Oct 24, 2014

Glimpses 24

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Jesus the Risen King

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 24 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! Last time we looked at the significance of Jesus' death. Today we look at what happened next!

The story so far! Jesus Christ has died as a common criminal and been buried in a garden tomb guarded by Roman soldiers. His followers, his disciples have abandoned him, no doubt in fear for their own lives.  They had given up everything to be with this Jesus, following him in his 3 years of ministry. What would they do now? Go back to the lives they had before they followed this man, Jesus Christ.  He was just another false messiah and there had been plenty of them.  Or was he?

Each of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark Luke and John, tell us that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried in a tomb. What do these four Gospels say about what happened next?

Firstly, what did Jesus predict about what would happen, as he often talked about his death!

An example of this can be seen from reading Mark 8v31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead.

So Jesus predicted he would rise physically from the dead! WOW! Let us firstly look at the sequence of events over the period of time after Jesus death.

The tomb is empty

The two Marys watch the burial (Matthew27v61, Mark 15v47, Luke23v54-55) and Roman soldiers are placed to guard the tomb in order to keep it safe: (Matthew 27v62-66). Then the two Marys arrive at dawn to prepare spices for the body of Jesus before resting (Matthew 28v1, Mark 16v1-4, Luke 23v56-24v3, John 20v1). An angel rolls the stone away a great distance from the tomb! (Matthew 28v2-4) and then angels appear to the women (Matthew 28v5-7, Mark 16v5-7, Luke 24v4-8)! The women dart back to tell disciples: (Matthew 28v8, Mark 16v8, Luke 24v9-11, John 20v2) and that gives Peter and John the impetus to go and investigate the empty tomb for themselves (Luke 24v12, John 20v3-9)! They find it empty and go home (Luke 24v12, John 20v10)! Mary Magdalene weeps by the tomb: (John 20v11) and then is met by two angels: (John 20v12-13)

And where is the body of Jesus? Was it stolen? Unlikely under a Roman guard! Was it 3 days? Yes! But not a literal 3 x 24hours! There was the rest of the Friday (1 day), all of Saturday (2 days) and part of the Sunday (3 days). Let's look now at his appearances!

Jesus' appearances

First of all Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16v9, John 20v14-17)

and then to the other women (Matthew 28v9-10! Then the women report to the disciples in haste (Mark 16v10-11, John 20v18)! The Roman guards testify to the Jewish priests about what they knew (Matthew 28v11-15)!

Then as two people are walking along the road to Emmaus, Jesus greets and talks to them (Mark 16v12-13, Luke 24v13-32)! Then Jesus appears to Peter (1 Corinthians 15v5).

The 2 men who met Jesus on the Emmaus Road report back to the disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24v33-35)! Finally, Jesus appears to his disciples, but Thomas isn't there (Luke 24v36-43, John 20v19-24)! When the disciples meet up with Thomas they tell him that they have met with the risen Jesus but Thomas doubts it unless he sees with his own eyes (John 20v25)!

Jesus then appears to the Disciples again and this time Thomas is there  (Mark 16v14, John 20v26-29). Jesus goes on to appear to seven people (John 21v1-14), then 500 people (1 Corinthians 15v6). Then finally, Jesus appears to James: (1 Corinthians 15v7). So, not only from the Gospels as you may have observed, but also one from the letter to the Corinthians. That was a letter written by Paul, but we come to him later in the series!

Evidences for the resurrection

Oh that's all very well, but what further evidences do we have for this resurrection of Jesus Christ?

These facts remain for the resurrection:

  • The changed attitude of the disciples after seeing the risen Jesus - from defeated, cowardly people to being victorious and, brave.
  • Nobody who could have produced the dead body of Jesus, did so. Their silence is as significant as the words of the eyewitnesses.
  • The multiple appearances of Jesus to various numbers of individuals and groups of people, all at various times of the day and in differing circumstances.
  • The survival, growth and impact of the early church. If there was no bodily resurrection of Jesus' would people really have risked persecution and death for knowing a lie? Maybe a few would but not masses of people!
  • It was a physical resurrection and not merely a spiritual one as some suggest! Jesus was touched physically, involved in conversation and even ate food!
  • The greatest evidence though for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very existence of the church itself and its being embedded in history.  If the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ wasn't the catalyst for the start of the church, what was it and would it have lasted 2000 years so far?

Dealing with Doubters

How do we deal with those who doubt Jesus bodily resurrection and rising from the dead.

  • Let's say Jesus didn't rise from the dead. Surely the authorities, either Roman or Jewish, would have produced his dead body in order to quench the new movement! But they didn't. The Romans wouldn't have wanted any more trouble from the Jewish people and the Jewish hierarchy would have wanted to squash the very notion that Jesus was the Messiah who had bodily risen from the dead.
  • Would the disciples have really risked death for telling and maintaining a lie about the risen Jesus? They were beaten, confused and defeated men until they saw that Jesus truly did rise physically from the dead. After seeing Him, they were transformed and victorious people.
  • Somebody stole the body. Hardly likely, and if that did occur, for what reason? How would they have got past the Roman Guard and moved the stone a great distance from the tomb? The tomb was sealed to prevent tampering as well. An impossibility!
  • Some say that Jesus didn't die but merely fainted and recovered consciousness in the tomb. Even the sceptics disagree with this theory, one of whom said "It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to His sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that he was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life."
  • Or I suppose they all went to the wrong tomb. Whilst one person may have gone to a wrong tomb, not everyone would have done. And again the authorities, Roman or Jewish, would have shown the body in order to dispel the rumours!

So Jesus really did rise from the dead, in a bodily resurrection! So what?

Significance of the Resurrection

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ provided the central theme for the sermons and teaching in the early church (Acts 1v22; Acts 4v33, Acts 17v18). But what significance is there in Jesus' resurrection?

