, Sr.
Pastor of Unusually Great People
Three Rivers Community Church

May 10, 2015

Matthew 15:21-28

21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” 23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” 24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” 27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Apr 27, 2015

Real Talk with Roderick

Moving On (Acts 1:15-26)

Between the ascension of the Lord (Acts 1:9) and the arrival of the aforementioned Anointing (Acts 1:5,8; 2:1-4) there is a period referred to as those days (ταῖς ἡμέραις - Acts 1:15). It was during those days that the disciples of Jesus spent their time together in prayer and supplication in an upper room (Acts 1:14). At some point in the mean of that while Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples1 to address an issue: Judas is gone.

Peter's description of the that state of affairs is interesting. Rather than starting with the negative fact that Judas was no longer in their number he begins with the positive - Scripture had to be fulfilled (ἔδει πληρωθῆναι τὴν γραφὴν). Does it matter? Certainly! It is the difference between seeing first the problem and seeing first the hand of Providence. It is the difference between focusing on Judas' failure and focusing on Scripture's fulfillment. Some people naturally look at a situation and become overwhelmed by the sight of obstacles. Others look into the same situation and see the opportunities. It is hard to be an effective leader if you can only present the problem; to truly inspire people you have to also see clearly the problem and the possibilities that exist in the same dark situation. 

 

    Godly leaders see the enormity of intimidating issues in light of the fact that with God nothing is impossible. They confront their problems with a courage that comes from confidence in the risen Christ, the meaning of His cross, and the calling that is on their lives.

 

Peter is such a leader. And according to the calling that is on his life he is again, having been restored and supernaturally enabled to understand Scripture (Luke 24:45), strengthening his brethren (Luke 22:32).

    Among them Peter takes the leading place, as to a large extent he did during the period covered by the Gospel narrative. His denial of Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest might well have discredited him irretrievably in his colleagues’ eyes, but the risen Lord’s personal appearance to him and recommissioning of him rehabilitated him and ensured for him a position of leadership never to be forfeited.67

    Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts (p. 44). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

 

The Positive Perspective of Peter (Acts 1:16-19)

The rugged fisherman addresses his fellow disciples with a candid and positive description of what has taken place: Scripture has been fulfilled.

  • Judas' Fall was Foretold (Acts 1:16-17; John 13:18; 17:12; Psalm 41:9) - Jesus had prepared His disciples for Judas' defection. In their last supper together He had said that His betrayal would be facilitated by someone who had the audacity to eat that meal with Him and then act with unthinkable meanness by betraying Him to His enemies. When the Lord reveals this information He quotes from Psalm 41:9. It is with this in mind that Peter says that there is a up side to what we have seen - Judas deception and defection was all part of the plan.

 9 Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me. Psalm 41:9 (NKJV)

  • Judas' Fate was Foretold (Acts 1:18-19; Matthew 27:3-10; Zechariah 11:12-13) - What else did Peter have in mind when he said the Scripture had to be fulfilled? Although it was not part of Peter's speech Luke says that even the way Judas dies was predicted: (1) the thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:15), (2) the return of the silver to the temple (Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:3-5), (3) the money being used to by the potter's field and that field would become the place where Judas would die (Matthew 27:5-10). The Scriptures foretold that Judas would use the betrayal money to buy the place of his own death. It is with this in mind that Peter says that there is an up side to what we have seen - Judas died according to plan.

 

    Peter cites two passages, one regarding the removal of Judas from his place and position, the other regarding the filling of his vacant place by another. Both passages deal with the enemies of the theocracy during David’s time; it is thus that they apply to Judas who by his traitorous act stands forth among these enemies as their chief representative. All those enemies of David’s time are the type of whom Judas became the great antitype. It is thus that the Holy Spirit spoke about Judas in advance. When he spoke through David, Judas was fully foreknown. When he quotes Ps. 69:25, Peter renders the LXX quite exactly and makes only verbal changes that retain the full meaning. David’s plural is, however, made a singular because the passage is used specifically with reference to Judas.

    Lenski, R. C. H. (1961). The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles (pp. 48–49). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House.

