The Gospel Of John – Lesson Six – “The New Temple” (John 2:18-25)

This article is part 8 of 12 in the series The Gospel Of John

   Right on the ‘tail end’ of Jesus ‘cleansing the temple’, the Jews, who were the religious leaders in my opinion, asked Him for a “sign”. I mean, when someone comes in and just takes over as Jesus did… it makes one wonder “Who does he think he is?!” I guess they figured they deserved a miracle after He had turned over tables, and driven the money makers out. If Jesus had done this, in essence he would be saying “See!! I am the Son of God!” But he didn’t perform a miracle. Instead Jesus speaks on a level that his challengers are definitely not on.
The only “sign” (which by the way is the greatest) He offers was still in the future… “Destroy this temple, and in three days I WILL RAISE IT UP” (vs. 19). Obviously they were shocked and puzzled. It took 46 years to build the only temple they cared about. Obviously to us, Jesus was speaking about his death, burial and his resurrection. The disciples later remembered his words after Jesus was raised from the dead (vs. 22). This fulfilled all kinds of scriptures given by the Old Testament prophets like David, Isaiah, and others.
Jesus did perform miracles (vs. 23), and many did believe on Him at that time as a result. Jesus was popular, but He knew what people thought. He knew how fickled people are. You have probably seen this in your life, where people who loved you once had become your enemy ‘over night’. It is a good lesson to keep in mind, but it’s not the one we are after.
A word about “SIGNS” or “MIRACLES”. Jesus performed MANY, MANY miracles. More than are recorded in the Gospels (John 20:30-31). But what is meant by a “sign”? Well, there are three Greek terms which come into play which we need to keep in mind. 1.) “Teras” which means amazing, staggering or marvelous. That would fit what Jesus did for sure.
2.) “Dunamis” which gives us our word for ‘dynamite’, but basically refers to ‘extra ordinary power’! That also would fit what Jesus showed in his miracles. Remember he raised the dead, cast out demons, healed the sick… INSTANTLY!!! That is POWER! STAGGERING, AMAZING POWER!!!
3.) “Semeion” which means ‘a sign’. The difference and reason for the word used in this context seems to be pointing to the PURPOSE of the miracle. A ‘sign’ reveals would POINT TO SOMEONE. In this case, Jesus when he gave people a ‘sign’ it would be a miracle with a purpose of pointing people to His Divinity. A ‘sign’ revealed the PERSON, NATURE AND CHARACTER of Jesus. It told people WHO HE WAS (the Son of God). It showed people WHAT HE WAS (powerful). It revealed his NATURE (Divine love). Later he would tell Phillip, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father (John 14:9). So Jesus revealed a lot when He performed a miracle.
The greatest SIGN was his resurrection. On this ONE SIGN, all of Christianity stands! The resurrection of Jesus is the cap stone, and the foundation and everything in between!!! Take a look at the preaching of the apostles and other disciples and the part the resurrection played in their message.
1. PETER – Acts 2:29-39
2. PETER – Acts 3:12-16
3. PETER – Acts 4:8-12
4. PETER AND THE APOSTLES – Acts 5:29-32
5. STEPHEN – Acts 7
6. PHILLIP – Acts 8:12, 26-39
7. SAUL/PAUL – Acts 9:1-6, 20
8. PETER – Acts 10:33, 38-40
9. PAUL – Acts 16:14-16
10. PAUL AND SILAS – Acts 16:25-34
11. PAUL – Acts 18:8; I Corinthians 1:14-17
12. PAUL – Acts 19:1-7
The point is just this… if anyone can prove Jesus was NOT RAISED FROM THE DEAD… then these people and all others who proclaim Jesus as God’s Son, are deceived at best and liars at worst. This would prove Jesus is just a man who did good things, and proclaimed a great message, but that would be the end of it. All their preaching would be just deceiving words.
BUT HE WAS RAISED, AND HE IS THE SON OF GOD! As a sideline… the question begs to be answered… why would so many in those early days and years of Christianity give their lives for a lie?
How important is it to ‘be on the same page’ with someone? How easy is it for people to get distracted, or misunderstood? Well, why do you think I take so much time to explain what I am trying to ‘say’? So you will be on the same page.
When Jesus spoke of “destroy this temple and I will raise it up in three days”, the religious leaders totally missed it!!! They could not see that Jesus was offering them the ultimate, undeniable, un-get-over-able miracle… his resurrection. It shows how they already had their minds made up and were against him all the way… He could have done a miracle… but He had already done this. Still they didn’t accept him. They were not on the ‘same page’ with Jesus… this is obvious.
Mom and dad were sitting on their front porch in Royston, Ga., and mom was listening to Lawrence Welk on her Walkman. Dad was on the other side of the porch and was listening to the crickets. Mom (with her Walkman still on) said to dad, “Honey, isn’t this beautiful?” Dad replied, “Yes, and just think, they do it all with their legs!?
Well, I smile every time I remember this story dad told about he and mom, but it teaches a valuable lesson. Be sure you are on the ‘same page’, when studying the Bible, or when listening to your wife or husband… Be sure you are on the ‘same page’ with God’s Word, His plan, His will, His life…

“Dear Father,
We are so grateful for your Son, who came to this earth and lived a life so we could read, and see in our minds eye just how great You are, how loving You are. We are so grateful for Jesus, who was raised from the dead, and gives us expectation for the same victory one day when we leave this world. Guide us through our study of your Word, even make us humble and willing to accept your Word. Keep us always in Your love. In Jesus Name…. Amen.”

