“A man returned to his native country to find that the authorities no longer believed in his existence upon this mortal plane. Constantin Reliu, 63, returned to Romania after a 20-year-stay in Turkey to find that the Romanian government, at his wife's urging, had previously declared him deceased.
Unable to corroborate any details with his wife, the Associated Press conducted a phone interview with Reliu from his residence in Barlad. ‘I am a living ghost. I am officially dead, although I'm alive. I have no income, and because I am dead, I cannot do anything.’
Reliu explained that in the early nineties, he left to work in Turkey. Upon returning and discovering his wife's infidelity, he decided to leave again for good—or so he thought. In December of 2017, Reliu was detained by Turkish officials for having outdated residency documents, and was deported back to Romania in January where he discovered that authorities believed him already to be dead.
Border agents subjected Reliu to six hours of testing and questioning, asking him topographical questions about his hometown and measuring the contours of his face compared to old passport photos. They finally released him after their investigation was satisfied.
Officials in Barlad, however, were not as accommodating. Citing his delay as a clerical error, they denied his request to overturn the death certificate on the basis of it being too late.”
Jelani Greenidge, pastor, PreachingToday.com; source: Associated Press, "Dead man walking: Court rejects Romanian's claim he's alive" MSN (3-17-18).
Imagine how Reliu felt after going through all of the testing and questioning by the Romanian government, only to have the city officials refuse to overturn his death certificate, because it was too late. They knew he was alive. They could see him face-to-face, but it didn’t matter. They didn’t have faith that Reliu was actually who he said he was.
HIPAA laws help to protect us and our health information
It can be a little tricky when doing hospital visitations
If I don’t have a person’s birth name, I can’t get any information at all
There have been a couple of times, when I first started pastoring here at Idaville Church, that I went to the hospital and gave the receptionist the name of the person
Here was the response, “We don’t have anyone here by that name.”
I knew they were in that particular hospital, but the receptionist was not allowed to give me any more information than that
I made a quick phone call and found out that the first name, I knew that person by, was not their birth name
When I got their birth name and returned to the receptionist, she was able to give me the room information that I needed
Having the correct information was the key
Opening a bank account
When we moved to California, we went to one of the banking institutions there to set up a joint account for Judy and I
After running all the credit checks, they needed to, with our names, dates of birth, and social security numbers, the customer service agent said that I could open the account in my name, but not a joint account with Judy
Someone with her name had done something with another banking institution that flagged her name
After working through everything, we realized that this person shared her name, but not her social security number
Somehow the negative information had been applied to Judy’s credit information and once we got that cleared up, she was added to the joint account
The customer service agent didn’t have faith that Judy was who she said she was and that she had not written any bad checks
World Trade Centers on 9-11
We’ve all heard stories of families who didn’t know if their loved one was safe after the attacks on the twin towers at the World Trade Center in New York City
Some people who were thought to be dead had actually survived, because they weren’t at work that day
In some instances, it took hours for them to communicate, that they were safe, with their family and friends
Some family members and friends didn’t have faith that their loved one was safe and had not died in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers
Jesus had been teaching in the temple courts since the Feast of Tabernacles. He continued to teach, perhaps every day, between the Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast of Dedication, that was celebrated three months later. The Jews are still doing the same things that had always done with Jesus – try to catch Him saying or doing something wrong, so they could arrest Him and have Him eliminated. It is happening again in the temple courts. They want Him to declare something directly, so they corner Him. While Jesus hadn’t said it directly, His actions proved what He said about His identity. The Jews weren’t able to understand this, because they weren’t part of the flock of God. John wants us to understand that . . .
BIG IDEA – Faith opens our eyes to believe God’s words and works.
There are benefits to having insurance coverage whether it is life, health, vehicle, homeowners, disability, etc. We’re going to see today that there are benefits to having “flock insurance.”