The Prescription of Scripture According to Peter (Acts 1:20-22)

Peter anticipates the work that is coming and he sees something wrong with the state of affairs: we are down one apostle. He has accepted the call on His life and the summons to strengthen His brethren (Luke 22:32). To see the significance of what Peter is doing we need to consider his profile:

  • Clueless but Desires the Best God Has to Offer - John 13:6-10
  • Promising Insight by Lacking Humility - Matthew 16:13-23
  • Willing to Get Out of the Boat to Walk on Water - Matthew 14:27-32
  • Willing to Get Out of the Boat to Get to Jesus Faster - John 21:7-10
  • Opened Understanding - Luke 23:45

Did Jesus know that Peter was going to do this? Did Jesus know that the big fisherman would taken it upon himself to lead his fellow disciples into a decision, a destination, and a new disposition on recent events. He counted on it (Luke 22:32).

the decision to move on is sometimes more important than the direction.

Regardless of what many think about whether or not the disciples should have chosen another apostle we need to be mindful of three things: (1) Peter is a leader chosen by Jesus to take charge, (2) he sees a problem with the missing man, and (3) he is willing to get out of the boat and even fail in trying to get them closer to Jesus. I will follow a man like that - especially after Jesus has opened his understanding.

  • Judas' Role has been Removed (Psalm 69:25) - There will be no more betrayal among the twelve. His role was predicted and necessary for the Scriptures to be fulfilled. But it is no longer needed and will not happen again.
  • We Have to Move On (Psalm 109:8) - Peter takes a passage from the Psalter and says that the fallen must be replaced. Why? When James the apostle dies he is not replaced. Judas did not finish in faith but apostatized. Where James was faithful in his church-founding role until death Judas was unfaithful in life and was never restored. His office had not truly been fulfilled. 

Peter is pressing his team to acknowledge the failure, to focus on the fulfillment, and to forge ahead.

The Product of Peter's Positivity (Acts 1:22-26)

  • disposition (Acts 1:22) - these people have embraced the call to be witnesses. they are surrendered and committed to the commission.
  • new type of prayer (Acts 1:24-25) - praying to Jesus and thereby acknowledging His divinity

Making it Plain

  • Face your fault.
  • Focus on fulfillment of the calling that is on your life.
  • Forge ahead.

Footnotes

1disciples in NKJV but ἀδελφῶν in the NU text.

 

Apr 19, 2015

Real Talk with Roderick

While We Wait (Acts 1:9-14)

Obey (Acts 1:9-11)

His final words are the "these things" (ταῦτα εἰπὼν) from Acts 1:4-8. Among these things are two commands: (1) wait for baptism (Acts 1:4) and then (2) be witnesses (Acts 1:8). Regarding the latter, God's goal of having witnesses for Himself is ancient (Deuteronomy 4:6; 30:19); even Creation is called to serve Him in this capacity (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:19-20). If there is no one ready to raise their voice to declare God's goodness the stones under our feet are ready to do the job (Habakkuk 2:11; Luke 19:40). It was to this great work that Israel was called out from among all peoples - to bear witness to the nations. But where Israel failed to fulfill this calling the Son of God succeeded (Luke 4:16-19). And those that become His disciples take up His work by becoming His witnesses. When describing the ongoing witnessing mission in the work of Jesus and the life of His disciples FF Bruce says it well: 

The close relation between God’s call to Israel, “you are my witnesses,” and the risen Lord’s commission to his apostles, “you will be my witnesses,” can be appreciated the more if we consider the implications of Paul’s quotation of Isa. 49:6 in Acts 13:47.32 There the heralds of the gospel are spoken of as a light for the Gentiles, bearing God’s salvation “to the end of the earth”; here “the end of the earth” and nothing short of that is to be the limit of the apostolic witness.

Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts (p. 36). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Regarding the command to be witnesses (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), the heavenly hosts are leading by example and encouraging the disciples to get going with the work:

Luke intends his readers to understand these men to be angelic messengers, like the two men who appeared to the women at the empty tomb of Jesus “in dazzling apparel” (Luke 24:4).39 In both instances the fact that there were two suggests that they are viewed as witnesses, two being the minimum number for credible witness-bearing (Deut. 19:15). On the former occasion the two men bore witness to Jesus’ resurrection; here they bear witness to his forthcoming parousia.

Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts (p. 38). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Apr 19, 2015

Real Talk with Roderick

New Work

 

Could I get anybody to make that sound that you make before you spit? You know Jesus he spits. And it's in today's lesson. 