  • The resurrection proved and vindicated all Jesus' teaching and claims as the suffering Servant and attested to his being fully God and the last Judge of all mankind (Isaiah 53v10-12; Acts 2v36; Acts 3v13-15; Romans 1v4).
  • The resurrection declared God's approval of Jesus' obedient service and the fulfilment of all the Old Testament promises that we looked at! This results in forgiveness of sins and salvation being only found in and through Jesus Christ, which was the prime motive for evangelism in the early church (Acts 2v32, Romans 4v24-25)  It is vindication that Jesus is greater than Abraham or Moses!
  • The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is proof evident of the I AM claims: He is truly the bread of life, the light of the world, the gate and the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the only way, the only truth and the only life!
  • Jesus' resurrection is a sign of the bodily resurrection for all believers in him, giving a new attitude to death and transforming hopes to all those who partake of his offer (1 Corinthians 15v12-58, Romans 8v10, 2 Corinthians 4v14; 1 Peter 1v3 & 21)! More about this to come!
  • As the resurrected King, Jesus now intercedes for us and has perfected the redemption of all those who choose to follow him (Romans 5v10; Hebrews 6v20, 1 Peter 1v21). More about this too later!

Jesus has died and risen physically again! But what next? Is that all? Oh no! There is more yet to come in our story tomorrow! Thank you.

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Oct 23, 2014

Glimpses 23

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Moses, Jesus, Old Covenant, New Covenant

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 23 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! Last time we looked at the beating, humiliation, scourging, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus Christ - . Today we look at the significance of Jesus' death.

As we have seen through this series, throughout history, God had made covenants with: Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and the nation Israel through the New Covenant. From the time of Adam & Eve's disobedience, God had promised through these covenants, that He would make things right once more and people could be restored to relationship with Him on an individual basis. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, that was the fulfilment of those covenants. That's why he yelled "It is finished! Into your hands I commend my Spirit!" Can you remember back and see what promises God made concerning in each of the covenants?

New Covenant

Lets look at the last of these covenants: the New Covenant.

This New Covenant is to be contrasted with the Old Covenant or Mosaic covenant as we have called it so far, because this New Covenant finalizes what the Mosaic Covenant could only point to: the follower of God living in a life conforming to God's holy character - and that only through the death of Jesus. How is this so?

The New Covenant, you may remember, had four features: Regeneration, Restoration, Indwelling and Forgiveness. Combined, these show a God of grace! This New Covenant would be all God's doing and not on what any individual person or group could do! WOW! That's, as we shall see, the significances of Jesus' death. But let's go look and the Mosaic Covenant and its relationship to the New Covenant

Moses and Jesus

Moses to the Jews was a super-hero and revered because it was to him that God revealed His will, law and face! Moses was the key figure in the establishment of Israel as a nation! Moses had great zeal for God and was willing to sacrifice everything for God. He had fellowship with God. It was this Moses who was held in such high regard by the Jews.

Yet all this is merely a shadow and a sign of what was to come in Jesus. God's long promised Messiah would need to be greater than Moses! Was this Jesus? Lets go see!

The Mosaic or Old Covenant

Under the Mosaic or Old Covenant, Moses and Aaron represented God's house in Israel; Moses was the Apostle or Prophet and Aaron was the High Priest. Jesus, an Apostle and Prophet as well as being the High Priest, joined the two together. By Apostle, I mean as a Messenger - that's what an apostle is - a messenger or representative. As the Apostle of our faith, Jesus was faithful. Jesus was God's representative for us, making God known to us. Jesus was totally faithful, means to be both trusting and to be capable of being trusted.

Moses was the one to whom the Law was given - the Mosaic covenant under which the Jewish people lived. This covenant with Moses commenced with the stipulation "Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me" (Exodus 19v5). This covenant was to Israel in order that those who believed God's promise to Abraham, could know how to live how God wanted them to live.

This covenant with Moses covered the three areas of life:

  • The commandments were given so they would know how to relate socially to God (Exodus 20v1-6)
  • The judgments were given in order that they could relate socially to each other (Exodus 21v1 - 24v11)
  • The decrees dictated their religious life so that God could be approached by humanity on His terms (Exodus 24v12 - 31v18).

This Old Covenant was never meant to be as a means for providing salvation but Israel was meant to be a shining light to the nations of their God! It was given so that they could realize the helplessness and futility of their own efforts and their need of God's help. It was to serve only as a protective fence until the long promised Messiah came; the long waited for Saviour of all humanity, so that the whole world, Jew and Gentile, could be made right with God through faith and faith alone.

In Comes Jesus

And that is where Jesus comes in. As the Messiah and Saviour, Jesus ushered in the New Covenant, which was promised by God. Remember Jesus spoke about Himself in this role - a lot! And his claims were backed up with action!

We have seen since the beginning with Adam and Eve, that it is sin, which separates humans from God - that's why they were banished from His presence! As a consequence, this leads to both a spiritual and physical death. In the Old Testament, sins were dealt with by blood sacrifices of atonement as coverings for sin, for without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin. A blood sacrifice is God's way of dealing with sin. These blood sacrifices of the Old Testament signified several things:

  • Provided a covering for sin.
  • Showed the great cost of sin.
  • Was an exchange or substitution.
  • Was only always going to be a temporary measure, as it pointed forward to the Messiah and until that time, it needed to be done over and over again.

Go Compare!

So how is Jesus better than Moses? The answer lies in the solution to sin. The ultimate solution to sin lies not in the continual animal sacrifice under the Old Covenant with Moses. This is because the blood of animals cannot take away sin but was only ever going to be a veneer or a covering. That was why it was necessary to repeat time and time again!

So we see, it is only through the victorious death of Jesus, that sin is permanently taken away, because Jesus is the permanent sacrificial substitute!

