Posts Tagged ‘ John ’

Sermon: De-Contexting Jesus – John 11:11-16

I preached again! And once again, I was covering for Brother Paul in Paulden, AZ.

There is no video this time (unless you are okay looking up my nose most of the time!), but I did upload the audio recording.

I also joined in the solidarity day with Canadian churches by taking some time to discuss biblical sexuality (and understanding biblical context) in response to the nee Canadian law, Bill C-4 – Conversion Therapy ban.


De-Contexting Jesus: John 11:11-16

Waking the Dead

Know how parents or the cranky neighbor next door (or you?) complain about loud kids, “Their being so loud they could wake the dead?”

I have been thinking about so many people – churches, preachers, even people who have nothing to do with Christianity – who make bold claims about what Scripture says, about how Christians should act.

Tend to be the liberal-minded – “We understand better what was really meant back then: Jesus never spoke about homosexuality! People don’t really come back from the dead! We find new spiritual life and change, even in our bodies, if we were born the wrong way!”

Or even, like people like Bart Ehrman (author of Misquoting Jesus and other works attempting to tear down Christianity), they say we don’t understand what Jesus really meant, and it was exaggerated, anyway.

I have been thinking about so many people – churches, preachers, so-called prophets and apostles – who make bold claims about what Scripture says, about what Christians should be able to do.

Tend to be liberally-minded – “We understand more what was really meant back then: Jesus raised the dead, so we should be doing it even more! Jesus was sinless, and we are too! Jesus did amazing things, and we can do more!”

Or even, like people like “Pastors” Kenneth Copeland and Bill Johnson, we are Christs (anointed ones), we are little gods.

What does this have to do with today’s message?

Misquoting Jesus

[John 11:11-16]

11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

“Lord, if he’s fallen asleep …”

Oh, Lazarus wasn’t that sick. He is resting and getting better.

The disciples misunderstood Jesus, even though He said something plain and in a context that should have made it plain. And how many times do people today take something Jesus said without looking at the context?

“Do not judge … See! Jesus said don’t judge, you evil hypocrite!”

“You will do greater things … See! We should all be raising the dead and performing signs and wonders!”

“This is my body … See! Jesus said!” Do the elements of communion literally become His body and blood? Catholics certainly say so. But so many others say “He spoke in euphemisms and metaphors. He was just a good teacher!”

It is so easy to rip things out of context to fit our needs.

Yet, “Lazarus has died.” Okay, “Lets die with him!”

They started to get the context: vv. 7-8 – “We’re going to Jerusalem.” “But, teacher! The Jews are trying to kill you!”

“Oh! We might be martyred!”

Now, we know that Thomas was right. All of the apostles and disciples were persecuted, and most of the apostles were indeed martyred. But in this moment, he probably is still thinking of his own glory more than the glory of Jesus.

Thomas and the disciples are trying to do good by Jesus, but they keep missing the greatest meaning. This happens even now.

In terms of the more liberal thinkers, they are following evolutionary thinking: we are later in time, so we understand better. Jesus did not really talk about these things, but even if He did, times have changed. The loving thing is to let people live how they believe they should!

As an example, today is a day that pastors across North America (maybe farther) are standing in solidarity with Canadian churches to preach about biblical sexuality. This is my little addition to that.

Canada just began enforcing a new law this past week, “Bill C-4: Conversion Therapy.” This bill makes conversion therapy illegal, defining conversion therapy as:

a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual; change a person’s gender identity to cisgender; change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth; repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behavior; repress a person’s non-cisgender gender identity; or repress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned to the person at birth

Essentially, the way it is worded, in Canada, it is illegal to even call homosexuality, transgenderism, and any sex outside of marriage sin. How do we know this is not merely “slippery slope logic” and hyperbole?

The UK, New York, California, New Jersey, and Nevada have passed similar laws. Preachers and evangelists in the UK and New York, that I know of, have been arrested for hate speech and disrupting the peace for calling homosexuality a sin.

We hear people – pastors, theologians, politicians, everyday people – saying the New Testament never explicitly condemns homosexuality, it was just an OT law that was abolished.

Firstly, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 we read:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

“neither the pornoi” – sexually immoral, the root of our word “pornography”

“nor malakoi” – soft, effeminate men “who catch” – “nor arsenokoitai” – males who penetrate men and boys.

Both of these terms are combined into our English translations to the word “homosexual.” So, yes, the NT talks about it, and in a few other places condemns all sorts of sexual and sensual acts outside of marriage.

And as for Jesus never having spoken on it, that means they do not believe truly is God – the Logos, the Word – the One who worked through Moses and the Prophets to write the OT. In effect, Jesus spoke on these through the OT, and He does not change (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 7:21, James 1:17).

And Paul continued,

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

So, it is possible to change, in Christ. It is not merely trying to “pray the gay away.” It is conforming to Christ. (So, some conversion therapy is indeed not that good!)

Yet, clearly these are not the only ones.

Back to Context

Many who [claim to (have)] follow(ed) Christ, twist His words, as well.

Many people have “deconstructed their faith” in recent years, being seen as brave and open-minded by many in our world.

Really, most have de-contextualized Jesus or listened to those who have. Maybe they were in liberal churches or churches that shy away from biblical truth to be seen as hip and with it, to be “seeker sensitive”, even though Romans 3:11 reminds us that “no one understands; no one seeks for God” unless the Father (by the Holy Spirit) draws them in (John 6:44).

Many “pastors, prophets, and apostles” today claim special knowledge and new understanding about God and His Word.

Really, most have de-contextualized Jesus or listened to those who have. They claim passages about Him or said by Him as for themselves, even if the greater context completely contradicts their understanding.

Case in point, Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

So many people claim this verse as a life verse, even if they have had an easy life. The context is God telling Israel, “I am about to punish you for 70 years for disobeying me. I am disciplining you, but it is okay.” As many take it as, “God only wants good things for me!”

Normal people are not really the problem. It is the big names, the ones who continue to spread mis-truths and should know better.

Remember earlier I asked about complaining about people “being so loud they could wake the dead?

Like Paul reminded us in 1 Corinthians 13, these people are like noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. They distract and make enough noise to raise the dead! (Or claim they can, anyway.)

Jesus warned us these people would come before the end, and Paul repeated it in his letters to Timothy, such as in his encouragement in 2 Timothy 2:15 when he says “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

So what about everyone else?