Listen in on this Real Talk to learn about the new work.

 

 

In His grip by His grace 

Roderick

Apr 12, 2015

Real Talk with Roderick

Reaching the Reachers

 

I got a question for you. Who did Jesus come for? For all of us? Let's take a moment at look at Matthew 9.

Listen in on this Real Talk to learn about reaching the reachers.

 

In His grip by His grace 

Roderick

Apr 12, 2015

Indispensable Preparation (Acts 1:1-2)

Before presenting more history to Theophilus (meaning: dear to God) Luke speaks summarily about his previous writings. He tells his recipient that the former account is to be regarded as a comprehensive (πάντων) record of Jesus' works and words (Acts 1:1). Modern readers have come to know that prior work as The Gospel According to Luke. That record stops at the point when Jesus, having given his disciples a work for insight and a word of instruction, was taken up into heaven (Luke 24:51):

* A Work for Insight: His Teaching and His Touch (Luke 24:44-48) - It is imperative that these men, soon to become the leadership for His church, understand the faith they will promote. How else will they be able to teach others (Matthew 28 :18-20)? And so Jesus teaches onthe history of His ministry, the violence that had recently transpired, and now His own resurrection from the dead. The things that have happened are all to be seen as fulfilling prophecies presented in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:27, 44).  But more than His teaching is needed. If the truth of God is to be really received there must be a softening of hard hearts, an opening of blind eyes, and a sharpening of dull minds. And so, beyond expounding upon the Scriptures the men are changed (Luke 24:45). Jesus gave them a new aptitude for understanding Scripture (1 Corinthians 2:14-15).

 

Opened he their mind (διηνοιξεν αὐτων τον νουν [diēnoixen autōn ton noun]). The same verb as that in verses 31 and 32 about the eyes and the Scriptures. Jesus had all these years been trying to open their minds that they might understand the Scriptures about the Messiah and now at last he makes one more effort in the light of the Cross and the Resurrection. They can now see better the will and way of God, but they will still need the power of the Holy Spirit before they will fully know the mind of Christ.

Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Lk 24:45). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

 

* A Word of Instruction: Tarry (Luke 24:49-53; Acts 1:2) - The Promise of His Father was none other than the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49). Lest the disciples begin to believe they could start reaching the world based on strong resolve (Matthew 26:30-35; Luke 24:46-48) Jesus makes it clear that they do not yet have the power to do the job. Thus He commands them to wait in the city of Jerusalem until the power was received - the Person of the Holy Spirit. He would enlighten the disciples, enabled people to receive their message, and empower them for the work of being witnesses. The command to preach in His name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem, could not begin until they had been equipped like John the Baptist (Luke 1:15) and Jesus Himself (Luke 3:21-22; 4:16-19).

 

Witnesses are appointed by God and anointed for the work. Apart from both His election and enabling they cannot be effective.

 

Infallible Proof Examples (Acts 1:3)

What were the infallible proofs of Jesus' resurrection. There were many (John 20:30; 21:25). What follows is a sampling of what is recorded in the gospels and one provided by a former enemy of Jesus.

* Displaying Scars from His Crucifixion (John 20:19-29) - 

* Displaying Signs from their Calling (John 21:1-23; Luke 5:1-8) 

* Disclosure to their Larger Company (1 Corinthians 15:5-7) 

 

Apr 5, 2015

He Ain't Here - Part 1 (John 20:1-2)

It is early Sunday morning and in the cover of darkness heartbroken women are going to the tomb of their recently fallen Rabbi, their former Leader, and the One they believed to be Messiah in order to show genuine if not effective kindness (Mark 16:1; Matthew 28:1). Only a few days earlier these devoted followers had watched their innocent Jesus vilified by His enemies, suffering with the results of a scourging that had taken chunks of flesh away from His back, and then crucified before their eyes. And then they saw and heard His pain as He hung on a cross in shame crying out to His Father about being forsaken (Psalm 22:1; Mark 15:34). Finally they saw His body buried (Luke 23:52-55); they were eyewitness to the place of Jesus burial and thus they know exactly where to find it even in the darkness of dawn (John 19:39-40). Their plan is to anoint His bloodied, broken, and now decaying body with an offsetting aromatic collection of spices.