How is this related to the New Covenant?

Remember from a couple of days ago when Jesus said at on his last night "This is the new covenant." The new covenant is a new meal, in order to remind his followers in every age about the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. In the new covenant (Luke 22v20) Jesus claims that his death was spoken about by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31v33-34). It was a new covenant in which God's people will be able to know him intimately, for their sins will be forgiven.

When ever we eat the bread and drink the wine, we remember symbolically Jesus' death on the cross. Some say the bread and wine, mysteriously turn into the actual flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, but this cannot be so. For if that were to be so, the sacrifice would be seen to be done again and again: Jesus would be being re-sacrificed and that is untenable! According to Hebrews 7v27, talking about Jesus' death on the cross: "For he did this once for all, when he offered up himself."  The sacrificial death of Jesus was a one time event and the bread and wine are symbolic of that one sacrifice. Jesus often talked symbolically such as when he said he was the bread of life or the living water.

This new covenant was sealed only through the perfect sacrifice of the God-Man Jesus on the cross. His blood ensures the truth of this New Covenant. This New Covenant, sealed by Jesus' death, finalizes what the Mosaic Covenant could only point to: the follower of God living in a dynamic relationship with God.

The death of Jesus on the cross, epitomises God's glory. Jesus Christ, simultaneously fully God and fully man, died on a Roman cross. He took on the sins of the world, paying the greatest price, so that people could choose to be restored to a dynamic relationship with God the Father. But the story doesn't finish with Jesus dying as some tragi-hero on the cross! Oh no! There is more to come! For Jesus said something about being raised on the third day and that he was the resurrection and life? How could this be if he was dead and buried? But for that you will have to wait until tomorrow! Thank you!

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Oct 22, 2014

Glimpses 22

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The King Dies

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 21 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! Last time we looked at Jesus at prayer. Today we look at the events leading to his death and burial.

Jesus has been arrested and bought to trial before the High priest. All the disciples have abandoned him, but Peter follows on from distance, even denying he knew Jesus 3 times! The guards then beat Jesus. Caiaphas the High Priest condemns Jesus and Jesus is taken to the Praetorium for trial by the Romans. That is where we will pick up the story...

1. Jesus was Condemned

So firstly lets look at Jesus' condemnation before the Romans.

Reading from John 19v1 to 16: Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in the face.

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him." When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!"

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, "Crucify! Crucify!"

But Pilate answered, "You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him."

The Jews insisted, "We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God."

When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. "Where do you come from?" he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. "Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?"

Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."

From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar."

When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge's seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement. It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.

"Here is your king," Pilate said to the Jews.

But they shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!"

"Shall I crucify your king?" Pilate asked.

"We have no king but Caesar," the chief priests answered.

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

Pilate was the Roman Governor of Judea and he had the power to release or condemn any prisoner. It was he that made the decision and gave the order for Jesus to be crucified. Pilate gave into the whims of the Jewish religious leaders and the baying crowd, permitting the flogging and mockery of Jesus in the hope of shaming his accusers (John 19vs. 1-3). Pilate even affirmed Jesus' innocence after the scourging (John 19v4). Jesus' refusal to answer stung Pilate into reminding Jesus of his Roman authority (John 19v10). Jesus, however, corrected Pilate's idea of authority and told him that although Pilate may have power on earth, his power did not reach beyond earth (John 19v11). Jesus knew that his work of bring people back to God in a loving relationship did not rest on the actions of a mere Roman governor. Pilate was more concerned with his own position than he was for justice.

2. Jesus was Crucified

So Jesus was condemned to die. Now lets look at John 19v17-24 and Jesus' crucifixion.

Reading from John 19v17-24: Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others-one on each side and Jesus in the middle. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read:JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

"Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it."

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said,

"They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." So this is what the soldiers did.

Jesus bearing his own cross, was killed as a common criminal (John 19v17). Despite that, even when he himself was in utter agony, Jesus showed concern for his mother, committing her into the care of the Apostle John (John 19v26-27).

The site of crucifixion was purposely chosen to be outside the city walls because the Jewish Law forbade such acts within the city walls. For sanitary reasons, the crucified body was often left to rot on the cross, a disgraceful reminder of what happened to criminals and serving as deterrent to passers-by. Jesus face had been beaten beyond recognition and the scourging had reduced his flesh to something like raw hamburger mince. The whips used had pieces of glass and rocks stuck to the cord so as to inflict as much damage as possible. He had a crown of thorns pushed into his scalp.

3. Jesus dies

Jesus finally dies in utter agony, humiliation and disgrace. Let us look together at John 19v28-37.

Reading John 19v28-30 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

In Jesus' final moments he uttered "I am thirsty." (John 19v28) and "It is finished." (John 19v30). The desire of the Jews (John 19v32) to fulfil their rituals was important because the Sabbath fell within the Passover festival. The breaking of legs (John 19vs.32-33) sped up the process of death. The piercing of Jesus' side and the flow of blood and water proved Jesus was really dead (John 19v34). At the cross, Jesus' mission is accomplished. At the cross, this God-man, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all sin of all time. We will come to look at how this can be this later in the series.

Some people say that Jesus didn't die on the cross, but rather somebody was made to be His substitute. But this is impossible. Nobody could have been a substitute or the Jewish leaders would have said so. The Romans were renowned for keeping strict discipline and regimen and nobody would have been able to get in amongst the Roman soldiers and somehow substitute themselves for Jesus. Yes, somebody else carried the cross for Him, but nobody but Jesus was nailed to that cross. Jesus died on that cross and not some substitute.

4. Jesus was Buried

Reading John 19v41-42 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

John 19v38-42 tells us of Jesus' burial. Two men, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus buried Jesus in an unused tomb. The significance of "in which no-one had ever been laid" (John 19v41) is to demonstrate that the body of Jesus at no point came into contact with the decay of a dead body.

