John 6:42-71 has the Jewish leaders questioning who Jesus is and how He can make the claims He is making. “How can he now say, I came down out of heaven’ and expect anyone to believe him”? After all, He was a local boy with regular parents and certainly not of some fabulous background or training. Jesus tells them to let go and leave it alone. “You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge”. God is the only one in charge, and these Jewish leaders are missing the boat entirely.
Jesus reinforces the real message of His life. “I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life….Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever”. While the Jewish leaders are arguing about who Jesus is, they are missing the truth that matters – that He is the source of salvation. The Jews began to argue amongst themselves over these statements. They can’t figure out how this can possibly be true.
Jesus makes it clear that the bread He offers is different than any bread that God has ever offered before. It isn’t just manna that kept God’s people alive, but this is eternal life bread that allows people to come to know the Savior. Even the disciples were struggling to understand, so Jesus makes another run at it. And He challenges them to consider God’s plan. We can’t come to receive His salvation on our own. Jesus reminds them “You get to me only as a gift from the Father”.
A lot of His disciples left when they heard these words from Jesus. They no longer wanted to be associated with Him. So Jesus gave the Twelve the same option – to leave. But they asked where they would go as they had committed to following Jesus. Peter does seem to get it when he says “You have the words of real life, eternal life”. Jesus responded by reminding them “Haven’t I handpicked you, the Twelve”? But even though He had chosen them, He tells them that one of them was preparing to betray Him. He is foretelling what is to come at His crucifixion.
John 6:15-41 has Jesus running. The crowd was ready to grab him and make him king, and that was definitely what the plan was, so he slipped off and went back up the mountain to be by Himself. Now most would have welcomed that outcome – to get power and become king – but not Jesus – not at this time. The disciples headed back across the sea to Capernaum, leaving Jesus behind. A storm was coming up churning the sea. “They were maybe three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat”.
Can you imagine it? The disciples are in the middle of a storm with seas tossing them to and fro, and Jesus comes strolling on the water toward them. He was walking on the water. And He wasn’t really on a mission to join them – He was walking to the other side. But the disciples were scared and wanted Jesus to come join them and keep them safe. So He did, telling them not to be afraid, and before they knew it they arrived exactly where they were headed in spite of the raging seas that had tossed them around. Yet another miracle of Jesus.
A number of boats came to the place Jesus had fed the 5000, and they all realized that Jesus was gone so boarded the boats and headed across to try and find him. When they did they asked how He got across, because they knew He hadn’t left with the disciples. They pressed Him saying “Rabbi, when did you get here”? He chastises them for only wanting to get more miracles – more free bread. And then He tells them why He is there. “The Bread of God came down out of heaven and is giving life to the world”. Jesus came to give life, and to give it abundantly.
The crowd cries out asking for that life. Jesus makes this statement that defines how we receive eternal life. “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever”. We receive eternal life when we run to Jesus and receive Him as our Savior. And then He gives us assurance of that salvation when He says “once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go”. Jesus hangs on to us, He clings tightly. We won’t fall out of His hands. Once He saves us, we will be held by Him. Jesus is the bread of life that takes away the sin of the world, and saves us when we receive His gift of eternal life!
John 5:31-47 has Jesus continuing to tell His story. He says clearly that it isn’t just His word that people should believe, but the reality that He has been confirmed by God Himself, and John the Baptizer who both gave witness to Him. And then Jesus makes it clear why He is here. I love how the Message version says it: “But my purpose is not to get your vote, and not to appeal to mere human testimony. I’m speaking to you this way so that you will be saved”. Jesus did not come to win a popularity contest. He came to save people.
He explains that John was sent to blaze the trail and create an environment that would allow Jesus to shine. And then God confirmed Jesus and made it clear that He had sent Jesus. The reality is that people have a short memory. Jesus tells them there are two reasons why they didn’t know His story. “There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously”. They had forgotten the messages about who Jesus was because they didn’t take what they heard seriously.
When we treat God’s truth that way, it tends to vanish from us. All through scripture we are told to remember. We are told to memorize and meditate on God’s Word. We are challenged to not only read and understand, but to KNOW scripture. Jesus tells the religious leaders that “You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me”. The Bible is to help us KNOW God and have a relationship with Jesus Christ. We learn about Him through the scriptures.
