google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2012 May

Archive for May 2012

WOW Jesus 18

wowjesus.jpg

18. Jesus The Ascended King

Right mouse click to save this podcast episode as a mp3

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:16-20

Jesus’ resurrection is the catalyst for the mission of the church, beginning with the disciples and throughout history. Jesus’ mission to earth is coming to an end and shortly He will be returning to the right hand of the Father. Before He does so though, He has some more words to say to His disciples.

Jesus’ Authority

Throughout the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus’ authority is a major theme. Where Matthew records Jesus doing miracles, this is to highlight Jesus authority in action and not just merely in words. Matthew records Jesus’ authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6) and he imparted authority to his disciples for a short time when they went on a mission in Matthew 10. Jesus has authority (Matthew 28:18) over all things, all people, all circumstances and happenings. Jesus has authority over all spiritual beings, whether angels or demons. Jesus has authority over all nations, governments and rulers. Jesus has authority over all earthly and spiritual authorities. Jesus has the authority. This means regardless of what ever the Christian Disciple faces, Jesus is in control. Therefore, as Christian Disciples, we can obey him without fear of retribution from those who would seek to harm us. We can obey him regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. It is a great comfort to know, that he is in control of everything!! Through his death on the cross and his rising from the dead, Jesus has conquered all enemies.

Now people sometimes confuse authority with authoritarian. Authoritarian means severe, rigidity and a dictator. None of these applies to Jesus. We have been given a free will, but as his Disciples, we should choose to exercise our free will to obey him and live a life worthy of him. As the Christian depends on Jesus’ authority, the Christian Disciple gains wisdom, guidance, and power.

You Go

If Jesus had not risen from the dead, then the Disciples would not have had a story to tell. But Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, and the early church exploded numerically as the twelve Disciples exercised Jesus’ authority and His power. We read about the growth of the early church in the Book of Acts.

Christianity is a faith whereby all Christian Disciples are to tell others of the goodness of God. Indeed God Himself is a missionary God. Ever since Genesis 3 and the fall of man, God has been on a mission to bring and call people back to himself. That was the purpose of the nation of Israel, to be a light to all nations of the goodness and glory of God! That was purpose when God, who is outside of time and space, entered human history taking on human flesh and restricted himself in a human body as the man we know as Jesus Christ. Jesus’ whole mission was one of calling people back to life in God. As followers of Jesus Christ, all Christian Disciples are to evangelize. Evangelism is showing and telling others of God’s message of reconciliation to all people of all time. It is not forcing people to adopt Church standards (1 Corinthians 5:12) and nor is it simply a message of join the church as a symbol of good works (Ephesians 2:v8-10).

Why evangelize? The prime motivation for evangelism is out of gratitude for what God has done, in that we love because he loved us first. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:14, For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” As his servants we are to tell and live out God’s reconciling message

As I said before, we are all to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5). In these last words of Matthew’s Gospel, all Christian Disciples are to make disciples throughout the whole earth! Making disciples is not just evangelism but ensuring that guidance and care is given to new Christian disciples. How is this achieved? How can the Christian Disciple exhibit Jesus’ authority and power in evangelism? Who gives the impetus for Christian Disciples? That is part of the role of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus said would come once He had ascended back to the right hand of God the Father.

The Holy Spirit is coming

This is in fulfilment of Ezekiel 36:27 “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws”, where the Almighty and All-powerful God will indwell those who follow him. Throughout his ministry Jesus had talked about how after he was to depart, and that the Holy Spirit would come (John 15:26).

We know from the other writings in the New Testament who the Holy Spirit is and what his ministry is.

The Holy Spirit is spoken of as God (1 Corinthians 3:16). The attributes of God are ascribed to the Holy Spirit - life (Romans 8:2), truth (John 16:13) and love (Romans 15:30).

The Holy Spirit is also a Person and is always referred to as ‘he’ in the New Testament (John 16:14). He relates to us as a person for he is comforter, guide and teacher (John 14). He can be blasphemed against and be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), and wherever the Holy Spirit is, the Father and Son are also present because they are one. (John 14:18-23).

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

What is the ministry of the Holy Spirit and what does e have to do with Christian Disciples?

1. Glorify Christ: This is the Spirit’s prime role, that he will glorify Jesus Christ the Son of God, who is to be praised and glorified (John 16:13-14). He will testify for Jesus Christ (John 15:26). He will witness for Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8).

2. The Paraclete – Comforter: He is one called to stand alongside (John 14:16). Jesus said it would be better for him to go away and send the Holy Spirit to live in us (John 16:7). The Holy Spirit ministers to us all that Jesus would be to us if he were here in person.

3. Declares God’s Word: The Holy Spirit has a prime role in revelation. It was he that spoke through the prophets (Ezekiel 2:2) and it was he who inspired the Bible, God’s Word (2 Peter 1:21). Further to this, the Holy Spirit interprets and illuminates God’s Word (John 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16) to people!

4. Conviction: The Holy Spirit is sent to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8)

5. Salvation: Christian Disciples are born of the Holy Spirit and are known as regenerated (John 3:3-8)

6. Indwelling: God lives inside each Christian Disciple through the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, a person cannot be a Christian Disciple (Romans 8:9; Gal 2:20; Colossians 1:25-27)

7. Sealing / Ownership: The Holy Spirit indwelling the Christian Disciple is assured proof of being God’s possession (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:3)

8. Security: The Holy Spirit is a deposit, guaranteeing our future redemption, salvation and inheritance (Ephesians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 1:22).

9. Filling: This speaks of the Holy Spirit’s control or domination of our lives. The imperative here is that we are to be filled (Ephesians 5:18), and go on being filled. He gives power to enable Christian Disciples to evangelise (Acts 1:8; 4:8, 31).

10. Sanctification: The Holy Spirit transforms us into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 7-18), as we walk, live in, and are led by the Spirit (Galatians. 5:16; Romans 8:13).

