John 10

Vs. 11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  Jesus brings up a well-known picture of the shepherd and his sheep.  It is wintertime during the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) and Jesus is teaching at the temple.  The Old Testament is rich in teaching that God is the shepherd of Israel (Genesis 49:24, Psalm 23, Isaiah 40:10-11).  It’s also noteworthy to mention that both Moses and David were shepherds.  The Feast of Dedication remembered the cleansing and restoration of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus (165 B.C.).  Because of the lack of spiritual shepherds at that time, Jesus uses this as an example in the present to share the shepherd/sheep illustration (vs. 1-21).  In this figure of speech (vs. 6), John shares the third I AM statement that Jesus is the gate (vs. 7) as well as the good shepherd (vs. 11).  The reality was, there were also bad shepherds who would lead their sheep astray or not be willing to die for their sheep.  Once again the crowds around Jesus are divided concerning who they think He is (vs. 19-21).  In the latter half of our chapter (vs. 22-42), the Jewish leaders demand Jesus tells them who He is.  Jesus gives a beautiful explanation concerning the true sheep and how they will always be protected (vs. 25-30).  They are furious now because they accuse Jesus of blasphemy (dishonoring God) by claiming to be God (vs. 33).  Jesus’ response (vs. 34-38) helps to answer their inquiry, but at this point they are ready to seize Him (vs. 39).   Jesus escapes and goes to the Jordan where John the Baptist had been and ministers to many there (vs. 40-42).

Regarding application…Shepherd’s Voice.  Vs. 27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  Question: Do you know the Shepherd’s voice?  Being a dog owner, I appreciate this illustration.  My dog Frankie knows my voice.  It’s really funny when we are watching family video’s and my voice comes up on the television.  Frankie is confused because he hears my voice but know I’m not physically speaking.  He’ll cock his head left and right and get really confused.  Dogs are intelligent animals, much smarter then sheep.  Regardless, if animals can recognize their master’s voices, how much more should we know Jesus’ voice?  One of the questions I have been asked repeatedly over the years of ministry is, “How do I know where God is leading me?”  One of the first things I start with is asking them about their walk with the Lord.  If you do not know God’s word and read it, then you will not know His voice.

John 9

Vs. 2, “His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  What an appropriate opportunity Jesus has to prove that He is the light of the world (John 8:12) by healing a blind man (vs. 1-12)!  Healing the blind was one of Jesus’ signature miracles as it is recorded numerous times in the Gospel’s.  In this particular case, this man was blind since birth and must have been well known in the community.  Yet, this particular healing was not the cause of any direct sin of the blind man or his parents (vs. 3).  This only led to more awe and wonder which was its intended purpose.  However, the Pharisees not only wanted to question the validity of the healed blind man, but they were concerned that it happened on the Sabbath (vs. 13-34).  How ironic that they were the ones who were blind.  They couldn’t see past their own man-made traditions.  They questioned witnesses, the blind man’s parents and the blind man only to throw him out of the synagogue.  In a touching scene, Jesus returns to the healed blind man to now restore his spiritual blindness (vs. 35-41).

Regarding application…Spiritual Blindness.  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.”  Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  However, those who are lost and remain spiritually blind will be condemned.  The Pharisees thought they could see, but their hardened hearts made them blind.  Serving the church all these years, it has always perplexed me why some choose to live in their blindness.  Like the Pharisees attitude, they scoff at the church and call us narrow-minded.  They look at Christians as hypocrites who justify their actions by coming to church.  But, let us not grow discouraged for we know that Jesus did not give up in making every effort to love those who were blind physically and spiritually.  As we start a new week, let us find encouragement in the power the Lord to love and live in the light of Jesus!

John 8

Vs. 3, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group.”  The first section of our passage (vs. 1-11) has been debated by scholars whether or not John the Apostle wrote this account.  Nevertheless, we entrust that the Lord ensured we have this part of Jesus’ life recorded.  It’s a fitting story as it juxtaposes the false judgment of the Jewish leaders to Jesus revealing the truth of their own sins.  We see a beautiful picture of Jesus’ ability to forgive!  In our next section (vs. 12-20), John now reveals Jesus’ second “I AM” statement that Jesus is the light of the world.  It is reminiscent of God being a pillar of fire by night and also fulfills a prophecy from Zechariah (14:7).  Jesus goes on to remind them that He will not always be with them (vs. 21-30).  There is always a sense of urgency throughout Scripture to put our trust in the Lord now!  In our last section (vs. 31-59), Jesus engages in a lively discussion with those who supposedly believed in Him.  While they initially claim belief, Jesus goes on to share the deep truths of faith and understanding.  However, they are not ready to accept the fact that they need to be set free (vs. 31-41).  Little did they realize that simply being Abraham’s descendants was not enough.  Their incorrect understanding did not come from above, but from the devil (vs. 42-47).  They did the seemingly unthinkable by accusing Jesus with hateful words and committed blasphemy (vs. 48-59).  Though they intended to kill Jesus, it not time to die yet.