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The Gospel Of John – Lesson Five – “Jesus Got Angry” – (John 2:12-22)

This article is part 7 of 12 in the series The Gospel Of John

How many times have we all regretted times when we got angry and said or did things which we regretted? Think back for a moment… a harsh word, a reaction which was perhaps physical in nature, a ‘look that would kill’, a hand motion that was rude and hurtful. Anger is a human emotion. It is not wrong in itself any more than other feelings which we have. “Let humans be human”, and so we are. The problem comes when anger controls, rules and dominates to the point that sin is the result.
Jesus came to raise us to a higher level. His life is our ‘creed’ and example. From Him we gain a perspective on life unlike that of the ‘world’. It is from Jesus that we learn how to react and deal with life as one who is in an intimate relationship with the Father. The closer we follow the Master, the more we think like the Master… the  more we yield to His indwelling Spirit… the more we will be in control.
James encouraged Christians to “… be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19-20).
It is true that of the many, many scriptures which speak of “anger”, that all are not bad. God got angry at sin, wickedness and rebellion. People are said to get angry for a good reason. Punishment and retribution are not always bad and unjust. There is only one letter differentiating “anger” and “danger”. Anger’s danger is when it gets out of control, and leads to sin. Genesis speaks of an early example of ‘anger’, in Cain…. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him” (Genesis 4:4-8).
Here we find some good lessons about anger which we will come back to after we look at Jesus.
Jesus got angry. How angry? Don’t know… but angry enough! Jesus had travelled from Capernaum to Jerusalem for the Passover. He then went to the Temple Courts and what He saw and experienced there was just unreal to him. He was shocked and upset to say the least. He found God’s house, His Father’s house, a House of worship and prayer… being desecrated. Now during the times of Ptolemy IV Philopater (221 – 203 B.C.) and Ptolemy V Epiphanes (203 -180 B.C.) both hated the Jews. They persecuted the Jews for about 40 years during their reigns and they desecrated their temple. I believe this was done by offering a pig on the altar. Jesus now comes to the temple, and here is what he found… “In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money” (John 2:14). What is so wrong with that?! I mean Christians hold yard sales, have parties on ‘church grounds’. “Not the same” someone says. While others may say… “Yep! The same!” Well, actually it doesn’t seem like the same thing. Jews would come to worship and bring their offerings, and it seems the offerings were never good enough. The people had to buy from those who were selling in the court area. By the way, they should not have been there in the first place. Who knows maybe the religious leaders got a ‘cut on the action’.
Jesus’ reaction…  “So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market” (John 2:15-16). Wow! Jesus had a temper? No, Jesus had a deep love for His Father, and tremendous respect for the Temple. He knew its purpose! All that was going on, completely destroyed and desecrated the temple just as bad as offering a pig on the altar. Did they care? They didn’t seem to. What was going on was just one more thing which kept God on a back burner.  Insulting His Father brought an immediate response… This, by the way, was referred to in Psalms 69:9 “for zeal for your house consumes me and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.”
Think on this… There are many things which are worthy of a defensive response. When someone insults your wife, husband, children, family, your integrity, your honesty, the church, and the list goes on. The key is in who is being insulted or wronged. Anger is a natural, human response…. But when it leads to sin… it is wrong.
One area where anger is especially dangerous is when our OWN pride comes into play. It is kinda hard to write on this… because I cannot cover all the bases… Jesus spoke about loving enemies (Luke 6:27), doing good to those who treat you wrongly (Luke 6:27-28), turning the other cheek (Luke 6:29), right? Further, the Master speaks of when someone “takes” from a Christian (wrongly) and says, “do not stop him” (Luke 6:29). Christians were insulted, mocked, persecuted for their beliefs, and explicit instructions were given regarding how we should think about this (Luke 6:35; Matthew 5:11-12). When Jesus was being arrested, Peter took out his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus… Jesus rebuked him for this and healed Malchus. The Christian life is one which ‘speaks against’ the wickedness of the world. Taking a stand for Jesus means one is standing against the world. The world hated Jesus and will hate Christians (John 15:18-19). What should be our reaction? Anger?! Should one strike out?! Get even?! Listen to Paul, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:16-21). Then in Ephesians he says, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27  and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:26-32).
Yes Jesus got angry… but did not sin. He was standing up for the holiness of God. Should we turn over tables and chase out money changers? Well, if the same situation existed today, we should definitely say something about it. We should definitely make a stand against it. There is a time for anger… just remember, be angry for the right reason, but don’t give Satan a “foothold” in your life.

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The Gospel Of John – Lesson Four – “The Wedding” – John 2:1-11

This article is part 6 of 12 in the series The Gospel Of John

Mom and dad – Married June 25, 1948 – At their 50th anniversary… Still newlyweds!!!