Re-Contexting

In a world of deconstructing and de-contexting, we should be people who re-context.

We know in our passage today that Jesus had let Lazarus die so that Jesus and His Father could be glorified.

His disciples did not yet understand, and they spoke rashly, like we often do, too.

Firstly, Jesus reminds us that when we die, it is not the end. “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep.” We know that Jesus has defeated death through His death and resurrection. We know that, unlike woke culture that seeks to separate and shame, Jesus awakens us out of our sin and shame into unity with God.

We may misunderstand and take things out of context, but His grace is enough. His love is enough. Wake up to the truth of Christ, the Faithful One who shows us that He is the context of love, grace, and truth.

Secondly, we are reminded of our duty. “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Christ has told us that we are to take up our cross and die to ourselves.

Is Christ more important than our own lives? Do we trust that He has overcome death and the grave? “If God is for me, what can flesh do to me?”

Is sharing the gospel something we are willing to lay our lives down for? Though others turn away, deconstruct, and de-contextualize, do we truly believe that these are the words of eternal life (John 6:66-68)?

We serve the God of the Universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Great I Am. Do we fear Him or those who twist His words? If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?

Yes, we get it wrong sometimes. But we turn to the only righteous one, and we follow Him into the battle, even if we must die.

And die we must. Die to our fleshly desires and selfish wants.

We may never see anyone raised from the dead in this life, but we know the One who defeated death and came back. He may come in the next moment. He may not come for 10,000 years.

But Jesus has proven Himself faithful and trustworthy.

Come, let us go also, that we may die with Him.

For He has shown His light to awaken us to eternal life. Forget the sins of the past, and grab hold of the nail-scarred hands that lift us from the pit.

Let us all do our best to present ourselves to God as those approved, workers who have no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15) Let us re-context Christ to this world and hasten His return.

Prayer

Lord, we have come before you a people who have misunderstood, misapplied, and misused your Word. We confess it to you now. We thank you and give you praise that have forgiven us through the cross of Christ.

Open our minds by Your Holy Spirit to understand Your Word. Give us a passion for the Scriptures, to read and study the Bible.

Embolden our hearts and spirits to proclaim Your Truth to this world. Give us a desire to share the gospel, to be ready in all seasons to give an answer to those who ask for a reason for the hope that is in us.

Give us peace and wisdom as we go into this world with all of its problems and challenges, dangers and attacks.

Help us to remain focused on You and Your Truth. Guide us in all wisdom and truth.

Help us to seek You and Your Kingdom first.

For you are worthy of all glory and honor and praise, and we declare our need for You. Show us Your glory, fill us with Your love, and guide us by Your Spirit. Conform us to the image of Your Son.

In the name of that Faithful Son, Jesus Christ, we pray.

Amen.

Sermon: Going Forward – John 21:15-22

I preached again!

It is an end-of-the-year message, that deals with Christmas, our past, our present, and moving toward the future.

As usual, here are my notes. Remember that I do not necessarily stick strictly to the notes.

Going Forward

John 21:15-22

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

A Christmas Carol

One of my favorite stories of all time (after the Bible) is “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.Every year we watch through many iterations, and I make sure to re-read the short story.

It is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly old man whose business partner has been dead for years, his estranged nephew still tries to invite him over for Christmas, but Christmas and everything about it is “humbug.”

Is it strange that I like a story about a man who talks with charity collectors about the poor going to work in workhouses or in prison? That when prompted with “many would rather die,” ol’ Scrooge replies, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

Why do I love this story so?

Because, Scrooge is visited by three spirits – the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet-To-Come – who remind him of his more jolly past, how he has affected people in his present, and the future he faces if he does not change. And they do it all in a single night, before the morning of Christmas.At the end, he pleads with the final spirit: “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year!”And what about after that? “And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well.”

But Christmas has passed for us. What is Christmas about?

Jesus!

We know that Jesus came into the world, and we celebrate His first coming at Christmas time.

And how much like Scrooge can we be? How much do we focus on our wants and needs in this life without looking after those around us? Hating others and wanting what they have rather than wanting the best for them?

Where else do we see such pettiness?

Peter

In our passage, we see a man talking with His Lord who is no mere spirit or ghost. This is Jesus who barely a month earlier was crucified for our sins, yet He is alive!

And what does Jesus have to say to Peter?

  • Do you love me?
  • Do you love me?
  • Do you love me?

Why does Jesus ask Peter this three times?

We remember before the crucifixion that it was Peter who denied His Lord three times:

  • I am not His disciple.
  • I don’t know the Man!
  • I don’t know what you’re talking about!

Here is a man who was more concerned for his own well being than actively looking after his friend.

So, since Peter denied Him three times, Jesus asks three times to reinstate him, “Do you love me?”

What is love?

But notice that Peter is hurt by the third asking. Why?

First, Jesus asks, “Simon” – not Peter, for he lost that right by denying the truth he proclaimed earlier – “Simon, son of John, do you agape me …” Does Simon love Jesus enough to sacrifice everything for Him?

Remember that this is the Simon who said in John 13:37 “I will lay down my life for you.” Or in Mark 14:29 “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” Both instances we read of Jesus telling him he would deny him and fall away.

And he did. But Jesus’ question finishes, “Do you agape me more than these?”

Is Jesus asking “Do you love me more than your possessions?” Possibly, but I don’t think so.

Is Jesus asking “Do you love me more than you love these other people?” More probable, but I think it goes deeper.

“Do you love me more than these others love me?” This is essentially the claim Simon Peter had made before.

In truth, it is a combination of all three implied meanings, but most importantly, “Do you love me more than anything and anyone so that no one can tear you out of my hand?”

“Then feed my sheep.” Give them the nourishment of the Bread of Life, the Word of God.

But a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you agape me?”

Both of these times, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He knows that Jesus can see into our hearts. Jesus stops comparing Simon to others in the second question, bringing it squarely home.

“Then tend my sheep.” Help the others grow closer to me, defend them from hunger and thirst and false teachings and fear of the world.

Yet Simon has been saying, “Yes, Lord”. He acknowledges that he loves Jesus unconditionally, but he finishes with “you know that I phileo you.” You know that I love you like a friend.

And then the third question. “Simon, son of John …” not agape, not will you sacrifice and obey, but “do you phileo me?”