Jesus was sent with authority. He didn’t to make us happy. He challenges the leaders about the way they focus on the Old Testament but selectively forget things in it that they didn’t want to hear. They were big believers in what Moses had done and written, but they didn’t want to believe in what he wrote about – Jesus. This came down to power and they weren’t about to give that up to this carpenter’s son from Bethlehem. Jesus calls them on it and challenges what they were up to, “you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God”.
John 5:17-30 has Jesus defending Himself before the rulers of the law. They were unhappy with Him for healing on the Sabbath. In fact, when Jesus told them that God also works straight through, “That really set them off”. So now the Jews had another focus. “The Jews were now not only out to expose him; they were out to kill him”. They have gone to the next level of hating Jesus. He is threatening their authority and their leadership and they want Him gone, dead being the ultimate outcome in their eyes.
But Jesus doesn’t back down. He tries to explain the relationship between Himself and Father God. “The Son can’t independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does”. The concept of the Trinity is rather deep and complex, and the Jewish leaders weren’t getting it at all. The fact that Jesus and God are one, although in two very distinct ways, is beyond their comprehension. But Jesus doesn’t slow down a bit. He says “The Son gives life to anyone he chooses. Neither he nor the Father shuts anyone out”.
Now He is really frosting those leaders. They are over the edge mad about what Jesus is teaching. But not only does Jesus keep going, He makes it even more urgent. “It’s urgent that you listen carefully to this: Anyone here who believes what I am saying right now and aligns himself with the Father, who has in fact put me in charge, has at this very moment the real, lasting life and is no longer condemned to be an outsider”. It is impossible to miss the fact that there was a new sheriff in town, and Jesus was His name.
Jesus drives home the fact that change needs to occur. “The time has arrived–I mean right now….Those who have lived the right way will walk out into a resurrection Life; those who have lived the wrong way, into a resurrection Judgment”. Wow. Jesus says we need to address our sin today, and that there is only one way that we move from sinner to saint (or at least saved) and that is faith in Him. There is no resurrection without the Savior. There is no overcoming judgment without Jesus sacrifice on the Cross.
John 5:1-16 has Jesus heading back to Jerusalem for another feast. As He entered the city, He came upon the pool of Bethesda which was know to be a healing pool. There were “Hundreds of sick people–blind, crippled, paralyzed– in these alcoves”. Jesus is walking by them when He sees a man who was an invalid. This particular man had been there attempting to get well for 38 years – that is a very long time to wait for a chance to get into the pools to try and get well.
Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew his story, so Jesus asked “do you want to get well”? Seems like a silly question given what Jesus already knew, but He wanted to hear the man verbalize the answer. The man told his story of how when the water is stirred and there is a chance to get in, he can’t get there fast enough and someone else beats him into the water. Jesus then makes a bold statement. “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking”. Wow. This guy has been laying by the pool for 38 years and Jesus simply tells him to get up.
Jesus didn’t just say get up. He told him to get up and move. And guess what? “The man was healed on the spot”. Jesus spoke healing into his life. And the man “picked up his bedroll and walked off”. Seems like a great outcome, doesn’t it. But wait, there is an issue, at least for some. Because the day happened to be the Sabbath, and the Jews stopped the healed man and told him that it was against the rules to be carrying his bedroll around on that day. Bunch of killjoys for sure. This guy has been lying there waiting for 38 years. Jesus speaks healing into his body, and now the Jews are telling him to stop.
But they really wanted to find out how this happened. “Who gave you the order to take it up and start walking”? The blind man didn’t even know who Jesus was, and He had slipped away through the crowd. Later Jesus ran into the healed man and told him “Don’t return to a sinning life or something worse might happen”. Was his calamity a result of sin in his life? Sort of sounds like it may have been. But the key to the story is that Jesus is able to heal no matter the cause of the situation. He can set us free. He did set this man free, and the Jews were out to get Jesus from that point because He was violating their laws around the Sabbath.