Why are they doing this? Jesus' body had already been prepared with nearly 100 pounds of myrrh and aloe before it was buried. Were they unaware of what Nicodemus (John 3:1; 7:50; 19:39-40) had done? This seems unlikely as they were present when the body was buried and such a large quantity of spices and wrappings would have been noticed. Further, the wrapping would have taken time. Since the women were present when Jesus died and when He was buried it is logical to think that they were near when the body was prepared by Nicodemus. Why are they doing this? Because such was their devotion: 

  • Using their possessions to provide support for His ministry (Luke 8:3; Mark 15:41)
  • Employing expensive oil in anointing Jesus head and washing His feet with their hair (John 12:3) 

These things were all part of their dedication to Jesus. And even after His passing their devotion undaunted. Their plan, in view of what had already been done for Jesus' body, is not necessarily logical but it is loving. They are at the tomb in the wee hours of the morning to anoint a decaying body that had already been prepared for burial because they love Jesus. It is illogical but the acts of love keep coming. As we think on their crazy love for Jesus we are reminded of God's crazy love for us (John 3:16). But things are not going according to plan.

They saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb (John 20:1). Based on the other gospel accounts we know that they also noticed the body was gone and that they tried to tell these things to the other disciples. But the other disciples could not understand what had happened (Luke 24:11-12). Two of Jesus' closest disciples go to see for themselves. What they find will leave one disciple confused and the other disciple convinced.

 

Apr 5, 2015

The How of Spirit Filling (Ephesians 5:15-21)

 

 

Introduction

Darlene, the boys, and I were walking a paved path in Walker Ranch Heritage Park. The boys were small and were either being pushed in a stroller, or were trying to learn to ride their bikes. Roderick Jr. had learned the basics and was enjoying a good time riding near the family on the trail. Caleb, being about two years younger than Roderick Jr., was still working to comprehend and apply the basics of bicycling; things like braking were not readily appreciated and thus not practiced. Stopping was usually more of an event than a decision. Although his bike was equipped with everything required for a safe biking experience, because he did not readily understand the fundamentals, his time in the park that day was nothing less than scary.

The path we were on was a circuit. As we came around the trail there was a decline toward a turn that would need to be negotiated by anyone wanting to stay on the path. As Roderick and Caleb met the decline for the first time they both experienced a bit of excitement. Roderick allowed gravity to work toward building a good speed. He enjoyed the speed and went down the hill without any problem. As he neared the bottom he pressed backward on the pedals to slow the bike. Caleb was a different story. The same forces of nature that produced fun for Roderick were producing terror in Caleb. His bike was speeding up without any effort on his part. The end of the decline was approaching and it just did not seem to poor Caleb that he was going to be able to negotiate the turn. And stopping by using the brakes was not an option… he was not sure how they worked.

His mother and I, taking notice of his quiet screaming and calm terror, took to advising our son: “Use the brakes, Caleb! Use the brakes!” Our voices went unheeded and Caleb spilled out on the concrete of the path. I ran to my son, now crying over his accident, and began helping him back onto his bike. Over the next few minutes we reviewed braking. Caleb would pedal for about five inches and then pedal backward. After allowing him to do this a few times we resumed our walk around the circuit. And before too long we came again to the place where the trail had previously turned into a decent into unmitigated terror.

As Caleb began to go down the path Darlene and I, being the proactive people that we are, began taking measures to prevent the problem experienced earlier: “Use the brakes, Caleb! Use the brakes!” We yelled it early and with gusto. But it was too no avail because our little boy was already gripped by gravity induced panic. Caleb was yelling out as his bike accelerated down the hill. Although we kept calling out truth to him he was, by vice of inexperience, unable to apply what was being said. And it was then that I began to receive insight into the outcome. Whether or not it was merely intellectual or spiritual I began to see, prior to the actual outcome, that my son was not going to use the brakes. Perhaps it was the fact that his legs were straight out to each side with the toes of his shoes pointing skyward.