11. Baptism: This expression occurs 7 times in the New Testament. It occurs 4 times in the gospels, referring to Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 1 Corinthians 12:13 states that we are all baptized with the Holy Spirit into one body.

12. Service: The Holy Spirit equips us for service. God is working in you to will and to act accordingly to his purpose (Phil. 2:13), to be my witnesses (Acts 1:8).

How is the Spirit seen? The Spirit’s work is in evidence where people’s lives become more holy and more like Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 13:7).

The Holy Spirit equips Christian Disciples for service through the giving of spiritual gifts. Elsewhere on this website that has been discussed.

Ask yourself the following questions and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Read Matthew 28:16-20. How does the authority of Jesus aid me in evangelism?

Q2. Read John 21. How am I carrying my cross for the sake of Jesus Christ?

Q3. How is the presence of the Holy Spirit transforming me into the image of Jesus Christ?

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website and receive an email when anything new is posted!

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

WOW Jesus 17

wowjesus.jpg

17. Jesus the Risen King

Right mouse click to save this podcast episode as a mp3

1 Corinthians 15:1-8: Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark Luke and John, all tell us that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried in a tomb. What do these four Gospels say about the resurrection and Jesus’ rising from the dead?

Let us first look at the sequence of events over the period of time after Jesus death till He ascended. Some of the sequence events have more than one Gospel reporting them, but for brevity, I will only give one reference to Scripture.

The tomb is empty

  • Two Marys watch the burial: Matthew27:61, Mark 15:47, Luke23:54-55,
  • Roman soldiers guard the tomb: Matthew 27:62-66,
  • Women prepare spices then rest: Luke 23:56,
  • An angel rolls the stone away: Matthew 28:2-4
  • Women arrive at dawn with spices: Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-4, Luke 24:1-3, John 20:1
  • Angels appear to women: Matthew 28:5-7, Mark 16:5-7, Luke 24:4-8,
  • Women dart back to tell disciples: Matthew 28:8, Mark 16:8, Luke 24:9-11, John 20:2
  • Peter and John investigate the empty tomb: Luke 24:12, John 20:3-9
  • Peter and John go home: Luke 24:12, John 20:10
  • Mary Magdalene weeps by the tomb: John 20:11
  • Mary sees two angels: John 20:12-13

Jesus’ appearances

  • Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene: Mark 16:9, John 20:14-17
  • Jesus appears to the other women: Matthew 28:9-10,
  • Women report to the disciples: Mark 16:10-11, John 20:18
  • Guards testify to the priests: Matthew 28:11-15,
  • Jesus meets two people on the Emmaus Road: Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-32,
  • Jesus appears to Simon Peter: 1 Corinthians 15:5, Luke 24:34,
  • 2 report to disciples in Jerusalem: Luke 24:33-35,
  • Jesus appears to the Disciples less Thomas: Luke 24:36-43, John 20:19-24
  • Disciples report to Thomas: John 20:25
  • Jesus appears to the Disciples and Thomas: Mark 16:14, John 20:26-29
  • Jesus appears to seven people: John 21:1-14
  • Jesus questions Peter 3 times: John 21:15-23
  • Jesus appears to 500 people: 1 Corinthians 15:6
  • Jesus appears to James: 1 Corinthians 15:7

Evidences for the resurrection

These facts remain for the resurrection:

  • The changed attitude of the disciples after seeing the risen Jesus. They changed from defeated, cowardly people to victorious, brave people.
  • Nobody who could have produced the dead body of Jesus, did so. Their silence is as significant as the preaching of the Apostles.
  • The multiple appearances of Jesus to various numbers of individuals and groups of people at various times of the day and in differing circumstances.

The survival and inordinate growth and impact of the early church. If there was no bodily resurrection of Jesus’ would people really have risked persecution and death for a knowing lie?

Dealing with Doubters

Let’s say Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. Surely the authorities would have produced his dead body in order to quench the new movement! But they didn’t.

Secondly, 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 Jesus truly did rise from the dead. After seeing Him, they were transformed and victorious people.

Thirdly, 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?

Fourthly, 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”.

Fifthly, they all went to the wrong tomb. Whilst one person may have gone to a wrong tomb, not everyone would have done.

Lastly, Jesus didn’t die on the cross but somebody was substituted for him. This is certainly untenable, given the rigidity and strict record keeping of Roman rule and with the eyes of the Jewish hierarchy watching.

Significance of the Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus Christ provided the central theme for the sermons and teaching in the early church (Acts 1:22; Acts 4:33, Acts 17:18). 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 53:10-12; Acts 2:36; Acts 3:13-15; Romans 1:4).

Declared God’s approval of Jesus’ obedient service and the fulfilment of all the Old Testament promises, resulting 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 2:32, Romans 4:24-25)

Jesus’ resurrection is a sign of the bodily resurrection for all believers in him, giving a new attitude to death and transforming hopes (1 Corinthians 15:12-58, Romans 8:10, 2 Corinthians 4:14; 1 Peter 1:3 & 21)

As the resurrected King, Jesus now intercedes for us and has perfected the redemption of all those who choose to follow him (Romans 5:10; Hebrews 6:20, 1 Peter 1:21).

Jesus still meets people today

As Jesus is still living, he meets with people at the present time. How does he do this? Jesus walks with us, whereever we go and in particular in the darkest periods of our life. Just as he did with the two people on the road to Emmaus, he walks with those who claim to follow him (Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-32). Jesus speaks whenever the Bible is faithfully preached and read from, just as he opened the eyes of those on the Emmaus road when he explained the Scriptures (Luke 24:27). Jesus meets us in the Communion, with the bread and wine, which symbolise his flesh and blood.

For more to think about please do read John 20 & 21. Ask yourself the following questions and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. How does my faith journey compare to that of Thomas’?

Q2. What can I learn from Peter and the responses he gave?

Q3. How do I still encounter the risen Lord in my daily walk with him?

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website and receive an email when anything new is posted!