Why is Simon Peter grieved? The questions go from, “do you love me so much it hurts, that you will do anything for me,” to “Simon, are you my friend?”

Imagine what it sounds like: “Are you sure you’re my friend? Do you really love me as your friend?”

And how does it play out?

“You know everything. You know I love you like a friend.”

“Then YOU follow me. Act like a grown up, because you will have times that you will be treated like a child.” And Jesus alludes to Peter’s death.

And Simon holds on just a moment longer as the child: “But what about him? Why don’t you ask that disciple the same questions? How is he gonna die?”

“I. Said. Follow. Me. Stop worrying about others. Follow me. As I feed and tend to my sheep.”

What about us?

What does it all mean for us.

Firstly, to deal with any possible rumors, yes, A Christmas Carol is one of my all-time favorite stories, even though Scrooge meets his long-dead business partner. Even though the only time we see that sort of thing in the Bible is when a wicked king (Saul) seeks a witch to talk to his dead friend (who rebukes him. It really was a Christmas-Carol-esque story.)

For the sake of the story, I am okay with some wiggle-room of what is okay. Especially if you read a recent sequel, Jacob T. Marley, that shows a “why” the dead business partner returns. And for the Spirits of Christmases, we could easily argue they are ministering spirits, a.k.a. angels.

But like Scrooge, Peter was one who turned from those he loved. Like Peter, we often do our own thing to avoid pain.

Like Scrooge, Peter had to confront his past, all of the hurts, the boasts, the selfishness, and the loss.

  • Maybe 2021 has been a hard year for you.
    Follow Jesus.
    It won’t necessarily make all the pain go away, but Jesus can lead you through and out of the pain.
    Maybe 2021 was great for you.
    Follow Jesus.
    You might lose everything you’ve gained, you might keep it all, but your focus should be on the one who gave up everything to save you.
    Maybe you made mistakes, lied about things, turned on your loved ones. Maybe you’ve denied your Savior.
    Follow Jesus. The only faithful one.

Like Scrooge, Peter had to confront his present.

  • Maybe you’re finishing 2021 holding on to your past.
    Follow Jesus.
    Maybe you’re currently struggling with something.
    Follow Jesus.
    Let Him tend to your needs. Trust others to tend to your needs as they are following Jesus. Tend to others as you follow Jesus.
    Follow Jesus, now. Don’t wait. Follow Jesus. Now.

Like Scrooge, Peter had to face the future and his death.

  • And it is scary.
    Maybe you’re afraid of what 2022 holds. Maybe the finances of this year mean next year will be tough. Maybe you wonder where this church will be meeting next month. Maybe those in power in the government have you worried for one reason or another.
    Follow Jesus.
    Don’t worry about what others are doing. Don’t worry about their walk with Jesus or lack thereof.
    Don’t ignore others or the happenings in this world, but don’t worry.
    Just follow Jesus for yourself. Trust Him. He is the God who saves, the One who holds all things together. It may not be easy in this life, but we know we can trust in the One who is guiding history and has overcome death and the grave.

Go Forward

In Christ.

What does it look like to keep Christmas in your heart all the year, and keep it well, like the renewed Ebenezer Scrooge?

It is seeking the Kingdom of God first.

We realize our need to read and memorize Scripture. We seek to live out the commands to love God and love others, as Christ lives in us by His Holy Spirit to the glory of the Father.

It is seeking the Bread of Life.We realize our need for spiritual nourishment through Bible study and encouraging each other to become more Christ-like.

Taken outside the church just before preaching!

It is bowing before Immanuel – God with us.

We realize The Father sent the Son to cleanse us and restore us, and they sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us until Christ’s return. We acknowledge His authority and power.

And we follow.

We don’t get stuck in the same old rut or in our past mistakes and sins or in our worries and concerns or our own lusts and wants or in our own glory. We go forward toward the future glory that awaits us in Christ Jesus, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” pressing on “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

The true Spirit of Christmas is the same Spirit that overshadowed a young woman to bring forth a Savior; a Savior who would die for our sins and rose again; a Savior who is one day returning to make all things new.

And He is with us always until He comes.

Like Scrooge – like Peter – we seek to spread the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control of the Spirit of Christ who indwells us. (Galatians 5:22-23)

All through the year.

So go forward. Follow Jesus.

Prayer

Our gracious heavenly Father, You who has been denied by us through our actions, our words, and our thoughts; You who have been pushed away by our own sinful desires, we praise you and worship you.

You could have left us in our misery. You could have wiped us out, like with the Flood. Instead, You became one of us.

We were stuck wallowing in our past, unable and unwilling to let go of the hurts, the glories of youth, the fame, and the fear.

We were stuck wallowing in our current pains and fears, our own glories and strengths, unwilling to help our neighbors, either because we felt we lacked the ability or because they deserve what they get or because “they should help themselves.”

We were stuck wallowing in our future, afraid of what may come or hoping for what we cannot get for ourselves or think we can get for ourselves.

You could have left us in our misery or removed far more than the surplus population.

But You came to us.

We praise you, because we could not get to You, but You made a way for us. We deserved death, but you offered us life. We have feared the world and death more than we feared You, and we confess it to you now.

Because You see our past, You change us in the present, and You give us a hope for the future, through Your Son – The Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Help us to seek You every moment of everyday. Help us to help each other seek You and grow in You everyday. Help us to become more loving and kind – more like Jesus. By the power of Your Holy Spirit.

Help us follow Jesus.

In His Name.

Sermon: John 7:37-53 – Divided by Water

I preached again! Once again, I was at Paulden Christian Fellowship to help out brother Paul while he is out of town.

As usual, these are my notes, not necessarily everything I said. (But I mostly stuck to it this time. )

John 7:37-53 – Divided by Water

Unexpected Divisions

Before beginning: What would you do if you heard that people were preaching passages that were never in the Bible? What if someone told you that there are parts of the Bible that never should have made it into our Bibles?
Worried?
Doubt?
Fear?
7:53-8:11 – Apparently these verses do not show up in the earliest Greek manuscripts of John. Does this mean Jesus never stopped the stoning of the adulterous woman? Did He never write in the sand and turn away murderous teachers trying to catch Jesus in His words and have Him arrested?
Sometimes this passage shows up earlier in chapter 7, or at the end of John, or even in Luke, when we look at the earliest manuscripts.
Should it not be there? Should we not preach it?
Apparently, Ambrose and Augustine (in the late 300’s into the 400’s) talked about people who removed it for making it look like Jesus condoned adultery. The earliest it is found in manuscripts though is at least 100 years after those men.
Short answer: no one is 100% sure about its origins, but most people use it. There are even indications it was a story about Jesus being told during the Apostles’ lives. It does not contradict anything in Scripture or about Christ’s character.
Yet, it causes divisions amongst those who are called Christians.
Likewise, Jesus caused similar divisions during His ministry on Earth.