But that is not the end of the story! Oh no! There is more to come as you will see! Thank you!

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Oct 21, 2014

Glimpses 21

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Jesus' Last Night

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 21 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! Last time we looked at Jesus at prayer. Today we look at the events of his last night, before his death.

In Luke 22, we come to Jesus' last night before He goes to death on the cross. It's the time for the Feast of Passover! Jerusalem was filled with people come to celebrate this great event! Passover was a time to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and it was a time for remembering and rejoicing with families (Exodus 11-12).

1. Plans of His enemies

In Luke 22v1-6, we read that Jesus' enemies plotted to kill him (Luke 22v2) and arranged for Judas to betray him (Luke 22v3). Of course, satan is involved, just as he was at the beginning of time and his purpose was to destroy Jesus (Luke 22v3, Luke 22v31). What about Judas though? Judas was motivated by greed, energized by satan and willing to betray Jesus for money (John 13v2, 27). Judas was never a true believer because his sins had never been cleansed by the Lord (John 13v10-11), therefore he had never truly believed or received eternal life (John 6v64-71). And while all this is going on, Jesus is still in perfect control. All the elements in the plot conspiring against Jesus had been allowed for. Remember, Jesus had been talking to God the Father! The death of Jesus was no accident!

2. Jesus Plans

In accordance with the Mosaic covenant, the people of Israel were expected to remove all yeast from their houses (Ex.12v15) as a reminder that their ancestors left Egypt in a hurry and had to eat bread without yeast on their travels to the promised land. In Luke 12v1, Jesus had warned his disciples about the "yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy". In other words, the religious leaders had cleansed their houses but not their hearts. The last thing the religious leaders wanted was a messianic uprising during Passover (Luke 19v11). They would have heard the crowds talking up Jesus Christ as the messiah, particularly after the events of the previous week when Jesus entered Jerusalem!.

3. Jesus Prepares (Luke 22v7-23)

Reading Luke 22v7, 13 - Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, "Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together."

The disciples went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.

Disciples needed a room within Jerusalem itself, and also required food - a lamb, bread, bitter herbs and wine.

4. Jesus initiates the New Covenant

(Luke 22v14-23) - When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. Jesus said, "I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won't eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God."

Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, "Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come."

He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me."

After supper he took another cup of wine and said, "This cup is the new covenant between God and his people-an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.

The Passover meal contains historical and theological symbolism regarding the death of Jesus. We will come to see what those are later on in the series, but suffice to say at this point, it is why this meal is the model for the central act of Christian worship, which is Holy Communion.

  • Opening Prayer
  • First cup of wine and a dish of herbs and sauce.
  • Story of the Passover was recited.
  • Psalm 113 was sung
  • Second cup of wine
  • Prayer of Grace
  • Main course of roast lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs
  • A further prayer
  • Third cup of wine.
  • Psalm 114 to 118 were then sung.
  • Fourth cup of wine.

5. Jesus Serves

Jesus washes the disciples' feet (John 13v1-17)

Reading from John 13v1-5 - Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples' feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

As part of the custom of the day, a servant or slave usually undertook foot washing of guests. Since none of the disciples had done this, Jesus Himself undertakes the task (John 13v4-5). Peter, recalcitrant and resistant as always, objects (John 13v6,8 ). Peter learns that only those cleansed by Jesus and trusting in Him fully, can be a part of the kingdom (John 13v7, 9).

Jesus' rising to serve symbolizes His coming to serve - that was his mission we talked about earlier in the series! It was a mission of great love and service! When he took off his cloak, this symbolizes the taking off of His glory when He became human. As he girded Himself with a towel, symbolizes his taking on human flesh at his birth. And, as the water cleansed the feet, so Jesus death and blood cleanses from sin. When he finished cleaning, he returned to where he was sitting and sat down after finishing this act of service.

6. Jesus Speaks (Luke 22v24-38)

Reading Luke 22v 24-27: Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus told them, "In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.' But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.

Here Jesus tells his disciples that they are the new leaders and thereforet they will judge the tribes of Israel! That in doing so, they are to serve everyone gladly, love everyone even those that they tested and persecute them! This is a radical new thing Jesus is telling his disciples - their actions are to back up their claims, just as Jesus' actions confirm his own claims!  In so doing, Jesus replaces the old leaders of God with his own people.

Tomorrow we look at that day in history - the day Jesus, the God-man, died. Thank you!

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Oct 20, 2014

Glimpses 20

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Jesus' Final Prayer

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 20 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! Last time we met with two people who encountered Jesus! The rich young ruler went away disconsolate and in sadness! The female outcast went away celebrating her new found freedom and told many others of this Jesus! Now today we come to Jesus' final prayer with God the Father.  Jesus has shown throughout his life on earth that God yearns to be in relationship with humanity. That is part of the New Covenant we looked at earlier in this series! So what can we learn from this prayer?

1. Jesus prays for Himself

John 17v1-5 - Jesus looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life-to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.

Central to this part of his prayer is glorification. That is the glorification of himself in order that God the Father who sent him will be glorified. Glorify means, in a biblical context, to have the person's true nature disclosed. So in effect, Jesus starts the prayer by saying May people see me for who I truly am, your Son. And may they also, through me, see your true nature, Father! Praying as Jesus does, just before he knowingly goes to his death, shows the importance of his death.