Jack Exum and Ann Exum ("Here take that")

Jack Exum and Ann Exum (“Here take that”)

   Weddings are … marvelous. Full of dreams and promises, gifts and cards, flowers… illuminated with the light of joy and hope for the future… a future together. As recorded in Genesis “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). The idea is that the wedding is but the beginning of a life long journey of two people in love, a male and female… they become one flesh. Weddings in whatever country, with whatever customs and rituals… mark the beginning for the couple.
   In Cana, a city in Galilee, there was a wedding. It customarily lasted for days, like in Indonesia. The wedding followed the feast. There was no honeymoon (dad jokingly said that the ‘honeymoon’ was the time between “I DO” and “YOU’D BETTER”.) Jesus’ mother was there along with Jesus and his disciples. Something went wrong and the wine ran out. Now I am not going to try and convince you that the wine was not really wine. It is my opinion that it was sense this was a wedding celebration.  Who serves grape juice at a wedding anyway?  I guess I’ll leave debating about “wine or grape juice” for others to do. Anyway, Jesus handled the situation beautifully.
   Jesus doesn’t seem comfortable in performing the miracle, sense it seems to be outside the time frame He has in mind. However, it was His mother that asked him.  Joseph is not there… maybe he had died. Mary was ‘mom’ to Jesus… and she had a special ‘pull’. She tells the servants just to do whatever He says, and they do. Fill up the six stone jars that were nearby with water. How big were the jars? Well, big enough, because they used the water stored there for ceremonial washing, bathing etc…. The measurement ‘a firkin’ was about 9 gallons, which equaled 54 gallons of water. The Jewish tradition was to wash quite often, and it was a real chore to go and get the water, so it would be done maybe once a week or two. They filled and when they took some out to serve the guests…. well you guessed it… Jesus never did anything half way… The wine was the best they had ever tasted. Some even wondered why it was saved for serving last.
This was the first miracle of Jesus, and it was done to show his glory to his disciples.
   Mom always had the ‘pull’ with dad. When we were in trouble we always went to mom. When we wanted something really special we would go to mom and she would go to dad. Mom had ‘pull’ with dad. No, we didn’t get everything we wanted… we always had what we needed. Mom was so special. She was also ‘in charge’.
   When we were younger of course her word was ‘command’, but later she understood that things had changed. All accept two things…. LOVE AND RESPECT. We never lost our LOVE AND RESPECT for mom and dad. Even though there were a lot fewer ‘commands’ there were ‘requests’. She knew that all she had to do is call and ask, and whatever it was, it was done. Not out of fear, not out of manipulation… but out of LOVE AND RESPECT we still did things for them. Especially when they got older.  Are your parents still alive? If so, always remember… to LOVE AND RESPECT. I’m sure you cannot turn water into wine… but to her you are the one. One day she will be gone… cherish the memories, help when you can… You will never regret helping her… The memories will be a great comfort… Is your mother gone? Then cherish the memories.
   What Jesus did, He did because his mother asked him…  He told her that His hour had not come…(John 2:4), this was the beginning of his miracles in Cana… Perhaps it was not what he had planned to do…he was very focused on doing the will of the Father… Now, while there are other lessons one can learn here… one thing I have learned here is, there is never a wrong time to do a right thing.

      
  
 


       

  
  

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The Gospel Of John – Lesson Three – “The First Disciples” (John 1:35-51)

This article is part 5 of 12 in the series The Gospel Of John

Lesson Three: “The first disciples, but not the last!” (John 1:35-51)

