Believe

Obedience From The Heart

(John 14:15-24)

 

INTRODUCTION

“If I'm not abiding in Jesus, then where is it that I abide? I once asked myself. I began to notice that when I was tired or anxious, there were certain sentences I would say in my head that led me to a familiar place. The journey to this place would often start with me walking around disturbed, feeling as if there was something deep inside that I needed to put into words but couldn't quite capture. I felt the ‘something’ as anxiety, loneliness, and a need for connection with someone. If no connection came, I would start to say things like, ‘Life really stinks. Why is it always so hard? It's never going to change.’ If no one noticed I was struggling or asked me what was wrong, I found my sentences shifting to a more cynical level: ‘Who cares? Life is a joke.’ Surprisingly, by the time I was saying those last sentences, I was feeling better. The anxiety was greatly diminished.

 

My comforter, my abiding place, was cynicism and rebellion. From this abiding place, I would feel free to use some soul cocaine – watching a violent video with maybe a little sexual titillation thrown in, having more alcohol with a meal than I might normally drink – things that would allow me to feel better for a little while. I had always thought of these things as just bad habits. I began to see they were much more; they were spiritual abiding places that were my comforters and friends in a very spiritual way.

 

The final light went on one evening when I read John 15:7 in The Message. Peterson translates Jesus' words on abiding this way: ‘If you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon.’ Jesus was saying in answer to my question, ‘I have made my home in you, Brent. But you still have other comforters you go to. You must learn to make your home in me.’”

 

Brent Curtis and John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2003/may/14419.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Obedience

        • I know that no one else has ever experienced this, with their own children, and that Judy and I are probably all alone in this

        • When our children were younger, they would obey out of obligation

        • They would clean up their toys and pick up their clothes, not because they loved to do, but because we asked them, or required, them to do it

        • They would grumble about it and sometimes it took a second or third time of telling them before they would obey

        • That’s not obeying out of love, but out of obligation

 

  • WE

    • Compliments

        • How many of us have experienced the “compliment setup” with our children?

        • They come and say some pretty nice things about us, but it’s not genuine or out of love, but rather as a way to “butter us up” to ask for something

 

Jesus continues to teach His disciples as His death draws near. ​​ In John 14:15-24 He combines love and obedience three times (vv. 15, 21, 23). ​​ We can and do obey out of obligation, but John wants us to understand that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – True obedience comes from a heart of love.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 14:15-24)

    • Coming Counselor (vv. 15-17)

        • Obedience to the Lord’s commands is evidence of our love for God

          • What commands are we to obey?

            • “What the one who loves Jesus will observe is not simply an array of discrete ethical injunctions, but the entire revelation from the Father, revelation holistically conceived.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 498]

            • The disciples were to copy the example of Jesus – how He lived His life, who He hung out with, how He spoke to those He ministered to, etc. [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 122]

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when His people obey Him out of love.

            • If we’re really honest with ourselves, we would admit that we don’t always obey God out of love, but rather out of a sense of obligation

              • We’re just like children who have to be told to do something, perhaps multiple times

              • We have this feeling that if we don’t obey God, He’s going to punish us

              • The reverse of that is also true – if we obey Him, He will bless us

              • This was evident with the Israelites in the Old Testament, as they were preparing to enter the Promised Land

                • Time and time again we read throughout the Old Testament about God’s blessing and curse on the Israelites based on their obedience to His commands and decrees

                • Deuteronomy 11:26, See I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.

                • The blessings/curses – God would provide everything they needed for their livelihood (crops and critters), He would also drive out the nations before them, even though they would be larger and stronger than them (Deuteronomy 11:1-32)

              • The danger in reading these verses, and applying them to our lives today, is that we can still obey out of obligation and a desire to be blessed instead of being cursed

              • Our obedience can still be without love

                • We may read the Bible every morning, but not out of love for Jesus or God, but because we want God to be pleased with us and bless us

                • We may pray every day (morning, noon, and night), but again, out of a desire to be blessed, and not because we love God or Jesus

                • We may attend church, give sacrificially to the church and to the poor, serve at church and in our community, simply out of a desire to be blessed by God and not out of love

            • The transformation comes when we do all of those things out of love for God and Jesus

              • 1 John 5:3-4a, This is love for God: ​​ to obey his commands. ​​ And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.

              • When we truly love God and Jesus with our whole being, those spiritual disciplines don’t feel like a burden any more

              • We can’t wait to spend time reading the Bible, praying, giving, serving, etc.

              • We don’t look at the Lord’s commands in the Bible as a list of do’s and don’ts, but rather as loving instruction from a loving Father who wants what’s best for us

            • True obedience comes from a heart of love.

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to help me obey Him out of love and not obligation or a desire to be blessed.

          • Most modern translations begin verse 16 with the word “and” or “then,” which can make it seem that what comes next is based on the condition of love or obedience to Jesus’ commands – somehow we can earn or be entitled to receiving the Holy Spirit – that is not the case

        • Another Counselor

          • Not entitlement, but entailment

            • Entailment is defined as a deduction or implication, that is, something that follows logically from or is implied by something else (one thing will be true if all others are also true)

            • The first entailment of genuine love for Jesus is obedience to His commands

            • The second entailment is the giving of another Counselor (the Holy Spirit)

            • “The Spirit’s gift in these verses is controlled by verse 15a, ‘if you love me.’ ​​ The gift, then, is an outgrowth of the loving relationship between Jesus and his disciples, not an entitlement earned by the disciple.” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 395]

            • “Jesus is describing a set of essential relations, not a set of titillating conditions. ​​ His true followers will love him; they will obey him; and he on his part will secure for them . . . another Counselor.” ​​ [Carson, 499]

            • What naturally happens when we genuinely love Jesus is that we obey Him and experience an incredible relationship with the Holy Spirit

          • Jesus tells His disciples that He will ask the Father to send them another Counselor

            • Keep in mind that Jesus is talking with His disciples prior to His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension

            • Jesus is speaking here of Pentecost, which will not happen until after His ascension into heaven

            • NOTE: ​​ Today is Pentecost Sunday (May 31, 2020)

            • Acts 2:1-47 explains the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (sound like the blowing wind, saw what seemed like tongues of fire that rested on each of the disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in other languages as the Spirit enabled them) and how it transformed Jerusalem (many repented and believed in Jesus) and then the whole world

          • Another

            • The use of the word “another” means that the disciples already had a Counselor

              • Jesus was their Counselor while He was on earth

              • He encouraged them, strengthened them, and taught them for three years

            • Counselor

              • “It comes from a verbal root that describes someone ‘called alongside’ and occurs in secular Greek literature for an advocate in a court of law, who comes ‘alongside’ a person to speak in his or her defense and provide counsel.” ​​ [Burge, 395]

              • The Holy Spirit will continue the work of Jesus by encouraging, strengthening, and teaching the disciples

              • The Holy Spirit, as another Counselor, will help believers in a variety of ways as John outlines in the rest of his Gospel: [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 437]

                • “He will bring to remembrance all that Jesus taught his disciples (John 14:26)”

                • “He will testify regarding Jesus together with his followers (John 15:26)”

                • “He will convict the world of sin, (un)righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11)”

                • “He will guide Jesus’ disciples in all truth and disclose what is to come (John 16:13)”

            • While Jesus was with His disciples only a short time, the Holy Spirit would be with them forever

          • Forever

            • Once the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, He would be with the disciple’s forever

            • While Jesus was giving this promise to His disciples, we know from Scripture that this truth is for all believers

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – God promises the Holy Spirit to everyone who believes in Jesus.

                • Ephesians 1:13-14, And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. ​​ Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.

                • 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. ​​ He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

                • Ephesians 4:30, And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim God’s promise that, as a believer in Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives in me.

            • Since the Holy Spirit lives in us we know that He will accomplish the same things in us that He did in the disciples

          • Spirit of truth

            • The Holy Spirit will bring to our remembrance all that Jesus taught his disciples

            • The Holy Spirit will testify regarding Jesus together with us

            • The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, unrighteousness, and judgment

            • These are the truths that make the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth

          • The world

            • We see here that the world cannot accept the Holy Spirit

            • They can’t accept the Holy Spirit, because He is the Spirit of truth

              • We know that those who don’t believe in Jesus or God, don’t want to be held to an absolute moral standard

              • They want to be able to do whatever feels good or is right for them (moral relativism)

              • They can’t see Him, because they are blinded by sin

              • They can’t know Him, because their minds are block by the false truths and narratives they’ve been fed/taught

            • That’s not the case with Jesus’ disciples and us

          • Believers

            • We know Him, because He lives with us and will be in us

            • Gangel does an excellent job of explaining the Holy Spirit living with us and being in us as he quotes Gromacki:

              • “First, the spirit was dwelling ‘with’ the apostles in the Gospel era. ​​ In Greek the words, ‘with you’ literally mean ‘beside you.’ ​​ In that sense, the Holy Spirit had a companion ministry to the apostles. ​​ He was beside them, but not inside them.”

              • “Second, Christ predicted that the Spirit would be in them. ​​ After the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, the same Spirit who was beside them would be inside them. ​​ Christ also changed verbal tenses to show the difference in the two relationships of the Spirit to the apostles. ​​ The verb menei (‘dwells’) is in the present tense, whereas the verb estai (‘will be’) is in the future tense (Gromacki, p. 136)” [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 268]

            • The disciples had experienced the Holy Spirit living with them, but they had not yet experienced the Holy Spirit being in them (Pentecost would bring that experience of the Holy Spirit being in them – forever)

        • So, Jesus explained and promised the coming of the Holy Spirit (another Counselor)

        • Now He talks about His coming (resurrection)

    • Coming Christ (vv. 18-24)

        • The disciples will not be left as orphans

          • We know that the disciples are already concerned about Jesus’ leaving them

            • Peter already asked Him where He was going and why He couldn’t come with Him now (John 13:36-37)

            • As the spokesperson for the disciples, Peter is probably voicing the concern that all of them are feeling

            • Jesus was going to the cross and then to the right hand of the Father, and while the disciples didn’t understand that fully, they knew enough to be concerned

            • In Old Testament times, orphans did not have any rights in the court system and had to have an advocate that would plead their case [Köstenberger, 439]

            • “. . . in secular Greek the word orphans is also used of children stripped of only one parent or of disciples stripped of their master (cf. NewDocs 4. 71).” [Carson, 501]

            • Jesus is comforting them as they wrestle with the emotions and fears of losing Him

          • He promises to come to them

            • Some scholars see this reference as Jesus promising to come to them in the person of the Holy Spirit

            • I would agree with the scholars that see this reference as Jesus’ Easter resurrection

              • Verses 19-20 seem to reference that and unpack it for us

              • After Jesus’ resurrection we know that He did not show Himself to the world in general

              • He did show Himself to His disciples

                • Mary Magdalene (John 20:14-16)

                • Mary the mother of James, Salome, and Joanna (Matthew 28:9)

                • Peter (Luke 24:34)

                • Two disciples on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-16)

                • The disciples without Thomas (John 20:19, 20, 24)

                • All of the disciples (John 20:26-28)

                • Seven disciples at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-2)

                • A mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-17)

                • Over 500 hundred people (1 Corinthians 15:6)

                • James, Jesus’ half-brother (1 Corinthians 15:7)

                • Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:3-5)

          • He also promises them life

            • Jesus is predicting His resurrection, but the disciples probably don’t realize it, at this point

            • We know what He’s talking about, because we are on this side of His resurrection

            • What exactly is Jesus talking about here?

              • He is talking about eternal life

              • “Will live” is in the future tense, Jesus is talking about the eschaton (the end of times)

              • 1 John 5:11, And this is the testimony: ​​ God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

                • Why do we need eternal life in the Son?

                  • Isaiah 53:6, We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

                  • We have turned away from the God who created us

                  • We have rejected Him and His plan to deal with our sin

                  • Romans 3:23, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

                  • God’s plan to deal with our sin was to send His Son, Jesus, as the perfect sacrifice to take away our sins

                  • 1 Peter 3:18, For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. ​​ He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.

                • PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus’ life gives us life.

                  • Jesus paid our penalty for sin when He died on the cross

                  • Because of His perfect sacrifice, we can all have eternal life

                  • It is offered to us as a free gift from God, but we have to take it and accept it for ourselves

                  • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Accept God’s gift of eternal life, through His Son, Jesus.

            • Eternal life brings with it an incredible connectedness to Jesus and the Father

          • We’re all in this together

            • That phrase was made popular by the Disney movie High School Musical – there was even a song about it in the movie

            • This phrase has become popular again as we have been going through the Coronavirus pandemic (there are a lot of other phrases that are being used during this time to help bring hope and encouragement)

            • Jesus wants us to understand that, as His disciples, we are not alone

              • Jesus and the Father are One – I am in my Father

              • We are united with Christ – you are in me

              • We have the Holy Spirit within us – I am in you

            • On that day,” is again referencing the time after Jesus’ resurrection (the disciples would finally understand all that Jesus had taught them about who He was, where He came from, and why He came to earth)

          • Jesus promises His disciples, and us, that we will not be left as orphans to fend for ourselves

        • He returns to the main theme a second time

          • True obedience comes from a heart of love.

            • Jesus reverses the order when He says, whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.

              • The verb “has” doesn’t mean simply to possess, but it means “to grasp fully with the mind.” ​​ [Barrett cited by Borchert, 128]

              • This wasn’t a list of do’s and don’ts that the disciples were to follow, but rather a lifestyle of loving and obeying Jesus

              • “When I was in elementary school, by buddy’s dad drove the church bus. ​​ I loved spending Saturday night at his house and then riding the bus to church on Sunday. ​​ They would do all of these silly promotions on the bus routes, and on Sunday everyone who rode the bus was given a cheap, white kite with this written on it in big, red printing: ‘I ♥ Jesus.’ ​​ Looking back, I can just picture dozens of kids who had no idea who Jesus was flocking to the park and flying their ‘I ♥ Jesus’ kites. ​​ How many Christians are like those kids? ​​ Over their lives fly ‘I Love Jesus’ kites, but love for him isn’t evident in how they live. ​​ If we love Jesus, we will live differently (v. 21). ​​ We can fly dozens of kites, but it doesn’t mean we love Jesus. ​​ The only evidence that we do indeed love Jesus is the way we live.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 298]

            • Love, genuine love for Jesus, is the key to obeying His commands

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when His people obey Him out of love.

            • We see three results of genuinely loving and obeying Jesus

              • We will be loved by the Father

              • We will be loved by Jesus

              • Jesus will show Himself to us

                • So many people want Jesus to show Himself to them before they will take a step of faith toward Him

                • But we see again that when we grasp fully with our mind the commands of Jesus and obey them, we are saying, “I love You, Jesus!”

                • It’s a step of faith that moves us toward Jesus, and then He promises to show, reveal, manifest Himself to us

                • If you really want Jesus to show Himself to you, then take the step of faith toward Him and experience His presence in you

                • I hope and pray that you’ll take that step of faith today

            • While we can certainly obey God out of obligation or a desire to be blessed, God is pleased when we do it out of genuine love from the heart

        • Judas asks a great question

          • John lets us know that this is not Judas Iscariot

            • He was already gone, carrying out his plan to betray Jesus

            • He didn’t sneak back in to the upper room after he had finished his business

          • The question

            • For Judas, and perhaps the other disciples, it didn’t make sense that Jesus would show Himself to them and not the world

            • They already believed in Him, while the world didn’t

            • Wouldn’t it be better if Jesus showed Himself to the world?

            • We know that God and Jesus will never force themselves on anyone – they will pursue us, but never demand that we obey them, love them, follow them, or believe in them (it is a freewill choice that each person has to make for themselves)

            • We know from Scripture that Jesus used the disciples to spread the Gospel throughout the known world (this is perhaps another reason why He is showing Himself to them after His resurrection)

            • “Jesus reveals himself to people he knows will respond to him and obey his teaching.” ​​ [Gangel, 269]

          • Jesus’ response to the question

            • At first glance, it may seem like Jesus doesn’t even answer Judas’s question, but He does

            • His answer is love

            • He returns a third time to the main theme and our big idea, true obedience comes from a heart of love.

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when His people obey Him out of love.

              • We see a second time the relational result of obeying His commands out of a heart of love

                • We will experience the love of the Father

                • We will experience the presence of the Father and the Son with us

            • Jesus explains that the reverse is also true, he who does not love me will not obey my teaching

        • Jesus is not saying these things in a void, but is only teaching them, what He has heard from the Father, who sent Him

 

  • YOU

    • What does your obedience of Jesus’ commands look like?

        • Are you obeying out of obligation?

        • Are you obeying out of a desire to be blessed?

        • Are you obeying out of love?

    • Have you claimed God’s promise of the Holy Spirit living in you?

    • Have you accepted God’s gift of eternal life, through Jesus?

 

  • WE

    • Imagine the transformation at Idaville Church and in our communities as we obey God’s commands out of a heart of love

 

CONCLUSION

“When I was dating my wife, Anna, one thing I admired about her was her love for sports. I love sports too, but there are two sports I don't like. Forgive me if you like these, but I don't.

 

The first is bowling. I can't understand it. You pick up this cannonball and throw it on this beautiful maple floor that's tilted. And it goes down and disappears, thank goodness. All of a sudden ‘swbump!’ it comes back again. You throw that thing down again, and it goes down and disappears. All of a sudden ‘swbump!’ it comes back. All night you're trying to get rid of it. Finally, when you're done and you try to leave, they make you pay for throwing that ball down on the ground. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

 

The other is roller-skating: four wheels, none of them turn, and they expect you to go around in circles.

 

This is a true story. On our first date, I knocked on Anna's door. I was so excited. I said, ‘Where would you like to go tonight?’ She said, ‘Do you like bowling?’ And she picked up her own bowling ball. She had her own bag. Now, I was in love, so when she asked if I liked bowling, my answer was, ‘I love bowling.’ And we went bowling all night. We had a great time.

 

The next week I knocked on her door. I said, ‘Where would you like to go this week?’ She picked up her skates. She said, ‘Do you like skating?’ I said, ‘I've been waiting for months for someone to ask me go skating. I love skating.’ And we skated all night.

 

I look back on it now and think, what made it easy for me to change? Did I have to work up this thing to change my desire for bowling and skating? No. It was because of my relationship with that girl. Because of the love that I had in relationship with her, change was easy.

 

The power to change is predicated upon your relationship with God. How often I think, God, it's hard to do what you're asking me to do, hard to change. Do I just grit my teeth? ‘No,’ the Lord says, ‘why don't you just come closer to the cross? Why don't you let me restore and renew my relationship with you? Would you come close?’”

 

Wayne Cordeiro, "A Personal Relationship," Preaching Today audio no. 225.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2002/may/13675.html].

12

 

Got Trouble?

If I were to ask everyone this morning do you Got Trouble? I would expect that most of us would say yes. At this particular moment in time that could be a loaded question. But we’ve always had trouble, haven’t we? Even before we ever heard the word coronavirus we had troubles. We had stress, anxiety, busyness, sorrow, fear, depression, sickness, and loneliness. We were troubled about climate change, the government, unemployment, our country, our world, and technology. We had physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial troubles. We had trouble at work and at school, etc.

Then coronavirus hit and all our troubles were amplified. ​​ We now have more stress and anxiety, more loneliness, more fear, more uncertainty, more unemployment, etc. We’ve also added troubles that come from living isolated from others and from teaching and learning online.

So got trouble? Yes, of course, we do. Trouble has been around since Adam and Eve sinned and all of a sudden were troubled by their nakedness. They were troubled by their sin and shame. Humans have had trouble for a long, long time. But I believe the key is how do we respond to our troubles? Do we hide ourselves from God like Adam and Eve did or do we confront our troubles and pursue the cure for them? Maybe this morning you can admit to having troubles but don’t know how to properly respond to them. Or maybe you have troubles and know how you should respond but are struggling with that response. No matter how you are struggling with your troubles this morning, I want you to know that God’s word gives us the cure. I hope and pray that you will take some next steps this morning in response to your troubles.

In our passage this morning, we see that the disciples also had troubles. They were troubled by many things. They were mainly troubled emotionally and were struggling in how to respond. Jesus tells them that his presence, his person and his power would help them to properly respond to their feelings of being troubled. But before he explained how his presence, person and power would calm their troubles, there was one thing they needed to do first and that was believe. The same is true for us today. The cure for our troubles is the same as the cure was for the disciples back then. John wants us to understand this morning that “Belief in Jesus Christ is the cure for our troubles.” That is our big idea this morning. If we first don’t believe in Jesus as the Son of God, as God incarnate, then we will never believe in his presence with us, in his person to save us and in his power to answer all our prayers asked in his name. Before we dive into our study of God’s word this morning lets humble ourselves in prayer.

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for your Holy Spirit to fill us, to fill our hearts and minds wherever we are worshipping you this morning. Thank you Lord that our worship of you is not reliant on a building but is reliant on a heart. A heart that is open and receptive to your spirit. I pray that your thoughts and words would penetrate our hearts and minds and that even in this time of isolation you will give us ordained opportunities to share your word with people this week. I thank you that your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. May your word encourage us, guide us and convict us where needed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Our first point this morning is Christ’s Presence. Belief in the presence of Jesus Christ is the cure for our troubles. Follow along as I read from the gospel of John 14:1-5. This is what God’s Word says, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”

The first thing we see in this passage is that the disciples are troubled in their hearts. They are emotionally troubled. What were the disciples troubled about? Well first of all, Jesus had told them in the week leading up to this moment that he was going to die. This troubled the disciples because they must have been thinking how could a dead Messiah set up a kingdom and rule the world. It didn’t make any sense. Just with that piece of information it must have seemed as if their world was crumbling and crashing down around them. Then in the Upper Room Jesus washes their feet coming on the heels of the disciples arguing amongst themselves about who was the greatest among them. The shame they probably felt then added to their emotional turmoil. Then Jesus tells them that one of them was going to betray him. Think about what their emotional states must have been like.

But just as they thought their troubled hearts couldn’t take anymore, Jesus again says he is leaving them and they cannot follow him and that Peter is going to deny Jesus three times in one night. We saw this in Pastor Stuart’s sermon last week. Peter has just asked why he couldn’t follow Jesus now. He said he would follow his Lord and Savior anywhere. Peter said he would even lay down his life for him. In John 13:38, we see these words, Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times!” The disciple were probably thinking that if Peter couldn’t stand against the coming trial then what chance did they have.

I also think that the disciples were troubled because they could feel that Jesus was troubled. Have you ever become troubled for no other reason then someone close to you was troubled? Jesus was troubled and that must have added even more to the disciples’ troubled hearts. Fear, sorrow, uncertainty, loneliness, stress, anxiety and possibly even depression was probably setting in by now.