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

WOW Jesus 16

wowjesus.jpg

16. Jesus The Dying King

Right mouse click to save this podcast episode as a mp3

Isaiah 52:13-14: See, my servant will act wisely he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness—

Isaiah 53:10-11: Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

Isaiah, centuries before Jesus’ birth, was speaking about Jesus. As we look together briefly at John 19, correlate the two passages and see how they interlink!

1. What of Jesus?

a. Jesus was Condemned

Pilate gave in and permitted the flogging and mockery in the hope of shaming Jesus’ accusers (John 19:s. 1-3). Pilate affirmed Jesus’ innocence after the scourging (John 19:4). Jesus’ refusal to answer stung Pilate into reminding Jesus of his Roman authority (John 19:10). Jesus, however, corrected Pilate’s idea of authority and told him that although Pilate may have power on earth, his power did reach beyond earth (John 19:11). 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. Jesus was the true Passover lamb.

b. Jesus was Crucified

Jesus, bearing his own cross, was killed as a common criminal (John 19:17). Pilate was responsible for fixing the sign “The King of the Jews” (John 19:21-22). Clothes of condemned men were given to soldiers on duty (John 19:23).

Jesus showed concern for his mother, even when he himself was in agony, committing her to the Apostle John (John 19:s.26-27).

The crucifixion site “was purposely chosen to be outside the city walls because the Law forbade such within the city walls… for sanitary reasons… the crucified body was sometimes left to rot on the cross and serve as a disgrace, a convincing warning and deterrent to passers-by.”

Jesus’ final moments – “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28) and “It is finished.” (John 19:30).

The desire of the Jews (John 19:32) to fulfil their rituals was important because the Sabbath fell within the Passover festival. The breaking of legs (John 19:s.32-33) speeded up the process of death. The piercing of Jesus’ side and the flow of blood and water proved Jesus was really dead (John 19:34).

c. Jesus was Buried

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus buried Jesus. The significance of “in which no-one had ever been laid” (John 19:41) is to demonstrate that the body of Jesus at no point came into contact with the decay of a dead body.

2. What Has Jesus’ Death Done For All Mankind?

  • Our natural state – Romans 3:23 – (We are all sinners).
  • Forgiveness – Ephesians 1:7 – (God forgives our sins).
  • Peace – Romans 5:1 – (We have peace with God).
  • Reconciled us to God – 2 Corinthians 5:19 – (No longer enemies with God).
  • Justified us – Romans 3:24-26 – (Makes us just before God).
  • Cleanses us from sin – 1 John 1:7
  • Makes us right before God – 2 Corinthians 5:21
  • Gives us direct access to God – Ephesians 2:18
  • Freedom from the power of slavery to sin – Galatians 5:1
  • Freedom from the power of the devil – Hebrews 2: 14
  • Gives us Christ’s intercession – Hebrews 2:17-18

None of the above things apply to those who do not follow Jesus.

3. Why did Jesus go to the cross?

3a The problem!

Sin is what separates humans from God and as a consequence leads to both a spiritual and physical death (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Isaiah 59:2). In the Old Testament, sins were dealt with by blood sacrifices of atonement as coverings for sin (Leviticus 17:11), for without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). A blood sacrifice is God's way of dealing with sin. These blood sacrifices of the Old Testament signified several things:

  • It provided a covering for sin.
  • It showed the great cost of sin.
  • It was an exchange or substitution.
  • It was only always going to be a temporary measure, as it pointed forward to Jesus' death

3b. The Solution!

The solution lies not in continual animal sacrifice of the Old Testament because Hebrews 10:4 reminds us that the blood of animals cannot take away sin but was only a veneer or covering. That was why it was necessary to repeat time and time again! It is only through the death of Jesus, that sin is taken away (Hebrews 9:v11-15, 26-28), because Jesus is our permanent sacrificial substitute!

3c. Substitution

Jesus died for our sin, the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18). That is how God is both just and the justifier of sinners. That is why Jesus needed to be both fully God and fully human! If he lacked either, it would not be the full substitutionary sacrifice that was necessary to bear the permanent consequences of sin! When Jesus died on the cross, in our place, he bore the consequences of all sin – past, present and future. He therefore became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) and it was His precious blood as a lamb without spot or blemish (1Peter 1:18-19) that fulfils God’s requirements permanently.

3d. Propitiation

Towards sin and sinful behaviour, God has great fury, anger and wrath (Jeremiah 21:5). Yet as Micah 7:18 “He is slow to anger and quick to forgive”. Propitiation basically means the turning aside of God's anger by the offering of the sacrifice of Christ. God's anger and judgment of sin falls on Christ, instead of us. We need to approach God to appease his anger, in order to accept it (Romans 3:25; Isaiah 53:5; John 2:2, 5:6).

1 John 2:2: He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4:10: This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice (or propitiation) to take away our sins.

3e. Redemption (Ransom) Mark 10:45

Not only was it propitiation, but also an act of redemption! In the time of the New Testament, this word was used to refer to the buying back of a slave - the price paid to buy the slave’s freedom. God paid redemption so that humans can be freed from the slavery to sin (John 8:35 Romans 7:14). The price was paid (1 Peter 1:18-19) and so we are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). But it is our responsibility to choose that way! God does not coerce forcefully – he leaves it as a choice for humans to make as individuals.

What is our response to this to be? Sacrifice, substitution, propitiation and redemption can be summed up in one word: love. For 1 John 3:16 states: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” Jesus told us to take up our cross if we are to follow Him as his Disciple (Luke 9:23). Are you as a Christian Disciple willing to take up your cross and do all you can do to love others?

Price to pay for true followers and disciples:

  • We must surrender completely to him
  • We must identify with him in suffering and death
  • We must follow him obediently, wherever he leads.

For more to think about please do read John 18-19. Ask yourself the following questions and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. In the light of Jesus teaching about suffering under persecution, how far am I prepared to go as his disciple?