Great movements often begin very small. Like the mighty Sequoia which begins with a tiny seed… Christianity began small. The ‘seed’ in the person of Jesus was planted at just the right time (Galatians 3:16; 4:4) and although the crux of Christianity rests in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus… it is during his life we find the beginnings of this movement called Christianity. Yes, the day of Pentecost is the ‘birthday’ (Acts 2), but all is in ‘prep mode’ as Jesus begins his ministry by calling disciples one by one….
John begins with John (the baptizer) who points to Jesus (as He walks towards him) and says, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One” (John 1:30-34).
John had followers, but john was not seeking lime-light nor preeminence… he knew his mission to “prepare the way”, get people ready. The time has now come to point… point everyone to Jesus. (You will find all through the Gospels that Jesus is the heart of everything. When you get to the book of Acts, you will find many references to the growth of the early church. The reason for the growth was they preached Jesus. They shared Jesus with everyone.
Charles Hodge, sometime back in the 80’s, decided to devote one year, every time he spoke on Sunday, to the Life of Christ.  That’s 104 times! Well after about six months, one old brother came to Hodge after a lesson and said, “Brother Hodge, don’t you think we need some preaching on Gospel?” What an embarrassment to our understanding of Christianity. If you want the power of Acts, then preach the Gospels… the life and teachings of Jesus. John wrote his book so that all might believe in Jesus.)
“The next day John was there again (presumably at the Jordan River), with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God” (John 1:35). A couple of disciples go with Jesus and see where he is staying, and then our text mentions Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  Take a look, “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 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. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called  Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter)” (John 1:40-42).
Wouldn’t it be marvelous to spend a day with Jesus? Sitting around a camp fire, just listening to Him? It was after this stay with Jesus (vs. 39), that Andrew went to find Peter. Andrew was convinced!!! This is the One! “I have to tell Peter!” This was the first thing Andrew did! “We have found the Messiah!” he told Peter. Andrew did not begin as we often do, “Nice weather Peter.” “How’s the fishing going today Peter?” “Did the nets get torn today Peter?” No! He began with the grandest news any Jew could hear… “We have found the Messiah!”
Bringing someone to Jesus is no small thing. Andrew’s life was changed and now Peter comes and Jesus says, “You are Simon son of John, You will be called Cephas” (which when translated, is Peter.” Peter’s life is about to be changed from the rough, cursing fisherman, to one who eventually will be willing to die for Jesus.
Peter was not an easy one to change mind you. Just because he followed Jesus, and loved Jesus, doesn’t mean he was ready to write I and II Peter. That took time… time to really come to know this one called Jesus. He has a long way to go, and a lot of tears yet to shed and a bucket of pride to deal with (cf. John 13:1-17), but it is a beginning.
Big movements often begin small. One by one Jesus gains disciples. The next disciple was found by Jesus. Leaving Galilee, Jesus went and found a man named Phillip. Jesus said, “Follow me.” The first three disciples were from Bethsaida, and like Andrew, Phillip went and found Nathaniel. Not much is known of Phillip or Nathaniel, but the message of Phillip is a bit different to Nathaniel. “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John1:45).
Several points of interest here… 1.) He refers to Moses as one who spoke of Jesus in the Law. This is a reference to Deuteronomy 18:15, 18. The Jews knew the Law, they knew the prophecies about a promised Messiah (Christ = “the anointed one”). “In Old Testament times anointing signified that one was set apart for a special service, particularly as king (I Samuel 16:1, 13) or priest (Exodus 28:41; 29:7; 30:30; 40:13, 15). But people were looking for not just an anointed one, but the Anointed One, the Messiah (cf. Matt. 16:16).” (New International Study Bible Notes on John 1:25).
Nathaniel is ‘won over’ when Jesus tells him, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Phillip found you” (John 1:48-49). Some are ‘brought to Christ’ with less ‘convincing’ than others, while others demand more patience from the soul winner. In Jesus’ parable of the Sower (Luke 8), he mentions four types of soil (hard, rocky, thorny, and good). Normally we interpret this as showing how few will come to Jesus. While this is true, there is another thought. I believe the soul winner needs to be ready to deal with different types of soil. Dealing with objections is an important part of winning souls. Objections, are not bad…. They mean there is interest… and if your remove the objection, you can bring them to Jesus. Give this some thought… jot down some possible objections and find the answers that will be quick and to the point. The shorter your answer the better.
Jesus tells Nathaniel, “I tell you the truth, you will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51). This is a reference back to Genesis 28:12), where Jacob dreamed of a ladder to heaven and God’s angels going up and down the ladder. Perhaps Nathaniel did see this. Nothing more is said about it. If we understand it to mean that Nathaniel would see much more to identify Jesus as the Son of God… then he surely saw this in all the miracles Jesus performed, and especially in Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:19-26).
God used and uses still, ordinary people, to reach others with the good news of Jesus. Who knows, you may find someone like Andrew, who will go and tell his brother… “We have found the Messiah!” Just fall in love with Jesus, and go and share what Jesus has done in your life and you will experience the “Glory of the Ordinary”.

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The Gospel Of John – Lesson Two “The Witnesses”- John 1:6-13