Roderick Jr., having already reached the bottom of the hill, had dismounted and was standing out of harms way. He too had the gift of insight that I had received; it told him not to be on that path at that time. Standing next to his bike he watched as Caleb came flying down the hill, certainly unable to negotiate the turn required for staying on the path, expecting that he would go into a rocky gorge some feet away from the trail. As expected Caleb flew past Roderick and into the rocky area. He was out of sight and his parents were now gripped by morbid thoughts of what had happened to their young cyclist. I ran down the hill to determine what could be done for my son. As I reached the end of the hill Roderick Jr., pointing in the direction that Caleb had gone, said “He went that way, Daddy!”

The bike was worse for the wear and Caleb… he was fine. I picked up my boy, the battered bike, and walked out of the rocky area with a profound spiritual truth wrapped in the object lesson of Caleb and his bike:

God has equipped Jesus’ followers with the tools and power for abundant life in His service even when things are going down hill. However, many of us lack the training and experience required for experiencing that life.

The Purchase of Life (Ephesians 5:15-16)

15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

In his letter to the church at Ephesus Paul has already shown that God has (1) planned a great escape for sinners from the penalty of sin, (2) taken great pains to liberate sinners from the power of sin, and (3) provided everything required for living holy in the midst of a fallen world. The word then translates οὖν(therefore); a reasonable conclusion is being introduced in verse 15.The apostle says, in light of all that God has done in the providing of our salvation, it is logical that his readership would look (Βλέπετε) carefully to ensure that they are [walking] circumspectly. The word translated circumspectly (ἀκριβῶς) calls to picture the idea of accuracy and dogged determination (Matthew 2:8; Luke 1:3). The believer is being directed, in light of God’s amazing grace, to live with intentional biblical accuracy. In the phrase that follows Paul further clarifies; Ephesians, “conduct yourselves not as fools, which is inconsistent with your heavenly provision in Christ (Ephesians 2:6) and identity in Christ, but as wise people.” How? By redeeming the time.

The notion advanced is that time formerly wasted in activities of no value to God (1 Peter 4:3) should now be redeemed unto God for His purposes. Insofar as the Ephesus believers belong to God, what they own belongs to God. Every waking moment is to be volitionally made to count for the calling on their lives; it is not their time. It is to be purposefully sought after and retrieved with the intention of bringing the time under the lordship of Jesus. And why does Paul encourage his readers to buy back the season?  The answer is given in the phrase that follows: the days are evil (ὅτι αἱ ἡμέραι πονηραί εἰσιν). 

A passive stance in the presence of active evil will always result in actual loss.  The believer, in light of pressing wicked agendas, cannot be less than aggressive in living for God; excellence is never an accident. 

By taking back time that was wasted and bringing it to God for His service we effectively say, “Your kingdom come, Lord. Your will be done, Lord, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)”  Paul says that the Ephesians are to see [to it] that, in their sphere of influence, the ever aggressive evil of their day does not find them foolishly failing to acquire all time for God’s glory.

The Profit of Living (Ephesians 5:17-18)

17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

Any attempt to use time effectively must be evaluated in the light of Lord’s expressed will. Sincerity and sentimentality are not acceptable substitutes for biblical obedience. While heart-felt service in Jesus’ name is essential, it is not sufficient. God revealed His will through the Scriptures and fully expects His servants to serve Him according to that revelation (Luke 12:48; 1 Corinthians 10:11). At this point the recipients of Paul’s letter are clearly being commanded to apply themselves to getting an understanding (συνίετε, understand) (Proverbs 4:5-7). To understand what the will of the Lord is (συνίετε τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ κυρίου) would mean availing themselves of every opportunity to seek His will in prayer, in patient listening, and persistent pouring over the Scriptures.[1] The alternative, though it is appealing to the eye (1 John 2:15-17), is nothing short of wasted living. Satan offers counterfeit products and substandard services that all lead the users into bondage:

 

10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

 

17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 14:17)

As strong drink stimulates the physical forces and men are prone to turn to it for help over the difficult places, so the child of God, facing an impossible responsibility of a heavenly walk and service, is directed to the Spirit as the source of all sufficiency.  Every moment in a spiritual life is one of unmeasured need and superhuman demands. – Chafer, Lewis Sperry, He That is Spiritual

Let no one imagine, however, that [ministry can] be engendered by human ingenuity. Jesus made it abundantly clear that his life was mediated only through the Holy Spirit. …The superhuman work to which [we are] called demand[s] supernatural help – an endowment of power from on high.[2]

 

Those who live without the hope of things getting better express their depression by escaping from reality with any opportunity. The good life, based on the desire for the dulling of the senses, is the gone life.