So in the midst of all these troubles, Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Wow. Did Jesus really say those words with a straight face? They were emotional wrecks at that moment and Jesus knew it. We have seen this word “troubled” before which means to “stir up” or “to shake.” We saw it in the story of the crippled man beside the pool at Bethsaida in John 5:7 where the water would be “stirred up” and in John 13:21 when Jesus was thinking about going to the cross and was “troubled” in his spirit. When Jesus told them to not let their heart be troubled, he knew they were already troubled. He understood their fears, their anxieties, their confusion and concerns. And being a compassionate Savior he sympathized with their sorrow and grief. In Hebrews 4:15, it says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”

Jesus tells them to stop being troubled but he didn’t end there. He was getting ready to tell them how to not be troubled. He was going to give them the cure. Thank God that Jesus didn’t end it with verse 1a. Have you ever had a problem and was troubled about something and someone says to you, “just move on” or “get over it” instead of giving ideas or ways to accomplish the “moving on?” It is probably because they don’t know how to “move on” or “get over it” themselves. But guess what Jesus does know and he says to the disciples, “Believe in God, believe also in me.” Jesus clearly states his deity here but he was also commanding them to believe in him just as they believed in God. The Jews already had a strong belief in God whom they could not see. The disciples needed to have that same kind of faith in Jesus when he was no longer physically present with them. He was calling them to an ongoing trust, belief and faith in himself. Though they genuinely believed in Jesus and who he was, as they would see him arrested and crucified their faith would be at an all-time low.

Jesus wanted the disciples to believe that even if he was not with them physically, his presence was always with them. Puritan John Owen in the “The Forgiveness of Sin” noted, “A sense of God’s presence in love is sufficient to rebuke all anxiety and fears; and not only so, but to give, in the midst of them, solid consolation and joy.” Do you believe that this morning? Do you believe that the presence of God is with you at all times, even at times when your heart is troubled? It’s hard to do, especially in the midst of the uncertainty and fear of the Coronavirus world we live in. We don’t know if it’s safe to go to the store or safe to be around friends and family we don’t live with or even when it’s safe to come back to church.

But Jesus this morning is saying to us all, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in me, have faith in me, trust in my presence.” So if you are having trouble this morning sensing Jesus’ presence around you, this first next step may be for you, which is to believe that the presence of Jesus Christ is the cure for my troubled heart. ​​ 

This next step is not easy because even though God is ever-present with us, as we let the world creep in we draw ourselves away from his presence. We need to focus ourselves on God and not the world in order to feel him with us. That means being in God’s Word and being in prayer. Maybe for you it means listening to Christian music or being around Christian friends, etc. Now maybe you say I have tried all that and I still don’t feel God’s presence. I would say continue to focus on Jesus until you do. By focusing yourself on Jesus 100% and focusing on your troubles 0%, sooner or later you will begin to feel the presence of God. And remember God does not promise to take our troubles away from us but he does promise to always be with us through them. This next step is not easy but it will definitely be worth it.

In verse 2, Jesus further comforts his disciples, by letting them know their physical separation from him was only temporary. He mentions “his Father’s House” and that there are “many rooms” there and he assures them it is so. He also gives them a reason for his leaving which is to prepare a place for them in the Father’s house. The “Father’s House” refers to heaven and the “many rooms” as MacArthur says, “are not to be seen as a giant housing facility in heaven but rather a father building additions onto his house for his sons and their families, as was done in Israel.” “If it were not so” means there is not the slightest doubt about it.

We need to remember that most Jewish people really had no thought of an afterlife, no idea of a place of going when they die. But Jesus assures them that there is a place called heaven where all who believe in Jesus will go when they die a physical death and that there will be room for everyone there. Jesus also says he is preparing a place for the disciples there but the preparing can’t happen unless he goes away, unless he dies, is raised again and returns to the Father. ​​ 

In verse 3, Jesus confirms that his absence is temporary by telling them he will come back and take them to be with him where he is in heaven. Now what did Jesus mean here when he said he was coming back for them? Did he mean his resurrection in three days or when the Holy Spirit would come upon them at Pentecost? Or did he mean the Rapture or the Second Coming? I don’t know and the commentaries are all over the place as well. The important thing to remember is that if are a true believer in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then you will spend eternity in the presence of God and his son, Jesus. It is sufficient for the believer to know they will be with their Lord forever.

Then in verse 4 we see that Jesus tells the disciples that they know where he is going and the way there. He has told them time and time again he is returning to the Father. He just told them he is going to the Father’s house to prepare a place for them there. Five times in verses 3-4, Jesus uses “I” or “me.” He wanted the disciples to trust in him personally.

Then Thomas speaks up and voices the same concern that all the disciples have at that moment which is “We have no idea where you are going so how can we know the way?” Honestly, that was profound because how can we know the way somewhere if we don’t know the destination. But Jesus had just told them they did know the way but they couldn’t comprehend it and would have trouble accepting that the cross was the way that Jesus would return to his Father.

That brings us to our second point this morning which is Christ’s Person. Belief in the person of Jesus Christ is the cure for our troubles. Follow along as I read verses 6-11. This is what God’s Word says, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? ​​ Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.

Now John 14:6 is my favorite Bible verse of all time and one of my favorite Christian songs by the group Disciple is about this verse. In fact I told Judy she needs to get Disciple to come to my funeral and play that song. But this verse is a stumbling block to many people, in fact, to most people outside of Christianity. When Jesus says, “he is the way and the truth and the life the emphasis is on the word “way.” Jesus himself was the answer to Thomas’ question. Access to the one true God is only through believing in the person of Jesus Christ and no one else.

The exclusivism of this statement cannot be diminished. This is why Jesus as our Lord and Savior is essential to Christianity. Jesus, as God incarnate, is the only way to God. Acts 4:12 says, Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Jesus alone is the way to God, but he is the way for all. No one is excluded no matter their religious background or even lack of religion. Jesus in his grace welcomes everyone to the Father if they will come through him.

But this is where all other religions fall short. They believe that Jesus was just a good man or only a prophet. They don’t believe that Jesus and God are one. They don’t believe that Jesus died on a cross for the sins of humanity so they could be saved, reconciled to God and spend eternity in heaven with God. Jesus was also the truth because he is the authoritative representative and revealer of God the Father. And he is the life because he is both life and the source of life to us. Burge says, “God’s truth and God’s life is incarnate in Jesus.”

So, the question is what do you believe about Jesus? Do you believe that he is the only way to God? Do you believe that the person of Jesus Christ is the cure for your troubles? That he is the cure for your lost heart. Romans 10:9-10 says, If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. ​​ So do you believe that he died on a cross for your sins and rose again? If not the second next step this morning is for you which is to believe that the person of Jesus Christ is the cure for my lost heart and accept his salvation.

In verse 7, Jesus tells the disciples if they really knew him, they would know the Father. They had spent three years with him and he had taught them everything the Father had spoken to him. They had seen the miracles that Jesus performed that could have only come from the Father. But the truth is they did not know Jesus fully because if they did they would have known the Father as well. Until now all had been preparation for them to know Jesus fully and to understand that Jesus and God were one. Jesus said, “From now on you do know him and have seen him.” “From now on” probably means after the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit they would realize that because they had seen and known Jesus they actually did see and know God. The more we know Jesus, the more we know God. That was why God came down to earth as Jesus. It was to show us what he was like and what he was about. As a result of what Christ was going to do on the cross his followers would know God and how much he loved them. God loved the world and wanted so much to be a relationship with us that he died on a cross as Jesus Christ in order to save us from our sins and spend eternity with us.

The disciples believed that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah, but they never fully grasped the truth that he was God in the flesh. Knowledge of the Father can only be obtained as we more fully know and understand the Son. This was hard for the disciples to grasp and it can be hard for us today as well, but we grasp it through faith. If we truly know Jesus we would believe that his presence, person and power is the cure for our troubles.

The disciples’ understanding that Jesus and God were one was lacking, and Philip asks Jesus to now show them the Father and they would be satisfied. He probably thinks if they can just see the Father that will put an end to their troubled hearts. Philip was one of Jesus’ first disciples but even he didn’t realize that he had literally been in the presence of God for the past three years. This question from Philip gives Jesus the opportunity to teach his disciples about the intimate relationship between himself and the Father. The fact is, Jesus says, the Father and I are so closely connected that anyone that has seen me has seen the Father. I and the Father are one.

In verse 10, Jesus reminds them that the words he spoke to them came directly from the Father and that the miraculous works that he had performed in their sight should prove to them that he is in the Father and the Father is in him. Jesus used the same argument with the Jews in John 10:37-38. Jesus is talking, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” The proof that he and the Father were one was established by his words and his works, which were the miracles he performed. Surely no one but God could perform the miracles Jesus did in the presence of the disciples. Gangel says, Jesus’ words reflected his deity much more than his works did. They had been fascinated by his works but had not listened carefully enough to his words.” Tenney says, “The way that Jesus made known the character and reality of the Father was by his words and works. The truth of God filled Jesus’ words; the power of God produced his works.”

That brings us to our third point this morning which is Christ’s Power. Belief in the power of Jesus Christ is the cure for our troubles. Follow along as I read verses 12-14. This is what God’s Word says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

In verse 12, Jesus makes an amazing promise to those who believe in him. “He that believes on me” stresses personal commitment. The person who really trusts and believes in Jesus will do the works that Jesus did and even greater works than Jesus. The greater works did not mean greater in power, but greater in extent, in that their words and works would reach to all corners of the earth. Jesus’ earthly ministry was limited in time and space. He never went outside of Palestine to teach and preach and perform his miraculous works. The disciples on the other hand would take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The power to perform those greater works would only be possible because Jesus was going to the Father. Only then could the Holy Spirit come and fill each believer and empower them to do these greater works. Even though Jesus would not be present with the disciples, the Spirit would provide them with all the power they needed to extend the gospel to all the world. Morris says, “The things that they do are not necessarily the miracles but the mighty work of conversions that we see in the book of Acts. On Pentecost alone more believers were added than throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry.”

In verses 13-14, Jesus talks to the disciples about another benefit of leaving them to go to the Father. That was prayer. They had seen how important prayer was to Jesus as he would go off to a quiet place to pray to his heavenly Father. Now, he was empowering them to use prayer in order to see his power. Prayer would bridge the gap between their needs and his abundant, limitless, resources. The power of prayer would cure the disciples’ troubles. But it was more than that in that this power of prayer would enable them to do the “greater things.” But there was a rule to seeing the power of Jesus in prayer and that was, it had to be asked in his name. What does it mean to pray and ask in Jesus’ name? ​​ To ask in Jesus’ name means to ask in accordance with all that Jesus’ name stands for and to recognize that the only approach to God is through his son. It also means to ask in accordance with the character, will and purposes of Jesus. The Jewish culture took names very seriously. They equated one’s name with the character, spirit and power of that person. That is why the Jews never spoke the name of Yahweh. If we are not going to pray for the will of Jesus or God to be done we shouldn’t ask in Jesus’ name or even at all.

The asking in Jesus’ name was paramount for two things. One, we must ask in his name so that the Son may bring glory to the Father and two, we must ask in Jesus’ name so that our prayers would be fulfilled. ​​ Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth as a baby and dying on the cross for our sins and being resurrected was all for the glory of God. That would not change after his resurrection and ascension into heaven. ​​ Jesus did not do anything and will not do anything that does not bring glory to the Father. Carson says, “He enables his own to do “greater things” in order that he may bring glory to the Father.” Jesus said that if you ask “anything” in my name I will do it. “Anything” makes this promise very wide indeed. There is no limit to the power of prayer asked in the name of Jesus. But we can’t forget the believing. We can pray in Jesus’ name without believing that Jesus has the power to cure our troubles. Our belief is important. Which brings us to our third next step this morning which is to believe that the power of my prayers asked in Jesus’ name is the cure for my troubles.

In closing I want to read this account which is confirmed by Mike Riches, senior pastor of Clover Creek Bible Fellowship, Tacoma, Washington.

It was a phone call one never wants to get. A friend called from Ohio to say that our mutual friend, Debbie, was dying of leukemia and was at a cancer center in Seattle. Later, Debbie's husband called, telling me that Debbie had slipped into a coma. The doctors had given her two to three days to live. Debbie's two adult children had flown in to say their good-byes. He invited me to come and pray.

I admit that this was a huge stretch for my faith. But I asked a friend to go with me, and we set out for Seattle. As we drove, John 14:12–14 ran through my mind: "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

Now was my chance to prove that I really believed those verses. Could we really do the things Jesus did? Would he really do the things we asked in his name? At the hospital, we introduced ourselves to Debbie's family and then approached her bed. I silently asked the Lord what to pray. Luke's account of Jesus rebuking a fever came to mind. Debbie, however, was a sad sight. By all outward appearances, what I was about to pray seemed impossible.

Nevertheless, I prayed, "Lord, I come to you based on the authority and power you have given me because of Jesus. Jesus, you said we would do even greater things because of your power in us. You told me in John 15 that if I abide in you and your words abide in me, I can ask anything and it will be granted. So, right now, in the name and authority of Jesus in me, I rebuke the cancer and death. In Jesus' name, I pronounce healing and abundant life."

My prayer was simple, based on Scripture, and spoken in faith and in the authority of Jesus' name. Nothing happened at the moment, though, so my friend and I said good-bye.

Debbie continued to be on my mind, but I also knew the Lord had heard my prayer. It was all in his hands. A week later, my phone rang. It was Debbie. She had awoken from her coma and asked the medical team to unhook her life support! She had heard that I had visited her several days before and had prayed for her. "Would you please come back?" she asked. So the next day, I drove back to Seattle to see with my own eyes what the Lord had done.

What an amazing time that was. Debbie—alert and smiling—told me the story. For three days after we prayed for her, while still in a coma, she sensed that an angel was standing by her bed. On the third day she woke up and knew in her heart that the Lord had completely healed her. The doctors' tests showed no sign of any cancer whatsoever. We rejoiced!

We were then able to share the gospel with her family. As a result of Debbie's healing, her son and his wife received Christ and are now joyfully serving him. And, to this day four years later, no cancer has returned.

I wanted to read that story to you because it directly talks about praying in the name of Jesus and in accordance to the will of Jesus and for the glory of God. But I want you to know that every prayer prayed in Jesus’ name is not going to be that dramatic. God is sovereign and he knows what is best for us. But guess what? Belief in Jesus’ presence, person and power brings the cure for our troubles because it brings us peace.

We may have anxiety, depression, fear and uncertainty but we still believe that the presence of Jesus Christ will bring us peace in the midst of our troubled hearts. We can pray for the spiritual healing of our friends and family but then the ball is their court. We still believe that the person of Jesus Christ can cure the lost heart and we can have peace that Jesus will always be there waiting for our friends and family to accept his person as the way to salvation. Finally, we and our loved ones may still get sick and possibly die but we still believe in the power of a prayer prayed in Jesus’ name and we have peace that God is sovereign and in control of all things. Belief in Jesus Christ is the cure for our troubles.

As Gene and Roxey come to lead us in our final hymn this morning, let’s pray: Dear Sovereign Lord, I praise you for your Word. I praise you for your son, Jesus. I thank you that you love us with an everlasting love. Continue to walk with us through all our troubles and give us peace as we believe in your presence with us, your person to save us and your power as we pray for all things in your precious name. In Jesus’ Amen.

 

 

Believe

Be Like Christ

(John 13:31-38)

 

INTRODUCTION

Do you remember the Gatorade commercial that originally aired in 1992 featuring Michael Jordan? ​​ Michael was probably at the height of his career. ​​ He was unstoppable on the court. ​​ He and the Bulls had won two consecutive NBA titles and Michael had won two consecutive MVP awards. ​​ In the 1992-1993 season, the Bulls won their third consecutive NBA title and Michael won his third consecutive MVP award.

 

Gatorade capitalized on Michael Jordan’s fame and put together a marketing campaign that featured him. ​​ They even had a jingle written to go along with the commercial. ​​ Most of us, from that time, can at least remember part of it.

 

The lyrics go like this:

 

“Sometimes I dream
That he is me
You've got to see that's how I dream to be
I dream I move, I dream I groove
Like Mike
If I could Be Like Mike
Like Mike
Oh, if I could Be Like Mike
Be Like Mike, Be Like Mike
Again I try
Just need to fly
For just one day if I could
Be that way
I dream I move
I dream I groove
Like Mike
If I could Be Like Mike
I wanna be, I wanna be
Like Mike
Oh, if I could Be Like Mike
.”

 

[https://www.last.fm/music/Teknoe/_/(I+Wanna)+Be+Like+Mike/+lyrics].

 

I don’t know if Gatorade’s sales went up or not. ​​ What I do remember is everyone wanting Air Jordan sneakers, his jersey, and posters of him.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • What I was thinking about in 1992

        • Judy and I were already married

        • We graduated from college in May of 1992

        • I wasn’t thinking about being like Mike

        • In fact, I wasn’t even sure what I was going to do with the Business Management and Economics degrees I had

        • We were preparing to move to Florida, where Judy had gotten a Kindergarten teaching position with a Christian school

        • In August of 1992 I wasn’t thinking about anything except Hurricane Andrew

    • Being like my father

        • As I matured and grew I knew that God was calling me into pastoral ministry

        • When I finally submitted to that calling, I knew that I wanted to be like my father

        • He had pastored for many years at this point

        • I know the kind of godly man he is and the passion he has for preaching the Word of God

        • I have wanted to be like him for a long time

        • I’m still striving to be like him

 

  • WE

    • Be like . . .

        • Perhaps there’s someone you want to be like

        • Maybe it’s a parent or grandparent

        • It could be a teacher, a friend, a friend’s parent, a pastor, a boss, an athlete, a musician, a movie star, etc.

        • When we want to be like someone, we do the same things they do, we say the same things they say, we act the same way they act

 

In the John 13:31-38 we see that Jesus gives His disciples a “new command,” about love. ​​ The command to love God and our neighbor wasn’t new, but the command to love like He loved was new. ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ Being a Christ follower means loving like Christ.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 13:31-38)

    • Lauding (vv. 31-32)

        • When he was gone

          • Review by reading John 13:26-30

          • John is speaking about after Judas left

          • We see then that Jesus has some important things to say to the remaining eleven disciples

        • Glorification of Jesus and God

          • In these two verses, John uses glorified three times

            • All three are in the aorist tense, which, in the Greek, normally refers to the past

            • God’s glory had already been revealed through Jesus

            • “Throughout Jesus’ life of perfect obedience, God has been honored. ​​ God’s power has also been made visible through the many signs of Jesus’ ministry . . . Jesus’ glory thus occurs when God’s glory radiates through him.” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 375]

          • In verse 33, John uses glorify two times

            • These two uses are in the future tense

            • Since God has been glorified through Jesus’ life, God will glorify Jesus at once

            • The full glorification of Jesus has not yet taken place, because it’s still in the future

            • It’s not, however, an eschatological (end times) future, but rather, a very near future (within days)

            • Jesus is telling His disciples that through His death, burial, and resurrection, He and God will be glorified

        • This really sets the stage for Jesus’ next statement

    • Leaving (v. 33)

        • My children

          • This reminds me of the beginning of John’s Gospel when he writes, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)

          • The Greek word for children means actual small children and not necessarily offspring [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 757]

          • Jewish teachers and Rabbis would affectionately address their students as children

          • It’s also important to remember the setting where Jesus is talking to His disciples

            • They have been celebrating the Passover Feast together

            • Within family units, the head of the family would address the entire family

            • As Jesus is talking with them, He is “fulfilling the paschal role of head of the family.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 483]

            • That is another important reason why He addresses them as “my children” or “dear children.”

          • Jesus’ next statement is self-explanatory for us

        • I will be with you only a little longer

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is all-knowing (omniscient)

            • He knew what was about to happen

            • He knew that He would be crucified on a cross, buried, raise to life again, and ascend to the Father

          • It makes perfect sense to us, because we have the rest of the story – Jesus is going to be arrested that very evening, eventually falsely convicted, and then put to death

          • For the disciples this scene was unfolding right in front of them – they have no idea what’s coming

        • You will look for me and where I’m going, you cannot come

          • This is the third time that Jesus used the same words

            • The first two times He was talking to the Jewish religious leaders

              • John 7:33-34, Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. ​​ You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”

              • John 8:21, Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. ​​ Where I go, you cannot come.”

            • When Jesus is talking to the Jewish religious leaders, He is saying to them that when they are ready to look for Him, they won’t be able to find Him, because He has returned to the Father – they’ll have missed their opportunity to be with Him

            • The sad reality for the Jewish religious leaders is that they will die in their sin and be separated from God and Jesus for all eternity

          • When Jesus uses the same words, with His disciples, He’s not saying the same thing as He did to the Jewish religious leaders

            • They’re going to look for Him at the empty tomb, but not find Him there

            • They’re going look for Him in the clouds, after His ascension, but not find Him there either (although He will return in the same way the disciples saw Him leave)

            • They cannot come to the place where He is going

              • The first place He is going, where they cannot come, is to the cross

                • Jesus had to fulfill His purpose on earth by dying on a cross to take our punishment for sin

                • He was the only One who could fulfill that purpose, because He was perfect, without sin (the disciples were human and imperfect, so they couldn’t go to the cross with Him, to die for the sins of humanity)

                • Gospel

                  • All have sinned (Rom. 3:23)

                  • 1 John 1:8, 10, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us . . . If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

                  • Just 5 of the 10 Commandments proves that we are all sinners (lie, steal, blaspheme, hate, lust)

                  • James 2:10 – keeps the whole law, stumbles at just one, guilty of breaking all of it

                  • Punishment for sin (Rom. 6:23)

                  • God’s perfect plan (read Rom. 5:6-8)

                  • 1 Peter 3:18, For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. ​​ He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.

                  • Romans 10:9-10, That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ​​ For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

                  • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Be saved by confessing with my mouth that “Jesus is Lord,” and believing in my heart that God raised him from the dead.

                • There was a second place that the disciples could not come to

              • The second place they could not come was to the Father – that would happen eventually, though

          • So, Jesus had some important things to do that the disciples could not help Him with

        • But, there was a new command that they could help Him with

    • Loving (vv. 34-35)

        • New command – love one another

          • You may be thinking, “Wait a minute, loving others isn’t a new command, it’s in the Old and New Testaments!”

            • Leviticus 19:18, ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. ​​ I am the Lord.’

            • Read Mathew 5:43-48

            • Perhaps you read the story about a woman and her husband who came to a pastor and said, ‘We're going to get a divorce, but we want to come to make sure that you approve of it.’ There are people who come to the pastor hoping that when they say there is no feeling left in their marriage, the pastor will say, ‘Well, if there's no feeling left, then, the only thing you can do is split.’

              Instead, the pastor says to the husband, ‘The Bible says you're to love your wife as Jesus Christ loved the church.’

              He says, ‘Oh, I can't do that.’

              The pastor says, ‘If you can't begin at that level, then begin on a lower level. You're supposed to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Can you at least love her as you would love a neighbor?’

              The husband says, ‘No. That's still too high a level.’

              The pastor says, ‘The Bible says, Love your enemies. Begin there.’

              Erwin Lutzer, "Learning to Love," Preaching Today, Tape No. 99.

              [
              https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1997/july/734.html]

          • What made the command new, was that they were to love as Jesus had loved them

            • Perhaps the most recent act of love that Jesus demonstrated for the disciples was washing their feet, which He then instructed them to do for each other

              • This was an act of servitude

              • He had humbled Himself and encouraged them to do the same

            • The next act of love that Jesus would demonstrate for them would be dying on a cross for their sins

              • It was a selfless act

              • “This rule of self-sacrificial, self-giving, selfless love, a unique quality of love inspired by Jesus’ own love for the disciples, will serve as the foundational ethic for the new messianic community.” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 423-24]

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when His people show Christ-like love for each other.