Q2. Why was it necessary that Jesus be both fully human and fully God?

Q3. How is Jesus a king and how does that affect my relationship with him?

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website and receive an email when anything new is posted!

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

WOW Jesus 15

wowjesus.jpg

15. Jesus’ Last Prayer

Right mouse click to save this podcast episode as a mp3

John 17:1-5: Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said: Father, it's time. Display the bright splendour of your Son So the Son in turn may show your bright splendour. You put him in charge of everything human so he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge. And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, the one and only true God, And Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what you assigned me to do. And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendour, the very splendour I had in your presence before there was a world.

After his last teaching on his last night, Jesus now turns to prayer. Firstly praying for himself, then for his twelve disciples and then finally for all disciples that will follow, the church. This prayer is probably the pinnacle of revelation in John’s gospel. Here we see Jesus’ very words, revealing an unparalleled intimacy with His Father.

Jesus prays for Himself

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 is rarely used outside of church circles today. If ever it is, is usually in the context of somebody pretending to be better than they really are. Glorify means, in a biblical context, to have the person’s true nature disclosed. So in effect, Jesus is saying in John 17:1: “May people see me for who I truly am, your Son. And may they also, through me, see your true nature, Father!” Praying as he does, just before he knowingly goes to his death on the cross, shows the importance of the cross. For it is through the cross that God the Father and Jesus will be glorified. Jesus’ death on the cross reveals a God of love, faithfulness and forgiveness. John 17:4 reveals that it was for this purpose that he came, in order to complete the work given. Jesus’ entire earthly life has been one to show divine love. All his works and words were completed without even a hint of hypocrisy. His entire life was driven by the desire to see sinful people turn to God for reconciliation and forgiveness. At the cross and through the cross, this is achieved. Jesus confidently prays that having laid aside his glory by taking on human form, he will return to God’s right hand, having achieved the work of redemption. The theme of eternal life runs throughout John’s Gospel (John 3:15-16; John 10:28). Eternal life is knowing God personally and intimately, and that is only achieved by faith, through Jesus’ death on the cross. It is a free offer and open to all. It is the responsibility of all people to take up the offer. Once the offered is taken up, the responsibility is then to tell others of this offer.

Jesus prays for His Disciples

John 14:6-8: 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 17:6). John 17:6, 9-10 tells us that the disciples were in the safe possession of both the Father and the Son. John 17:7-8 shows what the disciples know. Despite misunderstanding frequently what Jesus was talking about, the disciples still grasped that Jesus had come from God. Having taught that they will endure persecution and suffering because they are His followers, 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 17:11-12). 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 17:10). God is glorified whenever his salvation plan is explained and told.

Who are the disciples’ enemies and why do they need protecting (John 17:11-12, 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. Satan is also an enemy of the disciple and will do all he can to stop God being glorified in the life of the disciple. How will God 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 17:13) and be dedicated wholly and solely to him. 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. Part of that mission is to live a holy life in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is the real and true pioneer evangelist! Living a holy life, means living a life not for themselves but for the glory and obedience of Jesus Christ.

Jesus prays for all Christian Disciples

John 17:24-26: 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.

Now Jesus prays for all those who, through the work of the disciples, will become his followers. As such, it brings all Christian disciples into intimacy with Jesus and a part of a dynamic relationship with him.

What does Jesus pray for His church of followers? Jesus prays for unity. That is unity is on various levels. Firstly it is unity on the invisible, supernatural level (John 17:21-22). The life of all Christian disciples are inextricably linked to each other, through the love and obedience of God the Son and God the Father. Christian disciples are united because Jesus imparts upon them, the glory given to Him by God the Father (John 17:22). 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 17:21, 23). This unity is also physically seen, through the telling of the message of reconciliation (John 17:20).

Remember Jesus’ words earlier in John’s Gospel? John 15:12-14: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. If the world sees Christian Disciples loving others sacrificially, then unity is seen and it is an effective witness to the reality of reconciliation with God.

For more to think about please do read John 17. Ask yourself the following questions and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. How am I as a Christian Disciple glorifying God and being His representative?

Q2. What are the hindrances that I face regarding evangelism and telling others about Jesus?

Q3. What can I, as a Christian disciple, do to maintain a witness of unity with other Christian Disciples?

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website and receive an email when anything new is posted!

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

WOW Jesus 14

wowjesus.jpg

14. Jesus’ Last Teaching

Right mouse click to save this podcast episode as a mp3

“But now I am going back to the Father who sent me, and none of you asks me where I am going. You are very sad from hearing all of this. But I tell you that I am going to do what is best for you. That is why I am going away. The Holy Spirit cannot come to help you until I leave. But after I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you.” (John 16:5-7)

In these last few chapters before He is crucified, Jesus is saying goodbye to His disciples and giving them some final teaching before He departs. Several times He has told them He is going away (John 13:33; John 14:3-4, 19, 28). Today we are going to go quickly through John 15-16

Disciples must bear fruit for the kingdom! (John 15:1-16)

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2)

As usual Jesus uses Old Testament language, for in the Old Testament, the nation of Israel is often seen as a vine (Jeremiah 2:21; Psalm 80). However as a vine, Israel had not produced fruit that God had expected as explained in Isaiah 5:1-2 “I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.”

With Jesus describing himself as the true Vine, the implication is clear that the nation of Israel was but an imperfect precursor to his perfect self. With Jesus as the vine, all believers are the branches, and all believers draw spiritual nourishment from him. As part of this nourishment, sometimes pruning is required (John 15:2). Cleansing is also required in order that fruit be borne from the Christian Disciple. This cleansing is through regular confession of sin and partaking of Holy Communion as explained in the foot-washing scene of John 13. To prove to others they are his followers and his disciples, Jesus tells them they are to continue loving him and also to sacrificially love others joyfully (John 15:12-14). By doing these things, which is now their mission statement, they will bear much good fruit for God’s greater glory (John 15:8). The same is true of us today, if we are Christian Disciples.