Living Water

John 7:37-39 (ESV):
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

The last day of the feast of Booths/Tabernacles/Tents
(And the final day actually starts tomorrow night! Sept. 27-28, by our reckoning, so we are discussing this at about the same time it happened 2000 years ago!)

Jesus wanted as many people in Jerusalem as possible to go home hearing one final thought: that they need Him. So He shouted over the crowds.
This was a feast to remind the people of Israel of God rescuing their ancestors from slavery in Egypt and the 40 years in the wilderness.
Clearly, He is reminding everyone present of the two times Moses called water out of rocks. The Israelites complained about their thirst and need for water, so God sent them water flowing out of rocks.
“Living water” is a euphemism for flowing water. We are not as accustomed to thinking about it in our age of indoor plumbing, where we can go into our kitchens, bathrooms, and other rooms with sinks and washing machines and … other things with running water, and make water move.
Jesus is telling the people, “If you believe I am the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world, then faucet of God the Holy Spirit will turn on inside of you and flow through you.”
Sorry. Not just a faucet. I used to use the analogy that faith is like a stick of dynamite in a school toilet. It blows all the [crud] away and lets the water burst forth with gusto.
But what does Jesus say? It is a river. So, faith should be like Verde River flowing out of you. During a strong monsoon season. It SHOULD be overflowing and affecting everything around you.
And, naturally, this gets reactions from people.

Division

John 7:40-44 (ESV):
“When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So there was a division among the people over him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.”

“Is this the Prophet?”

Deuteronomy 18:15-19, ESV
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

They are already thinking of what Moses has done with water, so is this the One he said was coming?
But they get confused because they know a Messiah, a Christ, is coming. They know of the promise to David that his Descendant would rule forever. They know from Micah 6:8 that He would come from Bethlehem.
But do any of them know Jesus was born there?
We also know that many (if not most) people expected a Prophet – one who would restore proper worship – and a King – one who would rule with righteousness and expel those who do not properly worship. Two separate people.
They have plenty of examples. The two biggest: There was a king and a high priest throughout the time of the kingdom(s); Ezra and Nehemiah were a builder & defender and a priest, two who made sure everything was rebuilt and proper worship were restored.
They also may think of Moses who ruled over them (so to speak), yet his brother Aaron led the worship.
But we also know that Moses did both, Aaron serving more as a mouthpiece for his brother.
So, what do the people do? This is not the Messiah they expected. Some were obviously ready to follow, but some thought Jesus should be arrested and tried for leading people astray from God.
But no one touched Him. Instead, they are divided over their perceived expectations of their Lord.

Divisions Even in the Leadership

John 7:45-52:
“The officers (the Temple police, usually Levites who guarded the Temple gates and enforced Temple rules/laws – so usually priests who would know these) then came to the chief priests and Pharisees (the Sanhedrin – those who led the nation of Israel. Chief priests usually were related to the High Priest, which at this time meant the Roman-sympathetic Sadducees who denied the afterlife, as opposed to the Pharisees), who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.””

Now, maybe you remember from before (Pastor Paul’s message) the hypocrisy of the leadership. How do we see it here?
The Temple guards admit this Man has authority, but “have any of the Sanhedrin [authorities and Pharisees] believed?” Well, yes. There is Nicodemus there with them, whom along with chapter 3 we are told is a member of the Sanhedrin, a Pharisee. And he attempts to defend Christ by the very Law the others are saying none of the crowd understands.
You know: that crowd that was asking if this is the Prophet from the Law or the promised Messiah that is mentioned throughout “the Prophets” (the rest of the OT).
And their response: Think of Nathanael in chapter 1: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” In other words, “Are you one of those miscreants, too? Nothing came from Galilee!”
Except, the Pharisees should know that at least Jonah came from there. Possibly Elijah and Nahum, too. But just one is enough to prove them wrong.
They are purposefully dividing the people over their own expectations.
They are also probably divided over whether to let someone who could bring the wrath of Rome on them.
Which means they are dividing over who to be faithful to.

How the Water Divides

John 7:53:
“They went each to his own house.”

Everyone left at the end of the feast having heard and divided over Jesus’ words.
How has anything changed in the roughly 1500 years between Moses and Jesus?
“This Jesus could bring down the wrath of Rome on us! We should get rid of Him to stay where we are in relative comfort and safety.” Compared to …
“Why has Moses brought us out here to die. We should go back to the relative comfort and safety of Egypt!”
Deuteronomy 18:15: ““The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—”

Romans 1:21-22: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,”

What happened to the Egyptians after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea? They were drowned in the sea.
What happened to all the people who refused to listen to Noah when he built the Ark? They were drowned in the flood.
Do we believe God’s Word? Do we trust the Bible, or is it “just a book made by men?”
Do we believe that God’s Word, the Light that shines in the darkness, that is the the life and light of men, became flesh and dwelt among us; or was He “just a good teacher?”
Do we believe Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, God come in the flesh to save us from our sins, or was He “just some dead dude?”
Do we believe in Him? Do we obey all He has commanded? Or are we content to do whatever we want?
Ancient Israel did the same thing. (Most repeated phrase in Judges: “They did what was right in their own eyes.” They did whatever they wanted.)
Are we wise in our own eyes? Or do we turn to the Wisdom of God who takes away the sins of the world?
We do the same thing today. 1500 years. 2000 years. 6000 years.
“There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
We still assume we know better than God. We still squabble over what He really said.
“Did God really say …” (Genesis 3:1)
We divide over what we think God said instead of turning to Him first.

John 14:23-26:
“Jesus [said], “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

In Him, by the Holy Spirit, we know we have God’s love flowing in us. And the Holy Spirit, as He flows through us, reminds us the other things Jesus said: starting with obeying His commands.