            • I have to admit that I have struggled with this in the past and sometimes still struggle with loving other Christians like Jesus loves them

              • When someone hurts us, it’s difficult to love them

              • When someone says unkind things about us, it’s difficult to love them

              • When someone falsely accuses us, it’s difficult to love them

              • When someone criticizes us and blames us for how things are going, it’s difficult to love them

            • When this happens within the church, it’s perhaps even more difficult

              • “The measure in which Christian people fail in love to each other is the measure in which the world does not believe in them, or their Christianity. ​​ It is the final test of discipleship, according to Jesus.” [Morgan cited by Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 255]

              • All of us can probably think of someone in the church, who we don’t particularly love like Christ loves – we may not even like them, but we tolerate them

              • In fact, we may feel like we’ll never be able to love them like Christ does, because we want to be upset with them and hold a grudge against them, instead of letting those feelings go and loving like Christ

              • The truth is that we can’t love them correctly on our own

              • Recently I was sent a picture of a jug into which water was being poured. The idea was that love, or whatever we need, is poured into us like that. I don't think of it so at all. I think of the love of God as a great river, pouring through us as the waters pour through our ravine in flood-time. Nothing can keep this love from pouring through us, except of course our own blocking of the water. Do you sometimes feel that you have got to the end of your love for someone who refuses and repulses you? Such a thought is folly, for one cannot come to the end of what one has not got. We have no store of love at all. We are not jugs, we are riverbeds.”

                Amy Carmichael in Whispers of His Power. Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 14.

                [
                https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1997/august/2539.html]

              • The capacity to love like Christ, doesn’t come from within us, it comes through us as we remove the barriers of anger, hatred, dislike, dissension, disunity, and bitterness

              • That’s when God’s love can be poured out through us to one another, meaning that we are being obedient to Jesus’ new command

              • Paul tells us what love looks like (Read 1 Cor. 13:4-7)

            • I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of not following this new command in my own heart and mind

              • God has been working on me over the past several weeks and especially this past week as I’ve been preparing this message

              • Confession

                • We all love each other, but at times, we are guilty of not loving like Christ loves us

                • Join me this morning is confessing to the Lord that we have allowed anger, hatred, dislike, dissension, disunity, and beitterness to block God’s love from flowing through us to one another

                • I’m going to kneel before the Lord this morning is complete and total submission to Him as I confess this before Him

                • I encourage you to do the same wherever you are this morning (if you can’t physically kneel, then kneel in your heart)

              • Commitment

                • I’m committing today, with God’s help through His Holy Spirit, to strive to love every one of you with Christ-like love

                • I would appreciate your prayers as I endeavor to do this

                • One way that Judy and I express love is through hospitality, so don’t be surprised when we start contacting you and asking you to join us for a meal in our home (of course it will have to wait until we are able to gather together again)

                • Hopefully you’ll see other ways in which I am striving to love you like Christ loves me

                • Will you join me in making the same commitment?

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Be obedient to Jesus’ new command, by striving to love every one with Christ-like love.

          • Being a Christ follower means loving like Christ.

          • When we love each other, like Christ loves us, something amazing will happen

        • Known as disciples of Jesus

          • Those in our community will see that we are truly disciples of Jesus Christ

          • The transformation that takes place within us will be evident to those around us

          • We will see more and more people coming to Christ for salvation

          • We will experience revitalization as a church and revival within our communities

          • This is what we have been praying for

        • I wish we could stop the message here, but there’s one final point

    • Lying (vv. 36-38)

        • Simon Peter asks Jesus’ two questions

          • Where are you going?

            • Jesus doesn’t answer Peter directly

            • Jesus just restates what He already said

              • Peter can’t follow Him to the cross, now

              • Jesus goes on to say that Peter will follow Him later

              • We know from church history that Peter did follow Jesus to the cross

              • He would not let them crucify him in the same way they crucified Jesus, so he was hung upside down on a cross

            • Peter is still trying to understand what Jesus is saying, so he asks a follow-up question

          • Why can’t I follow you now?

            • It seems as though Peter may have understood that Jesus was talking about dying on a cross, when he says that he will lay down his life for Jesus

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God knows the extent of our commitment to Him.

              • We see this in Jesus’ response to Peter’s bold statement

              • “Will you really lay down your life for me?”

              • How many times have we made bold statements to the Lord, especially in a time of trial or difficulty, only to break that commitment when things get better?

                • Pastors hear these kinds of statements frequently

                  • “I really need to get back to church.”

                  • “I’ll see you on Sunday.”

                  • “We’re going to start coming to church again.”

                  • Many times those statements are empty, because the person or family never comes

                • Perhaps we’ve all made statements to the Lord about spiritual disciplines

                  • “Lord, I promise to read Your Word every day.”

                  • “Lord, I going to spend ___ minutes in prayer each morning.”

                  • “God, I’m going to begin tithing 10% to the church.”

                  • “Lord, I’m going to sign up to volunteer at church this year.”

                • It’s tough to change our habits and routines – it takes an act of our will and self-discipline

              • When we make these statements, God already knows the extent of our commitment and whether or not we will truly follow through with them

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Only make commitments to the Lord that I am ready and willing to maintain.

          • Peter had good intentions and probably wanted to be as bold as his statement, but Jesus knew what was going to happen, even that night

        • Jesus predicts Peter’s denial

          • Jesus tells Peter that while his intentions are good, the reality is that he would disown Jesus three times before the rooster crows

          • We know the story because it’s recorded in all four Gospels (Matt. 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-65; John 18:25-27)

            • Jesus is arrested that very night in the Garden

            • The disciples all abandon Him and run away

            • Peter and John follow Jesus to the high priest’s home

            • As Peter is warming himself by the fire, he denies knowing Jesus, or being His disciple, three times

            • When faced with reality, Peter wasn’t really willing to lay down his life for Jesus, at least at this time

            • He eventually dies for the Gospel of Jesus Christ

 

  • YOU

    • Are you loving those in the body of Christ like Jesus loves you?

        • What changes do you need to make in order to love like Jesus does? [Be Like Christ]

        • How can you begin that process today?

    • Are you making commitments to the Lord that you are ready and willing to maintain?

 

  • WE

    • This is a challenge to every one of us as followers of Jesus Christ

    • Being a Christ follower means loving like Christ

 

CONCLUSION

“Ever feel overwhelmed by the Bible's command to love unconditionally? When people ask me, ‘How can I ever start to love everyone like I should?’ I give the same answer I give those who ask how they can start jogging: Start slow, and then get slower! For the first week, the goal is ‘just to keep moving.’ Too many people buy new shoes and a fancy running suit and sprint out the door, eagerly chugging as hard as they can for about three blocks. Then their stomachs begin to ache, their muscles cramp, and their lungs burn. They wind up hitchhiking home exhausted, and gasp, ‘I will never do that again.’ That's called anaerobic (without oxygen) running. It's caused by a body using up more oxygen than it takes in. Many people try to run that way, and many people try to love that way. They love with great fervor and self-sacrifice, giving 100 percent but without the resources to continue for a lifetime. Down the road they find themselves in pain, gasping and cramped, saying, ‘I will never do that again.’ Love, like running, must be aerobic. Our output must be matched by our intake. Running requires oxygen. An enduring love requires God's word, his consolation, his presence. As we love aerobically, we'll build up our capacity to do more and more. And pretty soon we won't be huffing and puffing for half a mile; we'll be running marathons.

 

Roger Thompson, Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 1.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1995/july/1022.html].

 

Where do you need to start loving today?

11

 

Mother’s Day

Life’s Goal

(Proverbs 31:10-31)

 

INTRODUCTION

“According to a poll by Family Circle magazine, 86 percent of mothers think they don't get enough respect, and 80 percent agree that moms who stay at home get even less. Even so, 77 percent of mothers who work full-time would rather stay home if they could.

 

Moms in both camps are a bit defensive: 73 percent of those at home think working moms look down on them, while 66 percent of those who work feel the same way about moms who are at home.

 

The main message, however, is a positive one: while 70 percent of mothers say that being a mom is much more demanding than they expected, 92 percent say it is also much more rewarding.”

 

Time (5-6-2002), p. 18; submitted by Jon R. Mutchler, Ferndale, Washington.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2006/april/6041706.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Stating the obvious

        • I’m not a mother

        • I’m not a wife

        • I’m not a woman

    • That’s why I have to rely on God’s Word to speak about woman today

 

  • WE

    • Expectations from other moms

        • Perhaps you’re a stay-a-home mom (I guess every mom is a stay-at-home right now, with the Coronavirus), and you feel like working moms are looking down on you

        • Maybe you’re a working mom, and you feel like stay-at-home moms are looking down on you

        • Take heart that both kinds of moms are feeling the same way, so don’t put that undue pressure on yourselves

    • Biblical characteristics from God

        • It’s easy to look at what other moms are doing and feel like a failure, but don’t play the compare game

        • God’s Word gives us Biblical characteristics and qualities for women, and He is the One we should strive to please

        • Being a wife and mother will fall into place when we spend time focusing on God and His Word

 

Most everyone is familiar with Proverbs 31. ​​ There is a ministry organization that’s called Proverbs31 Ministries. ​​ People talk about a Proverbs 31 woman. ​​ We’re going to look at Proverbs 31:10-31 today as we celebrate Mother’s Day. ​​ The writer of this section of Proverbs talks about a wife of noble character and how rare that can be. ​​ Fortunately, it is not impossible. ​​ As we look at this passage today, I want to encourage every woman to . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ Seek to be rare, don’t compare.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Proverbs 31:10-31)

    • Background

        • The final verses in the book of Proverbs (vv. 10-31) have two very powerful patterns that are important to recognize

          • Acrostic

            • This is not the only acrostic poem in Proverbs or the entire Bible, there are others

            • The beginning of each verse starts with the consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet (there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet) [show image of the Hebrew alphabet]

            • [Show image of Proverbs 31:10-31]

            • This shows an incredible beauty in how the poem was constructed

          • Chiastic Structure

            • The other pattern we see is the chiastic structure

            • [Show image of chiastic structure]

            • In a chiastic structure there are matching pairs that point to a central theme that the author doesn’t want the reader or audience to miss

            • They say certain things heading into the central theme and then say the exact same things in reverse order as they move away from the central theme

        • We are going to be using the chiastic structure as our guide, looking at the central theme first and working our way out

    • Central theme (v. 23)

        • Who is this Proverb written for?

          • I don’t want us to miss the historical and contextual significance of the book of Proverbs

          • Most of the book was written by Solomon with help from Agur and Lemuel at the very end

          • It seems to be primarily written to Solomon’s son(s) about how to obtain wisdom and live a disciplined and prudent life

          • As it pertains to our passage today, and the central theme, the character qualities listed are for a wife, perhaps for Solomon’s son(s)

        • The central theme then is about the husband of this woman of noble character

          • The husband of this woman is respected at the city gate

          • He is part of the ruling council of elders for her city

        • With that said, I don’t want us to take too much time focusing on the husband, because it’s Mother’s Day

        • “The woman was formed out of man – not out of his head to rule over him; not out of his feet to be trampled upon by him; but out of his side to be his equal, from beneath his arm to be protected, and from near his heart to be loved.” ​​ [Matthew Henry cited by Anders, Homan Old Testament Commentary, Proverbs, 358]

        • Let’s look at the character qualities, of this ideal wife, that allows her husband to be respected at the city gate

        • We’re going to look at each matching pair as we get further and further from the central theme

    • Character qualities (vv. 10-22, 24-31)

        • Making of coverings and garments (vv. 22, 24)

          • For herself (v. 22)

            • She works hard at the textile trade

            • Most women in the Near East were gifted at weaving and making their own garments

            • We’ll see this more as we progress through this passage

            • She is weaving large coverings for her bed

            • She is also clothed in fine linen and purple

              • Fine linen would have been made from flax and imported from Egypt

              • Purple refers to wool that was dyed and was imported from Phoenicia (the dye came from shellfish found there)

              • The woman would have made her own garments from these imported materials

              • She was dressed with the best

              • She’s resourceful as we will see in a moment

            • TODAY

              • Most of our wives aren’t weaving or sewing their own sheets and blankets, but they are making sure that we have sheets and blankets at the best possible price – they’re researching the thread count to make sure the quality is good

              • They are also making sure to dress well

              • Making sure that our bed has sheets and blankets and dressing herself well shows us, guys, that our wives love us and are concerned about us

            • She not only makes items for herself, she also makes items to sell

          • For others (v. 24)

            • She is so industrious that she has more than enough garments and sashes to sell to the merchants

            • I’ve been impressed with those of you in our congregation, who know how to sew, and have used your giftedness to provide hundreds of masks to individuals in our community and beyond – and you’ve done that out of your own generosity, at no charge (we’ll see the character quality of generosity in v. 20)

          • She is not only concerned about herself and her husband, but also her children

        • Clothing of children and herself (vv. 21b, 25a)

          • Her children don’t have to be afraid of the cold associated with the season of snow, because their mother provides scarlet clothing (v. 21b)

            • Again, the dyed cloth would have been expensive

            • Scarlet would have referred to wool garments instead of a light linen made from flax

            • Wool would have helped to retain heat

            • Waltke explains that mentioning the color of the thread, is another way of saying wool, simply because “linen does not readily accept dye.” [Waltke, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 15-31, 530]

            • This mother spares no expense in taking care of her family and keeping them warm

            • TODAY – how have you seen your mother or wife making sure you are warm?

          • The matching unit speaks of a woman being clothed, but not with garments (v. 25a)

            • She is clothed with strength and dignity

            • She is able to face any adversity that comes her way with confidence instead of fear

            • TODAY – How have you seen your mother or wife face adversity and uncertainty?

          • The woman in this passage is prepared for the future

        • No fear (vv. 21a, 25b)

          • She is ready when winter comes and can laugh at the days to come

            • This shows not only a physical readiness, but an emotional readiness

            • We’ll see in the final matched pair where this confidence and emotional readiness and strength come from

            • It doesn’t come from herself

          • In this next pair, we see that this woman is generous, compassionate, loving, and caring

        • Wife gives to others (vv. 20, 26)

          • With her possessions (v. 20)

            • Perhaps you’re skeptical about whether or not this is truly a matching pair

            • Both Anders and Garrett explain that throughout Proverbs, and other wisdom literature, that the mark of wisdom is in providing for the poor – it is a fundamental virtue [Anders, 362; Garrett, The New American Commentary, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 250]

            • This woman is either giving them what they need (food, clothing, etc.) and/or inviting them into her home

            • What we see here is generosity and hospitality

            • TODAY – How have you seen your mother or wife reaching out to those in need, and either providing what they need or inviting them into your home?

          • With her words (v. 26)

            • Speaks with wisdom

              • “That she speaks with wisdom implies that she already possesses it and that wisdom shapes what she has to say and how she says it.” [Waltke, 532]

              • It is probable that she is sharing her wisdom with her husband

              • Husbands, how many of you have experienced the great wisdom of your wives?

              • I know I have – God has given Judy incredible wisdom and I’m a better man when I listen to God speaking through her

            • Faithful instruction is on her tongue

              • Can you hear her children? ​​ “Mom, why did you give that garment, you made, to that beggar?” ​​ “Why did you invited that family to our house for a meal?”

              • Can you see her, gently sitting down with her children and explaining, “God has been so good to us. ​​ He has provided for your father and I above what we could ever imagine. ​​ We want others to know and experience God’s love, compassion, and provision through us. ​​ So, sometimes we give them clothing or feed them a meal.”

              • She uses the wisdom she has gained through circumstances and questions from her children as teachable moments

              • She is concerned about passing on the wisdom she has gained

            • TODAY – What wisdom has your mother passed on to you?

          • She not only speaks and lives out wisdom, but she works hard

        • Wife works hard (vv. 13-19, 27)

          • Works herself (vv. 13-19)

            • She makes her own thread from the wool and flax she selects (vv. 13, 19)

              • She probably goes to the market place and carefully looks through the wool selections

              • She also carefully looks at the flax selection, for the best quality

                • Flax was made from a plant that was uprooted and dried and then the fibers were extracted from the plant

                • Flax was used to make linen, so the better the flax, the better the linen

              • She uses the distaff and the spindle in order to spin her own wool and flax thread for weaving and making garments

              • She does this with eager hands (at the pleasure of her hands – she enjoys it!)

            • She provides food for her family (vv. 14-15)

              • She goes to the market place before sunrise, so she’ll have the best food selection possible for her family

              • She also chooses exotic food for her family to enjoy

              • She’s probably not making food for the servant girls, but rather, providing the raw ingredients for them to make the food

            • She is a savvy business person (v. 16)

              • She looks at all of the angles, puts a plan together, and then executes her plan in purchasing a field and then planting a vineyard on it

              • We’ve been watching old episodes of “Counting On” with the Duggar children and Jinger decides that she wants to buy a car, at the auction, and then flip it. ​​ She takes a couple of her brothers with her to the auction, then she has a couple other brothers, a friend, and her one sister who make the necessary repairs and detail and clean the car, and finally she takes two other brothers with her to show the vehicle to a prospective buyer – she did her homework and used the generous resources of family members to help her purchase and sell the vehicle for a profit.

            • She is not lazy (v. 17)

              • She plans her work and works her plan

              • She has a strong back and strong arms

              • She probably has strong hands as well

            • She never lacks for financial resources (v. 18)

              • The trading that she does is profitable

              • Her lamp does not go out, is not necessarily speaking about her staying up late working into the night, but rather, is probably talking about the fact that she never lacks money, she is prosperous

            • TODAY – In what ways have you seen your mother or wife working hard for the family?

              • Does she make things and sell them?

              • Does she provide good food for you to eat?

              • Is she a savvy business person?

              • Does she every stop working?

              • Does she provide financially for you?

            • This woman not only works hard herself, but she also supervises the work of others

          • Supervises the work of others (v. 27)

            • She is aware of everything that’s happening in the household

            • When something is missing around the house, who do you ask first? (Mom)

            • She is not idle

              • I’ve watched my mom and my wife preparing for family meals and they both have multiple things cooking at the same time and are able to know where everyone is and all the details of upcoming events and activities

              • There are times when I have to ask Judy if she is going to stop and sit down (of course it’s for selfish reasons, because I want to stop and sit down)

              • When I first met Judy’s Grandma Young I wondered if she ever ate, because she would be a flurry of activity around the dinner table. ​​ She would always ask if I needed anything else, because my plate was empty. ​​ She wanted to make sure everyone was provided for, before she would take time to eat.

          • We all know how hard our mothers and wives work to provide just what we need, so we should take time to recognize and acknowledge that fact

        • Recognition by husband and children (vv. 11-12, 28-29)

          • Husbands (vv. 11-12, 28b-29)

            • Do you have full confidence in your wife? (when is the last time you told her that?)

            • How has she brought good into your life? (when is the last time you expressed gratitude for the good she has brought into your life?)

            • When is the last time you’ve praised your wife?

              • The author gives us an example here, “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

              • When Judy and I were dating, I told the guys in the dorm that I was sorry for them, because they had to settle for second best, since I was dating the best! (I know it sounds cheesy, but I meant it)

              • How can you praise your wife today? ​​ What characteristics are your grateful for?

            • Husbands aren’t the only ones who need to recognize the incredible woman in their home, children need to also

          • Children (v. 28a)

            • When is the last time you’ve expressed your gratitude and love for everything that your mother is doing or did do for you?

            • Today is the perfect day to do just that

          • All of this leads to the very first matching pair in this passage

        • High value of a good wife (vv. 10, 30-31)

          • The author of this section helps us to understand that a wife of noble character can be found, but it is rare, like a precious stone

            • The description that we have seen in this passage may not reflect a single woman, but may be a composite portrait of ideal womanhood [The NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for Proverbs 31:10-31, 1131]

            • It’s always tempting to look at other woman and compare ourselves to them

            • I want to encourage you to not compare yourself to anyone else, but use the characteristics found in this passage as your guide to becoming a virtuous woman

            • Seek to be rare, don’t compare

          • Where does this woman find the physical and emotional strength to do everything she does, with excellence?

            • It doesn’t come from within her

            • She can’t accomplish this on her own

            • It comes from revering the Lord

              • When I was sharing with Judy about the message for today, she said that the only way for her to excel in these character traits is to be connected to the vine

              • She is referring to John 15:1-17

              • We read these words in verse 5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. ​​ If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

              • She shared that when she has tried to do anything on her own, she has failed, but when she stays connected to Jesus, and does it with His strength, she succeeds

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Stay connected to Jesus, so I can be a wife and/or mother of noble character.

          • True reward and praise come from being connected to the Lord, not through charm or beauty

            • “In short, ‘charm’ deceives because it promises a lifetime of happiness that it cannot deliver . . . ‘beauty is said to be deceitful because it passes away, and with it passes the hope of happiness base on it.’” ​​ [Waltke, 535]

            • “Inner spiritual beauty does not deceive.” ​​ [Waltke, 535]

 

CONCLUSION

“About ten years ago, I found my mother sitting at the kitchen table. She was reading and chuckling in frustration, so I asked her what she was looking at.

 

She told me that she'd been studying Proverbs for her devotions and that she'd just read chapter 31, which lists the qualities of a virtuous wife. She was frustrated because she realized she could never be the woman God describes there. We talked about it some more, and my mom finally arrived at a decision that still inspires me today: she decided to take on the challenge, one verse at a time. She said: ‘I'll work on the first item in the list. When I've got that one mastered, I'll move to the next one—hopefully I'll be a virtuous woman before I die.’

 

I recently checked in with her to see how she was progressing. She laughed and told me she was seven or eight items into the list but was currently stuck on, ‘Her children call her blessed.’ She said, ‘I might have to wait for all of them to grow out of their teens before I can accomplish that one.’

 

Last year, my sisters and I got together and made a Certificate of Completion in Proverbs 31 Training. We took every verse and came up with an example of when she had fulfilled that requirement. When the certificate was finished, it looked like a real diploma and listed her many accomplishments. We all signed it, including my dad.

 

I read it out loud to her, and when I got to the last verse, ‘Her children call her blessed,’ one by one each of us said, ‘Mom, you are blessed.’ She cried and cried—she had finally reached her life's goal!”

 

Submitted by Jennifer Tatum, Romeoville, Illinois.

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/search/?query=Proverbs%2031:10-31&type=scripture&start=21].

 

Husbands and Children

My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Take time, today, to tell my wife and/or mother that she is blessed.

 

Women

My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Take on the challenge of seeking to be rare, one item at a time, so I can be a virtuous woman.

11

 

Believe

Bread Appeal

(John 13:18-30)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Our skin is soft, like tightly woven fabric. It appears porous from the outside—with millions of tiny openings that ooze sweat. But you might be surprised to learn how effective a barrier our skin can be.

 

For decades medicine makers have tried to develop drugs that can be administered through the skin. Doctors call them ‘transdermal’ drugs—like some pain-relieving sprays and nicotine and hormone patches. Pharmaceutical companies are racing to perfect a way to make drugs that can be accepted this way—and painlessly.