 

The Prescription for Filling (Ephesians 5:19-21; Exodus 40:1-2, 9-10; 33-35; 2 Chronicles 5:13-14; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. 9 “And you shall take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it; and you shall hallow it and all its utensils, and it shall be holy. 10 You shall anoint the altar of the burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar. The altar shall be most holy.  (Exodus 40:1-2, 9-10)

What is the purpose of anointing the tabernacle and all of its utensils? It has the effect of setting it aside as holy. Even common things become sacred when they are anointed with oil with the intent of consecrating them.[3] Moses is setting the tabernacle aside exclusively for God’s service.

 

33 And he raised up the court all around the tabernacle and the altar, and hung up the screen of the court gate. So Moses finished the work. 34 Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  (Exodus 40:33-35)

God has responded to the dedication of the tabernacle by filling it with his glory. Notice that when the glory or goodness of God has filled the temple of God the flesh can no longer operate.[4]

 

1 So all the work that Solomon had done for the house of the Lord was finished; and Solomon brought in the things which his father David had dedicated: the silver and the gold and all the furnishings. And he put them in the treasuries of the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:1)

 

13 indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying:For He is good, For His mercy endures forever,” that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:13-14)

This sounds great. But how does it apply to us? More specifically, what does it have to do with being filled with the Holy Spirit. Everything! The dwelling place of the Spirit of God was a tent. Then it was upgraded to a stationary building. Finally it has been upgraded to being the body of the believer. This is what Jesus was referring to when he was discussing the miracle of raising the temple in three days.

13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” 18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” 19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.

His enemies thought that He was referring to the physical building surrounding them. However, the Lord Jesus was talking about His own body (John 2:13-22). After His baptism by John the Baptist Jesus received the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:13-17).

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (2 Corinthians 6:19-20)

The summons and sign of the Spirit’s filling is a yieldedness that is manifest in (1) the singing of spiritual songs, (2) saying thanks in all situations, and (3) submission to the saints in the name of the Savior.

 

Conclusion

The Provision and Power of the Holy Spirit: Saved (Ephesians 1:13)

God has provided his Holy Spirit to his children as a comfort to them in this world. The Spirit gives us the energy and inspiration to fulfill the high calling of the Christian life. Apart from receiving Christ as Savior there is no possibility of spirit filling; the gift of the indwelling Spirit is only for those who have made a decision to follow Jesus. Along with being declared righteous, the person that receives Jesus as their Lord and Savior also receives the Spirit to help them in the work of serving God and growing into the likeness of Christ. If you would like to experience the filling of the Holy Spirit you will have to begin with indwelling. How? By faith you can receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior and Lord. When you do you also receive the Holy Spirit.

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 whois the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

The Practice of Spirit Filling: Surrendered (Ephesians 5:15-21)

 

 



[1] The word is (NKJV) cannot be found in the underlying Greek text. While it makes the English translation easier to read it also adds specificity where the ambiguity of the passage was not unintended. Without the is the command is not tied to the present; it becomes a more general directive to understand the will of Jesus for all seasons historical, contemporary, and eschatological.

[2] Coleman, Robert, Master Plan of Evangelism, p. 56, 59.

[3] Consider the example found in the life of king Saul (1 Samuel 10:1-6; 24:6,10; 26:9, 11, 16, 23).

[4] In order to see that the glory of God is His goodness consider a few passages from the Pentateuch. Moses requests a view of the glory of God (Exodus 33:18). God responds by saying that He will make His “goodness pass before” Moses (Exodus 33:19). In fact, when the glory of God is declared it is “abounding in goodness” (Exodus 34:5-6). Paul asserts emphatically that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). While some would make the glory of God his intellect or power to create, based on these passages, it is His unmatched goodness. The angels do fly around the throne saying, “Intellectual! Intellectual! Intellectual!” They cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8)

Mar 25, 2015

Real Talk - When Diplomcay Fails 

Nehemiah 13 

At one point Nehemiah becomes unglued and decides that diplomcay is no longer an option.

 

Listen in on this Real Talk to learn about when diplomacy fails.