This article is part 4 of 12 in the series The Gospel Of John

   This lesson will go far beyond John the baptizer. Even though he was a great witness, he was not the only witness. There were others. There are others.
John 1 is a chapter which introduces both, the witness and the One witnessed about. Usually when one introduces or ‘stands up and witnesses’ for someone, as in a ‘character witness’ in court… one tries to pick the right words. We write letters of ‘recommendation’ as well for those we respect, love and appreciate… I was introduced at a recent “Three Unusual Days” seminar in New Hampshire, and it was a gracious introduction.
John introduces Jesus to his readers as the spoken, fleshed out, eternal Word in our last lesson. Now John points to yet another John, a prophet, one who dressed in camel skins and ate weird stuff like locusts and honey. This prophet lived in the desolate wilderness of Judea.
You say, “Well, he is hardly the kind of ‘witness’ I would want!” Ah, but this witness was indeed a highly regarded witness, prophet, and man. Look what Jesus himself said of John…“As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet?  Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written: “ ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it” (Matthew 11:7-12).
Quite a “witness”, right? So, John presents John as an opening witness. He is one of several mentioned in this book. All the witnesses together are insurmountable, as those who would tear down the claims of Jesus found in this Gospel struggle to deal with them.
Let’s consider this and other witnesses.
1.) John the baptizer. The writer says, “There came a man who was sent from God, his name was John” (John 1:7). John took his mission seriously. You will find, that when you come to God, and work WITH HIS WILL (plan), that you have purpose, confidence, direction which brings new ‘light’ to life. You don’t get up in the morning and say, “Good Lord, it’s morning” instead you say, “Good morning, Lord!!!” Ah, there is a big difference. Praise the Lord! John had purpose, direction… and determination to complete his mission, to “prepare (or make straight) the way of the Lord” (John 1:24). John was very clear, that he was not the ONE who was prophesied, although he was prophesied about (Malachi 4:5).
In John 1:19-23 John time and again, denies that he is the Messiah (Christ). This Messiah, John says “has surpassed me because He was before me” (John 1:15). Because of THIS ONE, we receive more and more grace (vs.16), since “grace and truth came through Jesus” whereas “law came through Moses” (vs. 17a). It is this ONE (Jesus) who makes the Father known to us (vs. 17b). No one else can do that but Jesus.
So, in verses 19-28 John makes all this clear… “I AM NOT THE CHRIST”, “I AM NOT ELIJAH”, “I BAPTIZE WITH WATER”. “But among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of his sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
The mystery grows in the minds of his listeners, his accusers, the religious leaders who should have known, should have been longing for….
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit’. I have SEEN AND TESTIFY that this US THE SON OF GOD” (John 1:29-34).
Absolutely incredible witness from the man in camel skins. Although there are things here which will be dealt with later in John’s writing… for now just revel in the witness of John. Jesus is the ONE!!!
2. The Father. “And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me.  You have never heard his voice nor seen his form.” (John 5:35). “…my other witness is the Father, who sent me” (John 8:18b). Jesus is the ONE!!!
3. Works of Jesus Himself. Look at the following: The healing of the official’s son at Capernaum (John 4:46-54). The sick man healed at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-9). The healing of the man born blind, (John 9:1-7). The feeding of the 5,000+ (John 6:6-13). Turning water into wine (John 2:1-11). The large catch of fish, (John 21:1-11). Raising the dead (John 11:1-44). This is not mentioning all the others mentioned in Matthew, Mark and Luke. These still do not include His teachings, and His own resurrection (the greatest miracle) (John 20). Yes if you are looking for proof that Jesus is the ONE you can put your trust in, lean your full life weight on, believe in to keep all promises He makes… it is there! Jesus is the ONE!!!
4. The Scriptures. “You study the Scriptures  diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life.  These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39). There are over a hundred scriptures referring to the Messiah in the Old Testament… Jesus! Prophesies spoken hundreds of years before He was born. The chances of anyone fulfilling them all is greater than the odds of winning a Billion dollar lottery!!! Yet He fulfilled them all! Jesus is the ONE!!!
5. The Disciples. “And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:27). “The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe” (John 19:35). This was referring to John, the writer. He never mentions himself in his book… but John was there at the cross of Christ when he died. He is the one who Jesus committed the care of His mother. Then there is this… “Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” 22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return,  what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” 24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true” (John 21:20-24). Again the ‘anonymous’ one is John the apostle.
One question must be answered by the accusers of Christ.. and his disciples… WHY WOULD THEY GIVE THEIR LIVES FOR A LIE?! Jesus is the ONE!!!
6. The Holy Spirit. We will be looking at the Spirit of God throughout this study, but here the Spirit is called to be a ‘witness’. “When the Advocate  comes, whom I will send to you from the Father —the Spirit of truth  who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me” (John 15:26). “This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth” (I John 5:6), (also look at I John 1:1-2). Take a look also at the Spirit at work on Pentecost, Acts 2! Jesus is the ONE!!!
7. The Saved. From Pentecost till now… and from now on till the Second Coming of Jesus… Believers will be ‘witnesses’ of Jesus’ wonderful saving power. Lives changed, sins forgiven, families united, guilt and shame lifted… Joy that comes from a relationship with God through Jesus. We are witnesses, not in the same way as John and others who were there (that was a disclaimer), but in the experiencing of the New Birth, and life in Christ!!! They testified then both personally and through their words…(John 6:44-45; 5:39-40; 3:3-7; 20:30-31). They were commissioned then (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38-47). We testify, we witness to the world… as a result of their witness… under the same conviction, under the same commission, with the same Spirit, with the same joy… Jesus is the ONE!!!
There is no doubts now as to WHO is the ONE!!! Still people have doubts… Now take a look,
1. OUTWARD… Look at the order of things in this world. Think about how well designed everything is. Think about plant the tides, and how there is a time for the ‘going out’ and the ‘coming in’. Think about the order of planting, and harvest. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter… all in proper order. Think! THERE MUST BE A DESIGNER BEHIND THE DESIGN.
2. UPWARD… Consider the stars, planets, galaxies, comets, and space itself! Accidents? Come on! This universe is too well ordered to be the result of chance and accident or primeval slime.
Read Psalm 139 and Psalm 19.
3. INWARD… The physical body, the brain, the eye, the organs, the heart, the blood… all an amazing work of a Designer. No accident here! Evolving from a MONKEY! Come on, we are more intelligent than that. Just think about it. Birds coming from a fish that crawled out on land and climbed a tree and jumped off time and time again till feathers were formed and the worn out fish flew away?  We do not need a PHd in Biology to know better! Yes it takes faith the please God (Hebrews 11:6), but just brains to understand there must be a DESIGNER BEHIND THE DESIGN.
Evolution does not account for MORALITY, since man on his own tends to become worse and worse. Yet we are ‘moral’ beings (Romans 2:14-15). Now we look to a deeper expression of morality… revealed in God’s word and revealed in the Word Himself. It is in Christ we find life, grace, truth, hope, resurrection, and glory… (Ephesians 2:5-11).

Jesus is the ONE!!!

