Vs. 8, “Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Once again, we read of another miracle…Jesus would come upon a man who was lame for 38 years! In this case, (vs. 14)…this ailment looks like it was a result of sin. In this picture of pool of Bethesda , we see a picture of us all…unable to do anything without the work of Christ! Interestingly enough, Bethesda means “house of grace”…for we see a miracle of salvation by Grace, not by works! And then we see the Jews attacking Jesus for working on the Sabbath…their hearts are so hard, they can’t even see the truth before their very eyes (vs. 44). We see Jesus explain to them His Sonship and relationship to the Father. All things pointed to Christ…John the Baptist, Old Testament Scripture, Moses, etc…but their hearts were still hard.
Regarding application…We Must Testify. Vs. 31, “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid.” Though Jesus’ testimony about Himself was true, under Jewish law one’s self-testimony was not admissible in legal proceedings. That is why the Father would accommodate us by having the testimony of John the Baptist (vs. 33)…yet, it was out of His grace that we would be accommodated in such a way (vs. 34). The application point is this: We must testify about Christ! Just as John the Baptist testified the first coming of Christ, we must be testifying the “Good News” and the fact that Jesus is coming a second time. We are all challenged to testify Christ and take the time to bring someone to church for Good Friday!
Vs. 23, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” This section of Scripture is often preached and rightly so. Jesus crosses paths with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well in Sychar. Now remember, a Samaritan was mix of Jew & Gentile…(I think it’s safe to say the ramifications of that is obvious). Yet, Jesus would show us that there is no favoritism with God. Though the woman did not initially know who Jesus was, He would reveal Himself to her. And this woman, would bring many others to Christ that day (Vs. 39)! We also read of Jesus’ second miraculous event in the healing of the Official’s son, showing us that salvation is by faith!
Regarding application…Miracles. Vs. 48, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” Jesus did not have to do one miracle to prove He was the Son of God, but He did it because of our lack of faith. And don’t ever forget, the enemy (satan) can also do miraculous signs as well. If our salvation is based off of miracles or the supernatural, than we are walking on shaky ground. An unbelieving people demand signs and wonders…that is why we must be very careful about such things. We are saved by faith not by signs or wonders. It is faith in Jesus (the Word) that brings us salvation and all the credentials we need to know that He is the Lord!
Vs. 16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This is probably one the most important chapters in John’s Gospel, for it deals with the topic of the new birth. Nicodemus was a good and religous man…one of the leaders of the Jews, yet did not comprehend what Jesus was saying. It shows us that being a good person does not save us alone. Some people confuse vs. 5 (born of water) as literally believing all saved people must be baptized by water…if that were the case, no one would be saved in the Old Testament and Jesus would have made an exception for the theif on the cross. Theologians believe the water refers to our physical birth. While Jesus died for us, we must still take the leap of faith to believe. We also see John the Baptist have to help explain the misunderstanding of who this Jesus really was.
Regarding application…He Lives, We Die. Vs. 30, “He must become greater; I must become less.” Jesus died so we can live…we die so He can live in us. I love this powerful statement from John the Baptist! It’s truly humbling when we think about how simple this life can be when we choose to become less. There are many things that I would still love to do…Travel the world, be a missionary, be a Orphanage Director, be a praise leader, learn many languages, get more degrees, have a huge family, etc. But, after all is said and done…all we can do is trust in the Lord and follow the spiritual road to Godliness…No my will, but Yours be done. If God desires to bless me, Praise the Lord…just remember that blessings aren’t always easy things to receive!
Vs. 11, “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” Some people believe Jesus performed miracles as a boy, but this pretty much refutes that notion. The wedding feast is picture of the nation Israel…the wine (joy) ran out and the people needed help. Jesus will one day bring the “joy” back to His people. While He is the man of sorrows, Jesus is also about joy. We read of the first cleansing of the temple as Jesus sees them making the Father’s house a market…the second time Jesus cleansed the temple, he would refer to it as a den of thieves. Jesus would point out to the death and resurrection…as the Jews demanded proof of his claims.
Regarding application…Spiritual Blindness. Vs. 18, “Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Their challenge insinuates they understood the gravity of Jesus’ claim as the Messiah…they wanted miraculous signs. Jesus would go on to do many physical & spiritual signs yet they would continue to be blind. When Jesus referred to the temple, of course he was talking about Himself. This proves to us that while miracles and sign gifts can help…they alone will not save! Truly we are blessed to believe and yet do not see. To demand a sign I believe shows a lack of faith…it is the peace that transcends all understanding that helps us have the spiritual insight we need to know God & His will!