What are His commands?

Matthew 22:37-39:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

And

John 13:34-35:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

And how do we love God, love others, and love each other, the Church?
We find the fruit of the Spirit flowing through us:

Galatians 5:22-23: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” which pushes us to point others to Christ.
For,

John 16:13-15: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

And as Matthew 5 reminds us, when we point others to Christ – when we point out their sin, according to God’s standard as found in the Bible, the words inspired by the Holy Spirit – it will divide them into those who glorify God (put their faith in Him) and those who revile Him and attack us.
The Holy Spirit is the water that divides. He divides us into the sheep and the goats, the faithful and faithless.
Many will claim to know truth, but if it does not align with God’s Word, it only divides us from God.
Many will claim to know truth, but if they deny the Words of Truth, it only divides us from God.
The Living Water – the Holy Spirit – divides us by forcing us to choose Christ or this world, to choose to share Truth or to compromise, to choose loving Him and this world through His Word and grace and love or loving ourselves more.
And choosing Him leads to such a desire to go deeper, to know more, to love more, that it can’t be stopped.
Sure, we’ll have times of trouble and even near-despair. He promised as much (John14:27), but also that He will help us:

2 Corinthians 4:8-15:
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”

We cannot help but share Christ with the world, for His Spirit overflows from us as we seek Him daily.

Unity! Press on!

Do we come to church each weekend, hear some words said, and then go “each to his own house” without coming to a decision?
Or do we come to church, get invigorated with the Spirit through the preaching of the Word, and then carry that Word not only to our homes but to everyone else?

This is not a message to drag us down.

If you feel guilty, give that guilt to God. He has taken it on the cross!

Press on! Move forward!

Philippians 3:8-15: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way”.

Philippians 4:4-9: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Do not divide over what God has said. Unite, in Christ, together, encouraging each other, and all the more as we see the Day of His return drawing near.

Sermon: John 4:1-26 – Re-Up, or The God Who Comes to the Unworthy

I preached again! This time, I was covering for a dear brother who could not be at his little rural church to be at his son’s wedding.

So, I picked up where he left off going through John, wrote a sermon, and took my wife to little Paulden, AZ.

(Just like the last sermon, technical issues slowed sharing this for over a week.)

As usual, my notes below were rough notes and not necessarily everything I said.

The video was on Facebook Live, so it is not the greatest quality.

https://DanielMKlem.sermon.net/21799323

John 4:1-26 – Re-Up, or The God Who Comes to the Unworthy

[INTRO] 

Paul talked about Jesus being in Jerusalem for Passover – the great passage about God sending His son into the world. 

He then shared about Jesus and His disciples going into the countryside where John the Baptist was baptizing, and John explained that Christ must increase while he decreased. And we see that Christ is truly God who is above all things and has received all things from the Father. 

In other words, God is truth. 

[READ JOHN 4:1-26, ESV] 

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Part 1: The set-up 

vv. 1-8 give us the set-up. 

  1. Jesus had been probably a few miles NE of Jerusalem with JtB – heard Pharisees were coming 
  1. Knowing it was not time to be confronted he needed to leave immediately. 
  1. Safest route for a Jew: cross the Jordan, travel through Gentile lands, and probably bump into Pharisees on the road. 
  1. Cut travel time in half by heading north through Samaria – He took the expedient route. 
  1. The Father obviously has a plan, too! 
  1. Sychar (near Shechem), it says, is where Jacob’s Well is, in the area Jacob gave to Joseph (which went to Ephraim) 
  1. Now, take a step back to look at the Samaritans: 
  1. These are largely the people that are from the 10 tribes that abandoned the Davidic line and fell into idolatry. The rest could be descendants of the families that had intermarried with pagans and were sent away from Jerusalem (Ezra 10, Nehemiah 13). 
  1. Separated when Rehoboam (anointed king in Shechem) was a horrible slave driver, and Jeroboam offered an alternative. [“So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day …” 1 Kings 12:19] Jeroboam built altars to golden calves. Later, after Assyria and Babylon took the Northern Tribes, the remnant intermarried with Gentiles or were the sent-away pagan families of Jews after the Exile. 
  1. Jews saw Samaritans of unworthy of their time and attention, and vice versa. 
  1. Jesus has probably walked for a day and a half at this point. 

In all honesty, He probably sent the disciples away based on what we know about them wanting to keep people away from Him! He wanted a chance to talk with this woman without their meddling. 

Part 2: The lead-up 

vv. 8-15 is the lead-up to truth revealed. 

Jesus uses the need for water to bridge the gap between a Jewish man and a Samaritan woman. It is like us finding a common ground with others who are not Christians. 

Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1, the gospel “is folly those who are perishing” (v.18), “a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles” (v. 22). And here is a Samaritan, a person who is a mix of both. 

So, she appeals to Jacob, one of the Forefathers/Patriarchs, “Are you greater than him?!” She does not realize that this is the One who wrestled with Jacob in Genesis 32! 

But He starts pushing her toward the truth in His lead-up to the big reveal. This water is temporary, but Jesus offers the water of the Holy Spirit who leads to eternal life. 

Now, she is interested. 

Part 3: The lift up 

vv. 16-26 is the lift up – what looks like a teardown of a person is lifting her eyes to truth. 

“Go, call your husband.” “You are right … you have had five, and you are not married to the man you currently live with.” 

See, this sounds a bit harsh. Hear modern people saying, “See, Jesus didn’t tell her to stop living with the man!” But Jesus is pointing out her sin and using it to reveal her need for a Savior. 

She misunderstood Jesus’ reference to living water, so He draws her in deeper with a hard truth. “You claim to obey the Torah, but even you have not lived up to it.” It was a less-than-gentle rebuke. 

“Look, you have been unfaithful.” 

But they continue, “I see you are a prophet, but our fathers worshiped on this mountain while you say Jerusalem is the place to worship.” 

She is probably thinking of the Patriarchs worshiping in this area, or even that after the Exile Samaritan priests said true worship was on Mt. Gerazim.  

[READ DEUTERONOMY 27:11-13, ending with “And the Levites shall declare blessings and curses”] 

They fail to realize how they claim to worship on the mountain of blessing, but they honor the mountain of the curse. 

And Jesus does it again: “You do not even understand what you are worshiping! Salvation comes from the Jews!” 

