Vs. 25, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” Jesus is responding to Martha’s faith that one day Lazarus who had recently died will rise from the dead at the resurrection. We have an interesting situation where a very close family to Jesus loses their brother, Lazarus. We wonder why Jesus is not hurrying back to Bethany upon hearing of Lazarus’ death (vs. 6). But, we see that Jesus has a purpose for in this miracle of bringing Lazarus back from the dead. The longer they lingered finishing up what they were doing, the more people will be amazed (vs. 4). For Jesus to return so near to Jerusalem (vs. 18), it was a very dangerous move for the enemy had started plotting to find a way to arrest and kill Jesus (vs. 45-57). I can’t help but notice that God is in control of this situation. For example, Lazarus’ death would bring Jesus near to the enemy. The enemy would find ways to distort Jesus. And all of this would lead to Jesus being obedient to death on a cross. Jesus was not a victim, rather He conquered death and is literally the resurrection!
Regarding application…Emotions Are Good. Vs. 35, “Jesus wept.” Let’s face it…showing too much emotion is a sign of weakness. Crying is for babies. Being too happy is a bit unusual. Do you remember Tom Cruise’s interview with Oprah back in 2006, where he stood up on a couch with joy professing his love to Katie Holmes? That one incident of emotion almost derailed his career. People frown upon any type of extreme emotion. With an election year, if any of the Presidential candidates started weeping on live television, they probably wouldn’t stand a chance at the Presidency. In the Gospels, we see Jesus display emotions of anger, joy, weeping, etc. Emotions are good. God created us with emotions, that’s what makes us so unique amongst God’s other creations. Tomorrow is Sunday, many of you may be headed to church. I challenge you to have a bit more emotion in your soul! Sing unto the Lord with joy!
Vs. 7, “Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.” I’ve never met a real Shepard or seen a flock of sheep out in the open. During Jesus’ day, the comparison of a Shepard and sheep would have been something the audience could definitely understand. If Jesus lived during the Wild West in the 19th century, perhaps he would have used Cowboys and cows instead. However, the meaning behind the Shepard and sheep is quite clear. Jesus is the Shepard and we are the sheep (vs. 1-21). The sheep are so valuable to the Shepard, the Shepard is willing to die for the sheep. What was stumping the unbelieving wasn’t the analogy, but Jesus’ claim that He was the Son of God and therefore the Shepard of His people. It’s just a stark reminder that not all will believe not matter what you say or do (vs. 22-42). A couple of months later, the unbelieving Jews still could not get over Jesus’ claim of who He was (vs. 33).
Regarding application…Do You Believe? Vs. 42, “And in that place many believed in Jesus.” When I think of believing in Jesus, my mind tends to envision the moment of salvation. But I believe this belief in Jesus goes far beyond time when we first put our faith in the hands of the Lord. Question: Why is the Christian life so hard? We can throw out things like persecution, hatred for Christians, the enemies flaming arrows, our human sin nature, etc. None of those are incorrect, but I personally feel that the core of the issue is making a deliberate decision to believe each day. Jesus did not say take up the cross once, he said daily (Luke 9:23). Taking up the cross is equivalent to believing each day. Question: Do you believe? If so, what are you doing about it? This call to believing is not expecting you to be perfect by any means. But God is honored by the heart’s intention. When we believe we are surrendering our will. Brothers & Sisters in Christ, let’s believe today and not be a person who does not know the Shepard’s voice.
Vs. 39, “Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Question: Why God? Why was this blind man basically blind since birth (vs. 2)? It was common belief during that time that if you had any sort of handicap, you or your parents must have done something terrible to have such an infirmity. While it is true that we are born in sin, sometimes bad things happen simply for the glory of God. Think of our Old Testament example in Job. It’s interesting to note how Jesus varied in the ways He administered miracles (vs. 6). Some biblical scholars hypothesize the methods were used so that people wouldn’t point at the method, but rather the person who did it. Of course, where the work of God is, the enemy is close behind (vs. 13-34). The Pharisee’s were looking for any excuse to further their campaign to silence and even kill Jesus. Their interrogation of the healed blind man and his parents are nothing more than bullying. I love how Jesus comes back to help to answer the big question about who He is and the man came to salvation (vs. 35-41).