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The Gospel Of John – Lesson One “The Spoken Word” – John 1:1-5

This article is part 3 of 12 in the series The Gospel Of John

The power of the tongue, the spoken word, cannot be overestimated. James devotes a great deal of thought to this as he addresses Christians scattered about the Roman Empire. There were accusations being attributed to God for ‘hard times’ and ‘temptations’.  To this James gives a definite “no one should say” that, because it is not so! He gives a positive negative… “For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor foes he tempt anyone” (James 1:13). ONLY GOOD THINGS COME FROM GOD!
“… Everyone should be QUICK to listen, SLOW to speak and SLOW to become angry” (James 1:19). Especially when speaking about the God of heaven and earth! This has been a problem throughout history… People blame God when they should be looking in the mirror, for most of the time that is where the problem lies.
Taming this little ‘member of the body’ is no small thing. We can put ‘bits’ in horses mouths and control them we put ‘rudders’ of huge ships and control them… The tongue however, “no man can tame”. It starts huge ‘fires’ in people’s lives and relationships, just like a small match can start forest fires, difficult to be put out. James continues, “…it corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6b).
The spoken or written word is indeed a most powerful thing. Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 for his play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy said“The pen is mightier than the sword.” John the apostle of Jesus recognized this long before Edward Bulwer-Lytton said what he did.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1-2).
Truly amazing, as John grabs the ‘ever hungry’ minds of his readers with the thought that the Spoken Word was: 1.) In the beginning, 2.) with God, 3.) was God, 4.) He!!!  5.) Through Him = the creation of everything that was made. Powerful? Yes! Never underestimate the power of the spoken word especially if that Word is JESUS!
In this Word, “in Him” John says “was life”. This could either mean He was alive (a brief reference to what he will say in verse 14) or that in Him was “eternal life” for all mankind. In either case, this Spoken Word, is Deity, Creator, Life, and of course the “Light” for all mankind.
The description of this Word, stands in stark contrast of the world in which He came. The word used is “darkness”. Hell is described with terms like: 1.) a lake of fire (Revelation 20:10; Matthew 13:42), 2.) where there is “weeping and wailing” (Matthew 25:30; 2 Thessalonians 1:9), 3.) OUTER DARKNESS (Matthew 25:30; Matthew 13:42). 4.) Worms everywhere (Mark 9:44), 5.) Everlasting (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 14:11; 20:10). I hated the darkness when I was a young boy. Nightmares crawled all over me, and I cried out… but then mom came. All was ok. She brought ‘light’ into my scared mind, and calm to my worried, frightened spirit.
The world was ‘dark’ before the “Word” came into it. Fellowship with God was a ‘dream’ to many. The hope for a Messiah was a prophecy and longing. It was a longing for “light” for someone to bring “peace” and direction. Sure they wanted freedom from Rome, and the former glory of David’s rule, but there was more, a yearning for ‘light’ in a dark world.
The world today has a deep yearning … it is the hunger for true ‘light’, for purpose and meaning. The world thinks it is found in ‘things’ and in ‘love’. Only to find as Solomon wrote, “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Everything is dark in a world without Jesus!!! “The blind lead the blind” and they all fall into the ditch, without Jesus.
The saddest thing… “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize him. He came to his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:10-11). The ultimate slap in the face of the Creator… and yet even this was all included in the plan of God as was said in Isaiah 53.
He offered and still offers, “life” and “light” to a sin sick world. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12)(KJV). Now don’t stop on this one verse, because there is much more to “believing” than just doing what demons do (James 2:19), it is more like the faith that Abraham had (James 2:14-24). Christians (as well as all who become such), need to understand, this “believing”, this “faith”, is the foundation and motivation for all non-meritorious actions done, in the name of Jesus. It is more than just words spoken… it is indeed ‘words becoming flesh’. Instead of saying “be warmed and filled” to those cold and hungry… faith is seen in the action of giving blankets and food. Becoming a follower of Jesus, is likewise more than just words, “I believe”… it is submission to the terms of His grace offered, His gift of life given. These are they who are “born of God” (John 1:13). (This will be further explained by Jesus Himself in John 3).
The most amazing thing happened… “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14a). it is hard, truly hard for me to wrap my arms around GOD. It is hard, truly hard to comprehend GOD. As gracious and loving as God is… I had a hard time with this until I found Jesus. He is the “way”, He is the ‘door’ and even the ‘door-knob’ opening the way to GOD. I can wrap my arms around Jesus. I can identify with His disciples as Jesus walks, talks, corrects, teaches, performs miracles, casts out demons, raises the dead and more in their presence. He shows us GOD, the disciples show us US.
John says, “and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14b)(KJV). His glory was seen in EVERYTHING HE DID, EVERY PRAYER HE UTTERED TO HIS FATHER, EVERY TEACHING HE UTTERED, EVERY MIRACLE HE PERFORMED, EVERY SICK PERSON HE CURED, EVER DEMON POSSESSED PERSON HE FREED, EVERY DEAD PERSON HE RAISED, EVERY FISH CAUGHT, EVERY SOUL FORGIVEN, EVERY TRADITION HE CHALLENGED….and ultimately in HIS OWN DEATH AND RESURRECTION and ASCENSION. Glory!!! Glory of the Spoken Word who humbled Himself and became flesh (Philippians 2:5-11).
Jesus stands as it were, with hands outstretched, and in one hand is GRACE and in the other TRUTH. He is the embodiment of it all. He is the one to be worshipped (not a book). He, the person of Jesus Christ is the light of the world, and your life as well as mine. Let this sink in, let your faith grow, because in HIM you find GRACE AND TRUTH. How much grace and truth? ALL OF IT. Without grace there is no truth… without truth there is no grace.
Jesus is the Divine, Creating, Eternal, Grace and Truth filled, “Word”!
“Tell people what God has done, before you tell them what to do!”