Disciples will suffer for the kingdom (John 15:18-27)

John 15:18: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”

Having spoken of love and bearing fruit, Jesus now declares a warning and the context into which he is sending them. We learn from this passage that opposition to Jesus’ message is unavoidable. The first opposition is that of the old nature attacking the new nature. Christian Disciples, Jesus said, were called out from the world (John 15:19). Christian Disciples upon conversion belong to a different place and are heading for a different place . Secondly, opposition is to be expected simply because of who Jesus is (John 15:21). Christian Disciples share in the life of Jesus and the way the world treats Jesus is the way the world treats all His disciples (John 15:20-21). Thirdly, opposition comes through revealing evil. Jesus, as the Light of the World, exposed evil and sin through His words (John 15:22) and works (John 15:24). At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus commanded all those who follow Him, to also be “lights of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16). This is done by consistently ensuring that our works and words match our lifestyle and that no hypocrisy will be found. Opposition brings persecution, and regularly throughout history, Christian believers have been persecuted for their faith in Jesus. In our own time, perhaps the most persecuted century of all, being a Christian is not an easy decision, but it is worth it. It is also endurable because of three things: God still remains Lord God despite all; we share in Jesus’ own sufferings and therefore have fellowship with him (Philippians 3:10) and by being persecuted, it shows we belong to him (John 15:19).

The main reason all opposition can be endured is because the Christian Disciple is not alone. God the Holy Spirit witnesses with the Christian Disciple (John 15:26). Not as a supplementary person filling a perfunctory role, but rather as the pioneer going out to testify about Jesus ahead (John 15:26) of the Christian Disciple (John 15:27).

Disciples will have resources in the Kingdom (John 16)

The first resource that Christian Disciples have is, as we have already seen, the Holy Spirit. After all, he is the real evangelist. In conjunction with him, the Christian Disciple has three resources to use: proclaiming, counselling and discipling.

Proclaiming (John 16:1-7): this is the proclaiming and elucidating work about Jesus that the Spirit performs. The Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection (John 16:14). If Jesus did not go back to glory, and the Holy Spirit was not sent, then the pioneering work of the Holy Spirit would be missing from evangelism and mission. Not only does the Holy Spirit direct people to Jesus, but he takes them to him.

Counselling (John 16:8-11): As well as proclaiming about Jesus, the Holy Spirit speaks to people’s hearts, personally – one to one. He convinces people hearing God’s Word of three things: their own sin (John 16:8); their separation from a righteous God (John 16:10) and also in regards to the judgement of Satan and all who follow him (John 16:11). In these three things, a person is led to the Cross in order to confess their sin and need of Jesus Christ and the salvation only He can give.

Discipling (John 16:12-16): Once brought to faith, the Holy Spirit performs several tasks for the Twelve Disciples: He will guide them into all truth and develop what is coming in the future (John 16:13). The New Testament is the product of this work, and that through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For the Christian Disciple today, the Holy Spirit helps them to apply the Bible to their life in order that Jesus Christ be glorified (John 16:14).

The second resource available to the Christian Disciple is Jesus himself! (John 16:16-33)

His presence! The twelve disciples will experience sorrow and loss when Jesus is crucified. But after the resurrection, their sorrow will turn to great joy – similar to the exceeding joy after the pains of childbirth! Christian Disciples today also have Jesus’ presence with them, particularly when engaged in doing the work of an evangelist!

His provision! Through answered prayer, joy abounds (John 16:24)! Prayer is gong to be of prime importance for the twelve disciples as it is a way to ensure unabated joy!

His position! Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33) and nothing can prevail against him!

For more to think about please do read John 15-16 and ask yourself the following questions and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. As a Christian Disciple, what fruit am I producing?

Q2. Why do I suffer and endure persecution for being a Christian Disciple?

Q3. How does knowing that the Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus before me, help me in my evangelism?

Q4. When was the last time I showed exceeding joy for the reasons Jesus gives in John 16?

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website and receive an email when anything new is posted!

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

WOW Jesus 13

wowjesus.jpg

13. Jesus’ Last Night

Right mouse click to save this podcast episode as a mp3

Luke 4:16-21 - He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’

A lot of businesses and a lot of churches have mission statements. This is Jesus’ Mission statement and after 3 years of ministry from that point, Jesus has preached the good news of God’s salvation. He has healed the sick. He will release the oppressed by His death on the cross. His mission will be fulfilled at the cross.

Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles were the three most important feasts in the Jewish calendar (Leviticus 21). All Jewish men were expected to visit Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:16). The Feast of Passover was to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and it was a time for remembering and rejoicing (Exodus 11-12). In Luke 22, we come to Jesus’ last night before He goes to that cross.

Jesus Plans (Luke 22:1-6)

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve, and Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

  • Jews were expected to remove all yeast from their houses (Ex.12:15) as a reminder that their ancestors left Egypt in a hurry and had to eat bread without yeast.
  • Jesus had warned his disciples about the “yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). 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 19:11)
  • Judas was motivated and energized by satan (John 13:2, 27)
  • Judas was never a true believer because his sins had never been cleansed by the Lord (John 13:10-11), therefore Judas had never believed or received eternal life (John 6:64-71)
  • Judas had been given authority and had been preaching the same message. This proves how close a person can come to the kingdom of God and still be lost (Matthew 7:21-29)

2. Jesus Prepares (Luke 22:7-13)

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover." "Where do you want us to prepare for it?" they asked. He replied, "As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there." They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

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

(Luke 22:14-23) – When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God." After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him." They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.

The Passover meal contains historical and theological symbolism regarding the death of Jesus. This 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.

3. Jesus Serves

Jesus washes the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17)

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 13:4-5). Peter, recalcitrant and resistant as always, objects (John 13:6, 8). Peter learns that only those cleansed by Jesus and trusting in Him fully, can be a part of the kingdom (John 13:7, 9). As we look back at this episode, knowing what we do now of the Cross, we learn how this simple act of washing feet is symbolic of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the Cross.