[READ VV. 23-24] 

She speaks from misunderstanding, and He sets her straight: You’re wrong, but we will all worship by the Holy Spirit in the Name of Truth. 

And she replies, “Yes, the Messiah is coming, and he will tell us all things.” 

Jesus says, “I who speak to you am he.” In other words, “I am that Truth. I am revealing all things to you.” 

Jesus is the Son of God – fully man, fully God – who lifted a sinful woman’s eyes up to worship God rightly. 

But what does this teach us? 

I have recently had people claim I am not Christian for working during a church service. I found out they do not even believe Jesus is God and/or question the validity of the cross. 

I had to tell them that they are not a Christian. “How dare you? Who do you think you are?” they challenged. 

Here it is, in black and white (or red, black, and white!) This book reveals that Jesus is God. 

I have heard some teach that this passage shows us that God will make us go to places we do not expect or even want to go, and this can be true. 

But the real message is this: 

Jesus calls all people to Himself. The Great Commission says to make disciples of all nations, and in Acts 1 He says the gospel would go in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Here He is, before this command, demonstrating it. He avoided the hypocritical religious leaders to reach out to someone His own people said was not worthy. 

Some of us have committed adultery. Some have stolen. Some have lied, cheated, blasphemed, and sought refuge in things not God. We have denied the deity of Christ, the goodness of God. We have done drugs, been drunk, and slept around. We have been the outcast and worthless sinner. 

Yet the Father reaches out to us through the Holy Spirit to turn to the Son, and says, “Yes. You have done horrible things, and you deserve death. But see my forgiveness. See my grace. See my love, poured out on the cross. 

None are unworthy at the foot of the cross. Yet, we are only made worthy when we kneel at the foot of the cross, accepting our sinful nature, and turning to our only salvation: the Son of God killed on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins, making us washed and made new, quenched by His goodness and grace, clothed in His worthiness and righteousness. 

How can we not want to tell others of how much He has done? How He has saved wretches like us. 

We may not share the Gospel perfectly, and we may even want our friends around to help sometimes, but we worship the God who saves, even when we misunderstand and twist scriptures for our own needs and try and show our own goodness apart from Him. 

VerseD: John 6:35

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
John 6:35, ESV

Firstly, we are blessed when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, for we will be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6)
Secondly, all our appetites shall be satisfied in the Lord, most especially in eternal life.

Topical Children’s Lesson: Resurrection Sunday – John 20:19-29

This is still happening online because of the current mandate for isolation for the C-19 pandemic.

After the lesson for Palm Sunday that my lovely other-half, Caitlin – who is our Children’s Director at the Church Next Door – made, we had her record another lesson!

So, gather up the kiddos (or enjoy this at any age), and enjoy another mashup from a weekly sermon and children’s curriculum:

Questions to consider:

Was there a time in your life that you thought everything was going wrong? How did you feel?

Have you had a fight with someone and  you could not ask for forgiveness or were you ever not able to see someone for any reason, to say goodbye?

Resurrection Sunday – John 20:19-29

Jesus is the Son of God, God’s only Son by birth.

Remember last week’s big idea? That Jesus is the Son of God, God’s only Son by birth.

He was nailed to a cross to save us from our sin, but His own disciples did not understand it.

Jesus died. Their leader was gone. His friends felt abandoned by Him. They thought they would never have the chance to see or talk with him again.

But then … He is alive?! Now what?

John 20:19-29

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Jesus’ resurrection shows us that:

  • We can be afraid in our circumstances, but Jesus can comfort us;
  • We can push God away with our sin, but by His sacrifice He draws us back to Himself;
  • We can misunderstand God’s plan, but Jesus draws us close with the Holy Spirit to give us forgiveness;
  • We can doubt, but Jesus comes to us and overcomes our doubts. Because He was dead, but He is alive!
  • Now, we tell the world that Jesus is alive!

Today is Resurrection Sunday! The one holiday we celebrate 52 times a year!

Christ is risen!  He is risen, indeed!

Memory verses: Ephesians 5:2:

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Matthew 28:18-20

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

HE IS RISEN, INDEED!

Preparing Your Heart – The Third Week of Advent 2019

We are continuing the series originally posted five years ago!

____________

It is now the third week of Advent! (See the last two weeks’ devotional thought here (and here) and here (and here).)

Again, Advent is a time to remember our Lord’s first coming as we look forward to His imminent return.

So, let us prepare hearts for encountering the Lord!

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old“

. . .

“for my eyes have seen your salvation
    that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”
Luke 1:68-70, 2:30-32, ESV

The first part of the quote is from Zechariah, John the Baptist’s dad, at John’s birth. The second part of the quote was said by Simeon, an old and devout man, when he saw the baby Jesus at the Temple.

These two men knew that the Lord’s salvation was at hand. If you read all of chapters one and two of Luke, you can see that even they did not understand His plan of salvation. They were on the right track, but they were not aware of how things would unfold.

The Lord had come, Emmanuel, God with us, and he brought salvation. It was first brought to Israel, the Jews in Jerusalem in particular, and then it spread to “all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8) over the past 2,000 years.

What most everyone then did not know was that first the Lord would bring spiritual salvation, the forgiveness of sins and the repairing of the relationship with God and humanity; the physical redemption from all enemies is still to come.

Let us remember that salvation has come, but we await our salvation from the pain and evil of this world (see Romans 8). We do not understand fully how it will all happen, but we know Jesus will return!

May we not get caught up in the knowledge we have and miss the signs of His coming. May we remember that we are not home yet, and we await our coming Savior. May we bring as many as we can to all of this knowledge of the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of the Father!

Sermon: Defending Jesus? – John 18:1-14

I preached again! I liked it. Like, wept some, got goosebumps some, enjoyed preaching it … a lot.

Please enjoy listening (click here if it does not work just below), and see my rough notes for all scripture references and basic thoughts. I am reading from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.

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Defending Jesus? (John 18:1-14)

(Parallel passages: Matthew 26:47-57; Mark 14:43-53; Luke 22:47-54)
Intro:

Read 18:1-2

Jesus spoke other words than the High Priestly Prayer: Luke 22 – “Sell cloak, get sword” “Here are 2”

Regularly with His disciples (Luke 21:37: He rested/slept out here): This time, this is where we read in other Gospels about Jesus’ 3 prayers
“Let this cup [of suffering] pass from me, but Your will be done.”