Regarding application…Power of a Testimony. Vs. 3, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” Think about it, this blind man had never seen in his entire life! I’m sure we can deduce that he probably asked the question “Why God?” numerous times. From a human perspective, it doesn’t always make sense. But God had a very specific purpose for this man to not only bring salvation to him, but that others would bring glory to God of his healing. The power of a testimony should never be understated. Testimonies can determine if a man is innocent or guilty in a court of law. Testimonies can help determine whether God is real or just a figment of our imagination. Your life is a testimony to others so that God might be displayed. It’s an incredible privilege, but one we take for granted too often. Question: Have you ever given a testimony of your faith to others? It’s always a good thing to have your salvation testimony ready. But besides the salvation testimony, you have an opportunity everyday to testify about the love God has for you and this world! Let’s testify His love!
Vs. 32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” For those who walk in darkness, hearing the truth hurts. The other day, we were reminded how Jesus brings tests in our lives. When the Pharisee’s brought the woman caught in adultery, we are reminded the enemy also brings his own tests to us (vs. 1-11). Jesus masterfully handles it by posing a question regarding their own self-righteousness (vs. 7). Though Jesus is sharing how He is the light (vs. 12), those who heard were still following the light of the law. In Jesus’ response to His accusers, we see a beautiful picture of the relationship the Son has with the Father (vs. 12-30). Despite the evil intentions of some, notice how others were putting their faith in Jesus (vs. 30). This just reminds me how we must not grow discouraged by those who have no mind for the Lord. People cannot put their security in their families or the traditions of their lives (vs. 31-41). I find myself always surprised, yet encouraged by how Jesus does not pull any punches when it comes to saying what needs to be said (vs. 42-47). Even at the risk of death, Jesus stands His ground (vs. 48-59).
Regarding application…How’s Your Hearing? Vs. 47, “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” Yikes! In fact, Jesus calls them children of the devil (vs. 44). Yet, despite the fact that they heard what Jesus said, they really didn’t hear. Their spiritual ears were deaf. Question: How are your ears? I think we all could use some spiritual hearing aids to let the words of Christ cut deep into our souls. One of the dangers we can do to ourselves when reading Scripture is thinking that these particular events do not apply to us. If they didn’t apply to us, then we wouldn’t be reading about it. These have been hand selected by the Father in Heaven to ensure we are without excuse when it comes to knowing how to live this life. Part of communicating is listening/hearing. Let’s be people who are “doers” of God’s word! What road are you headed down? Jesus reminded us today, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” It doesn’t mean you won’t ever sin, but it does mean that you are going to make the effort to hear the voice of the Shepherd and turn from the road you are currently on. Follow His voice! Hear His voice!
Vs. 1, “After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life.” Question: Why were the Jews trying to kill Jesus? Because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath (John 5:18) and by now had been in public ministry for nearly three years. It was that time of the year for the Feast of Tabernacles celebrating the 40 year trek out of Egypt in tents and remembering how God provided for them. In this chapter, we learn that there is a time for everything. Jesus’ time was on God’s timing, not from a logical human perspective (vs. 6). Jesus ends up going to the Temple during the middle of the Feast and starts to teach (vs. 14-44). Jesus uses this opportune moment to inform them that He is the living water (vs. 38) and one day the Holy Spirit will flow within us. While many rejected Jesus, it’s wonderful to see that there were those professed with faith who Jesus was (vs. 41). Just like today, there was/is controversy when it comes to who Jesus really is.
Regarding application…Judging Appearances. Vs. 24, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” We are told in the Bible there was nothing about Jesus that would have made him stand out physically (Isaiah 53:2). People were unimpressed to say the least about who Jesus was. From a worldly perspective, we want our leaders to be tall, charismatic, good-looking, outgoing, etc. I don’t need to share studies and statistics for us to realize we judge the appearance of people wrongly. Question: How are you doing with judging on the outside appearance? When I used to work at the bank, people would demand to speak to the manger and I would always surprise them when I would say, “I am the manager.” When I first started Youth Pastoring in my early twenties, one of the parents came up to pick up their son and started talking to one of the other students thinking they were the Youth Pastor. He always dressed up very GQ like. I on the other-hand was wearing athletic clothes having just played bastketball with some of the students. Let’s not fall into the trap of being too quick to judge the appearance of a person. First impressions should not be the standard of how we look at people.