  • Both events display great love and service.
  • Just as Peter opposed Jesus going to the cross (Matthew 16:21-23), so he objected to having his feet washed here
  • Jesus’ getting up to serve symbolizes His coming to serve.
  • As he took off his cloak, this symbolizes the taking off of His glory when He became man.
  • Girding Himself with a towel, symbolizes his taking on human flesh at the incarnation.
  • As the water cleansed the feet, so Jesus death and blood cleanse from sin.
  • As He returned to where he was sitting and sat down after finishing this act of service, Jesus returned to the right hand of God after his work on the Cross.

When we became Christian Disciples, our sins were forgiven through Jesus’ death on the Cross. That is when we had our “bath” as it were. That is the point when we were justified before God and we are declared His child. Having been justified already, we don’t need a bath anymore! But we do need the equivalent of a feet-washing daily, and or every time we take Holy Communion, and a cleansing of our sin when we confess it before our God and repent.

4. Jesus Speaks (Luke 22:24-38)

Reading Luke 22: 25-30: Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

In this teaching we see that

  • The disciples, the new leaders, will judge the tribes of Israel
  • His followers are to serve gladly
  • His followers will be tested
  • His followers will be persecuted and are to show love.

Compare the Plans!

Plans – The contrast between the plan of Jesus and those of his enemies.

Plans of Jesus

  • Jesus is in control
  • Plans the Passover meal (Luke 22:7-12)
  • The meal is part of His plan (Luke 22:16)
  • He knows Judas’ plan (Luke 22:21-22)
  • Replaces the old leaders of God with his men (Luke 22: 30)

Plans of His enemies

  • Plotting to kill Jesus (Luke 22:2)
  • Arranges for Judas to betray Jesus (Luke 22:3)
  • Satan’s purpose is to destroy Jesus (Luke 22:3, Luke 22:31)

All the elements in the plot conspiring against Jesus had been allowed for. The death of Jesus was no accident (1 Peter 1:18-21) For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

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 22:20) Jesus claims that his death was spoken about by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:33-34). It was a new covenant in which God’s people will be able to know him intimately, for their sins will be forgiven.

For more to think about please ask yourself the following questions and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. How often are my feet washed or my sins confessed?

Q2. Read Philippians 2. How does this passage relate to John 13 and how should I react to it?

Q3. How often am I prepared to serve and do the little jobs that need doing, instead of waiting for somebody else to do them?

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website and receive an email when anything new is posted!

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

WOW Jesus 12

wowjesus.jpg

12 Jesus Reaches Out

Right mouse click to save this podcast episode as a mp3

In the previous study we saw two different people approach Jesus differently. We saw the rich young ruler who was eager and keen to meet with Jesus, running and kneeling before him, only to leave in sorrow at the cost of discipleship. We then saw Nicodemus coming at night to Jesus in order to check out what Jesus was all about for himself. This time we will see two more people encountering Jesus under different circumstances, as he reaches out to them.

1. Woman at the well John 4

John 4:1-4: The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria.

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 4:9: “(For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” This could equally be translated as “for Jews do not ask any favours of the 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. 2 Kings 17 tells us that Assyria repopulated this area.

She was an outcast, that’s 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 4:18). We also discover that she was waiting for the Messiah (John 4:25)!

Jesus

What does this tell about Jesus?

  • Tells us of his genuine humanity. He was tired, drained, hot, thirsty and hungry – normal human feeling and reactions.
  • 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!
  • He showed great humility by asking for a drink of water; he was putting himself in her debt.
  • He knew the woman’s life of sinfulness (John 4:17)
  • Tells us of his divinity, when he offered her the water of eternal life (John 4:14).
  • ·He was able to spiritually satisfy (John 4:14)
  • Loved the woman, and gave her the most revealing and explicit statement we have in the Gospels as to who He really was (John 4:26).
  • In showing love for the woman, he transcended cultural barriers. Ordinary Jewish men would never ask a Samaritan woman for a drink! Hence the disciples reaction in John 4:27! But Jesus is no ordinary man, his love is for all, whether they be rich, learned, male, female, wanted and unwanted!
  • Shows us that Jesus’ offer of salvation is for all people, and not just the Jews.

The woman misunderstood the living water he offered as she probably thought he meant running water or water from a river! But the living water Jesus offered was spiritual water to cleanse her from sin and give eternal life. Elsewhere in the Old Testament, God is described as “a fountain of living water” (Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13).

When the disciples returned, the woman left her water jar and went back to the town to tell other people about Jesus (John 4:29-30). Many people came to faith in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony (John 4:39-42) and knew Him as the saviour of the world (John 4:42).

As Jesus’ ministry continues, we know that He spoke to people regardless of their social status, education, nationality or gender.

2. Woman caught in adultery (John 8:1–11)

John 8:1-6: But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

Jesus, as all Rabbis and teachers did, was at the temple teaching and talking with people. It was also part of the role of the rabbi/teachers to ascertain what to do in certain difficult moral and legal situations. As part of this role, the Pharisees dragged in an unknown woman charged with adultery. Likewise with the Samaritan woman, we don’t know this woman’s name either! The Pharisees lay a trap for Jesus. If Jesus said to stone the woman, then the Romans could arrest Jesus, for it was Roman law that any death must be conducted by them and not by others. If Jesus says to release the woman, then the Pharisees would say that Jesus is contravening Scripture and the Law of Moses. So what does Jesus do? He writes in the dirt (John 8:6). We don’t know what He wrote, but from the Greek word for write, we understand that He was seemingly writing a report and that when in he says in John 8:7 “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”, He is in fact saying “If any one of you is without this sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” So if any of the Pharisees had not committed adultery, whether in the mind or the actual physical act, then they could have stoned her. As it was, they left one by one, the oldest first (John 8:9). He must have also been indignant at the way the Pharisees who were hypocrites were quick to condemn others, so maybe Jesus was reminding them also of Jeremiah 17:13: “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water.So instead of passing judgement on the woman and also by eluding the trap of the Pharisees, Jesus passed judgement on the judges. Jesus having forgiven the woman of her sin, then charges her to leave her life of sin (John 8 v11). This reminds us that with the forgiveness of sin, comes a responsibility to live a life worthy of Jesus and to pursue righteousness.