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The Gospel Of John – Introduction

This article is part 2 of 12 in the series The Gospel Of John

The Bible really is a wonderfully exciting Book. It’s not just a ‘book’… it is the Word of God. Our study is of (what many people think) “the most precious book in the Bible”. While this may be an overstatement, surely it ranks high in many ways in many people’s minds. The Gospels are commonly referred to as the records of the life of Jesus Christ…the fourth of which, seems to take a direction unlike the others. The expressed purpose of John’s writing is stated forthrightly in John 20:30 “… these things are written that you might believe, and that believing you might have life…” Truly without John’s writing we would be missing so much in the over-all picture and story of the life and times of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. I hate to think of a Bible without the Gospel message of John.
The more one studies this Gospel, the more one finds. The more one finds, the more one is referred to other passages which relate, made clearer, passages which are given a ‘richer’ understanding.
This will not be an ‘Exhaustive Commentary’, since most take verses word by word, phrase by phrase, and delve into what this or that word means in the Greek etc… I do not know a lot of Greek. So I hope to build on notes from dad’s devotional study which he did while living in the “Eastside Village Estates” in Lake City, Florida. I will also be using William Barclay’s “The Daily Study Bible” devotional commentary, and a few times the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries “The Gospel of john” by R. V. G. Tasker. I will be using for the most part the New International Study Bible, and will also quote from some of the notes found there.
While this (NIV Version) alone may turn some people off… this is not my intention. Dad of course liked the King James Version, and while he tried to change over to the NIV, he just could not do it. He did say, “If you want to confuse a new convert, just give them a KJV.” The idea that there is a perfect translation of Scriptures, is ridiculous.  Arguing and debating over this is a waste of precious time needed to build up the brethren and win the lost to Christ. All translations have weaknesses and strengths… You are free to use whatever version you wish, in my opinion… just be aware of the weaknesses. It is good to use various versions for comparison of harder verses.
Let’s begin then our Devotional Study Class of this amazing Gospel, authored by the Apostle John. This will be a devotional work. As Barclay says, “It is an amazing book. It can be read and loved without any commentary at all. Throughout the generations simple people have fed their hearts and nourished their souls on it with nothing but the text of the Authorized Version in their hands” (pg. ix).  My goal is to grow in grace right along with you in our study together of this marvelous book.
Some things left out of this Gospel:
1.) The Birth of Christ
2.) The Baptism of Jesus
3.) The Temptation of Christ in the wilderness
4.) The Healing of those possessed by Devils and Evil spirits
5.) The stories and parables of Jesus
6.) The Last Supper
7.) Gethsemane
8.) The Ascension of Christ after His resurrection
The other writings of Matthew, Mark and Luke do include these things… but not John! I was surprised at this finding, and wondered why. The answer to this is found in the broad study of this Gospel, keeping in mind the writer’s over all purpose for writing mentioned earlier, “THAT YOU MIGHT BELIEVE.”
Some things included in John’s Gospel:
1.) The Marriage Feast (2)
2.) The conversation with Nicodemus (3)
3.) The Woman of Samaria (4)
4.) The Resurrection of Lazarus (11)
5.) The Washing of the Disciple’s Feet (13)
6.) The extensive teaching on the Comforter (Holy Spirit) (14-17)
7.) Thomas (11)(14)(20)
8.) Andrew (1)(6)
9.) Phillip (6)(14)
10.) Judas (12)
Hopefully in our study, we will find the goal of John (“that you might believe”) will be either accomplished or deepened in our own lives. Perhaps we will like ‘doubting’ Thomas, and cry out “My Lord and my God! (John 20:28), or like the temple guards who were sent by the chief priests and Pharisees to arrest him (John 7:32), “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (John 7:46).
Why are there differences in the Gospel accounts? 1.) The main reasons seem to be because of the different audiences to which the four Gospels were written. This helps in understanding  the different styles of writing. Matthew is heavy in Jewish terminology, Mark is written with the Roman mind in view. The Romans would seem to be a people who would be interested in the ACTION (miracles and teaching) of Jesus rather than a lot of arguments and details which would appeal to the Jewish mind. Mark is to the point… and a ‘let’s move on’ type writer. Luke (a doctor, (Colossians 4:14), seems to write to Gentile readers with great historical details (while addressing his work specifically to Theophilus, (Luke 1:3). John writes with the Greek mind in view. He uses terms they are acquainted with, like “logos” (word) (John 1:1). He uses this and leads his readers to a comparison unexpected, as he says Christ is the eternal “Word”. My opinion is that John’s audience believed that ‘the gods spoke’, but John takes their word, and says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. HE WAS WITH GOD IN THE BEGINNING” (John 1:1-2). This “Word”, “became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14a). The New International Version Study Bible (Notes on John 1:1) says, “(The) Greek “logos”, a term Greeks used not only of the spoken word, but also the unspoken word, the word still in the mind – the reason. When they applied it to the Universe, they meant the rational principle that governs all things.”
In either case, John has gotten the attention of his readers, starting straight out the gate with dealing with the Deity of Jesus Christ!
One foundational teaching you will find in the book of John is THE DEITY OF JESUS CHRIST. Just take a look at the following verses…
1.) Jesus speaks of His ‘pre-existence’, (John 8:58).
2.) Jesus speaks of the “glory” He had before the world was created, (John 17:5).
3.) Jesus speaks of His “coming down” from heaven as “the bread of God”,
(John 6:32-33).
4.) Jesus speaks of being “sent from the Father”, (John 8:42).
5.) Jesus speaks of Himself as the “I AM” (Eternal God), (John 8:58).
(Compare Exodus 3:14)
Another foundational teaching is often called the “I AM’s” of Jesus…
1.) “Then Jesus declared, “I am  the bread of life” (John 6:35).
2.) “I am  the light of the world” (John 8:12).
3.) “I am the gate” (John 10:9).
4.) “I am  the good shepherd” (John 10:11)
5.) “I am who I am” (John 13:19).
6.) “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11).
7.) “I am  the true vine” (John 15:1).
All of these speak of how Jesus not only ‘saw’ Himself, but in reality was…. Each of these  speaks of a special ‘picture’ if you please, as THE ONE AND ONLY ANSWER TO MANKIND’S LOST CONDITION. Without Jesus, we would be totally without hope!
We are almost finished with this introduction, which is obviously a bit detailed… I hope you will stay with me in this because it is important to understand at least a bit as to the background of the book being studied.
“For 70 years, John thought about Jesus.” “Time reveals so very much….
1.) John wrote WHAT Jesus meant – not just about words which Jesus spoke.
2.) John remembered Jesus’ words, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.  He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:12-13).
3.) John also remembered what Jesus said, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things  and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).
4.) John remembered and reflected on the Resurrection power of His Lord being raised from the dead… It was amazing!!! (John 20:17-23).” (“Dad’s Class Notes” “Introduction”)
It must have been wonderful, as John would drift off to sleep with thoughts of Jesus… His hands pierced, His feet pierced, His side pierced… but ETERNALLY ALIVE!!! Jesus is more than words on a page to be studied for an hour or two each week as a part of religious obligation. Heaven forbid… Jesus is the Word, and He is the hope of the world.  We cannot learn too much about Jesus. We cannot be accused of being “Bible worshippers” for we are not. We love and worship Jesus, the Son of God. The “Lamb of God”, the anti type of the serpent, raised up in the wilderness for the healing of all mankind (John 3). (“Amen walls!”)
Just some final details…. John’s Gospel was (traditionally) written towards the end of the first century (85-90AD), while some say he wrote around 50AD. Written (traditionally) from Ephesus where a congregation of the Lord’s people had been established (“Dad’s Notes” Introduction).
Now as we begin our study, just understand that God’s word is inspired of God. God’s word does not change… but the purpose of His word is to CHANGE US. This brief “Devotional Study of John” is not meant to be exhaustive… and it sure isn’t perfect. I just want to grow in grace and help you grow as well.
 