Vs. 35, “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” By this time in Jesus’ ministry, many were flocking to Jesus for all sorts of reasons (miracles, curiosity, perhaps to accuse, etc.) In our chapter today, 5000 men not including women and children came and so Jesus felt compelled to try to at least feed them (vs. 1-15). Yet, Jesus would instruct them to go to the other side of the lake (vs. 16-17). Question: Why? There was a huge opportunity to share God’s love, why would Jesus leave so many? Because Jesus knew the intention of many in the crowd. They did not want a Savior for the right reason. They intended to make Jesus their leader to rebel against the Romans. Jesus leaves and catches up with the disciples as he walks on water (vs. 19). But the crowds are persistent and they catch up with Jesus (vs. 25). Jesus uses this opportunity to speak truthfully about who He is and what their intention was (vs. 25-59). Something I share often, but needs to be said again…Jesus is not impressed with numbers. Speaking the truth about who He was actually made those who were supposed disciples leave Jesus (vs. 66).
Regarding application…Jesus Tests Us. Vs. 6, “He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.” Very few people like to takes tests, but this test that Jesus gave to Philip probably happens far more often than we realize. Philip was looking at this feeding of thousands from a human perspective. It’s impossible. This reminds me of when Luke Skywalker tried to get his x-wing fighter out of the swamps of Yoda’s home. Jesus is in the business of doing miracles and while they may not be as grandiose as multiplying fish and loaves, they happen everyday. Question: What kind of tests is Jesus giving you today? What doubts are stirring in your mind? Let’s strive to pass the test of faith that is before our lives. Don’t worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6), just think of something in your life today that needs to be handed over to Jesus. Pray about it and let’s get an “A” today!
Vs. 16, “So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him.” Question: What was Jesus doing in Jerusalem? He was celebrating one of the Jewish feasts called Pentecost (Remembering when the Law was first given). It’s actually pretty cool to think how Jesus recognized such important events just as we put importance to events in our own lives like retreats or revivals. While in Jerusalem, visiting the temple, Jesus comes across a paralytic at the pool of Bethesda who He heals by commanding him to take his mat (vs. 1-15). Many would flock to this pool because it was believed to have healing power (like hot springs of our day). Jesus saved this man by grace just as He offers healing to us. Notice how Jesus tells the man to stop sinning and living the way he used to (vs. 14). However, because Jesus healed this man on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders started to accuse Him. How sad that they were so blind to the very person that came to save them. Jesus goes on to share how there is never a day where God isn’t at work for us (vs. 17). Jesus is working here on earth on behalf of the Father and has been given the power from the Father (vs. 19). We take this truth for granted, but it’s very important because these truths bring us to the point where we can believe with faith (vs. 24). Jesus is testifying about himself, but does not need to. For our sake, God sent people like John the Baptist to help us see who Jesus was. He does the same for us today too. When we don’t believe in faith and respond in faith, we have no excuse.
Regarding application…Refusing Jesus. Vs. 40, “…yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” Question: Jesus isn’t talking to me, right? Don’t be too quick to pat yourself on the back because you go to church. Just because you acknowledge Jesus as God’s son, great…even Satan admits to this. When we choose to fall into the trap of wanting and loving our own lives, we refuse Jesus. Just a couple of chapters ago, John the Baptist told us we must become less. I reminded the youth today of the importance of less is better. There are so many things that we want in this life. But we can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t love both God and money (Luke 16), yet when we choose go down any path other than Jesus, we are refusing him. I know it’s hard to admit to such a thing. We want to rationalize our decision making and desires, yet still feel like we can have Jesus. It’s flu season and many get sick this time of the year. It’s time for us to put the thermometer to our heart and check our temperature. Are we too hot for the world? Let’s take the time turn to Jesus each day this week! Only He can change your heart!
Vs. 27, “Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Jesus’ disciples were undoubtedly confused, for they would learn much more as they made their journey with Jesus. While they had gone into town to buy food (vs. 8), Jesus was drawing water Jacob’s well in Samaria (vs. 1-26). Question: What is the significance of this passage? There are a couple of things to note. First, Jesus and the disciple’s made the decision to travel directly through Samaria to get to Galilee. Samaria was in between Judea and Galilee. Many would travel around just to avoid Samaria. Why? Because they were half-breeds. When the Assyrians invaded Israel (ten tribes) in the north, there were some Jews that were left in the land. The Assyrians and Jews proceeded to intermarry and for hundreds of years they had descendants who were not full Jewish. They were despised and rejected. Second thing to note, Jesus was also talking to a woman at Jacob’s well. In society at that time, it was not customary for a man to speak to woman, much less a Samaritan woman. But Jesus would share with this woman of the need for living water. And a beautiful story would unfold of forgiveness, redemption, salvation and witnessing to a whole town (vs. 27-43)! The apostle John records the second miracle of Jesus in Cana, only this time instead of a wedding it is a request for a son on his deathbed (vs. 43-54). Biblical scholars have differing views on the faith of this father, but the end result is Jesus healed the boy and the whole household came into salvation!