The overriding theme of John’s Gospel is this: Jesus is the Son of God! Throughout, we see John showing us the different signs to prove Jesus’ ministry and claims. While the first three Gospels deal a bit more in the events of Jesus’ life…John focuses more on the spiritual meanings of these particular events. John is known for recording the seven “I AM’s” of Christ. John also deals with the conflict of faith vs. unbelief…throughout we will observe many who refuse the truth, but also some who accept it with faith.
Vs. 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Ahhh…a great beginning that mirrors the Genesis beginning of creation. Everything that exists today is because of God’s Word. The Bible is the written Word of God and Christ is the living incarnate Word of God. When God created light unto the world, we are reminded that Jesus is the true light (Vs. 4-13). Jesus came as our Savior…Jesus came as our Master & Leader….And ultimately, Jesus came as our King. Question: Who is the king of your life, today?
Regarding application…Underestimating. Vs. 46, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.” Wow…talk about a big time example of underestimating! I think by and large…we don’t realize how often we underestimate things in this life that we live. I am reminded of the movie “The Empire Strikes Back”…and in this section…Luke goes to the Degobah system to seek out Yoda. When he arrives, his X-Wing plane crashes into the swamps. At some point in Luke’s training with Yoda, Luke receives visions of his friends going through trials and decides he needs to leave. But the X-Wing plane is still stuck deep in the swamp. Luke tries with his feeble attempts with “force” to will it out, but his unsuccessful. Little green Yoda comes up and sticks out his little green arm and all of the sudden the X-Wing plane floats out of the swamp and back unto land. Luke looks in amazement (because he had underestimated Yoda).
I think we do that all too often with God. We look at the situations around us and immediately doubt and underesitmate the power of God, the power of prayer, the power of unity, the power of love, etc. We don’t truly believe that God could possibly convenve and make an impossible situation work out for the good. But just like Philip, we need to be people who say, “Come and see”….come and see anyway…even if you doubt Christ, if you doubt the church, if you doubt certain circumstances. This coming Good Friday…we do the same…”Come and see” to our friends and those who are lost!
Vs. 45, “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” What a great reminder of what Jesus does for us when we read the Bible! On the Road to Emmaus, Cleopas and his companion were two disappointed men….why? Because they lacked the knowledge of His word…that the Messiah also had to suffer. They didn’t realize that suffering had to come before glory. They would go from discouraged to professing believers excited to tell all about Jesus! As Jesus visits His disciples, they are notably frightened…why? Because they had forgotten His words of resurrection. The reoccuring theme is forgetting or not knowing His word. But once we know it…we must share it (Vs. 48).
Regarding application…Dealing With Doubt. Vs. 38, “He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?” Jesus was not using this moment to rebuke, but rather to reassure! I think we all would have been astonished and wondered if we were really seeing Jesus after we knew of His death. I believe the enemy uses the arrows of doubt more often than we realize. Sometimes we get discouraged when we doubt and that’s exactly what the enemy is intending. What is the opposite of doubt? Perhaps Faith. And remember what Jesus said how much faith we need to move mountains….a tiny mustard seed.
Vs. 21, “But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” This was a travesty regarding the unjust trial of our Lord. The Jews were persistently evil with their endeavor to have Jesus punished to the full amount. Pilate was a pawn as he did not have the courage to stand up against the people. Jesus stands silent knowing that ultimately it was the will of the Father, not the people who would have Jesus crucified for our sins. Jesus could have called leagues of Angels to rescue Him, but chose to die on His terms. To be crucified was a horrible and inhumane punishment, but this was only the scratching of the surface of what Jesus truly did…He became sin so that could become the righteousness of God.
Regarding application…Desearving. Vs. 41, “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” We live in a privildged society and often have a sense of entitlement. We all have the right for life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, right? But in actuality…none of us are desearving any more or less than the two criminals next to Jesus. None of us are righteous not one, we all fall short of the glory of God as we are reminded in Romans. I don’t think it’s about needing to eat “Humble Pie” to help us…it’s about just realizing where we truly fall under the judgment of God. Yet, it is because of the cross that any of us are living & breathing today. None of us are desearving…but all of us are loved and given the chance to love as He first loved us.