Feb 28, 2015

Question: How does what Jesus knows affect his behavior?

  • The knowledge of where he had come from and where he was going permeated Jesus’ thinking. Out of this mindset he was able to minister from the strength of a confidence in his relationship with God. Knowing that all things had been given into His hand and could not be taken away He ministers from a pure motive of love.
  • When we are unsure of our relationship with God we cannot serve with pure motives. Rather than give out of gratitude or serve out of love we attempt to compensate for our failing.
  • I preach not to be saved but rather because I am saved.

Question: What misconception does Peter have concerning leadership?

  • In Peter’s view, the outspoken representative of the motley crew of followers, the Lord is to be served. It is an offense to think that any Jew, much less the chosen one of God, would stoop to perform a duty that would normally be carried out only by slaves or by women of ill repute.
  • The Lord’s example counters the wrong view of Peter with an example of humility that would have been truly shocking.

Question: Where is my heart concerning the problem jobs and problem people?

  • Honestly, I serve when I believe that it is in the best interest of the program of the local church. I serve when it seems that there is something to be gained in appreciation from the people that I serve. Seldom do I serve in a way that truly gives all the glory to God with no thought of my own desires.

 

Message Text – John Chapter 13:1-20

Message Outline

Introduction - Fallen Condition Focus: Improving Our Serve

We hold service in contempt and positions of low visibility are regarded with disdain. The unsaid but obvious message is “Recognize me. Honor me and hold me in high regard. Promote me, praise me, and even worship me as God.” Although you are recoiling from the horror and vileness of such a thought… that is what my actions say. Although we claim that these are repugnant statements we claim, embrace, and promote them by our unwillingness to proactively pursue positions that are perceived poorly.

Heaven forbid that we should need to serve someone who has wronged us. May it never be that we would have to show humble kindness to people who have plotted and conspired to ensure our demise.

 

I.      The Decision for Demotion (13:1-4)

A.    Preparing the Reader (13:1)

i)            Time to Die (13:1a) – Now before the Feast of the Passover This is the Thursday of Passion week.

(1)                      The reader has been put on alert. This is the third Passover that has been mentioned in John’s account. (2:13, 23; 6:4) The readers that are familiar with the events commemorated by Passover would have in mind the lamb slaughtered by the Jews and how the blood of that lamb saved households from the judgment of God. They would also be reminded of the enigmatic statement made by John the Baptist: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.!” (John 1:29) John forces us to wonder, against our will, in what sense Jesus is the paradigmatic lamb.

(2)                      According to the Synoptics (Mark 14:12; Luke 22:15), Jesus and his disciples celebrated the Passover during the early hours of 15 Nisan (Thursday evening, with days beginning at sundown), with preparations having been made earlier that day, 14 Nisan, the day on which the paschal lambs were slaughtered at the temple (usually between 3:00 and 5:00 P.M. in modern measure).

(3)                      Using the Jewish way of accounting time Jesus is crucified on the same day that the lambs are slaughtered in the temple in preparation for Passover.

ii)          Time to Depart (13:1b) – when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father We are to see the material that unfolds next as somehow being the outworking of Jesus dealing with His eminent departure. The knowledge that His hour has come is catalytic.

iii)        Timeless Description (13:1c) – having loved His own who were in the world With this statement John summaries the previous chapters: Jesus loved these men. Without reference to the cultural idioms, colloquial sayings, or covenantal considerations John glorifies the Son. Will our epitaphs survive the age? Or will they become arcane and puzzling because they are hopelessly mired in dated religious activities instead of profound relationships. May I not be remembered as the man who got a patent for business intelligence drilldown technologies. May I not be remembered as the preacher who created compelling PowerPoint. May I not be remembered as the parent who taught his sons how to use a Java compiler. May I be remembered as the man who loved others.

iv)         Time Decision (13:1d) – He loved them to the end Hereby does the author prepare the reader for the acts recorded in the text that follows. With the aid of the lens of this introductory statement we are to view what comes as an expression of the Savior’s love for the disciples. John insists that we take notice of what Jesus does with his last moments. He seems to say, “Do not miss what Jesus does with his dying days.”