GOD (John 10:22-30)
Benefit #1 – true knowledge (vv. 22-27)
John gives us a time stamp of when this encounter between Jesus and the Jews took place
It happened during the time of the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem
The Feast of Dedication was not one of the feasts authorized in Hebrew Scriptures, because it celebrated something that happened in 164 B.C. [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 391]
Three years earlier, in 167 B.C., the Syrian leader Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the altar in the Jewish temple by sacrificing a pig on it
Judas Maccabaeus, together with his band of guerilla fighters, ran Antiochus Epiphanes out of Jerusalem, and then cleansed the altar and rededicated the temple to the Lord
The rededication took places three years to the day
This eight-day festival begins on the 25th of Kislev, which is December 25th (Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 594]
We are familiar with the other name for this feast, Hanukkah (it was also called the Feast of Lights)
The Feast of Dedication was three months after the Feast of Tabernacles
We see that Jesus is still in Jerusalem when the Feast of Dedication begins
John tells us that it is winter, which makes sense since it was December
This bit of information ties in, with where Jesus is teaching, when He is surrounded
He was walking in Solomon’s Colonnade
Some scholars believe this note, about Solomon’s Colonnade, is not significant, while others believe it is
Solomon’s Colonnade was located on the eastern side of the temple and was about 200 yards’ long
During the cold winter months there was a brisk east wind that would blow [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 310]
The Colonnade would protect those who taught there, and their students, from this cold east wind
Borchert highlights a unique perspective, about it being winter, when he states, “. . . the thoughtful reader of the Gospel understands that time and temperature notations in John are reflections of the spiritual condition of the persons in the stories (cf. 3:2; 13:30; 18:3, 18; 20:1, 19; 21:3-4).” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 337-38]
Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, representing that he was still experiencing spiritual darkness (John 3:2)
Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus (John 13:30), and pointed Him out for arrest (John 18:3) in the darkness of night, representing his own spiritual darkness
The reference, then, to it being winter, here in 10:22, would represent that the Jews hearts were still cold toward Jesus and His identity
The same can be said of us today – we can be spiritually cold toward God and Jesus
What is your spiritual temperature right now?
Perhaps you’re feeling cold towards God, because He hasn’t answered your prayers the way you wanted Him too
You’ve been praying for healing, but it hasn’t manifested itself yet
You’ve been praying for a new job with higher pay, so you can get out of debt, but you’re still working the same old job
You’ve been asking the Lord for a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse, but nothing has happened
The list can go on and on
When God doesn’t answer the way we want Him too, we can easily slip into feelings of coldness towards Him
How do you feel about sharing the Gospel with others or even inviting them to church?
Is there a burning desire to help people understand their eternity without Christ?
Are we apathetic or not interested in sharing the Gospel with others, even though Jesus commanded us to do it?
Are we hesitant to invite people to church, because of the distance they would have to travel or fear that they will reject us?
All of this shows our spiritual temperature and where we are with God
If you are feeling cold toward God, you can change your spiritual temperature, today!
My Next Step Today Is To: Ask the Lord to reveal my spiritual temperature and seek to be on fire for Him.
We know that it’s winter when Jesus is walking in Solomon’s Colonnade at the temple
Verse 24 lets us know that the spiritual temperature of the Jews is cold toward Jesus as they surround Him
“Gathered around him” can literally be translated, “circle in on him”
“They boxed Him in, hemmed Him in, surrounded Him.” [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 524]
The same Greek word is used in Luke 21:20, “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.”
Of the four times this Greek word is used in the Bible, two of them have a military meaning and application [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 221]
The Jews are circling Jesus like wild dogs ready for the kill
I had a colleague, when I served with Child Evangelism Fellowship in Ohio, who told me about an experience she had while attending Dallas Theological Seminary
During the first week, her fellow classmates were questioning each other about their theological beliefs, whether they were Calvinists or Arminianists
Somehow they missed asking her until graduation day
They cornered her and wouldn’t let her off the hook until she answered them
Her response was not original to her, but something that has stuck with me ever since
She said, “I pray like a Calvinist, like it’s all up to God, and I work like an Arninianist, like it’s all up to me.” (referring to salvation by predestination and election, Calvinism, or human’s free will to choose or reject salvation, Arminianism)
The Jews do not want Jesus to squirm out of answering their question, so they surround Him, they trap Him and then ask their question
The Jews’ question
“How long will you keep us in suspense?” is how most of modern translations phrase the question
Commentators also translate the question in a negative way, “How long are you going to annoy us?”