Vs. 3, “Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.” This was not just the fault of the Jewish leaders or Judas Iscariot…it was a spiritual battle in which the enemy made his move. Please note: Remember…It is not possbile for Believers to be possessed by Satan. This was a cowardly and evil move by Judas. But the focus here is not on Judas, but Jesus. From the Last Supper, prayer on the Mount of Olives, Jesus arrested, etc…it begins the road of true suffering. It’s amazing to see Jesus’ patience and care in his love to others and obedience to the Father. Satan tried to defeat Jesus with Judas, at the Last Supper with Peter, in the garden and in the courts. But Jesus would conquer it all and more!
Regarding application…Not My Will. Vs. 42, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus came to the Garden not to find out what God’s will or necessarily change it…rather, Jesus came to surrender to God’s will. There have been tons of books that have focused on determining the Will of God. There are all sorts of theories and interpretations…but when it comes down to it, Jesus gave us the answer. In one of my dearest passasges, this is the prayer that we all should pray daily in our lives. When you walk in God’s will, there is a peace that transcends all understanding. Deep down, we know when we are doing something selfishly rather than sacrificially. God’s will is that we walk with Him, read His word, pray, love others, etc. It isn’t as hard as we sometimes make it (as least in determining God’s will)…of course, it’s the most difficult thing to do when we surrender to it!
Vs. 33, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Amen! Before Jesus goes on to reponsd to everyone’s adoration of the beauty of God’s temple, we are reminded of the woman who gave just two copper coins. It seemed a pitiful amount of money compared to what many other tithed, but Jesus shows us that whether we are poor or rich, we must still give. God doesn’t need our money, but giving with a right heart gives Him glory. Going back to the temple and Jesus’ sharing of what would happen…remember that they had made it a den of theives (Temple). Jesus would prophecy of two events in the signs of the end of age…the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the End times. We must all remember to have that eternal perspective when it comes to life.
Regarding application…Spirit Led. Vs. 15, “For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” Jesus would fulfilll this promise in the book of Acts as He gives Peter, Stephen & Paul the words they need to share His truths! Isn’t that great? When we are in times of distress and trouble, the Lord will give us the words & wisdom we need! Whether we stand up against our enemies or share the Word of the Lord, God will direct us! Whether sharing His words by Facebook updates, preaching, teaching, or just talking with others…we all can pray that we surrender ourselves so it would be His words and not ours. I rememeber a time when I was about 23 years old, I was talking with a fellow Korean adoptee from the Holt Adoption camp and he was conversing with me about the Christianity. He didn’t believe in God and was asking me questions to challenge me and see if I could answer them correctly. We had been talking for about 1/2 hour and finally…I actually got a smile from him. After conversing with him and trying to share my viewpoints…I realized that it wasn’t about me proving to him I could convince him. It was as if the Spirit was telling me, “FAITH”…and it was then that I shared Hebrews 11 about a faith that we cannot see. I was not that well versed yet with the Bible (I had only finished my freshman year at Multnomah)…but God gave me the insight & words I needed to help share with this friend why I believed in what I did.
Vs. 2, “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” The Jewish leaders were trying to do whatever they could to trap Jesus and have him arrested. Unfortunately, Judas Iscariot would help them later solve that problem. The parable of the Tenants is actually based on Isaiah 5:1-7 and Psalm 80, and the leaders would full well know what Jesus was talking about. We see God’s patience and multiple chances to repent through the Living Word and those who came to preach the coming Messiah. Then they thought they would trap (Remember Satan’s traps) Jesus again with their supposedly clever challenge about paying taxes to Caesar. The marriage issue originated from the Sadducees who did not believe in resurrection or the spiritual realm.
Regarding application…Financial Issues. Vs. 25, “…He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” We live in a time of finanical struggles…Home values have plummted and we and we are still in a recession….people lost, stock markets down, prices of goods up, etc. Two thngs to be mindful of…#1: don’t give up your tithing & offerings to the Lord. Now more than ever, the church needs your support to continue being a light to the world. #2: pay your taxes without complaint. While most of you don’t yet pay taxes…it is and always will be an issue. On average…you pay 30-35 cents on the dollar to the Federal & state Government. We give to Caesar what is Ceasar’s. I made the folly early on in my early twenties of not tithing and offering because I justified it by saying I was too poor…when in reality…I was too selfish. Whether we give to God or Government…we must give with obedience and joy.