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!

John 7

Vs. 1, “After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life.”  Jesus’ headquarters were in Galilee because it was just to volatile for Jesus to base His ministry in Judea.  By now in Jesus’ ministry, He had pretty much offended a good majority of the Jewish leaders.  It was that time of the year for the Feast of Tabernacles celebrating the forty year journey out of Egypt in tents and remembering how God provided for them.  We are reminded that here is a right time for everything (vs. 1-13).  Jesus’ time was on God’s timing, not from His own desires.  Jesus does end up going to the Temple during the middle of the Feast and begins to teach (vs. 14-44).  At this point, there were three major groups that are presented: Jewish leaders, the crowds that traveled to Jerusalem, and the locals who resided in Jerusalem.  Jesus uses this opportunity to dramatically reveal that He is the Living Water (vs. 38).  While many rejected Jesus (vs. 41-52), it’s wonderful to see that there were those professed their faith.  The controversy over who Jesus is has continued to confound the hard-hearted even today.

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 people on the outside appearance? 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.

John 6

Vs. 4, “The Jewish Passover Feast was near.”  Again we see events that surround one of the festivals that are drawing near.  Some time has passed and John now takes an opportunity use one of Jesus’ miracles and teachings to compare and contrast the Passover festival.  The feeding of the five thousand (vs. 1-15) reminds us of how God provided manna during the Exodus.  John gives us additional insight as we see Jesus testing Philip (vs. 5-7).  Jesus’ walking on water (vs. 16-24) reminds us also of the water miracle with the crossing of the Red Sea after Passover.  Having arrived in the headquarters at Capernaum, Jesus uses an opportunity to further teach that He is the Bread of Life (vs. 25-35) the first of the great I AM statements.  Jesus’ teaching highlights the process of how we come to salvation one that involves God’s sovereignty, yet also our free will (vs. 36-40).  However, this was very difficult for many to hear and understand so they grumbled (vs. 41-51).   Jesus continued to share truth in love as He revealed more about how we come to the Father.  Jesus use of eating flesh (51-59) confounded the Jews as the imagery of who Jesus is was too much for them to handle.   Only through the body (bread) and the sacrifice (flesh and blood) can we find eternal life.  Sadly, for many, this hard teaching would draw many so-called disiples to desert Jesus (vs. 60-71).  This chapter teaches us about incredibly deep things of God.  May we be like Peter who simply realized that there was no better place to be than with Jesus (vs. 68-69).

Regarding application…Right Reasons.  Vs. 26, “Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”  The crowds followed Jesus all the way to the other side of the Sea.  However, their intentions were not right.  Ironically, they were looking for Jesus to provide for them, but what they sought was not what they really needed.  Question: I wonder how often we are guilty of the same thing?  We come to church looking for provision.  We come to church to satisfy a guilty conscience.  We may even come to church for good worship, fellowship, etc.  But, Jesus is sifting out the chaff.  Jesus didn’t ask them to leave, but He did teach them the reality of the cost and deep truths.  It reminds me of when God instructed Gideon to give any solider who trembled in fear a way out (Judges 7).  Twenty-two thousand of the thirty-two thousand soldiers left.  68% were in God’s army for the wrong reason.  Question: Are you following Jesus for the right reason?

John 5

Vs. 1, “Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews.”  John takes us back to Jesus visiting Jerusalem again.  The next few chapters (5-11) are called by some scholars as the “festival cycle” for we see Jesus encounter people during the festivals at Jerusalem.  The Apostle John continues to give us perspective on how the world in Jesus’ time was responding to Him.  John is presenting Jesus like a person who would be introduced in a trial setting.  But, it is not Jesus who is on trial, but the world.  When Jesus arrives to Jerusalem, He passes by the Sheep Gate where there is a pool called Bethesda (vs. 2) probably on the Sabbath Festival (vs. 9).  Many people would flock there believing in the spiritual healings of that water (vs. 3, 7).  Jesus encounters a man who has been lame for thirty-eight years (vs. 4-15).  We are surprised by the man’s initial response (vs. 5), for he gives excuses about why he can’t be healed rather than accept Jesus’ offer (vs. 4).  This healing stirred up controversy because Jesus healed him on the Sabbath and the man got up and carried his mat (vs. 9-12).  The Jewish leaders were incensed that Jesus would do such action on the Sabbath, yet, it was our sin that broke God’s Sabbath rest (Genesis 3).  Their anger towards Jesus only grew as Jesus responded by calling the Father in heaven, “My Father” (vs. 17).  They understood Jesus clearly that He was claiming by being the Son of God, He too was deity.  In their eyes, Jesus went from a Sabbath breaker to blasphemer.  In the last section of our passage (vs. 19-47), Jesus makes three specific statements that prove He is the Son of God.  Jesus claimed to be equal with God (vs. 19-23), He had the power to resurrect the dead (vs. 24-29), and that there were witnesses to confirm His claim (vs. 30-47).