They want a clear answer about whether Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) or not
Jesus had been using metaphors to express that He is the Christ (Bread, Light, Shepherd, and Door) [Michaels, 596-97]
Their desire for Jesus to tell them plainly, is not so they will believe in Him, but rather so they can condemn Him
Jesus was aware of their intentions and doesn’t fall for their trap
Jesus was also aware of how loaded, both politically and militarily, the term “Messiah” or “Christ” was in the 1st Century [Carson, 392]
He knew that the Jews were looking for a political and military leader that would set them free from Roman rule – that was their view of the role of the coming Messiah/Christ
Jesus did not want to be associated with or forced into their view of the Messiah
He wanted them to recognize that the Messiah would be a spiritual leader, directing them back to God
Jesus then responds to their question, but not in the way they had hoped
Instead of saying, “Yes, I am the Messiah!”, He says, “I did tell you, but you do not believe.”
Jesus claimed that He was the Christ, only once, but it was privately
Jesus confronts the Samaritan woman at the well
At the end of that discourse we read these words, The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:25-26)
Jesus said it plainly in a private setting, but not in a public setting
Certainly He told them through metaphors, as I mentioned before (Bread, Light, Shepherd, Door)
But, they want Him to say it publicly, directly, and plainly – they want Him to use the exact words they have used
The miracles that Jesus did in His Father’s name, are proof that He is the Messiah
He couldn’t have done those miracles aside from the power of God flowing through Him
God gave Jesus the ability to do the miraculous, as proof that Jesus was His Son – the Christ, the Messiah
Unbelief is the problem
“Their problem, Jesus said, was not lack of information but failure to belong to his sheep. His sheep understood his works (10:25) and his words (10:27), the indication of true knowing.” [Borchert, 338-39]
Here’s the kicker, those who truly believed in Jesus by faith were given the ability to understand His works and His words
Faith opens our eyes to believe God’s words and works.
There are those in our culture today, who want to debate how a loving God can allow bad things to happen to good people
There are others who are asking how we know that God is real
They are looking for reasons in the Bible to justify their belief that God doesn’t exist or shouldn’t be followed, because He allows famine, hunger, disease, death, and so much more to happen
They say, “Why would I want to follow a God who really isn’t loving?”
What we see in this encounter with the Jews is that Jesus says, “You all aren’t going to understand that my words and works prove that I am the Messiah, because you haven’t taken the step of faith to believe in Me.”
Do we really want to understand God’s sovereign will, His love, His justice, His grace, His mercy, and the rest of His attributes?
If we do, then we have to take the step of faith to truly follow Him and become His sheep, whether we have all the answers to our questions or not
With faith comes understanding, because we have the Holy Spirit of God living within us to help us understand God’s Word and His ways
PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s people understand His words and works.
Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
Are you ready stop debating and questioning God?
Are you ready to stop running from Him?
Are you ready to submit to Him by faith?
My Next Step Today Is To: Stop trying to justify my unbelief in God and submit to Him, so I can understand His words and works.
Benefits of belief – true knowledge
As Jesus’ sheep (followers) we know Him and listen to His voice
We understand His Word and His works
We know what He is calling us to do and we follow
Known by Jesus
As Jesus’ sheep, we are known by Him
This is important for us in light of eternity
In order to spend eternity with God, we must be known by Jesus
Read Matthew 7:21-27
All of the benefits of “flock insurance” are mentioned together as Jesus continues
Benefits #2 and #3 – eternal life and security (vv. 28-30)
Another benefit of being a follower of Jesus Christ is He gives us eternal life and we will not perish
This reminds us of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
This does not mean that we will not die physically, but it does mean we will not die spiritually
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (eternal separation from God)
What is sin? (anything we think, say, or do that displeases God or breaks His commands, decrees, and precepts)
It’s the human condition, we are all born in sin
David puts it this way, For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place (Psalm 51:3-6)
God says to us in John 3:18 that we are condemned to eternal separation from Him and remain in that state of condemnation until we believe in Jesus and follow Him
When we do that we pass from death to life
John 5:24, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
You can cross over from death to eternal life today
My Next Step Today Is To: Believe in Jesus so I will not perish, but have eternal life.