Why is Jesus' death important? We will come to that later on in this series, but for now it is through Jesus' death that both God the Father and Jesus will be glorified. Jesus' death will reveal a God of love, faithfulness and forgiveness. Jesus' entire earthly life has been one to show divine love. All Jesus' works and words were completed without even a hint of hypocrisy. His entire life was driven by the desire to see people, born separated from God, to be reunited with God: like the Samaritan woman we talked about last time - the woman who turned to God for reconciliation and forgiveness. It was through Jesus' death alone, that this was accomplished. Jesus confidently prays that having laid aside his glory by taking on human form, he will return to God's right hand, having achieved this work he was given.

2. Jesus prays for His Disciples

John 17v6-8 - I spelled out your character in detail to the men and women you gave me. They were yours in the first place; then you gave them to me, and they have now done what you said. They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that everything you gave me is firsthand from you, for the message you gave me, I gave them; and they took it, and were convinced that I came from you. They believed that you sent me.

In this part of the prayer, Jesus prays for his disciples. Note how he describes them: they were chosen by God himself, seen God in Jesus and have received God's words and obeyed them (John 17v6). John 17v6, 9-10 tells us that the disciples were in the safe possession of both the Father and the Son. John 17v7-8 shows what the disciples know.

Despite misunderstanding frequently what Jesus was talking about, the disciples still grasped that Jesus had come from God. He has told them that they will have to endure persecution and suffering because they are His followers, so Jesus prays for their safety. They will be safe, not because of their own cunning, character or conduct. They will be safe because of God's care and protection (John 17v11-12). As they are God's possession, he will ensure that they are watched over and protected. This security is also born from glorifying God and being witnesses for him (John 17v10).

Who are the disciples' enemies and why do they need protecting (John 17v11-12, 15)? The first enemy is the world who does not know God and is therefore in rebellion against God. The disciples were told of this prior to this prayer. Then there is Satan and his demons, who are also enemies of the disciples and will do all he can to stop God being glorified in the life of the disciples. God will keep them safe through His mighty name and nature. By remaining loyal to Jesus, obedient to his teachings and telling others about him, God's name & nature will therefore protect them.

Jesus also prays that they may be filled with joy (John 17v13), be dedicated wholly to him and trusting him alone - unlike the rich young ruler who left Jesus disconsolate. The disciples now have a mission and purpose to fulfil - to tell others of Jesus. This mission, though whilst their responsibility, is not theirs alone but is the continuation of Jesus' mission to bring people to reconciliation with God - extending the New Covenant to others

3. Jesus prays for all future Disciples

John 17v24-26 -  Father, I want those you gave me To be with me, right where I am, So they can see my glory, the splendour you gave me, Having loved me Long before there ever was a world. Righteous Father, the world has never known you, but I have known you, and these disciples know that you sent me on this mission. I have made your very being known to them - Who you are and what you do - And continue to make it known, So that your love for me Might be in them Exactly as I am in them.

Then finally, Jesus prays for all those who, through the work of the disciples, will become his followers. As such, it brings all Christians into intimacy with God through Jesus and be a part of a dynamic relationship with him - resulting from the New Covenant.

What does Jesus pray for? Jesus prays for unity. That is unity on various levels. Firstly it is unity on the invisible, supernatural level (John 17v21-22). The lives of all Christians will be inextricably linked to each other, through the love and obedience of God the Son and God the Father. Christians will be united because Jesus imparts upon them, the glory given to Him by God the Father (John 17v22). This unity is also physical, in so much as through a visible unity, people will come to know Jesus personally and take up the offer of reconciliation with God (John 17v21, 23) because Jesus seals and fulfils the New Covenant. This unity is also physically seen, through the telling of the message of reconciliation (John 17v20).

Jesus' prayer, reveals the intimacy to be had between God and humanity. Jesus embodied a God who was living and wanted to reconcile the world back to himself, ever since the days when Adam & Eve sinned against God. We will come to see more of how this is to be through the events of the coming days, of what we call "Easter". Tomorrow we look at the events on Jesus Last Night. Thank you.

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Oct 19, 2014

Glimpses 19

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Encounters with Jesus

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 19 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! We have seen how Jesus is the ‘I AM’, and by doing so, equates himself with God! Today we look at how two particular individuals reacted when they each encountered this great ‘I AM’!

A rich young ruler encounters Jesus!

Our first one is found in 3 of the gospels, Matthew 19:16-26 and Luke 18:18-27, but we will look only at the passage in

Mark 10v17: As Jesus started on his way; a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother.'"

"Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."

Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"

Matthew describes him as a young man (Matthew 19v16-26). Luke describes him as a wealthy ruler (Luke 18v18-27). In Mark’s account, he is simply a man (Mark 10v17-22). Put altogether that makes him a rich young ruler. He runs up to Jesus and falls on his knees before him. He wants eternal life, wants it now and so asks Jesus about it. When he calls Jesus a good teacher, Jesus responds “No one is good—except God alone.”

What do you think you are asking?

Now Jesus could have been correcting the young man, but more likely Jesus was asking: “Do you know what you are saying and how close to the truth about me you are?” This young man had fully kept the commandments listed by Jesus (Mark 10v19). However when Jesus said to the young ruler that in order to follow Him, he would have to give up all his wealth in order to have treasure in heaven and eternal life, the man left disconsolate.

That was a step too far for this man. He wanted his riches and also eternal life but Jesus said he couldn’t have both. He remains the only man to have left Jesus’ presence sorrowful, and that due to putting his trust in his riches and wealth alone. Now riches are not necessarily wrong but they do make trusting fully in God very difficult (Mark 10v23). So what does trusting in Jesus look like?

An Outcast Woman encounters Jesus!

Now we look at somebody who was despised by the world and an outcast in her community! Reading from

John 4v3-10, 23-26

So he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.

The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”

Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

Then down to verse 23

But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”

Now we come to see somebody who accepted Jesus for who he was. Jesus went via Samaria as it was the shortest route back to Galilee. It was hot. Jesus was thirsty and wanted a drink. His disciples had gone into town to get food. So he asks a Samaritan woman to fetch him some water from the well. That he asked a Samaritan would have been bad enough, but to also talk to a woman!