 

But for all the work, they have only been able to find a handful of compounds that go through our skin. However, if our skin is prepared—temporarily altered—medicines can permeate it. Scientists have developed ointments that make the skin able to transmit drugs. They've used very low electrical currents to propel drugs through the skin. They've even invented little patches about the size of a band-aid with tiny microneedles that pierce the top layers of the skin enough to get drugs in but not deep enough to be felt by our nerves.

 

All of this to try to overcome the barrier of our skin.

 

Spiritually we're the same. Our hearts have barriers. We can be immersed in God's grace, but at times none of it permeates into our hearts. Judas spent over three years up-close with Jesus himself, but in the end He handed Jesus over to be murdered for 30 pieces of silver. A child can be raised by godly parents, hearing Bible stories and earnest prayers at home, faithfully attending church every Sunday, but then grow up to be a prodigal who never returns.

 

Sometimes the problem isn't the environment. Sometimes the problem is that we are impenetrable to the gospel. Just as the skin must be treated to transmit medication to the body, so our souls require the special work of God's grace before we can receive the life and healing that he wants to bring.”

 

John B. Carpenter

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2003/july/14501.html].

BODY

  • ME

    • Scared of needles

        • Growing up I didn’t like going to the doctor, especially if a shot was involved

        • I didn’t like needles, so I was scared every time I had to go to doctor

        • I’ve grown to tolerate needles and it doesn’t bother me to have to get a shot anymore

        • I’ve always admired the fact that my father has faithfully given blood throughout his life

          • I don’t know how many galloons he has given

          • At one point in my life, I desperately wanted to start giving blood on a consistent basis, because of my father’s example, but I never did

          • In times past, when I did donate blood, I would always get light headed afterwards

          • The last time I gave blood, which was many years ago, I had hyped myself up and was determined to be so mentally strong that I wouldn’t get light headed

          • It seemed to work until the nurse told me to put my arm up over my head – I got light headed

          • My fear of needles has been greater than my desire to imitate my father

        • There is no way I can fake being a blood donor

          • I could pick up T-shirts at the thrift store that say how many pints or galloons of blood I’ve donated

          • I could join social media groups for individuals who are blood donors

          • I could champion the American Red Cross and the Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank and post images on my social media accounts

          • I could volunteer with those organizations

          • But none of that would make me a blood donor

        • From the outside looking in, you would perhaps assume that I was a blood donor – and I may let you believe that

  • WE

    • Fake it ‘til you make it

        • This idea is prevalent with multilevel marketing companies

        • Those companies operate on the idea of gathering family and friends underneath you as partners in business

        • The way that you “make it” is by having a large network of people in your pipeline underneath you

        • At the beginning, when you don’t have a large network underneath you, it’s important that those you are recruiting believe that there is an incredible potential to make a lot of money

        • So, you introduce them to people in the company who are making lots of money, so they will catch the vision and join you as a partner in business

        • If everything goes well, you eventually advance to the point where you are making a significant amount of residual income (you get a percentage of the sales from everyone in your pipeline)

 

As we’ll see today, the disciples didn’t have any idea who Jesus was talking about when He told them that one of the Twelve was going to betray Him. ​​ They were at a loss. ​​ None of them suspected that Judas was the one. ​​ Judas had ministered together with them for three years. ​​ He had healed and cast out demons, just like they had. ​​ He had shared with others about Jesus. ​​ John wants us to understand, from this passage, that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ You can’t fake being a true follower of Jesus.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 13:18-30)

    • Betrayal predicted (vv. 18-20)

        • Background

          • Pastor Marc did an excellent job last week of walking us through Jesus washing His disciple’s feet

          • The first statement that Jesus makes in this section of Scripture requires us to look back at what was said in verse 17

            • Jesus ends his time of washing the disciple’s feet by saying, Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them

            • Jesus is talking about his example of washing their feet and His teaching about how they should wash each other’s feet

          • Jesus knew that not every one of them was going to be blessed, because He knew that one of them was going to betray Him

            • This one individual was not going to wash the other disciples’ feet – he wasn’t going to do what Jesus had just modeled for them and taught them about

            • In fact, in the Gospel of Matthew we learn that Judas hanged himself after betraying Jesus and trying to return the 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 27:3-10)

          • Jesus says that He knows those He has chosen

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is all-knowing (omniscient)

              • We know that Jesus willingly gave up some of His supernatural abilities when He became human

              • We also know that God, at specific times, would allow Jesus to access those same abilities for God’s glory and to accomplish His purposes

              • At this point, God has given Jesus the ability to know the hearts of His disciples

            • Some believe that Jesus’ statement here contradicts what He said in Capernaum

            • John 6:70-71, Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? ​​ Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

            • “But it is simply another way of saying the same thing: ​​ the disciples are ‘chosen’ corporately as ‘the Twelve,’ but not all are individually chosen. ​​ Jesus is simply repeating in different words what he said a few verses earlier, ‘and you men are clean, but not all of you’ (v. 10).” ​​ [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 739]

            • While God’s sovereignty is evident in the fact that Judas would betray Jesus in order to fulfill scripture, I don’t believe that Judas agreed to be one of Jesus’ disciples with the sole purpose and premeditation of betraying Him

            • I believe, he genuinely followed Jesus at the beginning, but Jesus also knew the kind of man that Judas was and what would tempt him to betray someone

            • Burge highlights Brown’s translation of verse 18, “What I say does not refer to all of you: ​​ I know the kind of men I chose. ​​ But the purpose is to have the scripture fulfilled . . .” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 371]

          • Jesus uses Psalm 41:9 as the scripture that is being fulfilled

            • This Psalm was David’s lament about being abandoned and deserted

              • “Rabbinic interpretation took Ps. 41:9 to refer to Ahithophel’s conspiracy with Absalom against David.” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 411]

              • 2 Samuel 15:12, 31 record the fact that Ahithophel had joined Absalom’s conspiracy and rebellion

              • Ahithophel had been a close friend and counselor for David – he had shared hundreds, if not thousands, of meals with David

            • There are two important cultural aspects of the Psalm, that Jesus quotes, that we need to discuss

              • The sharing of bread

                • In the Near East and the Semitic settings of the Old and New Testaments, the sharing of bread or a meal was considered a symbol of personal intimacy and loyalty to a superior

                • It was not something that was taken lightly

                • Judas had shared hundreds of meals with Jesus over the three years they were together

                • To betray someone whom you had shared a meal with was considered “a gross breach of the tradition of hospitality.” ​​ [Bernard cited by Köstenberger, 411]

              • The lifting of the heel against another person

                • From a cultural perspective, in the Near East, showing the bottom of the foot to someone is considered a symbol of contempt and a breach of honor

                • Borchert shares, “Having taught in both the Middle East and the Orient, I learned quickly to keep my feet on the floor and not show the bottom of my feet. ​​ Such a practice is a change of style for anyone from the West who identifies relaxation with the putting up of one’s feet.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 89]

                • The lifting up of the heel could also suggest the kick of a mule, which gives us a wonderful word picture of what it would look and feel like to be betrayed by someone who is close to us – who has shared a meal with us

          • All of this sets the stage for what Jesus says next

        • Prediction

          • Jesus is telling them before it happens

            • He’s telling them that Psalm 41:9 is going to be fulfilled in their presence

            • The reason He’s telling them ahead of time is so they will believe that I am He

              • The original Greek does not have the word “He,” so Jesus is saying that He is telling them ahead of time so they will believe that He is the I AM

              • This is so significant, because God used this same identification for Himself when talking with Moses in the wilderness

              • If you recall, Moses wanted a name to give the Israelite leaders in Egypt when He went back to bring them out of Egypt

              • The name that God gives Moses is, I AM WHO I AM

              • God told Moses to tell them that I AM had sent him to them (Exodus 3:14)

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is divine, He is God!

            • This naturally leads into His next truth statement

          • Chain of acceptance

            • Jesus had already sent the disciples out two-by-two

            • He would eventually commission them to spread the good news about Him to every nation (Matthew 28:19-20)

            • Jesus is basically saying that if anyone accepts His disciples, whom He has sent out to share the good news, then they automatically accept Him

            • If they automatically accept Jesus, then they automatically accept the One who sent Jesus from heaven to earth – God, the Father!

            • A modern parable: A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art: everything from Picasso to Raphael. When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father grieved deeply for his only son.

              About a month later, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, ‘Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart. He died instantly. He often talked about you and your love for art.’

              The young man held out the package and said, ‘I know this isn't much. I'm not a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.’ The father opened the package and gazed at a portrait of his son. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured his son in the painting. The father hung the portrait over his mantle. When visitors came to his home, he always drew attention to the portrait of his son before he showed them any other great works.

              When the father died, his paintings were to be auctioned. Many influential people gathered, excited about the opportunity to purchase them. On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel and asked for someone to start the bidding. The crowd scoffed and demanded the Van Goghs and the Rembrandts. But the auctioneer persisted. ‘Who will start the bidding? $200? $100?’ The crowd again insisted on seeing the famous paintings. Still the auctioneer solicited, ‘The son! The son! Who'll take the son?’

              Finally a voice said, ‘I'll give $10 for the painting.’ The longtime gardener of the father was poor and couldn't afford anything more. While the auctioneer continued to pursue a higher bid, the crowd became angry. The auctioneer pounded the gavel and sold the painting for $10 to the gardener.

              An eager buyer from the second row bellowed, ‘Finally, on with the auction.’ But the auctioneer explained, ‘I'm sorry, the auction is over. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything.’

              Source unknown; submitted by Leslie Bauer, Barrington, Illinois

              [
              https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2002/september/13900.html]

            • The same is true for us, as it pertains to accepting the good news of Jesus Christ from one of His disciples

              • If we accept the testimony of the transformed life of our family member, friend, neighbor, or coworker, then we are accepting Jesus and God also

              • If we accept the testimony about Jesus, God’s Son, we get everything!

                • What is everything?

                • It is the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life with God

                • Quote John 3:16

                • God loves us so much that He already had a plan in place to deal with our rebellion against Him, which He calls sin

                • Every one of us has sinned, no one is exempt – we’re born sinners

                • God is also just and has to punish sin, but He sent Jesus to die on a cross to take our punishment for sin, so we can have eternal life – that’s everything!

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus and accept His perfect sacrifice on the cross, so I can have eternal life.

            • I encourage you to follow that chain of acceptance today

        • Jesus is predicting His betrayal, because it is just about to happen

    • Betrayal begins (vv. 21-30)

        • Jesus is troubled in His spirit

          • The statement, “After he had said this” marks the conclusion of the previous discourse and the beginning of a new one

          • This is the third time, in the Gospel of John, that we see Jesus experiencing deep anguish

            • The same Greek word was used two other times concerning Jesus

              • John 11:33, when He saw Mary weeping at the death of her brother Lazarus

              • John 12:27, when Jesus was explaining to His disciples why He must die

            • Jesus is probably troubled in His spirit, because He knows those He has chosen – He knows what Judas is about to do

            • While it fulfills Scripture, it doesn’t make it any easier on Jesus – He is fully God and fully man

          • Jesus didn’t want His disciples to miss the fulfillment of Psalm 41:9, so He tells them directly that one of them is going to betray Him

        • The disciples are confused by the news and try to get an answer

          • None of them had any idea whom Jesus was referring to

            • We don’t see it in the Gospel of John, but Matthew and Mark record what I think is an incredibly powerful principle for us to embrace

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – Self-evaluation is important and profitable.

              • Each of the disciples were saddened and immediately ask Jesus if it was them (Matthew 26:22; Mark 14:19)

              • They didn’t point the finger, because they had no idea who Jesus could be talking about

              • When we’re confronted with something like this do we immediately take time to ask ourselves if we are the one who has betrayed Jesus or someone else

              • Or, do we immediately begin to think about someone else in our group and say to ourselves, “I bet they’re the one.”

              • I have to admit that I don’t always do self-evaluation first, and have found myself questioning, in my mind, those in the group trying to determine who needs to pay attention to what is being said

              • More often than not, I do self-evaluation to make sure that I’m not at fault

              • I remember a situation where a memo was sent out to the entire organization I worked for, about the speed limit entering the grounds. ​​ I had no idea who was speeding and who wasn’t, but I immediately begun to question whether or not I had been speeding when entering the grounds. ​​ I was very mindful about my speed from that point on

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Spend time evaluating myself, first this week, as situations come up.

            • PRINCIPLE #4 – Anyone can look like a disciple, but God knows our heart.

              • Judas did a pretty good job of hiding the sin that was overtaking him

              • His love of money was more powerful than his love for Jesus and the lost

                • He had been taking money from the money box that the disciples kept (John 12:6)

                • He accepted 30 pieces of silver as payment for betraying Jesus

                • 1 Timothy 6:10, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. ​​ Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

              • Judas had been with Jesus for three years

                • He saw Jesus do the miraculous

                • He heard Jesus teach about many things

                • He probably performed miracles and cast out demons, himself

                • He probably prayed and taught others about Jesus

                • Even though Judas had done all these things, his heart was corrupted by the love of money, and Jesus knew that about him

                • You can’t fake being a true follower of Jesus.

                • Application

                  • We can’t point fingers at Judas, because some of us suffer from the same thing

                  • From the outside we look super religious and holy

                  • Other people would acknowledge that we are a true and genuine follower of Jesus

                  • Perhaps we teach Sunday school or lead a discipleship group, we attend church whenever the doors are open, we give sacrificially to the church and other organizations, we do all these things that make it look like were a genuine follower of Jesus Christ

                  • They would never suspect that our hearts are corrupt with some kind of sin

                  • We can’t hide that from God, because He knows our heart

                  • Are you a true and genuine follower of Jesus Christ?

                  • Is there some sin that would identify you as a betrayer of Jesus and not a genuine follower?

                  • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess any sin that is keeping me from truly following Jesus, and determine to repent and turn from it today.

                  • You can’t fake being a true follower of Jesus.

          • Private conversation

            • What we see next is a private conversation that takes place between Jesus, John, and Judas

              • Peter is the first one to perhaps ask the question that every disciple had

                • He prompts John to ask Jesus which disciple He means

                • Cultural background

                  • In order to understand the scene, where John is prompted to ask Jesus the question, and then leans back against Him to ask, we have to understand the cultural setting for the meal they were sharing

                  • For special meals, the Jews would use the Roman way of reclining at the table

                  • A low three-sided table shaped like a “U” would be set up and couches/cushions would surround it on the outside

                  • Those serving the meal would do so from inside the U-shaped table

                  • Each guest would recline at the table with their head toward the table and their feet away from the table

                  • They would all recline on their left elbow and eat with their right hand

                  • The host of the meal would be at the center of the table with the guest of honor at his left and the second guest of honor to his right [Köstenberger, 415]

                  • Jesus was the host of the meal and was sitting in the center with John to His right and, as most believe, Judas to His left (the place of honor)

                • John has his back to Jesus, so the most natural thing for him to do, in asking the question, is to lean back against Jesus’ chest

              • John asks Jesus who it is that is going to betray Him

            • Jesus’ response

              • Jesus doesn’t say Judas’ name in response to the question

              • Instead He tells John that the person He gives the piece of bread to, after He dips it in the dish, is the person who is going to betray Him

          • This sets the stage for Jesus’ final appeal to Judas

        • Bread appeal

          • Jesus immediately dips the bread in the dish and gives it to Judas Iscariot

            • The reason most scholars believe that Judas was in the position of honor, to Jesus’ left, is because Jesus is able to give the piece of bread to him without the other disciples knowing the private conversation that has just taken place between He and John

            • Jesus tells Judas to quickly do what he is about to do

              • We all know what Jesus is talking about, because we have the rest of the story provided in the Gospels

              • The other disciples, around the table, didn’t understand why Jesus said this to Judas

              • They speculated that because Judas was in charge of the money (the treasurer) that Jesus was asking him to go buy supplies for the Feast or to give alms to the poor

                • Judas would not be buying supplies for the Passover Feast, because that is what they were participating in that night

                • He would have been buying supplies for the Feast of Unleavened Bread that would begin that night and last for seven days [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 475]

                • It would not have been unusual for Judas to go and give something to the poor on Passover night, because this was the traditional practice at that time [Borchert, 95]

                • The temple gates would be left open from midnight on, so those who were poor, and had to beg for alms, could gather there [Carson, 475]

              • While Jesus’ command to Judas was heard by the whole group, the conversation with John about who was going to betray Him was private

                • John knew what Jesus was talking about when He told Judas to go quickly and do what he was going to do

                • How did the other disciples miss that conversation?

                  • First, John had leaned back against Jesus and probably whispered in His ear

                  • Second, after each disciple had asked Jesus if it was him, they were probably talking among themselves about who it might be, but also a dispute had broken out among them about which of them was considered to be the greatest (Luke 22:24)

                  • The disciples were distracted, which is probably why they didn’t hear the conversation between Jesus and John

            • Jesus’ love for Judas

              • Perhaps Jesus had set Judas to His left as a way of showing him how much He loved him – it was the place of honor

              • As Jesus offers the piece of bread to Judas, I come only imagine that His desire was that Judas would reconsider the plans he had made with the chief priests to betray Him

              • This was His final appeal to Judas, His bread appeal

              • Judas couldn’t fake it any more, he had to make a decision – accept or reject Jesus

              • You can’t fake being a true follower of Jesus.

          • Satan enters Judas and he leaves

            • As soon as Judas took the bread, he had made his choice – reject Jesus

            • He immediately left the Passover meal

          • It was night

            • John’s statement about it being night is not only a time stamp, but is also a spiritual reality for Judas

            • He had chosen darkness instead of light

            • That’s the same choice every one of us has to make

            • Will we choose to accept or reject Jesus Christ, the Light of the world?

 

  • YOU

    • Will you accept Jesus by believing in Him, so you can have eternal life?

    • Will you take time this week to do self-evaluation concerning any situation that arises?

    • Will you take time to evaluate if there is any sin in your life that is keeping you from truly following Jesus Christ?

 

  • WE

    • As we all commit to these next steps, we will see transformed lives, that are genuinely committed to Jesus

 

CONCLUSION

“Think of Judas. Judas decided to follow Jesus. Judas heard Jesus teach. He went out two by two with the others, healing the sick and exorcising demons. Judas did a lot of disciple kinds of things. Yet he is remembered solely for how his relationship with Jesus ended.

How a life, a ministry, how a relationship ends is absolutely crucial to everything that goes before it.”

 

Craig Brian Larson, "Strong to the Finish," Preaching Today, Tape No. 155.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1996/march/1662.html].

 

“It is startling to think that Satan can actually come into the heart of a man in such close touch with Jesus as Judas was. And more--he is cunningly trying to do it today. Yet he can get in only through a door opened from the inside. ‘Every man controls the door of his own life.’ Satan can't get in without our help.

 

S. D. Gordon in The Bent-Knee Time. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 10.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1998/september/5349.html].

12

 

A (Not So) Secret Society

The definition of a secret society is a club or an organization whose activities, events, inner functioning, or membership are concealed from non-members. The society may or may not attempt to conceal its existence, but beliefs or practices are concealed from the public and require an oath of secrecy to learn. The exact qualifications for labeling a group a secret society rely on the degree to which the organization insists on secrecy, and might involve the retention and transmission of secret knowledge, the denial about membership or knowledge of the group, the creation of personal bonds between members of the organization, and the use of secret rites or rituals which solidify members of the group. The group's membership is in some way restrictive, such as by race, sex, religious affiliation, or invitation only.

We’ve all heard of secret societies. One of the most famous ones are the Freemasons. 13 of the 39 men who signed the U.S. Constitution were Masons. Founding Fathers like George Washington, James Monroe, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and Paul Revere all counted themselves as members of the fraternal order. The rituals around becoming a freemason are shrouded in secrecy. Another secret society is the Order of Skull and Bones that was founded at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut in 1832. Each year, 15 seniors at Yale are tapped to join Skull and Bones. Their names are published in the Yale newspaper, though what happens behind the closed doors of their windowless meeting space, called the Tombs, where Bonesmen gather twice a week, is under wraps: Members take an oath of secrecy. Graduate members are referred to as “patriarchs,” while those undergoing initiation are called “knights.” Outsiders of the group are “barbarians.” Famous Skull and Bones members include Presidents William Howard Taft, George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush; founder of Time magazine Henry Luce; former secretary of state, John Kerry, and members of the CIA.

Of course, pop culture has brought secret societies to light, such as in the movie, the Da Vinci Code and has even made fun of them in different TV shows such as the Simpsons. As I was researching for my introduction I remembered one of these secret societies on a TV show growing up and when I looked it up I found these others societies in popular shows I had not remembered. Maybe you remember some of these and can guess which TV show they were from: The Fraternal Order of the Bass. That was from Laverne and Shirley. At the lodge, Lenny and Squiggy perform the secret greeting — puckering your lips in a fishy manner while wiggling your fingers beside your face like gills. The Knights of the Scimitar. That was on Cheers. The Leopard Lodge. That was on Happy Days, where Howard Cunningham is the Grand Poobah of Leopard Lodge No. 462 in Milwaukee. The Loyal Order of Raccoon Lodge. That was on the Honeymooners. The Regal Order of the Golden Door to Good Fellowship. That was on the Andy Griffith Show. Of course, Goober is the Keeper of the Door and the secret password is "Geronimo!" The Royal Order of Camels. That was on Petticoat Junction. And finally, the one that got me started researching these others is the Loyal Order of Water Buffalo, which was on the Flintstones. A lot of these secret societies whether in real life or in fiction had secret oaths, secret handshakes and secret rituals.

This morning we are going to be studying God’s Word in John chapter 13 verses 1-17. We are going to see Jesus do something that shocks and probably embarrasses his disciples. It is just before the Passover feast and Jesus is going to show how much he loves his disciples. We see that the devil prompts Judas to betray Jesus which makes what he is about to do even more shocking to us. A lot of us know the story. Jesus gets up from the table, wraps a towel around his waist, pours water in a basin and begins to wash the disciples’ feet. We see that Peter objects and Jesus tells Peter he doesn’t realize what’s is going on now but he will later on. Then Peter, in typical Peter fashion, tells Jesus to give him a bath. Then after washing their feet, Jesus explains why he washed their feet and what they were to do about it.

I want to put forth to you all this morning that in the three years Jesus was with his disciples teaching them and showing them how they were to advance the kingdom once he was gone, he started his own “society.” Not a secret society with a secret oath, secret rites and a secret handshake but a “not so” secret society called the Order of the Towel and Basin. Of course I am jesting but in looking at this passage and knowing the Gospels, I can see elements of a society, such as, in an oath of “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ and love your neighbor as yourself.” And rituals such as communion and baptism which remind us of what Jesus did for us and of course the handshake, which we are going to study this morning, which is the washing of each other’s feet.

That evening, when Jesus established the Order of the Towel and Basin, he demonstrated a great humility. He challenged his followers to think about what he had done, and to consider it in the light of their understanding of his identity. That brings us to the big idea that John wants us to understand this morning which is they Will Know We are Christians by our Serve.