B.     Preparation of the Lead (13:2-5)

i)            The Problem (13:2a) – And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him It is important to the story that we know where Judas stands in his relationship to Jesus. Although he sits at the table eating with the Son of Man he has already received payment for betraying Jesus to his enemies. Although he sits in fellowship with the disciples he is in fact a devil.

 

ii)          The Provision (13:3) – Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, The knowledge of His position, his purpose, and his destiny was an enabling factor in what follows. John says you need to know that the events you are about to witness are the outworking of what Jesus knows.

 

iii)        The Puzzle (13:4) – rose from Supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.

 

(1)                      John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

(2)                      Philippians 2:5-8 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

II.    The Demonstration (13:5-11)

A.    Jesus’ Service is Proactive (13:5)

The service modeled by Jesus is not in response to someone begging for foot care but rather internally motivated by His great love. The matter has been placed in the hands of the Son of Man. (13:3)[2] When Jesus rises from the water of His own baptism the Father says, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Why? Look at His heart. Instead of skirting responsibilities Jesus goes after them motivated by His love for the Father and His love for His disciples.

B.     Jesus’ Service is Persistent (13:6-10)

i)            The Disturbance (John 13:6-8): Poor Peter is terribly disturbed by what He is seeing. His master, his teacher, his Lord has lowered himself to work that no self-respecting Jew would ever do. Against the emphatic protest of Peter the Lord presses on with His determination to serve.

 

ii)          The Determination (John 13:9-10) Do not be easily deterred by opposition to your proposition. Peter sensing Jesus’ reversing of their natural roles, asked why He, Peter’s Lord, should wash the feet of His servant Peter. In Peter’s question the word You is emphatic in the Greek. (σύμουνίπτειςτοὺςπόδας) Jesus said that later (after His death and resurrection) Peter would understand.

 

 

 

C.    Jesus’ Service is Positive (13:10-11)

 

i)            The Call for Confession (13:10) – Those who are bathed refers to those who have been washed with the word they have received and who will shortly experience the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. These people do not need to be bathed completely again. They are already clean. However, in our travels we do get dirty feet. The washing of the feet symbolizes our ongoing need to confess and forsake the sins that we have committed since our bathing.

 

ii)          The Condemnation of Unbelief (13:11) – The condemnation and corrupting sin in this passage is the sin of unbelief. In refusing to receive the words of Jesus the heart of Judas was prepared to receive the hideous, heinous, and horrible suggestion of betraying the innocent Lord of glory.

 

III.  The Discussion of the Demonstration (13:12-17)

 

A.    The Resurrection Condensed (13:12)

 

As a picture of crucifixion, resurrection and ascension to glory John provides a few words on what the Lord does after finishing the humiliating work of washing the feet of the disciples. Having finished the working of atoning for our sins, the Resurrected Lord put back on His garments of glory and ascended to where he was before. (Acts 1:9-11)

 

B.     The Rhetorical Question (13:12)

 

The question is asked with the aim of drawing the disciples into contemplation of the meaning and message of his most recent actions.

 

C.    The Right Confession (13:13)

 

To call Jesus Teacher and Lord was to agree with who He claimed to be. Through the Old Testament, testimony of John, the miracles, and the voice of the Father from heaven Jesus is proclaimed to be the Prophet that is to come into the world (John 6:14) and the King of Israel (John 12:34). Unlike the majority of people who had seen the signs and continued in unbelief the disciples had come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. (John 6:68-69; 11:27)

 

D.     The Real Consequence: Rightly Related Regardless of the Circumstance (13:14-17)

 

i)            The Disturbance (John 13:6-8): Poor Peter is terribly disturbed by what He is seeing. His master, his teacher, his Lord has lowered himself to work that no self-respecting Jew would ever do. Against the emphatic protest of Peter the Lord presses on with His determination to serve.

 

ii)          The Determination (John 13:9-10) Do not be easily deterred by opposition to your proposition. Peter sensing Jesus’ reversing of their natural roles, asked why He, Peter’s Lord, should wash the feet of His servant Peter. In Peter’s question the word You is emphatic in the Greek. (σύμουνίπτειςτοὺςπόδας) Jesus said that later (after His death and resurrection) Peter would understand.

 

 

Feb 28, 2015

Real Talk with Roderick

Don't Look Back

 

 

 

In His grip by His grace

 

Roderick

 

 

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