With both these women, Jesus showed His compassion and forgiveness. These two women were outcasts of their society, but Jesus showed them mercy and forgiveness and loved them. We read of the many people coming to faith because of the Samaritan woman’s testimony. There is no room in Christianity for actions and attitudes that defy Jesus’ ever-reaching and all-encompassing forgiveness and love. His Gospel, as he always shows, is for all people everywhere, regardless of gender, race, age, culture or social status.

For more to think about please do ask yourself the following questions and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. What do these two examples tell of us Jesus’ attitude towards sin?

Q2. How am I sometimes like the Pharisees in condemning others?

Q3. What can I learn about evangelism from both Jesus and the two women?

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website and receive an email when anything new is posted!

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

WOW Jesus 11

wowjesus.jpg

11. Jesus’ Encounters

Right mouse click to save this podcast episode as a mp3

We know Jesus spoke to and interacted with large crowds. The Sermon on the Mount and the feeding of large crowds arejust a couple of examples. But we also have records of his encounters with individuals and their reaction to him. People who we talk to about Him, often have three reactions: rejection (either in sorrow or anger); more to think about it; and acceptance. We are going to look at two encounters that we find in the Gospels, what Jesus had to say to them and their subsequent reactions: his encounter with the rich young ruler and his meeting with Nicodemus. Next time we will look at two examples of those who accepted and believed in Him.

1. Rich young ruler Matthew 19:16-26; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-27

Mark 10:17-22: 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!"

This story is in all three synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke. Luke describes him as a wealthy ruler (Luke 18:18-27). Matthew describes him as a young man (Matthew 19:16-26). In Mark’s account, he is simply a man (Mark 10:17-22). 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.”

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 10:19). 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 the rich young ruler. He wanted his riches and also eternal life but Jesus said he couldn’t have both. He remains the only man who 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 10:23).

2. Nicodemus John 3:1-21

John 3:1-3: Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

Nicodemus wants to know more about Jesus and investigate him personally, instead of following the majority of the other Jewish leaders.

What do we know about Nicodemus?

  • Member of the Jewish ruling council, the Sanhedrin
  • A leading teacher and learned scholar of the Scriptures
  • From other sources we know he may well have been from a family of wealthy landowners
  • Protested against Jesus’ condemnation without a trial (John 7:50-52)
  • Took gifts to anoint Jesus’ body (John 19:39-40)

Nicodemus was probably one of the many looking for a kingdom of God based around a political Messiah; hence him admitting that due to his miraculous signs, Jesus must have been from God. They wanted a Messiah who was a political leader who would lead Israel to be a shining light for the whole world to come to Jerusalem and worship the one true living God. However, Jesus corrects Nicodemus and says that it is not through a new Israel that God’s kingdom will be seen, but by being “born again”.

Three times in this conversation, Jesus repeats about being “born again”. What does “born again” mean?

It is not a physical rebirth and nor is it merely a turning over a new leaf. It is not baptism because Jesus has not instituted baptism yet! It is the new covenant, which Nicodemus should have known about it (Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36). It is being born with water and spirit – cleansed of sin and indwelt with the Holy Spirit! It is being born from above, which is looking to the one who has come down from heaven. For the phrase “born again” can also be translated “born from above”. It is looking to Jesus and trusting in him, just as the ancient Israelites were saved by looking at the bronze snake (Numbers 21:8) It is on an individual basis just as physical birth is. Nobody knows the date and time of their own birth unless they are told by somebody! Jesus seemed astonished that the teacher didn’t already know that, being as Nicodemus was a highly educated and learned teacher!

So there we have 2 different reactions to Jesus: The rich young ruler who left full of sorrow; the Jewish leader who left with more to think about regarding this Jesus. In each encounter, Jesus is remarkably comfortable with both people. He loved the rich young ruler (Mark 10:21). His love surrounded them, just as his love surrounds all people today. His message of salvation, through him alone, is for everybody of all time.

For more to think about please do ask yourself the following questions and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Please read Mark 10:17-22. What things may be hindering me from fully trusting in God for all things?

Q2. Read John 3:1-21. What does this Scripture tell me about God’s salvation?

Q3. How does Jesus’ approach to telling people about salvation inspire me to do likewise?

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website and receive an email when anything new is posted!

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

WOW Jesus 10

wowjesus.jpg

10. Jesus’ I AM statements Part 2

Right mouse click to save this podcast episode as a mp3

Isaiah 5:1-7 - I will sing for the one I love

a song about his vineyard:

my loved one had a vineyard

on a fertile hillside.

He dug it up and cleared it of stones

and planted it with the choicest vines.

He built a watchtower in it

and cut out a winepress as well.

Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,

but it yielded only bad fruit.

‘Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah,

judge between me and my vineyard.

What more could have been done for my vineyard

than I have done for it?

When I looked for good grapes,

why did it yield only bad?

Now I will tell you

what I am going to do to my vineyard:

I will take away its hedge,

and it will be destroyed;

I will break down its wall,

and it will be trampled.

I will make it a wasteland,

neither pruned nor cultivated,

and briers and thorns will grow there.

I will command the clouds

not to rain on it.’

The vineyard of the Lord Almighty

is the nation of Israel,

and the people of Judah

are the vines he delighted in.

And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;

for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

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. This passage in Isaiah starts out as a love song between God and His chosen people, Israel. Israel was to be a vineyard, and despite all the love God had given tending to her, she had only produced bitter, sour fruit. This bitter sour fruit is described in Isaiah 5:8-25. Therefore, God will abandon her. So, if this vineyard is abandoned, will God raise a new vineyard? What of the other Jesus’ “I AM” statements.