Before we begin to unpack what Jesus was trying to teach his disciples and us today, let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, as you prepare our hearts to hear your Word this morning, I pray that they would be open and receptive to what you want to say to us and to what you want us to learn. Thank you for the opportunity to share what I have learned from your Word with others. Give us all boldness to share the insights from your Word with others this week. We thank you for the power of your Word in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

Chapter 13 is the beginning of another section of the book of John that shifts our focus to the last week of Jesus’ life and to the hour of his glorification on the cross which has been promised in the first twelve chapters. His public ministry is over and he turns from the people who have rejected him, even after urging them to believe in the “Light” while the “Light” was still among them. He now turns his attention to a more “private” ministry focusing on the twelve disciples who have followed his for three years and have truly believed in him. Jesus knows he is getting ready to go back to his Father and he needs to give some final instructions to them. He needs to say goodbye to “his own” whom he loves, and give a practical demonstration of his continuing love for them. Chapter 13 begins a lengthy teaching of Jesus that explains the final miraculous “sign” that he will do, which is his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. Whereas we saw in the first 12 chapters, light and life, were the keywords, now love, agape love, the self-sacrificing love of Jesus, becomes the key word for the next five chapters. ​​ 

Our first point this morning is Love Exemplified and we see this in John chapter 13 verses 1-5. This is what God’s Word says: 1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, 4 got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. 5 Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

The first thing we can notice is that the events that follow are described as happening “before the feast of the Passover.” The Feast of the Passover was the annual Jewish festival commemorating God’s deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt and the angel of death passing over the houses of the Hebrews and killing the firstborn of the Egyptians. This would be the last Passover Jesus would celebrate. This would be important to John who will go on to describe Jesus as the Passover Lamb who will be slaughtered for the sins of the world at the same time the lambs are being slaughtered in the temple on Passover. The second thing we notice is that John does not record the details of the last Supper as the other gospels do. He doesn’t show us the meal where Jesus broke the bread and passed the cup signifying his body that was to be broken and his blood that was to be shed.

This section also reveals that Jesus is all-knowing. He had full knowledge and was in full control of everything that was happening to him. He was never a victim of circumstances or the evil schemes of the devil or of man. The first thing Jesus knew was that his “hour” was near and John records it as the hour he would be leaving this world and returning to his Father in heaven. John also talks about Jesus loving “his own” which are the twelve disciples and how he would love them to the very end while he was on the earth. Even though Jesus was very much looking forward to returning to his Father he never forgot his own and how much he loved them. “To the very end” means Jesus loved his own completely and perfectly. Nothing would come between the disciples and his love for them.

Paul in Romans 8:38-39 says, 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nothing can separate us from God’s love and in our passage this morning even the imminent arrival of his own death could not separate the disciples from his love.

The second thing that Jesus knew was that he was going to be betrayed and he knew who was going to betray him. The third thing Jesus knew was that God the Father had given all things into his hands. Lastly, Jesus knew who he was. He knew he was the Son of God and that he had come from God and was now going back to God to sit in his rightful place at the right hand of the Father.

In these verses, we can imagine Jesus looking at his disciples, as they are talking about who is the greatest among them. He must have felt like haven’t they heard a single word he’s said for the past three years. Then his eyes land on Judas, who the devil had already put into his heart to betray him. “Put” literally means “cast” which accurately describes Satan’s way of operating. He uses suggestion as one of his chief tools, as he did with Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the heart of the unbeliever is the ground where he sows (or casts) his evil seed. Judas was infected by the devil to betray Jesus.

The thing is all the disciples were infected by the devil, they were all infected with sin, but only Judas was going to betray Jesus. Likewise, all of us have been infected by the devil and sin as well. In essence we all have betrayed Jesus and caused him to be crucified on the cross because of our sin. The question is what will we do with that infection? Will we confess our sin, seek God’s help, and strive to become more like Jesus? Or will we do what Judas did and give in completely to the devil?

We can also see Jesus thinking about his Father, who had given all things into his hands. This meant that the cross was the plan the Father had put into place to redeem his people to himself. God was not an idle spectator in the crucifixion of Jesus. It is where the Father’s plan and will would be worked out. It also signified the way that Jesus, who came from the Father would return to the Father. By reiterating and stressing that Jesus is going back to God, John reveals the depth of Jesus’ humility in what he was to do next.

The Creator and Ruler of the universe was about to wash the disciples’ dirty feet – a menial task reserved for only the lowest of slaves. Even Jewish slaves were not required to wash feet, only Gentile slaves. Jesus is about to do something that will take him to the lowest place, but he never forgets that the highest possible place, at the Father’s right hand, is his by right. But he was also going to wash the feet of the one who would betray him. Jesus was going to meet the greatest injury and insult with the humblest expression of love he could show. He was going to personify Matthew 5:44, which says, 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Jesus showed the same love for Judas, his enemy, that he showed to his friends.

Tragically, even after Jesus showed Judas how much he loved him, he still betrayed him. The same act that drew the other disciples to Christ repelled Judas and showed his heart. We can only wonder what opened Judas’ heart to the devil’s influence. Maybe it was greed or ambition or the fact that Jesus didn’t fit into the box Judas had for him. Anders says, “Jesus knew Judas’ true nature from the beginning but yet gave him every opportunity to repent and follow Jesus wholeheartedly. John pulls no punches in his description of Judas the betrayer and his evil master. Judas was a willing perpetrator whose assassination plot originated with supernatural sources.” Carson quotes Schlatter as saying, “Judas is responsible for his betrayal because “a heart incited by Satan, actually wills what the devil wills”. Carson goes on to say, “The devil and Judas are now in a conspiracy of evil to bring Jesus to the cross.”

So, why did Jesus wash the disciples’ feet? It seems that it had not been done when they first came into the upper room for the Last Supper. If you remember Jesus sent two disciples ahead of the group to secure the place for them where they would spend their final night together. There was no servant assigned to the room. One of the disciples should have taken it upon themselves to do it even though it would not have been acceptable for peers to wash each other’s feet. But instead of humbling themselves they were debating about who was the greatest among them.

We see this in Luke 22:24-27. 24 And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. 25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ 26 But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. 27 For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. We can only wonder if the disciples were all thinking that it needed to be done but “let someone else do it, I am not going to do it.”

In a stunning display of humility and possibly a rebuke of the disciples, Jesus takes on the posture of a slave and starts to wash their feet. If it was unacceptable for peers to wash each other’s feet it was even more unacceptable in that culture for a superior to wash the feet of those under them. The disciples would have been embarrassed and shocked and probably sat in awkward silence as Jesus started to wash their feet. Burge says, “Jesus’ decision to wash the disciples’ feet is anchored in his assurance of his relationship with God. He knows his origins and his destiny and understands the authority he has been given. This gives him the courage to do something his followers never expected.”

But this action of love and humility was more than a rebuke in that it foreshadowed the cross. The fact that Jesus washes their feet during the meal and not when they first arrived, which was when it was normally done, shows that it was a deliberate action taken by Jesus and not just the usual act of courtesy. It is was parable in action, showing the disciples the principle of humble service and was to be an example of what his followers were to do for others. Philippians speaks to us about this in chapter 2:5-8. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

That brings us to our second point this morning which is Love Explained. I will be reading verses 6-11. Follow along as I read God’s Word, 6 So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” 8 Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.”

We don’t know exactly when he approached Peter. He may have been first or last or anywhere in between. If he wasn’t first can you imagine the silence and embarrassment as Jesus knelt at the feet of the disciples one by one washing their feet and drying them with the towel wrapped around his waist? We knew that if anyone was going to speak up it would be Peter and true to form he does. Peter’s objection is probably well-intentioned as he asks Jesus if he was really going to wash his feet. We don’t want to think about Jesus stooping down to wash our feet. He is the Almighty God. We don’t mind being humble before an Almighty God but we don’t want him to humble himself before us. It’s embarrassing to us. But Temple says, “man’s humility does not begin with the giving of service; it begins with the readiness to receive it. For there can be much pride and condescension in our giving of service.” We need to be serving others but at times we also need to let ourselves be served as well.

Peter never stopped to consider that Jesus was doing something more important that just washing his feet. Tasker says, “Peter resists the attempt of Jesus to wash his feet, precisely because he failed to associate what his master was doing with his death, but regarded it merely as an act which any slave might perform before a banquet.”

Jesus knowing what is going through Peter’s mind tells him that right now he won’t understand what is happening but later on he will. This is where it gets interesting. Peter’s objection seems to get louder and more insistent now. We can see his devotion to Jesus by the strength of his objection. He emphatically tells Jesus “NO, that he will never wash his feet.” Peter is too humble to have Jesus wash his feet but not too humble to tell Jesus what to do. We have seen this before where Peter rashly presumes to tell Jesus what to do. In Matthew 16:21-23 we see these words, 21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Peter may have thought he was just doing his part as a follower of Jesus, who was his teacher and more importantly his Lord. But again Peter seemed more concerned with human concerns instead of the concerns of God. Jesus again patiently answers Peter. He simply says that if he doesn’t wash Peter’s feet then Peter will have no part with him. It was not a question of washing, but a question of “who” was doing the washing. Peter, the disciples and all of us lack the cleansing that only Jesus can supply.

Jesus’ reply served two purposes. One, it corrected all the disciples misunderstanding of his messianic mission. They needed to accept the reality of Jesus’ humiliation not only in the Upper Room as he washed their feet but more so as he went to the cross in a most humiliating way to die. Second, he was telling them that only those who have been cleansed by Jesus can be in relationship with him. Washing is a common metaphor in the Bible for spiritual cleansing. Only those who by faith confess Jesus as Lord and believe that God has raised him from the dead will be saved. The challenge is personal with us, as it was with Peter – “unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” The question this morning is “have you been washed by Jesus?” If not, then this first next step is for you, which is to be “washed” by Jesus and be saved. If you’ve made that decision for the first time this morning, let Pastor Stuart and I know and if you are on Facebook, let people know it in the comments, so they can rejoice with you.

When Jesus said that Peter needed to be washed or he would have no “part” with him, the Greek word he used for “part” would have conjured up this idea of tribal land that the Israelites would inherit when they got to the Promised Land. The land that was promised to Abraham and his descendants. This land was one of the principal gifts of the covenant. But the gift of God was no longer land but abundant life with Jesus. Peter answers Jesus by wanting him to give him a bath. Again, Peter misunderstands but on some level he must have realized that what Jesus was talking about was more than just the washing of feet. He wanted whatever Jesus was offering. He concluded that if a foot washing gained him an inheritance with Jesus, then what would a washing of his whole body gain him? Jesus answers Peter by saying he didn’t need a bath because he had already had one. Physically speaking, his body was clean, now he just needed to have his feet washed. In Palestine, guests at a feast would bathe before leaving their house and when they got to the feast they would only need to have their feet washed.

Spiritually speaking, the once-for-all and complete cleansing Jesus did at the cross never needs to be repeated, only the daily cleansing of sin through confession needs to happen. I John 1:9 says, 9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Greene says, “We do not need to be saved or born again everyday, but our feet get dirty as we travel this earth and they need to be cleaned by confessing our sin daily.” This was the significance of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. They were already clean because of their faith in and fellowship with Jesus, they just needed the daily cleansing from their sins.

But it was not true that all of the disciples were clean. Jesus knew who was going to betray him and knew that that person was not clean. By mentioning Judas again, John indicates that even with Jesus washing Judas’ feet it did not change his heart. Judas had not by faith accepted Jesus as his Lord and Messiah. Imagine what it took for Jesus to wash Judas’ feet. I think Jesus was hoping that that act of pure love might change his heart. It was a last appeal to Judas to come to him and give his life over to Jesus. It showed Jesus’ patience and love for his followers even to the one who would betray him. But Judas was in the grip of Satan’s darkness and would not be persuaded from betraying Jesus.

As I said earlier we all have been infected by sin and at times have betrayed Jesus. Jesus wants to wash our feet and cleanse us of those sins that fracture our relationship with a holy God. That brings us to our next step which is to “confess the times that I have been like Judas and betrayed my Savior and repent of my sins.” This is something we should do daily. We don’t want to wait to confess our sins. We don’t want to give the devil a foothold to overtaking our heart from Jesus. I encourage everyone myself included to take that next step today.

Our third point this morning is Love Exhorted and we see this in verses 12-17. This is what God’s Word says, 12 So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

After Jesus had showed them the example of how much he loved them by washing their feet and had explained why he had washed their feet he challenges them to understand the significance of it. He wanted them to learn an important lesson about how they were to treat others. How they were to humbly be in service to others. There was no reason why they shouldn’t wash each other’s feet and every reason why they should. There was no conceivable reason for refusing to do it. They were to imitate Jesus by showing the same love to others that he showed to them. Love is the defining mark of a Christian. They will know we are Christians by our love. They will know we are Christians by our serve.

They needed to learn this lesson now before he was gone as they were seemingly worried about who among them was going to be the greatest. They needed to follow Jesus’ example who was not only their teacher but their Lord. He was the Messiah sent from God to save the sins of the world and he had just washed their feet. To refuse to follow his example was to put themselves above Jesus.

He wanted them to learn that they should never refuse to do anything for others that Jesus their Lord and Savior had done for them. In fact, the Greek is emphatic meaning “it is your duty and debt, you are now under obligation to do it to one another.” There was now no task that was too low or too menial that they should not do for each other. Jesus had just set the standard for serving others and there was no room for pride in followers of Jesus. Hughes says, “The power, the impetus, and the grace to wash another’s feet is proportionate to how we see ourselves. Our Lord saw himself as King of Kings, and he washed their feet. Recovery of a consciousness that we serve Christ the King will also compel us to service.”

What does it mean to wash each other’s feet? First, it means humility. We need to live humbly with each other, not thinking we are better than anyone else or thinking too highly of ourselves. It means serving others, which can be praying for each other, bearing one another’s burdens, comforting each other and giving hope to each other especially during this season we are in. Honestly, there is nothing that is off the table. It’s about doing for others whatever they need. It means putting the needs of others in front of our own needs. And it also means serving others with the right motives. We can’t have selfish motives when we serve. We need to serve others because Jesus served us by sacrificing his life on the cross to cleanse us from our sin. They will know we are Christians by our serve. By the way we serve, humbly, putting others first and by being willing to do for others whatever they need done. That brings us to our last next step this morning which is to “follow the example of Jesus and wash the feet of others.”

Finally, after Jesus exhorted them to follow his example and do the same to each other, he ends this section of teaching by saying “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” “If you know these things” implies that they now know them. They can’t plead ignorance. But it is one thing to know what to do and it is another to do it. It is now imperative that they are to follow Jesus’ example just as we are today. ​​ Jesus also says we will be blessed if we do these things. We will have joy if we follow the example of Christ. We will be happy if we live our lives, as Christians, in a way that forgives, loves and serves one another.

I am going to conclude this morning with a story from The Preaching the Word Commentary series on John by R. Kent Hughes:

In 1878 when William Booth’s Salvation Army had just been so named, men from all over the world began to enlist. One man, who had once dreamed of himself as a bishop, crossed the Atlantic from America to England to enlist. He was a Methodist minister, Samuel Logan Brengle. And he now turned from a fine pastorate to join Booth’s Salvation Army. Brengle later became the Army’s first American-born commissioner. But at first Booth accepted his services reluctantly and grudgingly. Booth said to Brengle, “You’ve been your own boss for too long.” And in order to instill humility into Brengle, he set him to work cleaning the boots of the other trainees. And Brengle said to himself, “Have I followed my own fancy across the Atlantic in order to polish boots?” And then as in a vision he saw Jesus bending over the feet of rough unlettered fishermen. “Lord,” he whispered, “You washed their feet: I will polish their boots.” Of course, there are many ways we can serve others and heed our Savior’s exhortation, we only have to be willing to pick up the towel and the basin.

As Gene and Roxey come to lead us in a final hymn this morning, let’s pray: Dear Holy God, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who became a human being and dwelled your people. We thank you that he was willing to lower himself and become a servant and wash our feet and die on a cross for our sins. I pray that we would follow his example as we live our daily lives and be in humble service to all that we come in contact with. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

Believe

Bundle To Be Saved

(John 12:37-50)

 

INTRODUCTION

Progressive Insurance has been using Flo for many years to help sell insurance. ​​ One of their advertising campaigns features Flo with a young couple who is expecting a child.

 

Flo says to the couple, “We have another way to help you save.”

 

The man says, “Oh, really, how?”

 

“By bundling,” Flo says. ​​ “If you get your Homeowners and Auto Insurance together, we give you even more savings.”

 

“Ooh!” the man says

 

“A big bundle,” Flo announces

 

Flo begins to make comparisons, “Home and Auto together, it’s like peanut butter and jelly.”

 

The husband says, “Oh, like burgers and fries.”

The wife says, “Or, pickles and ice cream.”

 

Flo responds with, “Unicorns and glitter, [pause], No?”

 

Bundling is important in the insurance industry, and it’s not exclusive to one insurance company

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Bundling our insurance

        • The insurance company we use for our renters, auto, and liability insurance, gives us discounts

        • Because we have multiple insurance policies with them, it helps us to save

    • Bundling our trips to town

        • My boys will tell you that Judy and I bundle our trips to town

        • We don’t normally go to town for just one item or for one purpose

        • We wait until there is a need to visit multiple locations for various purposes

        • On Wednesday of this week we needed to go to town for various reasons

          • The online mobile banking service was unavailable and I had a paycheck that needed to be deposited

          • There were certain items that Judy was not able to get with online ordering and mobile pickup from the grocery store – certain items were listed as in-store only purchased, even though we were able to add them previously to our mobile order

          • I had some prescriptions that were ready at the pharmacy

          • And since we were shopping close to Chick-fil-A, we had to place a mobile order there, as well

  • WE

    • Bundling

        • Perhaps you’ve bundled your insurance, so you can save money

        • Maybe you’re like Judy and I and you bundle your trips to town

 

The verses today conclude chapter 12 of John, but they also conclude the major section on Jesus’ message and ministry. ​​ The remainder of the book will focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection. ​​ In Jesus’ summary of His message, He once again makes it clear that He and the Father are one. ​​ Jesus is divine. ​​ He has come from the Father. ​​ John wants us to understand from this passage that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ To be saved we have to believe that Jesus is God.

 

This is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions of the world – what we believe about who Jesus is and why He came to earth.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 12:37-50)

    • Jews (vv. 37-42)

        • Unbelief (vv. 37-41)

          • We see that miraculous signs do not always produce faith in Jesus

            • John tells us that his whole purpose in recording the miraculous sings, that he did in this Gospel, was with the hope that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in His name (John 20:31)

            • For some, it was just what they needed to take the step of faith

            • For the Jews, specifically in this passage, and for us, generally, miraculous signs are not enough, and John gives us the reason why

          • Quotes the prophet Isaiah

            • John now interprets Isaiah’s prophecies about the Israelites of his day, and how it applies to Jesus and the 1st Century Jews and our culture today

            • Read Isaiah 53:1-6

              • It’s not hard to see how Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus

              • We see the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in John’s Gospel

              • The Jews didn’t believe Jesus’ words, that He was the Messiah, that He was sent from God, that He was God – they rejected the verbal message (Isaiah says, message)

              • They also rejected the miraculous signs

                • In Isaiah, the arm of the Lord, is referring to His miraculous signs, manifested through Jesus

                • Here are the miraculous signs that God had performed through Jesus, up through chapter 12

                  • Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11)

                  • Jesus heals the government official’s sons (John 4:46-54)

                  • Jesus heals the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-18)

                  • Jesus feeds five thousand, plus people (John 6:1-14)

                  • Jesus heals the man who was born blind (John 9:1-12)

                  • Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-44)

                  • So what we see is that Jesus, through God, has power over the elements (water, bread, fish); over sickness and conditions that develop after birth; over genetic mutations that happen prior to birth; and over death itself

              • God’s words and works, through Jesus, were not enough to convince the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah, sent from God

                • To be saved we have to believe that Jesus is God.

                • Why weren’t His words and works enough?

                • Is God not sovereign, is He not all-powerful?

                • We have to remember that there are two things in tension here

                  • God’s sovereignty

                  • Human responsibility (our free will)

                • Those two attributes will help us to understand the next passage that John quotes from Isaiah

              • John tells us that they could not believe, and quotes Isaiah 6:10 as the reason why

            • Read Isaiah 6:1-10

              • John doesn’t say anything about the Jews’ ears, probably because he is focusing on the fact that the 1st Century Jews rejected Jesus’ words and works – they didn’t believe the miraculous signs and His words didn’t transform the part of the them that thinks and feels (their heart)

              • He also reverses the order of the eyes and heart (there’s really no significance to that reversal)

              • There is lots of discussion about what John is trying to say here

                • Is John talking about predestination?

                  • The short answer is, No

                  • At some point in church history, the idea of predestination took a turn, that I believe was never intended or taught in Scripture

                  • Most people hear the term predestination and immediately think that God has chosen some people to be saved and others to be condemned to hell

                  • That doesn’t seem to fit with God’s desire, that all people be saved (Read 1 Timothy 2:1-7; 2 Peter 3:8-9, and John 3:16)

                  • I believe we have misinterpreted or not defined predestination correctly, as God sees it

                  • I don’t want to spend too much time talking about this, because it is not the main point of this passage

                  • I believe that D.A. Carson does an excellent job of explaining God’s heart as it pertains to what John says about the reason the Jews could not believe

                • “If a superficial reading finds this harsh, manipulative, even robotic, four things must constantly be borne in mind: (1) God’s sovereignty in these matters is never pitted against human responsibility (cf. notes on v. 38); (2) God’s judicial hardening is not presented as the capricious manipulation of an arbitrary potentate cursing morally neutral or even morally pure beings, but as a holy condemnation of a guilty people who are condemned to do and be what they themselves have chosen; (3) God’s sovereignty in these matters can also be a cause for hope, for if he is not sovereign in these areas there is little point in petitioning him for help, while if he is sovereign the anguished pleas of the prophet (Is. 63:15-19) – and of believers throughout the history of the church – make sense; (4) God’s sovereign hardening of the people in Isaiah’s day, his commissioning of Isaiah to apparently fruitless ministry, is a stage in God’s ‘strange work’ (Is. 28:21-22) that brings God’s ultimate redemptive purposes to pass. ​​ Paul argues rather similarly in Romans 9:22-33.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 448-49]

            • John tells us that Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about it (Isaiah 6:1-4)

          • Application

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s desire is that His people believe in His words and works.

              • It’s amazing when someone believes God’s Word without having to experience His works (the supernatural/miraculous)

                • “Miracles don’t produce faith. ​​ Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). ​​ The only path to faith is to be in the Word and to grab hold of the Word.” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 543]

                • In John 10:25-30, Jesus tells the religious leaders that He already told them that He was the Christ, but they didn’t believe Him

                  • The miracles He did in His Father’s name speak for Him, but they didn’t believe those either

                  • The reason they didn’t believe, is because they weren’t His sheep – part of God’s family

                • Thomas missed seeing Jesus, after His resurrection, when He appeared to the disciples the first time

                  • Thomas said He wouldn’t believe unless he could see the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and put his finger in the nail marks and place his hand in the spear hole in Jesus’ side

                  • The second time Jesus appears to them Thomas is there

                  • Jesus encourages Thomas to do just what he said, but Thomas didn’t have to

                  • Then Jesus told Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

              • If someone needs to see God’s miraculous signs, in addition to hearing His words, in order to believe, it’s certainly better than not believing at all

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus’ words and works as proof that He is the Messiah.

