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Jul 13, 2016

Three Rivers Spring Break 2016

We got away from the daily grind to hang out in Leakey, Texas. There was fishing, battles with snakes, time in the word, good meals, and some hiking.

Many thanks to Steven Marron, Rob Hollis, and Col (Ret.) Mike DeBow for teaching. Also, many thanks to Toni Timmons and Brady Buchanan for helping with the youth. Finally, thanks goes out to Mary Alice DeBow for helping to make sense of fellowship schedules and meals.

In His grip by His grace,

Roderick L. Barnes, Sr.

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.


       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.





               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 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 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.


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 


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 


Apr 5, 2015

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




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.



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)

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