Regarding application…Power of Testimony. Vs. 39, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” This Samaritan woman could have kept this to herself. But the joy that filled her heart was contagious! I think it’s safe to say we underestimate the power of one testimony. Her testimony would bring salvation to her whole town! She didn’t need to know all the fancy theology or knowledge, her joy was just to share what Jesus had done for her. Note how she then brought them to Jesus. We have the same task. We don’t have to know everything about the deep things of God to bring others to salvation. We have the privilege to bring our unbelieving friends to Jesus too. Question: How? The local church! Let’s have that contagious joy to share our faith and testimony to a world that is so thirsty for love! Invite a friend to church this weekend!
Vs. 3, “In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Question: How can you be born again? You see, the real miracle happens everyday. The miracle of belief! Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus is a lesson for many of us today (vs. 1-21). Nicodemus came to Jesus in darkness and we also come to him first in spiritual darkness. Nicodemus grew up knowing about God, but was not born again. Many also start out this way. Of course, one of the most beloved passages in the Bible is here in our reading today, John 3:16. And then we have John the apostle giving us some insight on John the Baptist supporting and testifying as to who Jesus was (vs. 22-36). It’s important to see how John the Baptist continued to support Jesus. Remember, when John and Jesus first met? John leapt in his mother’s womb when Elizabeth was next to Mary (Luke 1:41).
Regarding application. It’s Not About Me. Vs. 30, “He must become greater; I must become less.” We expect Jesus to say and do the right things. After all, He is part of the Triune God! But when a mere man like John the Baptist can have such incredible insight, it gives me hope! Hope because it is possible! Hope because John’s belief in Jesus sets an example for all of us. Those who assisted John did not understand this (vs. 25). We live in a world where self-promotion is king. Kobe Bryant recently was ranked by ESPN as the 7th best player in the NBA. That didn’t set well for Bryant and even at the detriment of his own team, he stated he deserved to have the ball as many times as he wanted. It’s important to note, Kobe has two All-Star big men that he could feed the ball to in Gasol and Bynum, but it’s not about them, it’s about him. I don’t know Kobe, but his actions are an example of most of us who live this life. It’s about me. John the Baptist could have had resentment towards Jesus, but understood his role in the story of salvation. Question: Do you know your role? No matter what role we play, whether big or small, Jesus must become greater!
Vs. 11, “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” Question: Why would turning water to wine be Jesus’ first miracle (vs. 1-11)? First off, remember that this was a wedding (vs. 1). Just like in our society today, weddings were huge celebrations! And don’t forget, the picture of a wedding relationship is how Yahweh and Israel were and now how we the church and Jesus are. Some believe Mary might have been the host of the wedding and therefore that was why she was concerned. Other believe Nathaniel was the one who invited them. Jesus’ response to Mary was not referring to the wedding, but to the time when He would fulfill the prophecies through the cross. Notice how many at the wedding did not know where this new wine came from (vs. 9). It was for a select group of people to help them realize who Jesus really was. We then proceed to the first temple clearing (vs. 12-16). Question: Why did Jesus clear the temple out? Greed. The priests were corrupt and rejecting animal sacrifices by the people because of declared blemishes and then selling supposed unblemished animals at outrageous prices. And then lastly, Jesus refers to the temple being destroyed and rebuilt in three days (vs. 18-22).
Regarding application…Calling Others Out. Vs. 16, “To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” That’s what I’m talking about! Whoo-rah! Go Jesus! We build up this misconception about Jesus. Jesus is not to be pushed around, but Jesus isn’t in some unrighteous rage either. There is such a thing as Godly anger. The application for us today is not to sit idly by with no care about how others act in the fellowship of God’s people. We build up this attitude that it’s not our place to say anything. Brothers & Sisters, we are to sharpen each other (Proverbs 27:17) and have a certain accountability in respecting God. Stand up for what is right. Stand up for giving respect to our God, especially in the church! Question: Will you have the courage to stand up and not be like others? Will you have the courage to call others out? And remember, we do so out of love and respect for God and others. So, let’s be more sensitive to a world that makes us desensitized.