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God will not force anyone to believe in Him.

              • Psalm 81:11-12, “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. ​​ So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.”

              • Paul explains in Romans 1:18-32 about God’s wrath against mankind, because they would not submit to Him, but rather followed the ways of the world – He gave them over to their sinful desires

              • “God used George Whitefield in a way seldom seen in this world. ​​ He was the main instrument in the spiritual revival known as the Great Awakening, which sept across the United States in the mid-1700s. ​​ Whitefield was also good friends with Benjamin Franklin. ​​ Their friendship began when Whitefield came to Philadelphia in 1739 and lasted until his death in 1770. ​​ During the course of this thirty-one-year friendship, Franklin was the primary publisher of all of Whitefield’s sermons and journals. ​​ Forty-five times Whitefield’s sermons were reprinted in Franklin’s newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette, and eight times the sermons filled the entire front page. ​​ Franklin published ten editions of Whitefield’s journals and sold thousands of reprints of Whitefield’s sermons.

                Their relationship extended beyond a business relationship. ​​ On more than one occasion when Whitefield came to Philadelphia, he stayed with Franklin in his home. ​​ When some of the religious elite criticized Whitefield in another local paper, Franklin wrote a rebuttal. ​​ His support for Whitefield, along with a regular correspondence between the two, continued for the next thirty years. ​​ Despite their friendship and Whitefield’s continued presentation of the gospel, Franklin never responded in faith. ​​ In his autobiography Franklin wrote about Whitefield: ‘He used sometimes to pray for my conversion, but never had the satisfaction of believing that his prayers were heard’ (quoted in Isaacson,
                Benjamin Franklin, 113).” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 253]

              • Romans 1:20, For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

              • No one in all humanity can say to the Lord on the last day, “I didn’t know!”

              • It’s a matter of whether or not we have rejected Him

          • John tells us that while some didn’t believe, there were many that did believe

        • Belief (vv. 42-43)

          • Many believed

            • It’s fascinating that while some didn’t believe, John tells us that, at the same time, many believed

            • Those who believed also included some of the religious leaders (members of the Sanhedrin or Jewish Council)

          • Would not confess

            • They were “secret” followers of Jesus

              • We’re familiar with two secret followers, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea

              • Eventually, they confessed their allegiance to Jesus when they asked Pilot for His body, so they could bury it properly

            • Put out of the synagogue

              • This was serious business for the religious leaders

              • Their entire social, economic, and religious worth were wrapped up in being a part of the synagogue

              • They weren’t about to sacrifice that in order to publicly confess Jesus

            • Loved praise from men more than praise from God

              • Being a part of the Sanhedrin or Jewish Council probably brought prestige and recognition from the general Jewish population

              • They rather enjoyed the attention they received as part of that governing body

          • Application

            • Not willing to sacrifice

              • “The church has always had people who remain borderline believers, unwilling to confess openly their attachment to Jesus because of all sorts of pressure.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 66]

              • Perhaps that’s where some of us are today

                • We say we believe in Jesus when we’re with a certain group of people, but we would never openly say that around coworkers, friends, or neighbors

                • We’re afraid that if those groups find out, they’ll think we’re not cool

                • We’re afraid they’ll exclude us from their group

              • It happens even within the church

                • We’re afraid that if we truly go all in for Jesus, that some of the people in the church will not accept us

                • If we raise our hands in worship or clap during a song, that other people will think getting caught up in emotionalism

                • If we talk too much about sharing the Gospel with our family and friends that people in the church will feel uncomfortable

                • If we give a testimony every week, because we’re grateful for the Lord’s working in our lives, that someone will criticize us for always sharing

            • Counting the cost of truly following Jesus

              • Truly following Jesus is often very costly

              • It may cost us relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers

              • It could cost us our job, as we publicly confess Jesus to our coworkers

              • It could affect the social, economic, and religious areas of our lives – as it should

              • “Genuine belief brings radical, complete, and lasting transformation of the whole person from the inside out . . . Jesus has no secret followers.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, 259]

              • “John provides models of excellent discipleship.” [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 349]

                • John 1:35-51 (calling of the first disciples)

                • John 4:1-42 (Women at the well the Samaritan people from her city)

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is pleased when His people publicly confess their faith in Him.

              • When is the last time you’ve done that?

              • Do your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers even know that you’re a follower of Jesus Christ?

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Love the praise from God more than the praise from men.

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Stop following Jesus in secret and publicly confess my faith in Him to my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

                • Don’t just make the commitment to this next step in your heart and mind

                • Write out names of people that you are going to share your faith with and when you plan to do it

                • Share that list with another believer and ask them to pray for you and hold you accountable

        • All of this leads to Jesus’ summary of His message

        • His message is for all humanity

    • All Humanity (vv. 44-50)

        • Belief (vv. 44-46)

          • Jesus says that when a person believes in Him they are affirming that they believe in God

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – Jesus is God.

            • Jesus says it two ways here

              • When we believe in Jesus we’re not only believing in Him, but also in the One who sent Him – God the Father

              • When we look at Jesus, we also see the One who sent Him – God!

              • Jesus had told the religious leaders this on multiple occasions, as we see in the Gospels

              • This wasn’t new information for them

              • To be saved we have to believe that Jesus is God.

            • Again, Jesus states His purpose for coming to earth

              • He came as a light

              • John 8:12, When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. ​​ Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

              • When we believe in Jesus, we no longer have to stay in darkness

                • The darkness that Jesus is referring to is the darkness of sin (Rom. 3:23)

                • Sin separates us from God (Isa. 59:2)

                • 1 John 1:5-7, This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: ​​ God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. ​​ If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. ​​ But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

                  • God and Jesus are perfect, no darkness in them, no sin

                  • Jesus willingly took our punishment for sin when He died on the cross

                  • He made a way for us to pass from darkness to light and to have our sins purified, so that God sees us a righteous

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus and have my sins purified, so I no longer have to live in darkness.

          • Jesus not only addressed those who believe, but also those who don’t believe

        • Unbelief (vv. 47-50)

          • Faith comes from hearing

            • Jesus doesn’t even mention miraculous signs at this point

            • He says that the person who hears His words but does not keep them, but rather rejects His words, will be judged

            • But Jesus isn’t the One who is going to judge them, because He came to save (John 3:17)

          • God’s word brings judgment on unbelievers

            • The same words that Jesus had used while on earth will be what is used to judge unbelievers

            • Jesus and God are one as we see from His explanation that He didn’t speak on His own, but He only spoke what God commanded Him to say – God gave Him the words to say and also the understanding about how to say it

          • God’s command leads to eternal life

            • We have the Bible today, which is God’s words to us – His command

            • His Word is trustworthy and true

            • If we want to know if God is real, then we need to spend time in His Word

            • He will reveal Himself to us when we genuinely seek Him

            • As we spend time in His Word, it will lead us to eternal life

 

  • YOU

    • Do you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, because of His words and the miraculous signs that John has recorded for us?

    • Have you been following Jesus in secret and are you ready to publicly confess Him?

    • Are you ready to believe in Jesus and have your sins purified, so you can have eternal life?

 

  • WE

    • We need to support one another as we begin to publicly confess Jesus to our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers

    • Just imagine the impact on our communities as we boldly confess Jesus as Lord, instead of following Him in secret

    • There is an openness right now to spiritual things as we face the COVID-19 pandemic – let’s not miss this incredible opportunity!

 

CONCLUSION

“English author H. G. Wells, famous for science fiction novels like The Time MachineThe Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds, once wrote a short story called ‘The Country of the Blind.’ It's about an inaccessible, luxurious valley in Ecuador where, due to a strange disease, everyone is blind. After 15 generations of this blindness there was no recollection of sight or color or the outside world at all. Finally, a man from the outside—a man who could see—literally fell into their midst. He had fallen off a high cliff and survived, only to stumble into their forgotten country.

 

When he realized that everyone else was blind, he remembered the old adage: ‘In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.’ Wells writes:

 

He tried at first on several occasions to tell them of sight. ‘Look you here, you people,’ he said. ‘There are things you do not understand in me.’ Once or twice one or two of them attended to him; they sat with faces downcast and ears turned intelligently towards him, and he did his best to tell them what it was to see.

 

But they never believed him. They thought he was crazy. The man fell in love with a girl there and the girl's father, Yacob, went to talk to a doctor about him. A conversation ensued:

 

[The doctor said]: ‘I think I may say with reasonable certainty that, in order to cure him complete, all that we need to do is a simple and easy surgical operation—namely, to remove these irritant bodies [his eyes!].’

 

‘And then he will be sane?’ [they asked].

 

‘Then he will be perfectly sane, and a quite admirable citizen.’

‘Thank Heaven for science!’ said old Yacob.

 

Wells goes on to point out that the man would not be allowed to marry Yacob's daughter unless he submitted to an operation that would blind him. So what would the man do? Wells writes:

 

He had fully meant to go to a lonely place where the meadows were beautiful with white narcissus, and there remain until the hour of his sacrifice should come, but as he walked he lifted up his eyes and saw the morning, the morning like an angel in golden armour, marching down the steeps…

 

It seemed to him that before this splendour, he and this blind world in the valley, and his love and all, were no more than a pit of sin. And the man who could see escaped the country of the blind with his life.

 

That is where we live—in the country of the blind that is proud of its science, sure of its health, oblivious to the light. It is not only pitiful; it is deadly. Jesus said, "Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil." Jesus had his own name for "the country of the blind." He called it "the world." In his last words to his disciples before going to the cross, Jesus warned them of the hostility they would face—just as he had—in this blind world. Yet rather than pulling his beloved followers out of this blind and hostile world, Jesus sent his own Spirit into his people to convince this world of its blindness.

 

Lee Eclov, Vernon Hills, Illinois; source: www.online-literature.com/wellshg/3/.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2008/october/2100608.html].

12

 

EASTER SUNDAY

From Seeing To Believing

(John 20:1-23)

 

INTRODUCTION

I want you to think about the very beginning of the COVID-19, Coronavirus. ​​ There were news reports coming out of Wuhan, China that people were getting sick with a terrible virus. ​​ The initial reports talked about how this virus was particularly serious for children and the elderly. ​​ Now, I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t too concerned about the novel Coronavirus, simply because it was halfway around the world and I wasn’t planning on traveling to that part of the world anytime soon.

 

We heard about how cruise ships were quarantining crew members and passengers for 14 days, when confirmed cases of the virus were discovered. ​​ Again, I wasn’t too concerned, because I wasn’t going on a cruise anytime soon.

 

When the first cases hit the state of Washington, I started to think more seriously about this new virus, but again wasn’t anxious or fearful. ​​ There was a progression of understanding, as cases of the virus began to pop up in New York and New Jersey (that’s closer to home).

 

When federal and state authorities closed schools for two weeks, we all started going through a progression of understanding about this virus and its seriousness. ​​ I’ve been keeping an eye on the Pennsylvania state map and the graph of new cases that Senator Doug Mastriano provides every day (show map).

 

We are continuing to move through a progression of understanding as it pertains to the Coronavirus – should we wear masks and gloves when we have to go out, how long can I wait before I have to go to the store, when will my children be returning to school, when can I return to work, is my work considered essential or not, as a first-responder, am I going to get infected, if I’m infected am I asymptomatic, if I’m infected will the hospital have the medical supplies available to help me?

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Learning Greek

        • When I would read technical commentaries that had the actual Greek letters without an explanation of which English word it was referring to, I would use the same filler word when reading the sentence

        • I could visibly see the Greek word, but I had no idea what the word was or even how to pronounce it

        • Then I took the Greek Language course at seminary

          • At first, I was still looking at Greek words and didn’t know how to pronounce them

          • I had to start with the Greek letters and learn each one of those

          • Then I was able to sound out some basic Greek words

          • I learned a lot of Greek vocabulary words at the beginning

          • As I continued to study, I learned that there were various case endings that helped in understanding how the word is used in a sentence

          • Eventually we began translating simple sentences and then multiple verses

        • Intermediate Greek – fall of 2015

          • This course required translation of larger portions of scripture each week, from the beginning

          • It was and still is exciting to see and understand the nuances of Biblical Greek and the understanding that it brings to what scripture really means

 

  • WE

    • School

        • The COVID-19, Coronavirus has taken almost every student and teacher on a learning curve ride

        • While cyber school is becoming a more popular alternative to traditional public and private schools, the vast majority of students and teachers still use the traditional schooling approach

        • Since federal and state authorities have implemented social distancing as a way to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, students and teachers, in traditional schools, have had to make some pretty major adjustments to how they are learning

        • Now every student and teacher are experiencing online learning

        • They have had to go through a progression of understanding in order to make online learning work

          • Teachers have had to learn Microsoft Teams and other software options to teach remotely

          • Students have also had to learn different software options

          • Parents aren’t exempt from learning different software options, but they are also learning how to be a teacher

    • Work

        • When you start a new job, there is always a learning curve

        • You have to learn the ins and outs of how the company does certain things

        • After a couple of weeks, you begin to get the hang of it, but you may not have figured out all of the inside lingo, the chain of command, the authority structures, or the unspoken expectations

        • Eventually you understand all of that and you fit right in

    • Church

        • When attending a new church there is also a progression of understanding

        • When do we stand, when do we sit, what is the order of the service, do we raise our hands and/or clap when we’re worshiping, where is the bathroom, is there children’s church and Sunday school, where is the nursery, are food and drink allowed in the sanctuary, how do I find out more information about the ministries of the church

        • Eventually all of those questions are answered and we feel comfortable coming to church

        • Of course right now, you should have all of those questions answered, because you’re probably worshiping in your own home and you can stand, sit, raise your hands, clap, eat, drink, and use the bathroom whenever you’d like

    • There is a progression that takes place in school, work, church, and other areas of life

        • We’ll see in John 20:1-23 that the disciples went through a progression of understanding as they tried to comprehend Jesus’ resurrection

        • HI – Believing in Jesus’ resurrection requires a progression of understanding.

 

  • The Empty Tomb (John 20:1-9)

    • The women were up early

        • We know from the other three Gospel passages that there were more women with Mary Magdalene

          • She was the one whom Jesus freed from seven demons that possessed her

          • Mary loved Jesus deeply

          • She was one of the women that followed Joseph and Nicodemus to the tomb to see where Jesus would be buried

        • Mary’s statement to Peter and John in verse 2 also tell us there were a group of women that went together, because she uses the word “we”

        • They were on their way to the tomb while it was still dark

          • Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome had bought spices to anoint Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1-2)

          • They went to the tomb very early on the first day of week

          • They were talking about who would roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb

        • They find that the stone has been rolled away

          • It is significant that the first witnesses of the resurrection of Christ were believing women. ​​ Among the Jews in that day, the testimony of women was not held in high regard. ​​ ‘It is better that the words of the Law be burned,’ said the rabbis, ‘than be delivered to a woman.’ ​​ But these Christian women had a greater message than that of the Law, for they knew that their Saviour was alive.” ​​ [Wiersbe]

        • Mary Magdalene immediately assumes Jesus body has been moved and starts running

    • Mary Magdalene comes to Peter and John

        • Since John is writing the Gospel account, he does not mention his own name, but rather calls himself “the other disciple, the one Jesus loved”

        • She would have probably come to the house of John

        • Peter was staying with him

        • She tells them that they have taken the Lord out of the tomb and that she and the other women don’t know where they have put him.

    • Peter and John go to the tomb

        • John outruns Peter

        • But, John is contemplative, so he doesn’t enter right away

        • When Peter arrives, he goes right in

        • The linen that was around Jesus’ head was folded nicely

          • Most commentaries state the linens around Jesus’ body still had the shape of his body, like an empty cocoon

            • Now, the Greek construction indicates that the linen clothes that were wrapped around Jesus were still lying in a circular form as though a body were in them.” ​​ [Smith]

            • That would have been an amazing sight

          • No grave robbers had stolen his body, because they would not have left the linens so nicely

          • They would have stolen the linen burial clothes instead of the body, because they would have been brand new and made of fine linen

          • The fact that the cloth that had been around Jesus’ head was folded up by itself, separate from the linen is significant

            • This would have allowed Peter and John to see that even though the other linens had the shape of a body that there was no body there

            • Jesus was not there

        • John sees the empty tomb and believes

          • The empty cross and the empty tomb are God’s ‘receipts’ telling us that the debt has been paid.” ​​ [Wiersbe]

          • Significant of “saw,” “saw” and “saw” in the Greek

            • Verse 5 (NASB) – “and stooping and looking in, he [John] saw the linen wrappings lying there. . .” – the word “saw” in the Greek is ble’-pō (bleh-poe), meaning “to look at, to see visibly

            • Verse 6 – the Greek word is the-ō-re’-ō (thay-o-ray-o) which means, “to study more carefully” We get our English word “theory” from this Greek word

            • Verse 8 – The Greek word is ā’-dō (eye-doe) and means, “to perceive with intelligent comprehension” We get our English word “idea” from this, so it can also mean “I get it”

          • First you’re exposed to some piece of information. ​​ You hear what the teacher is saying. ​​ Then you give it some more thought down the road. ​​ And finally comes that moment when you really get it. ​​ It’s not just a concept theologically – but it becomes part of your life personally.” ​​ [Courson]

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when His people see the empty tomb and believe in Jesus.

        • Why were they slow to believe what they were seeing?

          • Verse 9 tells us

          • . . . They did not consider, and apply, and duly improve, what they knew of the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.” ​​ [Henry]

            • 1 Corinthians 15:3-4a, 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,

            • Isaiah 53:5, But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

          • We know they eventually understood

            • Luke 24:6-8, He is not here; he has risen! ​​ Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ​​ “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” ​​ Then they remembered his words.

            • Luke 24:45-48, Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. ​​ He told them, “This is what is written: ​​ The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. ​​ You are witnesses of these things.

          • They definitely took the Gospel to all nations!

          • We are commanded to do the same thing

          • Do you understand from the Bible that Jesus had to rise from the dead?

            • This is an important truth of the Gospel

            • Many self-proclaimed prophets have died, but none have come back to life

            • Jesus wasn’t a prophet – He was the Son of God

            • God allowed Him to come alive again proving that Jesus’ perfect sacrifice was full payment for our sins

          • There was a progression of understanding for Peter and John as they examined the empty tomb

            • Where are you at in that progression?

            • Are you just seeing it for the first time, but not understanding?

            • Are you examining it more closely?

            • Are you at the “got it” stage, where you understand why Jesus had to come alive again?

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Move to the next phase of understanding concerning why Jesus had to rise from the dead.

            • Maybe you need to see it for the first time

            • You may be ready to study it more carefully for yourself (we’re here to help you with that)

            • Perhaps you’re ready to move to full comprehension (we’re here to help with that move also)

 

  • The First Witness (John 20:10-18)

    • Mary Magdalene remained at the tomb

        • Peter and John had returned home

        • She looked into the tomb again while she is crying

        • She sees two angels in white

          • They are seated where Jesus’ body had been

          • One at the head

          • One at the foot

          • It is a picture of the ark of the covenant

    • The angels ask her a question

        • Why are you crying?

        • Mary gives her answer

          • They have taken MY Lord away

          • She uses the word “my” here, because she is fully committed to Him – she has given her life to serve Him

          • Are you fully committed to the Lord?

          • Can you call Jesus your Lord?

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God’s desire is that His people are fully committed to Him.

          • Believing in Jesus and being fully committed to Him are two different things

            • James 2:19, You believe that there is one God. ​​ Good! ​​ Even the demons believe that – and shudder.

            • Mark 8:34-38, Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. ​​ For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. ​​ What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? ​​ Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? ​​ If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus, being fully committed to Him as my Lord!

    • Mary sees Jesus

        • She does not recognize Him

        • Jesus asks her the same question (why are your crying?), but goes further by asking who she is looking for

        • Mary thinks he is the gardener

          • She asks if he has carried Jesus body away

          • She is willing to go wherever the body is and carry it away

          • Her words reveal her devotion. ​​ She never paused to consider how she would carry the corpse of a full-grown man or how she would explain her possession of it.” ​​ [Tenney quoted in Guzik’s commentary]

    • Jesus reveals Himself

        • He only says her name, Mary

          • However, Jesus said her name, whether it was with the same tone or flexion that He had said it before, she recognizes that it is Jesus speaking

          • John 10:3-4, The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. ​​ He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. ​​ When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

            • More than one shepherd would keep his sheep in a fold over night

            • When morning came, each shepherd would go to the fold and call to his sheep

            • They recognized his voice and they would come out of the fold and follow him

          • Mary recognizes Jesus’ voice when He says her name

        • She calls Him teacher

        • Jesus gives her a warning

          • Don’t cling to me

            • Actually, the ancient Greek construction of this phrase ‘means to stop an action already begun rather than to avoid starting it.’ ​​ (Tenney)” [Guzik]

            • She was worshiping Jesus at this point

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is overjoyed when His people worship Jesus.

          • Why did He say, “Do not cling to Me?”

            • She would see Him again

            • He had to ascend to the Father so that the Holy Spirit could come

            • She had a job to do

        • Jesus gives her instructions

          • Go to my brothers

            • He doesn’t call them servants or friends anymore, but brothers

            • John 15:15, I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. ​​ Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

          • Tell them I am returning to heaven

    • Mary goes to the disciples

        • She tells them that she has seen the Lord and what is message was to them

        • There was doubt about the fact that Jesus had risen and that Mary had seen Him (Mark 16:9-11)

        • That was about to change

 

  • The Disciples Saved (John 20:19-23)

    • Jesus appears to the disciples

        • It happened on the same day they found the empty tomb

        • The disciples are all together

        • They are behind locked doors, because they are fearful of the Jews

    • Jesus encourages them

        • Shalom! – Peace be with you!

          • He does not condemn them for running away in the garden or for being absent at the crucifixion (although John was there)

          • He offers this same peace to you

          • Romans 5:1-2a, Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

        • He proves that He is alive

          • He shows them His hands and side

          • Hebrews 9:22b, . . . without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

          • He encourages them to touch Him and asks for something to eat (Luke 24:38-43)

        • The disciples are overjoyed

    • Jesus saves them

        • Jesus again pronounces peace to them

        • He is sending them just as the Father had sent Him

        • He breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

          • At this point, the disciples are born again. ​​ Although they were already following Jesus, they were not yet regenerated because He had not yet died for their sins.” ​​ [Courson]

          • God had created Adam, but he did not have life until God breathed into him

          • The Gospel

            • Every person who believes in Jesus receives the Holy Spirit as their guide and comforter

            • 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.

            • Why do I have to believe in Jesus?

            • Every human being is born with a “want to” to sin (Romans 3:23)

            • Because God is holy and just He has to punish sin (separated Adam and Eve from the Garden, work the ground, increased pain in child bearing) otherwise he wouldn’t be holy and just (Romans 6:23)

            • Another attribute of God is that He is loving (Jeremiah 31:3, I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.)