That’s the best benefit of belief ever, but there’s one more
Protection from eternal harm
Jesus says that no one can snatch His sheep (followers) out of His hand or His Father’s hand
PRINCIPLE #2 – God promises to protect His people from eternal harm.
In verse 28, the Greek word for snatch is harpazō and it is in the future tense and indicative mood, which simply means that it is certain that no one will snatch Jesus’ sheep from His hand in the future
In verse 29, the same Greek word is used, but in the present tense, which tells us that not only in the future (v. 28) but right now, no one will be able to snatch God’s sheep from His hand
“The perishing of true sheep was an unthinkable idea to early Christians. But contemporary Christians often wrestle with the question because they fail to perceive the logic of the biblical writers. Moreover, they often fear to read thoroughly texts like Hebrews 6 (diligent to the very end, not lazy). The biblical writers did not have such a superficial view of salvation that would consider walking down the aisle of a church and going through waters of baptism to be a guarantee of salvation. Nor did the biblical writers have a superficial temporal view of salvation based on an inadequate understanding of John 3:3 (must be born again to see the kingdom of God) and other passages. Instead, the biblical writers have no problem placing side by side texts concerning God’s love, grace, and covenant promises with God’s stern warnings to the readers of the Scripture.” [Borchert, 339]
This does not mean that we will not experience hardship and persecution here on earth
Jesus stated that we would experience those things, because He experienced those things (John 16:33; 1 Pet. 5:10; James 1:2-4)
What we’re promised here is God’s protection until we reach eternity with Him
My Next Step Today Is To: Claim God’s promise that He will protect me from eternal harm until I see Him face-to-face in eternity.
Jesus says one more thing that will drive the Jews crazy
PRINCIPLE #3 – God and Jesus are One!
While Jesus doesn’t answer the Jews question directly or plainly, they certainly understood what He was saying in this statement
He is claiming equality with God
In no uncertain terms, He is saying, “I am the Christ (Messiah)!”
What is your spiritual temperature today?
Is it cold?
If so, what steps do you need to take to be on fire for the Lord?
Do you understand God’s words and works?
If so, that is evidence that you are His sheep
If not, I would encourage you to take the step of faith to submit to Him, even without having all your questions answered
Are you living with the hope that, as God’s sheep, He promises to protect you until you reach eternity?
God has called us, as a body of believers, to help others know, understand, and follow Jesus
How are we intentionally doing this?
What changes do we need to make to ensure that we are doing this?
“It has been called the greatest rescue mission of World War II.
Late in that war, American bombers were sent on dangerous missions over southern Europe to cripple the Nazis' oil supplies. Hundreds of crews in flying tin cans soared through storms of anti-aircraft shells. Many American pilots were forced to bail from their shot-up planes. The injured airmen drifted by parachute into occupied Yugoslavia, expecting to be captured or killed.
Instead, on the ground remarkable rescue teams were already in place. Serbian peasants tracked the path of the floating flight crews. Their sole mission was to grab the flyboys and bring them to safety—before the Nazis arrived.
Risking their own lives, the peasants fed and sheltered the downed solders. These rescued men were in friendly hands but on enemy soil. They still needed to escape.
The story of what became known as Operation Halyard builds toward a daring mission, a secret landing strip, and a clandestine evacuation plan. Amazingly, those Serbian peasants rescued every single American airman—over 500 in all.
Here's the fascinating subplot to the rescue. To travel to the evacuation site, the airmen had to spend weeks following the Serbian freedom fighters, who alone knew the path to the evacuation site. Despite the profound language barriers, the direction, the pace, and the destination were in the hands of their rescuers. The men had been saved from their enemy, but the journey had just begun. They still had to walk to freedom.
The story of Operation Halyard sheds light on an important spiritual reality: to be rescued from something sets us on the path toward something.
For the airmen it was a journey of survival. For us it's a journey of faith. The One who saved us is now calling us to walk. It's nonnegotiable. Though snatched from spiritual death, we soon discover that the Christian life isn't an arrival; it's an adventure. Christ rescues us then he points us to the path of following him.
The apostle Paul describes this active view of the Christian life in his letter to the Ephesians, urging them to ‘walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called’ (4:1).”
Dave Harvey, Rescuing Ambition (Crossway, 2010), pp. 63-64.