John 4:43-54 has Jesus leaving the Samaritans at the well and heading back to Galilee. He goes there knowing the reception will be less than wonderful. “Jesus knew well from experience that a prophet is not respected in the place where he grew up”. I have found that to be true in our society today as well. People just struggle to accept those they grew up with as some excel or change and become different. It seems we all want to keep everyone and everything exactly as we remember it, but that is not reality.
We need to be careful we don’t take those kind of actions, particularly in our own lives and patches. We tend to try and hold people where they are, and keep them from growing because we resist change. It happens in marriages, families, business relationship, and even our spiritual lives. And we can even do it to ourselves if we aren’t careful. Jesus gets a reception, but not what He deserved. “So when he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, but only because they were impressed with what he had done in Jerusalem during the Passover Feast, not that they really had a clue about who he was or what he was up to”. No big deal, He’s only the Son of God.
An official from the king’s court heard that Jesus was back. This man had a son who was very sick, and “he went and asked that he come down and heal his son, who was on the brink of death”. Things were desperate, and he reached out to the only source of hope he had – Jesus. Jesus more or less pushed the request aside saying “Unless you people are dazzled by a miracle, you refuse to believe”. Jesus wasn’t about to be used as a healer when there was no faith. But the official persists. He believes Jesus can heal.
Jesus hears this persistent and urgent request and takes action. “Go home. Your son lives”. He didn’t get up and go to the official’s home. He simply spoke the words and the boy lived. The official heads back toward his home, and is met by some of his servants along the path. They told him that his son had been healed. Immediately the official asked at what time that happened, and it was the very moment Jesus had spoken the words. “That clinched it. Not only he but his entire household believed”. Jesus changed lives that day by the words He spoke. He can change your life in the same way. We simply need to come to Him and listen!
John 4:27-42 has the disciples returning and finding Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman at the well as He sought a drink of water. They “couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman”. It just wasn’t proper and right in that day. While none of them said anything, they were all thinking it. The Samaritan woman could tell what they were thinking though, and she left. When she did she forgot her pot that she had brought there to get water. Back in her village she couldn’t stop talking about Jesus and she encouraged them all to go to the well and meet Him for themselves.
The disciples quickly moved on to something else – pressing Jesus to eat. But He tells them “The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started”. Jesus is man, but also God. He is sustained by obedience to God’s mission, not by any earthly food. It would certainly be great for us if we were as motivated about obedience as this example by Jesus. He then changes to subject to challenge His disciples to see what was before them – a harvest that was ripe and ready.
Then Jesus speaks these very important words: “The Harvester isn’t waiting. He’s taking his pay, gathering in this grain that’s ripe for eternal life”. We need to be in harvest mode all the time, recognizing that we are surrounded by people every day who are ripe to receive the gift of eternal life. While it isn’t always going to be us that makes that harvest, we all have a part in bringing others to the Kingdom. We may sow, we may work the field walking long and hard with others, but we all need to realize that the harvest is the ultimate outcome in people’s lives.
The woman comes back with many from her Samaritan village, and a revival happened. “Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to him because of the woman’s witness”. She had shared how Jesus touched her life, and that testimony of a woman despised by the disciples and all Jews becomes the catalyst for the salvation of many. God isn’t interested in our resume or heritage. He cares about our heart, and our willingness to commit to Him. Her testimony of Jesus caused many to come and see and find that “He’s the Savior of the world”. Amen – hallelujah – that is what we all need to be about!
John 4:1- 26 has Jesus and John the Baptizer with the people baptizing them and bringing them into the Kingdom. The “Pharisees were keeping count” – they were keeping score to see who had the most followers and impact so they knew where to try and stop this grass roots faith from growing. Their intent was to make rivals of the two camps – not necessarily Jesus and John themselves – but “turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people”. The Pharisees were all about keeping their power base in place, and they were working to try and destroy what was happening outside their control.
Jesus left and heads back toward Galilee. His trip took him to a Samaritan village where he was “worn out by the trip” and stopped to ask for a drink of water. Seems pretty normal, doesn’t it? The reality though is that Jesus asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water, and Jews were not in the same social circle as the Samaritans. In fact, they avoided each other like the plague. So the lady asked “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink”? This is way out of the norm in her eyes.