            • Out of His great love He sent Jesus from heaven to earth, to grow up to be a man, and then to give His life to take away our sin and provide eternal life to those who believe

            • Believing is not a once-and-done act, but rather a continual, active turning away from sin – that’s called repentance

            • The Holy Spirit helps us to know what to do and what not to do – He is that still small voice

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Receive God’s love and believe in Jesus so I can have eternal life.

        • He states about forgiving and not forgiving sins

          • We know that only God has the right to forgive sins, so what does this verse mean?

          • Jesus gives His disciples authority to announce forgiveness and to warn of guilt, as authorized by the Holy Spirit.” ​​ [Guzik]

 

  • YOU

    • People who hear about the resurrection for the first time may need time before they can comprehend this amazing story. ​​ Like Mary and the disciples, they may pass through four stages of belief.

        • At first, they may think the story is a fabrication, impossible to believe (20:2)

        • Like Peter, they may check out the facts and still be puzzled about what happened (20:6)

        • Only when they encounter Jesus personally are they able to accept the fact of the resurrection (20:16)

        • Then, as they commit themselves to the risen Lord and devote their lives to serving him, they begin to understand fully the reality of his presence with them (20:28)” [NIV Life Application Bible]

 

CONCLUSION/ACTION

Just as believing in Jesus and accepting His resurrection took a progression of understanding for the disciples, it sometimes takes a progression of understanding for us to accept others who may be different than us.

 

“Once upon a time I had a young friend named Philip. Philip was born with Downs Syndrome. He was a pleasant child—happy, it seemed—but increasingly aware of the difference between himself and other children. Philip went to Sunday school at the Methodist church. His teacher, also a friend of mine, taught the third-grade class with Philip and nine other eight-year-old boys and girls.

 

You know eight-year-olds. And Philip, with his differences, was not readily accepted. But my teacher friend was creative, and he helped the group of eight-year-olds. They learned, they laughed, they played together. And they really cared about one another, even though eight-year-olds don't say they care about one another out loud. My friend could see it. He knew it. He also knew that Philip was not really a part of that group. Philip did not choose nor did he want to be different. He just was. And that was just the way things were.

 

My friend had a marvelous idea for his class the Sunday after Easter. You know those things that pantyhose come in—the containers that look like great big eggs—my friend had collected ten of them. The children loved it when he brought them into the room. Each child was to get one. It was a beautiful spring day, and the assignment was for each child to go outside, find a symbol for new life, put it into the egg, and bring it back to the classroom. They would then open and share their new life symbols and surprises one by one.

 

It was glorious. It was confusing. It was wild. They ran all around the church grounds, gathered their symbols, and returned to the classroom. They put all the eggs on a table, and then the teacher began to open them. All the children stood around the table.

 

He opened one, and there was a flower, and they ooh-ed and aah-ed. He opened another, and there was a little butterfly. ‘Beautiful,’ the girls all said, since it is hard for eight-year-old boys to say ‘beautiful.’ He opened another, and there was a rock. And as third-graders will, some laughed, and some said, ‘That's crazy! How's a rock supposed to be like new life?’ But the smart little boy who'd found it spoke up: ‘That's mine. And I knew all of you would get flowers and buds and leaves and butterflies and stuff like that. So I got a rock because I wanted to be different. And for me, that's new life.’ They all laughed.

 

My friend said something to himself about the profundity of eight-year-olds and opened the next one. There was nothing there. The other children, as eight-year-olds will, said, ‘That's not fair — that's stupid! — somebody didn't do right.’

 

Then my friend felt a tug on his shirt, and he looked down. Philip was standing beside him. ‘It's mine,’ Philip said. ‘It's mine.’

 

And the children said, ‘You don't ever do things right, Philip. There's nothing there!’

 

‘I did so do it,’ Philip said. ‘I did do it. It's empty. The tomb is empty!’

There was silence, a very full silence. And for you people who don't believe in miracles, I want to tell you that one happened that day last spring. From that time on, it was different. Philip suddenly became a part of that group of eight-year-old children. They took him in. He was set free from the tomb of his differentness.

 

Philip died last summer. His family had known since the time he was born that he wouldn't live out a full life span. Many other things had been wrong with his tiny body. And so, late last July, with an infection that most normal children could have quickly shrugged off, Philip died. The mystery simply enveloped him.

 

At the funeral, nine eight-year-old children marched up to the altar, not with flowers to cover over the stark reality of death. Nine eight-year-olds, with their Sunday school teacher, marched right up to that altar, and laid on it an empty egg—an empty, old, discarded pantyhose egg.”

 

Harry Pritchett, Jr., condensed by permission of The St. Luke's Journal of Theology, School of Theology, The University of the

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1997/september/4749.html]

12

 

Prayer Rally

The God Who Heals

(2 Chron. 7:13-16; Acts 9:1-9, 17-18; Mark 5:25-34;

Mark 2:1-12; Matt. 6:25-34)

 

INTRODUCTION

“The movie Simon Birch follows a boy with stunted growth who has a clear sense that God has an important plan for his life. Little Simon is often met with obstacles and opposition, but he plods on through life until he really does become a hero.

 

Simon and his friend Joe do everything together, even though they are an odd pair. The unlikely Simon is always talking about the great plans God has for his life, but Joe is always doubtful. Joe has been deeply wounded by growing up without a father, and simply cannot move from cynicism to true faith.

 

Early in the movie, Simon and Joe are heading home from the swimming hole. As Simon and Joe wander through a field of wildflowers, they turn to discussing destiny and the role of faith.

 

Simon: But things will be different…once God makes me a hero.

 

Joe: You know, you shouldn't talk about this hero stuff, Simon.

 

Simon: Why not?

 

Joe: Because it's weird. The other kids tease you enough as it is.

 

Simon: I don't care. It's the truth.

 

Joe: But you don't have any proof.

 

Simon: I don't need proof, I have faith. Your problem is that you have no faith.

 

Joe: I got faith. I just want proof to back it up.

 

In the end, Simon does become a great hero, even though it leads to his death. Many years later, as Joe reflects on Simon's life, he can't help but finally move to a place of faith as well.

 

Elapsed time: DVD scene 6, 00:17:13–00:17:43. ​​ Rated PG

 

Simon Birch (Buena Vista 1998), written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson; submitted by Bill White, Paramount, California.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2006/february/9022706.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

 

  • WE

    • Our natural desire is to have proof of God’s existence or to have Him speak to us before we’ll take a step of faith

    • Often times, but not always, God is waiting for us to take the step of faith toward Him, before He does the miraculous or speaks to us

    • In the midst of difficulties, it can be hard to have faith in God’s ability to heal spiritually, physically, and financially

 

As we face the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to take the necessary steps of faith, toward God, even when we have spiritual doubts, physical illness, and financial struggles. ​​ Our natural desire will be to demand signs from God before we move in faith. ​​ Now more than every we need to remember that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ God has the power to heal every area of our lives.

 

Today’s message is going to be done in a way that is different than usual. ​​ We are going to look at healing in three areas: ​​ spiritual, physical, and financial. ​​ As we complete each area, we are going to spend time praying through the Scriptures we’ve looked at and then responding in worship.

 

  • GOD

    • Spiritual Healing (Acts 9:1-19; 2 Chronicles 7:13-16)

        • There are certainly many passages of Scripture we could use to talk about spiritual healing

          • I’ve only chosen two passages

          • One will focus on spiritual healing for those who have never believed in Jesus

          • The second passage focuses on believers who have turned away from the Lord

        • Unsaved (Acts 9:1-19)

          • Read Acts 9:1-19

          • We are all familiar with this story of Saul’s conversion (we know Saul by his Greek name, Paul)

            • He was zealous for God and the Jewish way of religion, but Jesus’ arrival on earth had transformed religion to a relationship with Jesus

            • Change came hard for the religious leaders (chief priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees)

            • They continued to try to stop the spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ, and Saul was the ring leader

            • But everything changed on the road to Damascus

              • Saul had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus

              • Jesus arrested him and stopped him in his tracks

              • We see the glory of God surrounding Saul, and Jesus questioning him

              • God’s glory temporarily blinded Saul – that’s how magnificent His glory is

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s glory is beyond compare (magnificent)!

            • Ananias used by God

              • God used a follower of Jesus Christ to restore Saul’s sight

                • God used Ananias to bring physically healing to Saul’s eyes

                • God has the power to heal every area of our lives

                • This is an important principle for us to understand

                • PRINCIPLE #2 – God uses His people to help others come to Jesus.

              • We learn from this interaction that Saul was God’s chosen instrument to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the Gentiles and their kings

            • Saul was transformed

              • We see Saul praying, basically for three days’ straight

              • I’m guessing that his prayers were different now

              • After having his sight restored, Saul gets baptized

              • This was an outward expression of an inward decision

                • He was showing those, who were traveling with him and the believers in Damascus, that he had changed

                • He was now going to experience being on the other side of persecution

          • Salvation – the Good News

            • Sin

              • With Saul, we see a complete 180 degree turn from trying to kill followers of Jesus Christ to sharing with everyone about Jesus Christ

              • That is what repentance is – a 180 degree turn away from sin and running to Jesus

              • We’ve all sinned – lying, stealing, blasphemer, adulterer and murderer in our hearts (Romans 3:23)

              • Punishment for sin is eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23)

            • God is loving and just

              • Loving (Romans 5:8)

              • Just – He has to punish sin

              • Ecclesiastes 3:17, I thought in my heart, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” (NIV)

            • Jesus was the perfect sacrifice

              • His death, burial, and resurrection opened the way for us to be in a right relationship with God

              • Read Hebrews 10:13-24

            • Being spiritually healed

              • 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.”

              • I encourage you to take that step of faith today into spiritual healing

              • Prayer for salvation (encourage anyone who has never believed to pray after me)

          • We looked at being spiritually healed for the first time, but we also need to look at being spiritually healed as believers (it’s different concept)

        • Saved (2 Chronicles 7:13-16)

          • Read 2 Chronicles 7:13-16

          • The Lord spoke to Solomon after he had completed the temple and the royal palace

            • God was basically telling Solomon that the Israelites would turn away from worshiping Him

            • God gave Solomon a picture of what the discipline of His children would look like

              • There would be droughts (no rain)

              • Locusts (bugs) would eat up their produce and grain

              • Plague among His people

            • God also shared what steps the Israelites would need to take to stop His discipline of them

              • Identifies those He is talking to (God’s people, called by His name)

              • What they would need to do

                • Humble themselves (put away pride and selfishness)

                • Pray – talking to God

                • Seek my face – turning to God instead of anything else

                • Turn from their wicked ways (repentance)

              • God’s promises

                • He will see and hear from heaven

                • He will forgive their sins

                  • 1 John 1:9

                  • We see here the spiritual healing that takes place

                • He will heal their land

                  • This passage really addresses all three areas of healing

                  • When God says He will heal their land, we have to go back to see what His discipline entailed – the drought and locusts would have devastated their economy/finances – and God promises to bring healing to their finances

                  • The plague would have affected their physical health and God promises to bring physical healing

                • God has the power to heal every area of our lives

                • The physical and financial healing will be developed more in the next two points

          • For now, we need to focus on the spiritual healing aspect

        • Worship-based prayer

          • Reverence

            • Prayer Prompter: “Lord, thank You that Your glory is reflected in/through . . .” (Acts 9:3)

            • Prayer Prompter: “Almighty God, thank You that You have the power to . . .” (2 Chronicles 7:13)

          • Response

            • Prayer Prompter: “Dear Lord, I confess that I have persecuted You when . . .” (Acts 9:4)

            • Prayer Prompter: “Righteous Father, I confess that I have not ________ (humbled, prayed, sought Your face, or turn from my wicked ways), please forgive me.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

          • Request

            • Prayer Prompter: “Gracious God, please help me to hear Your voice and obey Your leading with . . .” (Acts 9:17)

            • Prayer Prompter: “Loving Lord, I am committing today to __________ (seek humility, pray, seek Your face, repent of my wickedness) so that I can experience Your promise(s) of healing ___________ (spiritually, physically, financially).” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

          • Readiness

            • Prayer Prompter: “Precious Savior, help me to obediently take the next step of faith by . . .” (Acts 9:18)

            • Prayer Prompter: “Faithful Father, thank You that Your eyes are open and Your ears are attentive when I cry out to You about . . .” (2 Chronicles 7:15)

 

SONG: ​​ Jesus Messiah

 

    • Physical Healing (Mark 5:25-34; Mark 2:1-12)

        • I believe that as we take the step of faith into spiritual healing that God promises to sustain and provide for us physically and financially

          • Don’t get me wrong, I’m not preaching a prosperity gospel

          • Jesus never promised us that following Him would be easy, spiritually, physically, or financially – you won’t find that in Scripture

          • But, we know that the all-powerful, Creator of the universe is now our Heavenly Father and He watches over His children and promises to sustain us and provide for us through difficult times

          • In my experience, signs follow decisions. The way you overcome spiritual inertia and produce spiritual momentum is by making tough decisions. And the tougher the decision, the more potential momentum it will produce. The primary reason most of us don't see God moving is simply because we aren't moving. If you want to see God move, you need to make a move!

            I cannot promise that signs will follow your faith in three minutes or three hours or three days. But when you take a step of faith, signs will follow. God will sanctify your expectations, and you will begin to live your life with holy anticipation. You won't be able to wait to see what God is going to do next.”

            Mark Batterson, Wild Goose Chase (Multnomah, 2008), pp. 32-33

            [
            https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2008/september/5091508.html]

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is pleased when His people step out in faith.

        • Individual Faith (Mark 5:25-34)

          • Read Mark 5:25-34

          • The woman’s ailment

            • We know that this woman had been dealing with a bleeding issue for 12 years

            • She had probably sought out the best physicians of the day

            • None of them were able to help, but she kept getting worse

            • She was out of options and money

          • The woman’s faith

            • Notice that the woman isn’t seeking recognition, but simply expresses her faith in thought

            • She knows who Jesus is and His reputation of having healing power

            • She believes that simply touching His cloak will release His healing power to her

            • She is correct!

            • Immediately her bleeding stopped and she knew it physically

            • I really appreciate her incredible faith in Jesus’ healing power

            • God has the power to heal every area of our lives

          • Jesus’ response

            • Jesus realized that healing power had left His body and so He asked who touched His clothes

            • The disciples didn’t understand, because many people probably touched His clothes since they were crowding around Him

            • When the woman fearfully identifies herself, Jesus affirms her faith, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. ​​ Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

          • I like that this potentially shy and reserved woman could quietly express her faith by simply touching Jesus’ cloak

          • Mark also records another physical healing that Jesus performed, but the entrance was much more dramatic

        • Corporate Faith (Mark 2:1-12)

          • Read Mark 2:1-12

          • Faith-filled friends

            • People heard that Jesus had returned home and they wanted to be around Him

            • He was preaching to a packed house, so much so, that this group of friends couldn’t get their paralyzed friend to Jesus

            • So, they went up on the roof, dug a hole in the roof, and lowered their paralyzed friend right in front of Jesus

          • Jesus’ response

            • Jesus recognized the faith of the group of friends and the paralytic, so He told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven (spiritual healing!)

            • That didn’t sit well with some teachers of the law, but that didn’t matter to Jesus

            • He then tells the paralytic to get up, take his mat, and go home, which he does

            • Jesus told the man to get up, take his mat, and go home, so that the people would understand that He was God and had the authority on earth to forgive sins

          • God has the power to heal every area of our lives

        • Worship-based prayer

          • Reverence

            • Prayer Prompter: “Jesus, thank You for revealing Your omnipotence (all-powerful) in my life by/through . . .”

          • Response

            • Prayer Prompter: “Jesus, please forgive me for doubting Your ability to know everything, especially when it comes to ________ in my life.” [Mark 5:31]

            • Prayer Prompter: “Precious Savior, I confess that I am currently skeptical about Your power to forgive the sins of __________ (name the person specifically).” [Mark 2:10]

          • Request

            • Prayer Prompter: “Dear Lord, help me to have faith in Your healing power as I struggle with . . .”

          • Readiness

            • Prayer Prompter: “Lord, thank You that You promise to give me peace as I step out in faith concerning . . .” [Mark 5:34]

 

SONG: ​​ Healer

 

    • Financial Healing (Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 6:38; Malachi 3:6-12; 2 Chronicles 7:13-16)

        • Financial struggles, especially with COVID-1 (Coronavirus pandemic)

          • I think we would all be kidding ourselves if we said that we weren’t concerned about our financial future with state and federal “stay-at-home” orders.

        • God’s part (Matthew 6:25-32)

          • Read Matthew 6:25-32

            • God’s provision of food

              • He takes care of the food needs for birds, who don’t sow, reap, or store food away in barns

              • He says that we are more valuable than birds, which means that He will provide for us

              • We may not know how it will happen, but it will

                • Upper Adams Food Pantry, Gettysburg Soup Kitchen, New Hope Mobile Food Pantry

                • Generosity of family, neighbors, or friends from church

            • God’s provision of clothing

              • God provides beautiful dressings for the fields through flowers

              • The dressing of the fields is temporary and He says that He will clothe us even more

            • As God’s children He says that we are valuable to Him and He will provide for us

          • Discipline of His children (2 Chron. 7:13; Malachi 3:6-9)

            • As His children, He will also discipline us, just like a parent with their child(ren)

            • As we already saw in 2 Chronicles 7:13, He will bring about droughts, and devouring bugs, and plagues as a way to get the attention of His children, so they will turn back to Him

            • Read Malachi 3:6-9

            • In Malachi 3:6-9 we see that we are under a curse for turning away from the Lord and robbing Him by not giving our tithes and offerings

          • God’s part is to provide and discipline, but we have a part to play also

        • Our part (Matthew 6:33a; Malachi 3:10; 2 Chronicles 7:14a)

          • Mathew 6:33a

            • Seek God’s kingdom first

            • Seek God’s righteousness first

            • What has first place in your life above God’s kingdom and righteousness?

          • Malachi 3:10

            • Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse

            • For the Israelites this was the first fruits of all their labors (field and flock/grain and animal)

            • To what or whom are you giving your first fruits instead of giving it to God?

          • 2 Chronicles 7:14a

            • Humble ourselves

            • Pray

            • Seek God’s face

            • Turn from our wicked ways

          • When we obediently do our part, God promises us certain things

        • God’s promises (Matthew 6:33b; Malachi 3:11-12; 2 Chronicles 7:14b)

          • Matthew 6:33b

            • All these things will be given to you as well

            • God promises to provide our every need (food & clothing)

          • Malachi 3:11-12

            • God will prevent pests from devouring their crops (livelihood)

            • God will make sure that nothing is wasted

            • Other nations will call them blessed

          • 2 Chronicles 7:14b

            • God will hear and see from heaven

            • God will forgive our sins

            • God will heal our land

          • God has the power to heal every area of our lives

        • Worship-based prayer

          • Reverence

            • Prayer Prompter: “Lord, since You never change, I worship You because/for . . .” [Malachi 3:6]

            • Prayer Prompter: “Heavenly Father, thank You that you value me more than . . .” [Matthew 6:26, 30]

          • Response

            • Prayer Prompter: “Precious Savior, I confess that I seek ________ first instead of Your kingdom and righteousness.” ​​ [Matthew 6:33]

            • Prayer Prompter: “Lord, please forgive me for using my first fruits on _________ instead of giving them to You as a tithe and offering.” [Malachi 3:8-9]

          • Request

            • Prayer Prompter: “God, will You please help my faith to grow through _________ (difficult situation), so I will trust You more.” [Matthew 6:30]

            • Prayer Prompter: “Lord, help me to take the step of faith to test You concerning robbing You of ________ (time, talents, or resources),” [Malachi 3:10]

          • Readiness

            • Prayer Prompter: “Heavenly Father, thank You for blessing me and providing for me through . . .”

 

SONG: ​​ God Will Take Care Of You

 

  • YOU

    • My Next Step Today Is To:

        • Believe in Jesus and receive God’s gift of eternal life (spiritual healing)

        • Step out in faith and trust God to heal me physically (physical healing)

        • Trust God to provide for my every need, even during difficult times (financial healing)

 

  • WE

 

CONCLUSION

“Every other Tuesday, Maria Lopez would come to clean my house.

 

Maria always arrived like a bubble of energy determined to restore order to my universe, scrubbing as though it were an act of worship.

As we became acquainted, I learned that Maria was a pastor's daughter from Peru who had no family in the United States. I had only been a Christian a few years and appreciated Maria's enthusiastic faith. She prayed out loud while she cleaned, and sang praise songs in Spanish while she scrubbed. She praised Jesus everywhere she went.

 

One Tuesday, Maria didn't show up for work. I anticipated seeing her cheery face the following day. But no one came.

 

When she didn't arrive the next day, I called. No one answered the phone.

 

This is so unlike her, I thought. She's so reliable. There must be a good reason.

 

On the third day, a nurse called to say Maria was at the hospital. Alarmed, I cut some flowers and drove to Northridge Hospital to find out what was wrong. I found Maria sitting up in bed, rocking back and forth with her head encased in a heavy iron cage resting on her shoulders. Her eyes were closed, and tears streamed down her cheeks. Touching her arm gently, I held out the flowers. She clutched them to her chest.

 

"What's that around your head, Maria?"

 

"Oooh, Meessus," she moaned, touching the iron contraption, "it is the torture of Satan."

 

Puzzled, I turned to the nurse. She explained, "It's called a halo. It's screwed and bolted directly into the skull in four different places. It isn't pleasant."

 

"How long must you wear it?" I asked Maria.

 

"Five months, my doctor say, maybe. But Meessus, you tell him, Maria, she no live five months with thees in her head. She die. You tell him, yes?"

 

"I'll talk to him, Maria. Anything else I can do for you?"

 

"Yes, Meessus. My Bible." She pointed to the bedside table. "Please, you read to me."

 

"Sure, Maria."

 

I started reading John 14. "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me."

 

Out in the corridor, I found Maria's doctor. "Why is she wearing that hideous device?" I asked him.

 

"Because, to put it simply, if she didn't," he said, "her head would fall off. Maria has cancer. Her neck bones have degenerated to the point where they can no longer support her head."

 

"Can they be repaired? Or regenerated?" He shook his head gravely.

 

"It means we can't ever take it off. Maria will have to get used to living with it."

 

Every week when I visited, Maria asked me to pray with her and read from the Bible. She always requested the same chapter from the New Testament: John 14. Weeks turned into months. The heavy metal halo was crippling.

 

During one visit, months after being admitted to the hospital, Maria clutched my hands and whispered, "God tells Maria it won't be long. Soon, he say, we take this off."

 

Before I left the hospital, I stopped at the nurses' desk to ask how much longer Maria would be there. A nurse said they were preparing papers to release [her]. Maria doesn't have insurance or enough money to stay in the hospital. That's why they're releasing her.

Maria panicked when the doctor told her she must leave. "No! You take new x-ray." Touching the halo she cried, "You take this torture from me! I no leave with this!"

 

"There is really no point," he insisted. "Nothing has changed."

 

When I returned to the hospital two days later to pick up Maria, I was surprised to find her sitting in a chair, beaming ear to ear. "I no leave today," she said.

 

"Why not, Maria? Have you had your x-ray?"

 

"Yes. But I stay until they take this off." She rolled her eyes toward the halo.