Regarding application…Time to Get Up.  Vs. 6, “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”  Question: Isn’t this an obvious question to a man who has been lame for so many years?  Yet, I wonder how many times we have been like this man?  We get so used to be in our fallen state that all we can do is give excuses why we can’t get better.  We wallow in our sorrows and throw pity parties for ourselves.  But, Jesus has a different prescription.  It’s time to get up.  Physical infirmities can be the result of sin, as what seems to be the case with this man (vs. 14), but sometimes it’s also to bring glory to God (John 9:3).  Question: Is there an area of your life where you just need to get up?  Physical struggles are not the only ones; relationships, finances, career, temptations, etc.  Let’s put our trust in the Lord!

John 4

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.”  After leaving Jerusalem for Passover, Jesus and the disciples head north to Galilee.  However, in this circumstance, perhaps because of the tumult surrounding John the Baptist, Jesus elects to travel through Samaria (vs. 1-27). Samaria had formed from the apostasy of the Northern kingdom and the invasion of the Assyrians in 722 B.C.  The Jewish people had intermingled in marriage with the Gentiles; hence the Samaritan people were mixed.  Centuries later, the Samaritans and Jews did not have fond feelings for each other.  Samaritans designated their own place of worship.  Jesus and the disciples traveling through Samaria would have been a surprise for everyone.  The surprises only continue as we see the interaction and conversation Jesus has with the Samaritan woman.  The woman comes to saving faith and is so excited she runs to tell the others in the town (vs. 28-42).  After staying in Samaria for two additional days, Jesus and the disciples arrive back in Galilee (vs. 43-54).  Perhaps they returned to Cana to follow-up with them after Jesus’ first recorded miracle (John 2).  Jesus’ second recorded miracle happens as an royal official travels to Cana from Capernaum to ask for healing for his sick son.

Regarding application…Heart of Worship.  Vs. 24, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”  While worship is heartfelt response, there is much more to it.  Jesus reminds us that worshipping God is done through the power of the Holy Spirit and on the truth of God’s revelation!  It’s not about the location (Mountain retreat, church sanctuary, etc.) that dictates a proper place to worship.  Worship in a fellowship meeting in a private home is just as moving as worship in Jerusalem on a spiritual homeland journey.  I remember one of the most touching moments of worship I have ever been in was in a intimate bible study for my youth group many years ago in Oregon.  While I’ve experienced powerful worship at retreats and revivals, sometimes those intimate times of worship are most memorable!  Take time today to worship the Lord and remember the power of testimony the Samaritan woman gave!

Jesus Ministry

John 3

Vs. 3, “In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”  Upon witnessing Jesus’ clearing of the temple and miraculous signs at Pentecost, Nicodemus comes at night to visit Jesus.  Question: Who is Nicodemus?  Nicodemus was a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin (The Jewish ruling council).  The fact that Nicodemus came to approach Jesus at night shows a bit of trepidation.  However, Nicodemus would play an important role and even assist Joseph of Arimathea for Jesus’ burial.  The conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus (vs. 1-21) reveals foundational truths.  We must be born again (vs. 3) and this confounded Nicodemus, but Jesus was pointing to a spiritual truth (vs. 4-8).  This spiritual truth is being born again by the Spirit (wind), not by flesh (vs. 9).  Though people like Nicodemus had been given the law of God, their hearts did not submit to God (vs. 10-15).  We then are reminded of perhaps the most well known verse in the whole Bible (vs. 16).  Jesus revealed God’s love for the world and His plan for salvation (vs. 16-21).  In the latter half of our chapter, we see John the Baptist and Jesus’ ministry inevitably overlap each other (vs. 22-30).  Some of John’s disciples were concerned about Jesus influence (vs. 26).  However, John the Baptist fully understood his role (vs. 27-30) in preparing the way for the Lord.  The last section of our passage (vs. 31-36), is a beautiful declaration of Jesus and our faith.  Biblical Scholars are divided on this section as to whether this was John the Baptist speaking or John the Apostle now sharing his own words.