 

 

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SPECIAL ANNOUNCMENT: “Three Unusual Days” With Jack Exum Jr.

                                             THREE UNUSUAL DAYS!!!

Sure brings back some memories for so many people around the country and around the world. Mom and dad were not just travelling for fun… THEY WERE WORKING!
Their special ministry helped brethren increase giving on an average of 25% per week.
When I looked at dad’s records where he kept a running record of increases per year, averaged close to a million dollars per year. I can’t say helping brethren with “Giving” was his focus however…. His main focus was in helping brethren grow in GRACE!!!

Thus beginning this year I am starting up  the “Three Unusual Days” ministry with a focus on “God’s Amazing Grace”. Other lessons are involved as well…. “The Grace of Giving”, “Dealing with Forgiveness” (Winning over Bitterness), “Winning over Doubts”, “Winning over Worry”, “Stumbling Blocks and Grumbling Blocks”, “Winning over Divorce”  (This upcoming presentation is a special, personal look at this problem which is hurting so many and showing how Christians can indeed move forward in God’s grace and forgiveness.), “How to be Happily Married and Love Every Minute of it”, and of course “The Wisdom Box”.

These are a few of the lessons being offered in this three day event which is usually held FRIDAY PM, SATURDAY AM AND PM, AND SUNDAY AM CLASS AND SERVICE. Usually the meeting ends after the AM service, although it is sometimes extended through Sunday PM if I leave on Monday.

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God be praised… We held a special three day event (Friday PM, Saturday and Sunday) focusing solely on “Amazing Grace” in Keene, NH. It was amazing to see God working in this wonderful congregation of the Lord’s people..

For more information on scheduling a meeting… contact me at 386-758-2431 or by email through this web site.

Grow in grace brethren, and God bless you.
Heaven bound!!!
Jack Exum Jr.

 

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