Read 18:3

We know they were not just soldiers, but guards from the Temple, sent by the leadership.
Probably a mixture of Jewish and Roman soldiers. Probably up to 200 people!
It was a major feast (Passover), so there would be extra soldiers to help keep the peace.

Read 18:4-8a

Why they fell back:

  1. “Ego eimi” – “I am.”
  2. Could also be how unafraid He seemed of them, possibly tripped over themselves/each other.

Read 18:8-11

Remember the swords?

  1. Disciples still expecting a revolution. Is this FINALLY the time?
  2. Will Jesus actually call His heavenly army?
    1. Matthew 26:52-56 (2 Kings 6:8-23)

Go back to v. 9:

  • His prayer last chapter: 17:12
  • Some try to teach this fulfills John 10:29, but Jesus was speaking to the leaders about ANYONE who believes in Him.
  • It makes me think (NO OTHER EVIDENCE!) Malchus became a Christian

Read 18:12-14

  1. Jesus bound: hearkens back to Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22).
    1. Isaac was not stupid. He knew he was going to be the sacrifice, but he trusted his father who trusted THE Father.
    2. Now, Jesus willingly goes to sacrifice. (Without a ram substitute!)
  2. Why Annas?
    1. High Priest usually serves until death, but Romans only allowed terms
      1. He held sway even not being “in power” anymore
      2. His sons and son-in-law took turns over the years, hence “that year”
    2. Is he legitimate? He was installed by Romans
      1. This helps us see why the disciples were willing to fight the Temple authorities
  3. Caiaphas was deceived, but he essentially prophesied the truth!

What does this all mean for us?

  1. We must know that Jesus is God. (vv. 5-8)
    1. 20:31
  2. We must know He died for us. (v. 14)
  3. We do not defend Christ.
    1. He suffered, and so shall we
      1. Matthew 10, Mark 13, and Luke 12, Jesus says His followers will be led before others to testify
      2. 16:33
    2. His truth defends itself, but we are often His instrument.
      1. Psalm 28:7-9
      2. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
    3. Sword of Truth (Ephesians 6:17)
      1. Read Ephesians 6:10-19

Therefore: Matthew 28:18-20

Different Teams: Two Fathers

On Sunday, February 10, 2019, I preached my first sermon for our little church. Other than weddings, it was first time I have preached since 2014. That was the year I finished my homiletics classes at seminary which in turn helped me get through speaking at my mom’s “Celebration of Life” service.

It felt nice to be actively researching and writing like that again!

Anywhat, I thought I would share the outline with you. (Even some of the stuff that was adlibbed, and a few sentences were left out.) Unfortunately, I do not think it was recorded, so you have to miss my dramatic pauses (and awkward pauses) and other small things.

As a brief introduction, during the third of four prepared songs, the fire alarm in the school we meet in sounded off. The band played an extra song, and then I was able to get started. A friend pointed out that I missed the opportunity to say that much of what passes as Christian teaching today should set off a fire alarm of warning!

-Daniel


Sunday, February 10, 2019
Different Teams: Two Fathers  —  John 8:37-59

When a new pastor preaches, we pull out all the bells and whistles! It’s always scary when someone not Scott preaches. Even the building got scared and cried!

INTRO:

Caitlin and I have wanted kids of our own. I have wanted my own since I was almost four years old, telling my parents “I want to do better than you!” I meant it as a compliment, meaning I wanted to build on what they had been doing for my brother, sister, and me. Maybe someday I’ll learn to actually say what I mean (apart from sermons and teachings, of course!)

Today, we do not have our own kids. Almost four years ago, my Sis-in-law gave birth to Maxwell, our first nephew, and on November 1, 2017, our niece Rosalie came along. Needless to say, we have been ecstatic to visit and spend time with them, even doing the nitty-gritty dirty stuff that comes with babies. Just this past February first, my brother and his wife welcomed our nephew Dominic! We are so excited to eventually meet him.

In the mean time, as you’ve heard, Bill and Kendra welcomed Jovie on January 30, and we live in their home currently. That little girl is going to be so loved, because she has two parents who have waited for her and an “auntie and uncle” who are unable to be with our niece and nephews as much as we’d like.

Now, it would be horrible if little Jovie were to grow up thinking I was her father. I love her to death, even knowing her less than two weeks, but I will probably never love her more than Bill. Should anything (God forbid) happen to her parents, and we had to take over that responsibility, you had better believe we would do our darndest. Regardless, we are going to make sure she knows who her parents are and how much she is loved by them.

Could you imagine, though, if she lived like I were her father – as great as I am *wink* – and came to treat her father like a stranger?

As Pastor Scott has been leading us through John, we have been hearing about a similar situation as Jesus confronts the Jewish leadership. We are in John chapter eight, and last week we heard how we are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness and how the truth can set us free to righteousness.

Today, we will look closer at Jesus’ comparison in John 8:37-59 of the two households these two “slaves” represent.

MESSAGE:

Remember that Jesus is speaking to the leadership, the Pharisees and teachers, when beginning in verse 37 He responds:

“I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

Jesus acknowledges that they are biologically related to Abraham. They know that Jesus claiming to be God’s Son essentially equates Himself with God, which, for any other person in history, would be blasphemy, a sin punishable by death in Judaism. But we continue in verse 39:

“They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.”

If you are in any way like me, you might think, “The works Abraham did? Like telling his wife to tell a lie (of omission) to other people (saying she was his sister, which is true, instead of his wife), going to war with people, and laugh at God’s promises? Or maybe have an affair my spouse suggested? Those works of Abraham?”

Instead, Jesus is probably referring to Abraham believing through doubt. His “lying with Hagar” to produce Ishmael was an act of faith, but very misguided. This is the act of one who is still a slave to sin. No, Abraham had doubts, until the actual son of promise came: Isaac. Then, when God said to sacrifice this son, Abraham had no hesitation to follow God in faith. Isaac’s birth was probably that defining moment when Abraham went from slave to sin to slave to righteousness. God had proven Himself faithful, so, somehow, God could make a great nation out of this son, even if Abraham did not understand. He heard the truth of God, and he believed.

But perhaps the Jews also got stuck with Jesus’ words, thinking He might be referring to Hagar and Ishmael, as we see back in verse 41:

They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.