The woman

We don’t know the name of this woman. But by looking at this conversation between Jesus and her, we discover several things about her! That she was a Samaritan. There was equal animosity between Jews and Samaritans, hence the end of John 4v9: “(For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” The Samaritans were a mixed race people of both Jewish and Assyrian descent from the time of the division of Israel into two parts and the annexation of the Northern kingdom by Assyria.

She was an outcast, which is why she was fetching water at the hottest part of the day! This was probably due to her sexual immorality having had 5 husbands and currently in a 6th relationship (John 4v18). We do know for sure that she was waiting for the Messiah (John 4v25) to come!

What does this encounter tell us about Jesus?

We see Jesus' genuine humanity. He was tired, drained, hot, thirsty and hungry – normal human feeling and reactions. We know Jesus contravened tradition in that he spoke to a woman who was a Samaritan and a sinner. Respectable Jewish men never did that sort of thing! Hence the disciples reaction in John 4v27! That in asking for water, he was capable of great humility by asking for a drink of water; for by so doing, he was putting himself in her debt.

Yet, he knew the woman’s life of sinfulness (John 4v17) and it tells us of his divinity, when he offered her the water of eternal life (John 4v14) would spiritually satisfy her (John 4v14)! He Loved the woman, and gave her the most revealing and explicit statement we have in the Gospels as to who he really was (John 4v26) when he said outright “I Am the Messiah!” Remember, he said that to an outcast and non-Jew! Amazing!

When the disciples returned, the woman left her water jar, (quite probably one of her only possessions) and went back to the town to tell other people about this Jesus (John 4v29-30). In the remainder of John 4, we read of the many people coming to faith because of the Samaritan woman’s testimony.

Jesus as the ‘I AM’, was ever-reaching out with an all-encompassing forgiveness and love to the poor or rich, learned or uneducated, male or female, wanted or unwanted, Jew, Gentile or Samaritan. Through his exclusive claims there is a great inclusiveness of all who are willing to submit only to Him, as both the rich young ruler and the Samaritan women found out – both with different outcomes – one left dejected and the other left celebrating! Thank you!

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Oct 18, 2014

Glimpses 18

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I AM 4

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 18 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! Jesus' teaching continues to be met with amazement yet also some misunderstanding and bewilderment! Today we complete looking at one particularly aspect of his teaching - himself - and the last two ‘I AM' statements.

I AM the Way Truth and Life

Reading from John 14v1-9

"Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father's home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going."

"No, we don't know, Lord," Thomas said. "We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!"

Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied."

Jesus replied, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don't know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?

Question answered with a  WOW!

When Jesus issued this statement, "I AM the way, the truth and the life", the stress of the sentence automatically falls on the words "the way". This is because Jesus is answering a question posed by Thomas (John 14v5). Jesus claims to be the only way to God the Father, because Jesus is one with the Father - He is God!. Not only is he the way, but he is also the truth and the life. All of God's truth is embodied in Jesus Christ who, as both fully God and fully human, was also the ever-living God.

Nobody can claim access to God the Father, except through Jesus himself. Other religions and other so-called paths to God may contain some element of truth about God, but there is no other way to God but through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ embodies ALL truth and as we saw recently, Jesus is also the life as part of his I AM claims. He is the means of access to God for all people of all cultures and all backgrounds. Jesus welcomes all, so that in his singular exclusive claims there is an inclusive embrace of all. As Jesus goes on to say in John 14v7, because we know him we also know God the Father.

Amazing things to say! Jesus is the truth because He is totally trustworthy! Jesus is the life because He is life Himself! Jesus is the way because He is the way we enter heaven and can have eternal life! We will see how that can be very soon in this series and why it can only be that way! Jesus also gives a glimpse or a hint of the future - can you spot them out yet? If you cant, we will have come to them by the end of this series and you will be amazed at the continuity of the Bible!

I AM the True Vine

And the last "I AM" can be found in John 15v1-14

"I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

"Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. "I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father's commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

We are One!

We have already seen that Jesus is the bread of life, the light of the world, the gate and the shepherd - all the things the nation of Israel was to be but failed to do so. Israel was to be God's light, way and shepherd to the nations - but failed to be so. The nation of Israel was also to be a vine or vineyard (Isaiah 5v1-7, Ezekiel 15v1-6). Israel as a vine had produced nothing even though God had taken her, made her a nation and given her the land as a gift and every possible benefit in which to grow and glorify God Himself as a reward. But the vineyard of Israel, had become a corrupt and barren vine and needed to be pruned back. Instead of justice, it had produced oppression and instead of living right before God it has produced sin and distress.

Real Vine vs Symbolic Vine

Juxtaposed against Israel's failure to be a vine, Jesus states that he is the true vine. Jesus was the reality, whereas Israel was merely the symbol. As the purpose of a vine is to produce fruit, the focal point is on what it takes to produce fruit (John 15v2). As part of the ultimate mission of Jesus to glorify God the Father (John 12v28, John 17v4), Jesus is the Vine. How did Jesus seek to glorify God? By loving God and loving others unconditionally and sacrificially! Just as Jesus embodies all truth, Jesus also embodies all love! Perfect love is Jesus! Sure there maybe semblances of God's love in other religions, but it is only in Jesus that the fullness of God's love dwells! Jesus as the true vine indicates that people were to have a relationship with God through him alone! This relationship involves loving as Jesus did - of God and to others - without condition and sacrificially. As Jesus is the vine, people would be sustained spiritually through him and he would be totally reliable! Amazing concepts if you think about it!  Jesus is giving them glimpses of what is to come and as you will see as we progress through this series.