Regarding application…It’s Not About Me.  Vs. 30, “He must become greater; I must become less.”  What makes this such an endearing verse for me is the fact that it came from someone imperfect like you and me.  John the Baptist would be called the greatest prophet, yet he did not allow human ambition to override his perspective.  Question: How can you let Jesus be greater in your life?  For me, I struggle with how I respond to situations that don’t benefit me.  This can be shown in my words, my body actions, and heart attitude.  But I’m convicted today to not allow myself to become greater.  It’s like a muscle that we are not used to using.  But keep working on this muscle of humility!  Let us have a right perspective about who we are and how we should respond to Jesus in our life!

John 2

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.”  In a small village north of Nazareth in Cana, Jesus performs His first recorded miracle (vs. 1-12).  Jesus, Mary, and the disciples that have been called up to this point, attend with Jesus (vs. 1-2).  It is believed this must have been a close family friend or relative for Jesus to attend.  Weddings in those days lasted a week and for them to run out of food or wine would have been disastrous towards their reputation.  Question: Why was the first miracle about turning water into wine?  Wine then was not used the same way we consume wine.  To satisfy thirsty people without making them drunk, wine was diluted with water to as much as only one-tenth of its strength.  Due to lack of clean and pure water, wine mixed with water was also a safer option.  This miracle served as a sign to begin revealing the glory of the Son of God.  The next section of our chapter deals with Jesus clearing the temple for the first time (vs. 12-25).  Notice how the two incidents in our chapter focus on replacing; water to wine and the old temple with the new temple in Jesus (vs. 21).  The synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, & Luke) record the cleansing of the temple at the end of Jesus’ ministry.  However, it is likely Jesus cleansed the temple twice; once at the start of His ministry the second one at the end.  The clearing of the temple was significant because there were corrupt practices going on.  The three major festivals (Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles) asked pilgrims to bring animal sacrifices.  Sadly, many were making an exorbitant profit by providing animals for sacrifice to pilgrims who could not bring their own.  Here we see Jesus fulfill the zeal that is prophesied about the Messiah (Psalm 69:9).

Regarding application…Cleaning Our Temple.  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!”  The Temple of Jerusalem was the place where God resided.  Jesus would give a new meaning to the temple as He revealed that He would be the new Temple (vs. 19).  Though the crowds and the disciples did not understand the meaning at that time, they would later realize what Jesus was referring to.  Certainly today, the temple of God has a completely new meaning, for we the church are the temple of God (Ephesians 2:19-22).  Just as the Jewish people began to corrupt God’s dwelling place, the application for us is to ensure we spend some time clearing out things in our lives that do not bring glory to His name.  As we begin a new week, consider items in our lives that we need to clean out!

John 1

Vs. 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  In a reference to Genesis, John’s opening statement is a wondrous lesson on theology (Study of God)!  Jesus is the Word and He always existed (vs. 1-2); He is eternal.  Through the Word, God created the universe (vs. 3).  The Greek word for Word is Logos.  Jesus is the Word and that Word is described as light shining in the darkness (vs. 5).  The Apostle John takes time to expound upon John the Baptist’s role as a witness to the light (vs. 6-9; 15-34) and testimony to Jesus’ identity as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. We are presented with a deep theological understanding of the incarnation; Word became flesh (vs. 10-14).  This is where we are reminded Jesus was 100% human, yet 100% Deity.  The Apostle John also records to us the calling of Jesus’ first disciples as John the Baptist points out Jesus to them (vs. 35-42).  Andrew, Peter, James and John (Mark 1:16-20) are the ones who are called here in this passage.  In our last section (vs. 43-50), Jesus moves onto Galilee where He calls Philip and Nathanael.  Jesus’ interaction with Nathanael reveals His omniscience (knowing everything).  Jesus also give a reference to the “stairway to heaven” (Genesis 28) with the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man (Stairway) (vs. 51)

Regarding application…What Do You See?  Vs. 9, “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.”  This past week, I was cutting my hair in the shower with a mirror.  The light bulb in the bathroom decides to go out right in the middle of my haircut.  Needless to say, it was much more difficult!  This reminded me how much we take for granted the light that is provided to us.  Certainly, I’m not just talking about the modern day technology and the advancement of light bulbs.  We have the light of Christ in our life.  Yet, I wonder how often we try to navigate life without the light of Christ being a lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105).  We need light to find our way in the dark.  We need Jesus to find our way in our spiritual journey.  As we look to the light that gives light, what do you see?  Take time today to consider and be thankful to how Jesus the light of the world brings light to your life.