Do not be confused by Jesus’ words here. This is Trinitarian talk. What is the Trinity? God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Son willingly submits to the Father. Jesus is not saying He had no desire to come live amongst us, merely that His Father sent Him and He willingly obeyed. It is like two best friends and/or a husband and wife: “What do you want for dinner?” “Whatever you want.” “How about our usual?” “Yeah, that sounds good.” (Because we are slaves to our stomach, sometimes, am I right?) Obviously, though, we are talking about something much more serious.

But if we are not listening for what God is actually saying, we can easily misunderstand, as Jesus explains picking up in verse 43:

Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Do you see it? As a people, the human race, we want our own truth. We want to hear what we think is right, what we think we know. We are slaves to our own desires, which are often sinful. He is talking to the Pharisees, but here Jesus is telling all of us that this is a sign that we think we may be sons of God, but we are the offspring of the Great Deceiver, Satan.

Just look at the world today:
We are told truth is what we make it … as long as you follow the crowd.
People are basically good … unless they disagree with me, then they are evil incarnate.
Everyone’s truth is true for them … unless you say there is only one truth (which is in and of itself a singular truth claim).

This could be like me saying “I raised Jovie.” Sure, I have held her a few times, maybe even changed a few diapers and helped feed her, but it is not exactly true that I raised her. But what if she got older and believed it? She would say Bill is her daddy, but she spends all of her time with me. Or Bill says, “Hi, Jovie! It’s daddy!” and she slaps him in the face and then holds my hand.

How would Bill feel? (Probably quite angry, and mostly at me!) Probably heartbroken.

I would be a father of lies for Jovie, but she would be treating me with love. Bill would be shunned, even if she told people that Bill is her parent.

This is what Israel has largely done. This is what all of humanity as largely done. We refuse to believe the truth, and instead we shun and full-on rage against God, basically slapping Him in the face with the way we live. The scary thing is that this can even be found in churches, people who say they are Christians but live completely contrary to Christ’s teachings.

This can be seen by the way we villainize people of other churches or who are a part of another political party or voted for certain politicians. This can be seen by the way we tell others what the Bible says, and it is either completely out of context (because we have not been reading it) or we unrepentantly, unapologetically do the same thing as others. This can be seen by the way we refuse to forgive each other, get angry at others, and come up with excuses for why we keep sinning.

This can be seen by quoting a certain serpent, and asking “Did Jesus really say … ?” Or even responding as the Jewish leadership did, back in verse 48:

The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

The Samaritans notoriously only followed the Torah, the first five books of the Bible: Genesis through Deuteronomy. It is like some teachers today saying we don’t need the Old Testament, because Jesus is only in the New Testament.

Both this and saying Jesus has a demon is like those teachers who say “Jesus and biblical authors lived in a different time. They wouldn’t understand the world today.” (I agree!) Or that the miracles may or may not have happened. Or that most of these teachings were only for people at that time and place.

It is also saying that Jesus is intentionally deceiving people. But how does He respond? In verse 49 Jesus responds:

Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

Basically, those who believe and follow Jesus will not taste death, meaning we will inherit eternal life through Him. The Father wants to glorify His Son, and it is denying Jesus’ Sonship that keeps us under judgment and heading toward the flames of punishment.

But watch how the Jews responded in verse 52:

The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

There is a bit to unpack here, but why did the Jews want to kill him? When Jesus said, “before Abraham was, I am”, he said in Greek, “Ego eimi”, very litearlly “I am.” I am sure you wall remember back in Exodus when God told Moses to tell the Israelites that “I am has sent you.” In the Greek Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament) it says “Ego eimi”, and in Hebrew “Hyah.”

(So, if someone tells you to “Leggo my ego,” you just say, “Hyah! He’s got me!”)

Jesus was literally calling Himself the I Am – God.

This is a lot to process for anybody: Jesus, who was a man, claimed to be God incarnate. How would you respond to someone telling you they are God?

RESPONSE:

That is crux of this whole chapter: How do we respond to Jesus?

Do you believe He is the Son of God – God Himself?

Jesus sets the standard here: Either you believe His words and are an adopted son of God, or you don’t believe and are a child of the Devil. That’s it. No other options.

BIG IDEA: You are either on Team Jesus or Team Satan.

TRANS:

So what do we do with this? Here are some closing thoughts to take home.

APPLICATION:

I personally love apologetics – giving answers for the questions and attacks against Christianity. The thing is, we are all expected to be ready, as Peter tells us in his first letter, chapter 3, verse 15: but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense (Gr: apologia, where we get the word apologetics) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

We are dealing with a fallen world, with people whose thinking is tainted by sin. We are gentle and respectful, because they may be completely unaware how hostile they are being and “such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:11). “Treat others how you want to be treated,” and all that. They are still slaves to their sin, not slaves to righteousness.

But also remember that we are not responsible for convincing others. We must be able to point them to the Word of God. Remember Jesus’ testimony: that Moses and the Prophets testified of Him, and His miracles signs and wonders prove His message.

But what is His greatest miracle that removes all doubt? Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Now, I know, it can be intimidating, even scary, perhaps even frustrating to have someone challenge your beliefs and God’s Word. Your pastors and elders are here to help you, of course, but this is why it is so important to read and know Scripture for yourself. We cannot always be there to help.

Besides, what was Pastor Scott’s message about last week? Focused on verse 32, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” How can you know – really know – the truth if you do not make it your own?

You are either on Team Jesus or Team Satan. If you have no desire to study Scripture, you are in danger of proving which team you are on. If you are ashamed to tell people the truth of Christ, you are telling the world you may be on the other team.

This is not to say this automatically means you are not a Christian. If you are newer to the faith, you may still be learning what it means. Sometimes being challenged in our beliefs can be scary and intimidating, like a fire alarm going off in the middle of church. But this is why we continue meeting together: to encourage each other to grow, to find the answers, and to be spurred on to reading and sharing the gospel.

CONCLUSION

Don’t be like hypothetical me and Jovie, knowing her biological father is Bill but living like we are father and daughter. That is just like those who claim to be Christian but never read the Bible, are ashamed to share the gospel, and treat other people without love, respect, or kindness. You are either on Team Jesus or Team Satan. The best way to know is to fall madly, deeply in love with the Son of God, learn from and about Him, and share that truth with others.