Our next one is

John 11:25: Jesus said to her, "I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.

This exclamation by Jesus is highlight of this passage of Scripture. Lazarus has died (John 11:15) and will be raised back to life again (John 11:43-44). Why does Jesus say that he is the resurrection and the life? He is the giver of life itself. He gives eternal life to all who will believe in him. Resurrection and life are inextricably tied together. Resurrection and life harmonize each other because resurrection precedes life and the new life of a Christian disciple is the result of resurrection. Remember Jesus’ mission was to go to his death on the cross and be resurrected three days later. Not a resurrection like that of Lazarus, who would later physically die again. No, Jesus’ resurrection, as we will look at in a later study, is one where death is ultimately conquered and Jesus has a glorious new body. Those who choose to be Christian Disciples by faith in the risen Christ, only have new life because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after His death on the Cross. That is why Jesus can exclaim with authority “I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25). Moreover, this resurrected life is not just for the future but it is also for the present, and only through the risen Jesus Christ.

John 14:6: Jesus said to him, "I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

When Jesus issued this statement, the stress of the sentence automatically falls on the words “the way”. This is because Jesus is answering a question posed by Thomas (John 14:5). Jesus Christ has exposed the barrier of sin and death, which prevents a person from entering God’s presence. He explodes this same barrier when a person entrusts in Him for their eternal salvation. He is, as he claims in Matthew 7:14, “the road that leads to life”. 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. 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 14:7, because we know him we also know God the Father.

John 15:1: "I AM the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was to be a vine or vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7, Ezekiel 15:1-6). Juxtaposed against Israel’s failure to be a vine, Jesus states that he is the true vine. Jesus was the reality, whereas Israel was the symbol. As the purpose of a vine is to produce fruit, the focal point is on what it takes to produce fruit (John 15:2). As Christian Disciples, we are to bear fruit by remaining close to Jesus, as He is the vine and we are the branches. And why is the Christian Disciple to bear fruit? As a means of bringing glory to God the Father (John 15:8) and thereby proving their Discipleship. As part of the ultimate mission of Jesus to glorify God the Father (John 12:28, John 17:4), it is imperative that Jesus’ disciples be fruit-bearers. This means that all Christian Disciple are to be his witnesses and therefore a commitment to mission and evangelisation is necessary. That is why the Christian Disciple prays in the Lord’s Prayer “your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10)

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. As his disciples currently in the Western world, we get shouted at and criticized for holding such exclusive views. But if Jesus was not God and He was only one path to God, would Jesus have needed to go through the agony of the cross, as payment for the sins of the world? Of course he wouldn’t have needed to. That he did shows that he is the only path and only means of access to God. It is only through the resurrected Jesus that salvation can be assured and then only by a childlike faith and not by any other means. That is why we should not capitulate to current trends to unite all religions, which say that all paths lead to God. Jesus Christ himself as we have seen has said that he and he alone is the way to God and salvation is only through his work on the cross for all those who trust and believe in him.

For more to think about please do read John 15:1-27. Ask yourself the following questions and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. How is my inward relationship with Jesus reflected and shown to those who do not know Him?

Q2. How do I as a Christian Disciple, stay close to Jesus as my Master and my King?

Q3. Is there any correlation between Jesus’ exclusive claims and why the world hates His disciples?

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website and receive an email when anything new is posted!

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

WOW Jesus 09

wowjesus.jpg

9. Jesus’ I AM statements Part 1

Right mouse click to save this podcast episode as a mp3

Exodus 3:13-14 - Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?’

God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I am has sent me to you.”’

Isaiah 41:4 - Who has done this and carried it through,

calling forth the generations from the beginning?

I, the Lord – with the first of them

and with the last – I am he.’

John 8:58-59 - ‘Very truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

On seven other occasions in John’s Gospel, John records statements where Jesus said “I AM”. These are unique to John and are not recorded in the three other Gospels. For this Podcast we will look briefly at four of them and the next Podcast will discuss the remaining three. 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 3:14 and through the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 41:4. That’s why in John 8:59, they 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.

John 6:35, 48, and 51: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; this bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

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. 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 4:4, that whoever drinks his living water, shall never again go spiritually thirsty. When Jesus referred to the manna in the desert (John 6:49) 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 (John 6:51)! But this bread he offers, has to be eaten; has to be taken up by the person wanting spiritual life! Note the inference to His impending sacrifice on the cross at the end of John 6:51!

John 8:12: Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I AM the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

Jesus is at the Feast of Tabernacles! One of the great symbols of that feast was Light! At the end of the feast, when the lights are extinguished, Jesus said 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 27:1, the psalmist describes God as “my light”. The nation of Israel was to be God’s light to all the world (Isaiah 49:6), so that God would be the world’s light (Isaiah 60:19-22). 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.

John 10:7-11 and 14-15: Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I AM the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

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. 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 10:3) and they know each other.

Jesus is the great shepherd only through the sacrifice he must make for his sheep. Here Jesus is looking ahead to the sacrifice he will make on the Cross. 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 of the Cross, so that people can be led into the safety of God’s kingdom. It is in this role of shepherd, that Jesus exhibits true leadership, which is self-less and sacrificial. Ezekiel 34:11 tells of God searching out for his sheep among all nations, and this is fulfilled through Jesus. Through his perfect, obedient and voluntary sacrifice on the Cross, not only will salvation be available to the Jews but also to those of other nations (John 10:16).

For more to think about please do ask yourself the following questions and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Read John 6:25-59. How does Jesus being the bread of life encapsulate His whole message?

Q2. Read 1 John 1. If Jesus is the light of the world, how am I to live as His follower?

Q3. Read John 10:1-21. As a Christian Disciple, what benefits does Jesus as the shepherd offer me?

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website and receive an email when anything new is posted!

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

Play this podcast on Podbean App