Jesus request for a drink opened the door to a conversation about living water. The woman asked how Jesus could provide that given He didn’t even have a bucket to draw with. But Jesus tells her the facts about God’s living water: “Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst–not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life”. That is what He offers us today too. When we believe in Him, when we receive Him as our Savior and Lord, we get water that will never cause us to thirst and provides endless life!
The interaction goes on as she asks for the water and then Jesus tells her facts of her past that validate Him as God’s Son. Jesus gives clarity that it isn’t about our heritage or where we live. “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God”. God cares about our heart and how we engage with Him. God wants “those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship”. He cares about who we are on the inside, not how we appear on the outside. He cares about the way we respond to Jesus!
John 3:22-36 has Jesus with his disciples in the countryside and He “relaxed with them there”. Jesus knew the importance of taking care of both the spiritual and the physical body. He rested, and led His followers to do the same. Sometimes in today’s chaotic world, we don’t take time to stop and relax. We press on, having bought into the world’s lie that success happens when we trade all our time for activity of some sort. It may not be work, but we are equally guilty of just being plain busy all the time. Jesus recognized that as humans we need some rest and relaxation. God instituted the Sabbath as a day of rest, but Jesus shows us there is more than that.
John the Baptist and his followers were also in the area baptizing people. His guys got into an argument about Jesus doing the same thing. So they come to John and say “you know the one who was with you on the other side of the Jordan? The one you authorized with your witness? Well, he’s now competing with us. He’s baptizing, too, and everyone’s going to him instead of us”. Wow – doesn’t that sound like church life today? Obviously people are still people. Rather than seeing others bringing people to God, sometimes we can get caught up in competing for the limelight and numbers. We can miss the real goal – which is bringing people to eternal life.
John sets his followers straight reminding them that his purpose is to be the preparation for the Messiah, not the main act. John reminds them that “The One who comes from above is head and shoulders over other messengers from God”. That is all of us have to do – point to Jesus. He alone is the main event. He alone has the power to change lives. He alone has the ability to forgive sins and bring people to eternal life. God sent Jesus to bring life to anyone who would trust and believe in Him.
“That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever”. God sent Christ so He could bring grace and mercy to all of us that are in desperate need. Sin will destroy us and cause us to spend eternity apart from God. But Jesus came bringing God’s gift to mankind – salvation. God “turned everything over to him so he could give it away–a lavish distribution of gifts”. Jesus didn’t come with just enough. He came with all God is and has. And He came to give it away to anyone who would receive it. That is the price of admission. That we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and receive His sacrificial gift on the Cross where He traded His life to cover our sin. A lavish gift that is offered freely to anyone who will trust and believe!
John 3:17-21 follows the most famous verse in scripture where Jesus makes it clear how we receive eternal life with God – receiving Him as Savior and Lord. Often people can get stuck on the reality of God’s justice and requirements. Jesus makes it clear that “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was”. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection was not about pointing out our sin alone – although He certainly does make it clear that sin has to be dealt with.
Truth is, He came for a very specific reason. “He came to help, to put the world right again”. Sin puts us in a bad way with God. We are cut off, more or less, from God’s power and presence. We are separated by a chasm and Jesus came to bridge that and help get back into right standing with God so we can have assurance of the result – eternity with God. He makes it clear though that there are only two sides to the chasm – we are either with God through believing in Christ, or we are on the other side separated and unable to change that on our own.
Jesus says “Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it”. We can come up with all sorts of reasons why we don’t believe. But Jesus makes it clear that unbelief is merely a choice. It is refusal to receive Christ and trust in Him. And that decision, as simple and innocent as it may seem, has a very long outcome. It is like selecting a death sentence to be separated from God for eternity. So we need to ponder this deeply.
He goes on to explain it even more clearly. Why? “Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him”. God gives us a chance to know Christ. We choose not to. It’s all about the choices we make. “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil….hates God-light and won’t come near it….anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light”. Do you live in the light? Have you embraced Jesus and chosen to believe and trust in Him? It is the most important decision you will ever make.