Summarising the Seven "I AM"s

So there are the seven "I AM" statements. As well as equating himself with God as the "I AM", Jesus is also promoting his exclusivity as the only Saviour. He does not say I am a true vine; a way, a truth and a life. Nor does he say I am a resurrection and a life. He does not say I am a door to life, just as he does not say I am a shepherd, a light or a bread of life. No - Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only life. Jesus is the one great shepherd and the only door to life. Jesus is the only light of the world and the only true bread of life. Jesus Christ is unique in being the "I AM". Tomorrow we look at how differnt people encountered this "I AM" with some different reactions. Thank you.

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Oct 17, 2014

Glimpses 17

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I AM 3

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 17 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! Jesus' teaching continues to be met with amazement yet also fury, hatred and ridicule! Today we continue looking at one particularly aspect of his teaching - himself - and 1 more I AM statement.

We have already seen that Jesus is the bread of life, the light of the world, the gate and the shepherd - all the things the nation of Israel was to be but failed to do so. Our next one can be found in John 11v17-40

When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask."

Jesus told her, "Your brother will rise again."

"Yes," Martha said, "he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day."

Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?"

"Yes, Lord," she told him. "I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God." Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, "The Teacher is here and wants to see you." So Mary immediately went to him.

Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus's grave to weep. So they followed her there. When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died."

When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him and he was deeply troubled. "Where have you put him?" he asked them.

They told him, "Lord, come and see." Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, "See how much he loved him!" But some said, "This man healed a blind man. Couldn't he have kept Lazarus from dying?"

Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. "Roll the stone aside," Jesus told them.

But Martha, the dead man's sister, protested, "Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible."

Jesus responded, "Didn't I tell you that you would see God's glory if you believe?" So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, "Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me." Then Jesus shouted, "Lazarus, come out!" And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, "Unwrap him and let him go!"

Resurrection and the Life

Jesus has claimed to be the Son of God in John 10v22-41 and John 11v4. Strong words indeed, but will Jesus' actions back up those words? His friend Lazarus was sick, so his sisters sent word to Jesus about this, hoping that Jesus could heal him. Jesus replies to this family he loves, that the illness will not result in death! How could he be so sure, particularly from a distance? Though Jesus knew that Lazarus was dead, he still waited a further days before going there. He knew it didn't matter whether Lazarus was dead 2 days or 4 days - dead is dead!

Exclamation Jesus is the Messiah!

Such was the eagerness of Martha to see Jesus when he eventually came, she left the house of mourners and expressed some faith that God would hear Jesus' prayers. She uttered that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the saviour spoken about in the Old Testament. But was that just wishful thinking as later she doubted he could do it?

Exclamation Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life!

The exclamation by Jesus in John 11v25 "I am the resurrection and the life" from verse is the highlight of this passage of Scripture. Lazarus has died (John 11v17) and will be raised back to life again (John 11v44). Being raised back to life is not resurrection! It means more than. Why does Jesus say that he is the resurrection and the life? Resurrection, on one level, certainly does mean bring back to life. But it means much more as we shall see later on in this series. As can be seen from this passage, he is the giver of life itself. Not only physically but also in a spiritual sense. He gives eternal life to all who will believe in him.

Jesus' humanity!

Note Jesus' emotions in this passage: love, feelings moved, weeping and sorrow. Showing his true humanity and his heart of compassion for people. Emotions, such as Jesus being deeply angry? But with who or with what? Most people are surprised that Jesus gets angry and some people even deny it! The gospel writers weren't afraid to say Jesus got angry though! I would suggest that as Jesus is the life, Jesus is angry with death, decay as they are the end result of sin. Jesus is angry because death hurts people, even people close to him, as Lazarus and his family were to him. This stirs Jesus deeply. Jesus is full of compassion, pity, sympathy, grief and care for this family. He shares their pain and shows it in his tears. He loves them and is determined to show this love in practise.

Jesus' Divinity!

Then the moment of truth arrives! Will Jesus be true to his word and raise Lazarus back to life again? Some doubted but Jesus knew that God would answer his prayers. First he thanks God that for hearing him and then issues the command for Lazarus to come out! And come out he did! One of the WOW moments of the Gospels! Jesus was true to his word, God heard his prayers and Lazarus was raised from the dead! He was dead but now back to physical life! One day Lazarus would die physically again but for now he had new life! This Jesus even had authority over death and life! Amazing! Yet, just after this event, the Jewish authorities, who were watching carefully, came up with a plot to kill Jesus.

What do you think the covenants we looked at had to say about this, particularly the New Covenant? Life and death physically but also life and death spiritually? Jesus the giver of life! Why can Jesus exclaim with authority "I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live"?  We continue tomorrow! Thank you.

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Oct 16, 2014

Glimpses 16

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I AM 2

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 16 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! Jesus'  teaching has been met with amazement yet also fury and ridicule! Today we continue looking at one particularly aspect of his teaching - himself - and 3 more I AM statements.

Light of the World

John 8v12-18

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."

The Pharisees replied, "You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid."

Jesus told them, "These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going. But you don't know this about me. You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other."

Jesus is at the Feast of Tabernacles! One of the great symbols of that feast was Light! At the end of the feast, when all the lights are extinguished, Jesus said something quite remarkable - that he was the light of the world! Throughout the Old Testament, light is an important symbol. There is the pillar of fire and cloud leading the nation of Israel on their journey (Exodus 13). In Psalm 27v1, the psalmist describes God as "my light". The nation of Israel was to be God's light to all the world (Isaiah 49v6), so that God would be the world's light (Isaiah 60v19-22).

So, by referring to himself as the light of the world, Jesus is saying it is he who shines light into people's spiritual eyes and gives them understanding, which in turn leads to them seeing their need of God and his ability to satisfy their spiritual needs. This was opposite to the burdens the Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees, put upon people. Hence their vehement opposition to Jesus.