 

Hasn't anyone told Maria what will happen when they take the halo off? It was my turn to panic. I can't tell her. Her despair will be overwhelming.

 

I cornered the doctor. "She won't leave until you take the halo off. What do we do?"

 

"We'll take it off," he replied.

 

"You said her head will roll off without it!"

 

Suddenly, Maria's doctor began acting strangely. He looked left and right, then muttered in low tones, "It won't roll. The x-ray we took this morning indicated her neck bones have regenerated."

 

"You said that was impossible."

 

"It is impossible."

 

I shook my head, confused. "Were the original x-rays a mistake?"

 

"Not at all. They're here for anyone to see."

 

"So?"

 

Before answering, the doctor sighed. "So there are things I can't explain. Her bones have regenerated, and they are strong enough to hold her head. That's all I know."

 

"Doctor! Is this a miracle?"

 

"I don't know about miracles, that's Maria's department. She tells me Jesus healed her."

 

Adapted from Barbara Royce Extract, "Maria and the Halo," Christian Reader (Jul/Aug 2001), p. 63.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2003/february/14185.html].

17

 

THE KING OF THE WORLD

There have been many conquerors over the span of history that people have called “king of the world.” These people were rulers who brought about change in the entirety of society, in their day. They literally changed the world around them with their leadership abilities, more often than not, in battle. A great ruler is known by his actions which may create a peaceful society and or gain victory over other nations. There have been uncountable rulers in world history, but only some of them can be categorized as the “greatest ruler” or “King of the World.” Some of those who would fall into that category would be the following:

Akbar was a ruler of India who was beloved by his people. He ascended the throne at the age of 13 and within two decades, he conquered the entire northern and central areas of India. He was a powerful and intelligent man who was known to be fair and equitable. He was a great admirer of art and culture and was known as the military genius of his time. He formed a strong and unshakable army by using war elephants, metal cylinder rockets, swivel guns and cannons. His great military tactics and liberal ideas made him one of the most popular Indian rulers.

Napoleon Bonaparte of France was one of the best known emperors of the world. He brought vast advancements in the political and judicial foundations of the country at the time of the French Revolution. A legal reform known as the “Napoleonic Code” was a great influence worldwide. He was a great military and political leader who conquered the entirety of Europe in his reign.

Alexander the Great was the emperor of Macedonia and the first known conqueror of the Persian Empire. He was an intelligent military leader who was never defeated in battle. He fought various armies that had vastly different tactics, but was able to adapt quickly. He was very charismatic enabling him to conquer much of the world by himself and sometimes even made entire nations surrender to him without killing a single man. By the age of 30, he developed a great empire stretching from the Ionian Sea to the Himalayas. His great military tactics are still taught in military academies throughout the world.

Caesar Augustus was the founder and first Emperor of the Roman Empire. He was primarily responsible for the Pax Romana, a 200 year span of relative peace in the Roman Empire. Augustus is credited with ensuring that durable peace through his administrative genius and reforms which brought stability and prosperity. He transformed the appearance of Rome with massive building projects and instituted police and fire-fighting forces which brought order and protection to Rome.

Suleiman the Magnificent was the greatest and the longest serving Turkish King. He conquered parts of southeastern Europe and won control of the entire eastern Mediterranean Sea and conquered North Africa as far west as Tripoli. He also was an excellent leader and helped to transform the Ottoman Empire into an economic powerhouse. He reformed the law in his country and created a single legal code.

Cyrus the Great, the greatest expander of the ancient Persian empire, created the first multi-ethnic empire in the Near East. Cyrus was one of the best generals of the ancient Persian world. By the time of his death, he was the ruler of the largest kingdom the world had ever seen. Not only was he almost unbeatable on the field of battle, his political leadership is also evidenced by the fact that his empire, which spanned three continents, would live on for a long time after his death because of the infrastructure he put in place.

What do you think of when you hear the phrase, “King of the World?” ​​ I think of the game we used to play as kids called “King of the Mountain.” This was a game where one person was on top of a mound of ground or snow and everyone else was trying to race up the side and knock the “king” off his throne and take over as “king of the mountain.” Maybe you think of that label in terms of sports. When I was younger the best basketball player at the time was Michael Jordan. For me he was the “king of the world” in terms of basketball if not all sports. No matter who you think of when you hear the term “king of the world,” that person was probably very successful and reached the pinnacle of society, sport, etc.

Our scripture this morning comes on the heels of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people flocked to him waving palm branches and shouted Hosanna. They called Jesus the “King of the Jews” as their long waited Messiah. They were expecting Jesus, as the Messiah, to come into his kingdom on the earth, overthrow the Romans and elevate the Jewish people to their expected place over the rest of the world. As we study our scripture this morning, we are going to see that they were partially correct. Jesus was going to come into his kingdom just not the kingdom they were expecting. We’re going to see that Jesus’ kingdom would include the whole world, hence he would be the “King of the World.” But unlike what we read about in the accomplishments of the “kings” or “rulers” in our introduction, Jesus was going to rule in a different way. He was not going to go to war with the Romans and overthrow them and set up his throne. He wasn’t going to build roads or complete massive building projects. He wasn’t going to enhance the arts or stabilize the financial institutions of the day. He was not going to do any of the things that Alexander the Great or Cyrus the Great did. The way that he was going to become the “king of the world” or in other words, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, was going to be through his death. He told the people that they had it wrong when it came to the Messiah. Where they were looking for a political and military leader, Jesus said he was going to live and conquer through his death and he told them that if they were going to follow him they would have to do the same. Which brings us to the big idea that John wants us to understand this morning which is “only if we are willing to die to ourselves can we truly live for Him.”

As we ponder what that means for each of us and before we dive into our text let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we ask the Holy Spirit to come down upon us to illumine and open our hearts and minds to what you want us to learn this morning. I thank you that your word is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. I pray that this morning it will penetrate our souls and will judge our thoughts and attitudes of our hearts. In Jesus’ name. Amen

This morning our text is found in John chapter 12 verses 20-36 and the first thing we are going to see is the transition of Jesus from being only the “king of the Jews” to being the “king of the world.” I will be starting with verses 20-23. This is what God’s Word says, 20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. 23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

This story is a curious for a couple of reasons. First, is was unusual to see Greeks in a story about important events in Jerusalem, such as the Passover. Two, it’s only found here in the book of John. The other gospels don’t mention it, but it makes sense that John would include it because he wrote to present the truth of Christianity in a way that the Greek people would appreciate and understand. It wouldn’t have been strange to find Greek people in Jerusalem during Passover. They were seekers of truth and they wandered around looking for new things such as new religions and new teachers. These Greek people were probably God-fearers and not proselytes. The difference being that God-fearers were men who were attracted by the lofty morality and the monotheism of Judaism, but did not want to become full proselytes by circumcision. They could visit the temple in Jerusalem for the great feasts but could not pass beyond the court of Gentiles. Also, they would not have necessarily come from Greece. At Passover, worshippers came from widely scattered places throughout the Roman Empire to join in the festivities.

But how did they hear about Jesus? Maybe they were there in the Court of the Gentiles the day Jesus cleansed the temple. When he overturned the money changers’ tables and scattered the people selling sacrifices at outrageous prices which kept worshippers from being able to pray and worship God the way they should. I can imagine they would want to meet the man who would do that. Their curiosity was probably stirred by all the conversation and controversy surrounding him. This seems to be the first mention of non-Jewish people showing interest in Jesus and wanting to meet him and spend time with him. This was the first hint of a gospel which was to go out into all the world.

Why did they come to Philip? We don’t know for sure but it may have been because Philip is a Greek name and they thought he would be able to get them to see Jesus. John says they requested to see Jesus and the tense of the verb is continuous meaning they kept requesting to see Jesus. They were intent on meeting with him with the idea of wanting to spend time with him and get to know him. Philip didn’t take them right to Jesus but first to Andrew and then they both took them to Jesus. We have seen Andrew taking people to Jesus before. John 1:41-42a says, 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And John 6:8-9 says, 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” It would make sense that Philip would go to Andrew because he was the disciple we see over and over again taking people to see Jesus.

Now we don’t know if these Greek people actually got to meet Jesus. John only records what they say to Philip and then they disappear from the story. Morris says, “John clearly regards their coming as significant but does not treat their presence as important.” John’s gospel teaches that Jesus is the Savior of the World and this group of Gentiles symbolically represents the world seeking its salvation from Jesus. These are the “scattered children of God”, or the “other sheep” of John 10:16, which says, 16 “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

John next records Jesus’ supposed reaction to the Greeks wanting to meet him. His response is surprising in that he doesn’t seem to acknowledge them at all or even make reference to them. His words seem to be addressed to the crowd which probably includes Philip, Andrew and the Greeks. Jesus recognizes the fact that their coming to him meant that his mission on earth was coming to a close. The arrival of these “God-fearers” triggers “the hour”, the “hour” that the Son of Man or the Messiah would be glorified.

This “hour” was what Jesus was destined for; it was why he came to the earth and lived among us. The verb “is come” is in the perfect tense, meaning “the hour is come and stays with us”; there is no going back on it. The “hour” refers to Jesus’ death but it speaks of it as a triumph not as a tragedy. The title, the “Son of Man” was Jesus’ way of referring to himself especially in connection with his mission and through it he would not be dishonored but would be glorified.

At least five different times in John, Jesus’ hour is mentioned in the negative, as in his “hour” has not yet come. Now all of a sudden the “hour” is come. What’s changed? Maybe it’s that for the first time non-Jewish people are seeking Jesus out and want to know what he has to say and what it is he has to offer. We saw in our final verse last week that the Pharisees said, “Look how the whole world has gone after him.” Now that was an exaggeration on their part but it was true. The “world” as reflected in these Greek men have “gone” after Jesus and with the coming of these Gentiles, Jesus is not only the “King of the Jews” but “King of the World”, as well.

It was always God’s plan for Jesus to be the Savior of the World. The Jewish people were to be the catalyst that God wanted to use to make that happen but they misinterpreted, misunderstood and were misguided as to who the Messiah was and what he came to earth to do. Now that the Greeks had come to Jesus, his “hour” was here and it was time for him to go to the cross and be glorified so that all who looked upon him would be saved. Morris in his commentary says, “The fact that the Greeks had reached the point of wanting to meet Jesus showed that the time had come for him to die for the world. He no longer belonged to Judaism, which had rejected him but now the world awaits and seeks him.” By Jesus not meeting with the Greeks they would be taught that salvation was not through his works or life but by faith in the crucified Savior. They needed to see him as the slain Lamb of God not as the Jewish Messiah.

Next in verses 24-26, Jesus begins with a parable that explains the “law of the kingdom of God” that will show them how he was going to become the “King of the World” and to show them what they would have to do to be his followers. Follow along as I read verses 24-26. This is what God’s Word says, 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

This passage probably came as a shock to those who heard it or read it for the first time. It starts out making sense but ends with a series of statements that would have made no common sense to them at all. In fact it turned their idea of the Messiah upside down and made those thinking of following him want to run for the hills.

​​ “Very truly I tell you” or “Verily, Verily” as some versions have it, introduces a statement of importance meaning “listen up” to what is said next. Jesus gives a one verse parable of the kernel of wheat that introduces us to a paradox. He says the way to get more wheat is to plant it or “bury” it in the ground because unless the kernel of wheat “dies” in the ground it will not bear fruit. It is only through the “death” of the kernel of wheat that it can bear the fruitfulness of a harvest. Of course, in that agrarian society, this made sense. If you want anything to grow, you first have to plant it in the ground. This was a general truth but Jesus used it to refer to himself. Just as a seed must “die” in order to give life, Jesus must die in order to give birth to many seeds. Augustine points out that “Jesus was the grain that had to die so he would be multiplied. He would suffer death through the unbelief of the Jews and be multiplied in the faith of many nations.” The way the kingdom of heaven would grow and be fruitful was through the death and burial of Jesus Christ.

But Jesus goes on to apply this truth to his followers then, and to us today, as well. What Jesus said next was probably not the best way to encourage people to follow him. He said those who love their life will lose it but those who hate their life will keep it. Not a very motivational type speech. But Jesus planned to change the world by bringing people together who were selfless and who had their priorities in his kingdom. The key to participation in Jesus’ kingdom is to have an attitude of love for the things of God, so much so, that all interest in the things of this life, appear by comparison, as hatred. Which reminds us of our big idea this morning which is “only if we are willing to die to ourselves can we truly live for Jesus.”

If you love your life on this earth it means you love this life with all its appetites, desires and affections which seek gratification without caring for the will of God. Carson says, “It is the fundamental denial of God’s sovereignty. It is paramount to idolatry which is at the heart of all sin. That person will lose their life eternally.” ​​ “Loses” means “destroys” as in “the one who loves his own life will destroy it.” Loving one’s life is a self-defeating process as it destroys the life it seeks to retain.

In contrast, the one who hates their life, the one who denies himself and takes up their cross daily, will have eternal life. This is a spirit of self-sacrifice which says there is nothing in this world that I would not give up to be in obedience to God’s will. “Hating your life” means to prefer Christ over one’s family, possessions, goals, plans, desires and even one’s life. Luke 14:26 says, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” This was one of Jesus’ hardest teachings, but Jesus is to be number one in our lives and we need to submit everything to him. Which brings to our first next step which is to “hate my life” by “dying to self” and sacrificing everything to be in obedience to the will of God.

Next, verse 26, is to be understood in light of the previous one. Jesus says the outcome of hating your life in this world is not only eternal life but a life that is in service to Christ. It is a personal relationship with Jesus that totally submits to him and follows and obeys him completely. We, as servants of Christ, must follow him even if it means suffering and at some point it probably will. This means losing our lives, figuratively or possibly literally, for his sake. When we live a life in service to Christ he gives us two great promises. One, he promises that his servants will be where he is, which is in heaven with him and two, they will be honored by his Father. Those are awesome promises from Jesus to us.

Next, Jesus seems to change topics abruptly. He starts to think about his crucifixion that is coming and he has a conversation with God. God audibly responds and we see the reaction of the crowd. Follow along as I read verses 27-30. This is what God’s word says, 27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. 30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.

John doesn’t record Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane before he is arrested. This is probably John’s equivalent of the garden scene where Jesus prayed, “not my will but yours be done” that we see in the other gospels. Jesus’ soul is deeply troubled. “Troubled” literally means “to shake” or “to stir up.” This is a strong word used for severe mental or spiritual agitation; of being disturbed, upset, unsettled or horrified. MacArthur says, “The perfect tense of the verb suggests an ongoing struggle for the sinless Jesus as he contemplated the implications of the cross, taking all our sin and the complete wrath of God on himself. Jesus was not just an actor in a drama. He was not detached, indifferent or without feeling about the cross. He was a human being like us. He felt the pain associated with bearing the curse of sin. Because of that pain he offered up prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to God.”

Jesus prays to his Father asking a rhetorical question and then immediately answering it himself. There is no hesitation on Jesus’ part to go to the cross but we can only try to imagine what it would take to willingly go to the most painful death you could have inflicted upon yourself. By going to the cross it shows how much he loved us and represents how much it meant to him to do the Father’s will. Milne says, “The truth here extends far beyond our feeble imaginings, as Jesus wrestles with God on the brink of Golgotha. The gospel may be simple, but it is not superficial. It may be free, but it is not cheap.”

Then Jesus prays that the name of his Father would be glorified. Jesus knew that it was all about God the Father. Even though Jesus was the one who would be crucified he gave all the glory to God. The tense of the verb indicates that the single act of Jesus going to the cross would be the way the name of the Father would be glorified. God’s response to Jesus’ prayer is the voice of God from heaven itself. This is the third time that God speaks from heaven. The first was at Jesus’ baptism and the second at his transfiguration. The Father’s audible voice confirmed he heard and answered Jesus’ prayer. God’s answer affirms that he has already glorified himself in his son; in the incarnation and in the work and miracles of Jesus which showed God’s power in the world. But he also says he will “glorify it again” meaning God’s name would be glorified again in Jesus’ death and resurrection to come because of the redemptive work it would do in our lives and because of Jesus’ willing obedience to his Father.

This prayer of Jesus came at a time of great crisis in his life. And I can’t help but think of this crisis we are living in right now. We can learn how to pray in a crisis from the way Jesus prayed here. We need to be praying, “Father, glorify your name.” I think this is so important in the midst of the uncertainty, anxiety, sickness and even death that accompanies the Coronavirus. That brings us to our second next step which is to pray “Father, glorify your name” in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.

John records that the crowd heard the voice from heaven but it was interpreted a couple different ways. Some thought it was thunder and others thought it was an angel that had spoken directly to Jesus. The voice from heaven was audible to all even though the meaning wasn’t. The thunder was in answer to Jesus expressly doing his Father’s will and not his own. It was divine assurance that, as God manifested his power in raising Lazarus from the dead, that he would do it again in the resurrection of his Son.

Jesus had no need of this heavenly assurance so he says it was for the sake of the crowd standing by. But if the voice of God was for the people’s sake why did they not understand it? It was because they lacked the spiritual perception to recognize the voice of God and it illustrated the hard-heartedness that was typical of the people. God is not silent but fallen, sinful people are deaf. The voice of God came to strengthen the faith of the disciples and would have been of the greatest value to those of his followers who could understand its significance.

In verses 31-34 we see Jesus talking about the meaning of the cross and the outcome it will have not only on Satan but for all people of the world. This is what God’s word says, 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. 34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”

Jesus rejoices in three significant victories of the triumph of the cross. One, the cross was the avenue for salvation and judgment. Salvation for the followers of Jesus who have “hated their lives” and judgment for those who have “loved their lives.” Two, the cross also meant judgment and defeat for the prince of this world who is Satan. It meant Satan would lose his power, authority and influence. By driving out Satan as the “prince of this world” Jesus sets himself up as the “King of the World.” Three, the cross was going to draw all people to Jesus.

The “and I” is emphatic and it meant that the cross was the work of Christ and no one else. The “when” referred to when he is crucified not “if.” And the “lifting up” referred to the way he was going to die which was crucifixion on a cross. The cross was going to happen no matter what and was necessary for the salvation of the world. Jesus was concerned with the effect of the cross which was it would draw all people to himself. “Draw” is the work that God does in a person’s heart and soul that “draws” them to Christ. John 6:44 says, 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.

“All men” didn’t mean that everyone would be saved but it meant that all would be drawn and have the chance for salvation. Anyone who would be saved would be saved through the cross and the shed blood of Jesus and it included both Jews and Gentiles. In this way Jesus would be the “King of the World.” In verse 33, John plainly tells us that Jesus was talking about the way he would die, which was on a cross.

We then see the problem that the crowd had with Jesus’ words. It is interesting that they knew Jesus was talking about dying. They knew that the way Jesus’ kingdom would come to pass was through his death. But they had a problem with Jesus being the Messiah or the Son of Man because they believed that the Son of Man would live forever. Jesus was now teaching something different than what they thought the scriptures were teaching and they wanted an explanation. They asked Jesus, “Who is this Son of man?” They were wondering if Jesus really is the Messiah or if the Son of Man and the Messiah were two different people. This is the last mention of “the crowd” in John’s gospel. It is significant that they remain confused to the end. They couldn’t get past their biases and believe that Jesus could be the Messiah even though his life fulfilled all the prophecies. They couldn’t appreciate the magnitude of the gift being offered to them nor the significance of the person who was offering it.

As we come to end of our scripture this morning we see Jesus extending an invitation and then disappearing from them once again. Follow along as I read verses 35-36. 35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

Jesus does not answer their question about the Son of Man directly. He answers them by referring to his impending death and gives them an urgent invitation. He says they will not have the light (meaning Jesus) much longer but he encourages the crowds to walk in the light as long as they have it. He is implying that if they would give up their preconceived ideas of the Messiah and believe in him then their question would be answered. They would know that he is the Messiah. It is imperative that they believe now so that when the darkness comes it will not overpower them. The alternative is that those who walk in darkness, physical or spiritual darkness, do not know where they are going and after Jesus is crucified and risen they will find themselves in total darkness.

Note that John uses the word “light” five times in verses 35-36. Jesus is called the “Light of the World” so therefore it is not only a question of illumination but of faith in Jesus which brings us light. This idea of “believe in the light” is a continuous on going belief, whereas, “become children of light” is a one-time happening. While belief or faith is an activity to be practiced without ceasing one does not become a child of the light by degrees. Morris says, “One cannot be a follower of Jesus and be half-hearted about the light.” When you accept Christ as your Savior you are saved and you pass out of death into life instantly. “Children of light” are those whose lives have been so revolutionized by the Light that they are characterized by the Light. But those who fail to embrace the light, to refuse to believe, will become a victim of the darkness. Maybe you are still living in darkness this morning. Maybe you are ready to believe in the Light and become a child of the Light. If so, the third next step is for you which is to believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior, stepping out of darkness and becoming a child of the Light.

To reinforce the urgency and to model what he means Jesus disappears, intentionally hiding himself from them. Even though his hour had now come, the exact timing of his arrest, trial and crucifixion would be determined by God and not man. The public revelation of Jesus is now complete. His signs have been displayed in full. Men and women must come to terms with the revelation that has been placed in the world. But the mystery of Jesus’ life is that even though the “light has come into the world . . . men loved the darkness instead of the light.”

I want to conclude with a paraphrased excerpt from a John Ortberg sermon where he compares submission or “dying to self” to driving a car. This is what he said: It is a big moment in your life when you hand someone else the keys. Up until now, I've been driving. I choose the destination. I choose the route. I choose the speed. You're in the passenger’s seat. But if we are to change seats, if you're going to drive, I have to trust you. It's all about control. Whoever is in the driver’s seat is the person in control.

A lot of people find Jesus handy to have in the car as long as he's in the passenger’s seat, because something may come up where they require his services. Jesus, I have a health problem, and I need some help…. I want you in the car, but I'm not so sure I want you driving. If Jesus is driving, I'm not in charge of my life anymore. If he's driving, I'm not in charge of my wallet anymore. If I put him in control then it's no longer a matter of giving some money now and then when I'm feeling generous or when more of it is coming into my life. Now, it's his wallet. It's scary. If Jesus is driving, I'm not in charge of my ego anymore. I no longer have the right to satisfy every self-centered ambition. No, it's his agenda. It's his life. Now, I'm not in charge of my mouth anymore. I don't get to gossip, flatter, cajole, deceive, rage, intimidate, manipulate, exaggerate. I get out of the driver's seat and hand the keys over to him. I'm fully engaged. In fact, I'm more alive than I've ever been before, but it's not my life anymore. It's his life.

That is what it looks like to “hate my life” by “dying to self” and sacrifice everything to be in obedience to the will of God. We must be willing to die to ourselves and give Jesus to keys and control of our lives. That is the only way we can truly live for him.

As Gene & Roxey come to lead us in a final song, let’s pray: Dear Holy and Loving God, thank you for your son who willing gave his life on a cross for our sins. I rejoice that you are in control and have promised to walk with us through whatever comes. I thank you that you are our strong tower especially in the midst of these troubled times. And in the midst of these troubled times we find ourselves in, Lord, I pray, ‘Father, glorify your name,’ in Jesus’ name, Amen.