I am the Gate and Good Shepherd

John 10v1-18

"I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won't follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don't know his voice."

Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn't understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don't belong to him and he isn't their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he's working only for the money and doesn't really care about the sheep.

"I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

"The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded."

Throughout the Old Testament, God is seen as a shepherd and his people are the sheep of his keeping. The sheep are always God's, even though He temporarily entrusted them to people such as Moses to care and tend them. Therefore Moses and others like him, such as the true prophets, were forerunners to Jesus. David, you may remember, was the Shepherd King! Here Jesus proclaims that he is the door or gate to salvation! It is through Jesus that salvation is found and through him alone as the door or gate that people are led safe and sound into spiritual freedom, spiritual light and spiritual sustenance. Unlike others who come only to steal, kill and destroy, Jesus offers spiritual safety and nourishment. Jesus does not just offer a way out, but also a way in! The security offered by Jesus is because he is always in close proximity to those who follow him. Jesus calls all those who follow him by name (John 10v3) and they know each other.

Jesus is also the great shepherd through the sacrifice he must make for his sheep. It is in this role of shepherd, that Jesus exhibits true leadership, which is self-less and sacrificial. Ezekiel 34v11 tells of God searching out for his sheep among all nations, and this is fulfilled through Jesus. Here Jesus is looking ahead to the sacrifice he will make. His love for all of humanity compels him to make the ultimate sacrifice. Just as all shepherds will endanger themselves for the safety of their sheep, so too will Jesus endure the pain and suffering, so that all people can be led into the safety of God's kingdom if they choose to avail themselves of that opportunity.

Through his perfect, obedient and voluntary sacrifice, not only will salvation be available to the Jews (the sheep of Israel) but also to those of other nations, the Gentiles (the other sheep mentioned by Jesus). Remember that often in Israel, certainly under 1st century Gentile Roman rule, Gentiles (non-Jews) were hated and many Jews declared thanks to God that they were neither dogs nor Gentiles! Truly amazing words by Jesus in the light of such sentiments!

Jesus already has the end in view. Can you glimpse at what he means when he speaks about laying down his life and taking it back up again? Can you see where we glimpsed at the Covenants and how they apply to this Jesus - particularly the Davidic Covenant (Father and Son) and the New Covenant? Can you see how this Jesus is divisive and what sets him apart from all other religious teachers of any time? This Jesus, at the moment is only speaking words, but will his words be backed up with action? Tomorrow, more I AM statements as we reflect on Jesus' teaching about himself. Thank you.

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Oct 15, 2014

Glimpses 15

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I AM 1

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G'day and welcome to Partake! We are now on day 15 of our series "Glimpses", looking at the story of the Bible in 30 days, from the time of creation through to the time of the fullness of redemption! The long awaited for king is here, his public ministry has begun in earnest. His teaching is met with amazement yet also fury and we looked at last time, how Jesus taught; what he taught; his methods and who he taught? Today we start looking at one particularly aspect of his teaching - himself!

I AM Introduction

It may come as a surprise to you but Jesus talks about himself - a lot! But, not only just talk about himself but always put those words into action. In other words, he backed up his claims with action, which even a cursory look at the Gospels will reflect.

John Stott says this about it: ‘The self-centredness of the teaching of Jesus immediately sets himself apart from the other great religious teachers of the world. They were self-effacing. He was self-advancing. They pointed away from themselves, saying "This is the truth, so far as I perceive it, follow that." Jesus said, "I am the truth, follow me."'

Jesus' teaching about Himself?

In John's Gospel, the writer John records statements where Jesus said "I AM". These are unique to John and are not recorded in the three other Gospels. Here Jesus is reinforcing his claims to be God because, when he says "I AM", he is referring back to the time when God revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3v14 and through the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 41v4.

That's why crowds often picked up stones in order to kill him for blasphemy. This was in accordance, so they thought, with Deuteronomy 13, which dictates that anyone who tries to turn people away from the living God is to be stoned to death. They knew Jesus was claiming to the very God they thought they worshipped. Little did they know at the time that he was the living God! So lets go look at our first "I AM"

I AM the bread of Life

Reading from John 6v30-51

They answered, "Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"

Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, Moses didn't give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

"Sir," they said, "give us that bread every day."

Jesus replied, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven't believed in me even though you have seen me. However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father's will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day."

Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." They said, "Isn't this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven'?"

But Jesus replied, "Stop complaining about what I said. For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.)

"I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh."

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Three times in this passage, Jesus refers to himself as the living bread. By this he meant that he was the only one who could gratify the appetite and yearning of every person's spirit and their spiritual needs. For those he was speaking to, bread was a basic staple food for living, just as it is for millions of people today. Jesus indicates when saying he is the bread of life, that he will supply all needs! Just as he said to the woman at the well in John 4v4, and repeats here, that whoever drinks his living water, shall never again go spiritually thirsty.

When Jesus referred to the bread in the desert he talked of it being merely temporary, despite being a gift from God. He however, as the true bread of life, would give permanent satisfaction and life everlasting to all those who believe and follow him! But this bread he offers has to be eaten; it has to be taken up by the person wanting spiritual life! In this passage from John 6 he offers glimpses of what is lying ahead for him. He also gives glimpses of the intimacy he held with God the Father. .Soon after this, some people stopped following him and abandoned him because they found it too difficult to understand. How easily people give up and not persevere.

Jesus is the bread of life! To have true spiritual life is to believe in Him! No works or good deeds can earn this spiritual life from God - just believe by having faith in Jesus alone. All spiritual needs are met through Jesus alone as the bread of life! Jesus will supply needs - spiritual as well as physical. This is only a glimpse at what Jesus taught about himself and we continue on this theme tomorrow! Thank you!

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