Archive for March, 2018

John 1:35-42

John 1:35-42 has the Baptizer continuing to proclaim Jesus as Lord.  John was walking with a couple of his disciples who were observing him. Remember that a disciple is a learner, and often their learning comes by following or sitting at the feet of the disciple maker.  “The next day John was back at his post with two disciples, who were watching. He looked up, saw Jesus walking nearby, and said, Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb”. John demonstrates his humility in pointing them to Jesus.  No pride or protecting his following.  He knows well his role is to point everyone to Jesus.

Jesus all of a sudden now has a couple folks following him.  Rather than ignore them or send them away, He engages.  “The two disciples heard him and went after Jesus. Jesus looked over his shoulder and said to them, “What are you after?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying”? He replied, “Come along and see for yourself.” They came, saw where he was living, and ended up staying with him for the day. It was late afternoon when this happened”. Note that Jesus invited them to be a part of His life. Jesus didn’t life a self centered private life. Jesus taught and discipled others by allowing them to live with Him.

He uses a phrase that is a powerful way to not only disciple others, but to expose them to the power of being a Christ Follower.  His statement was to ‘come and see’.  People respond to experiencing Christ, not merely talking about Him.  They want to see how Jesus has changed our lives and the day to day impact that following Him has on us.  One of these disciples was Andrew, who came to know Jesus before his much more famous brother Peter.  “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John’s witness and followed Jesus. The first thing he did after finding where Jesus lived was find his own brother, Simon, telling him, “We’ve found the Messiah” (that is, “Christ”)”.

What does Andrew do after finding the Messiah?  He takes the good news to his brother. “He immediately led him to Jesus. Jesus took one look up and said, “You’re John’s son, Simon? From now on your name is Cephas” (or Peter, which means “Rock”)”.  This is their first meeting face to face, and Jesus immediately sizes him up and gives him a new name.  In giving Simon a new name (Cephas or Peter, meaning A Stone), Jesus tells Andrew’s brother what kind of man he will be transformed into. At the time, and throughout the gospel, Peter may have looked like a “rock” on the outside, but was really anything but a rock on the inside. But before Jesus is done with Peter, he will be a rock of stability for Jesus Christ. Andrew knew he had discovered the cure to the sin problem the world had, and he immediately shared that with Peter and others.  That’s what we need to do with the love of Jesus.  We have the cure, but we don’t share it.  That’s our call!

John 1:28-34

John 1:28-34 informs us that John the Baptist has been working in Bethany. “These conversations took place in Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing at the time”. He was busy baptizing people with water, preparing for the coming of the Messiah.  And then it happens, Jesus comes.  “The very next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and yelled out, Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb! He forgives the sins of the world”!  John the Baptist announces Jesus and what His mission is – to forgive the sins of the world.  He doesn’t do it quietly either.

Jesus is reminded of His destiny by the words John the Baptist uses – that he is the Lamb.  John was actually older than Jesus by a bit, but he recognizes and informs those who are listening that Jesus was around long before John the Baptist was born.  “This is the man I’ve been talking about, the One who comes after me but is really ahead of me”.  John’s entire life work has been to prepare the way for Jesus, and now He has come.  His days of being silent and hidden are ending, and He is entering His time of public ministry leading to the Cross and His ultimate purpose of sacrifice to cover our sins.

John has had a sole purpose, to prepare the way of the Lord.  “I knew nothing about who he was—only this: that my task has been to get Israel ready to recognize him as the God-Revealer. That is why I came here baptizing with water, giving you a good bath and scrubbing sins from your life so you can get a fresh start with God”. Jesus offers us a fresh start.  He is the One who can scrub our sins and set us free from the penalty that they carry.  That was John’s message – that Jesus is coming, and now has arrived – to deal with the sin problem we all have.  None of us are free.  We all need a Savior and John is proclaiming that Messiah has come!

John drives home the point of who Jesus is by declaring what he has seen and experienced firsthand. “John clinched his witness with this: I watched the Spirit, like a dove flying down out of the sky, making himself at home in him. I repeat, I know nothing about him except this: The One who authorized me to baptize with water told me, The One on whom you see the Spirit come down and stay, this One will baptize with the Holy Spirit. That’s exactly what I saw happen, and I’m telling you, there’s no question about it: This is the Son of God”. God gave John the Baptist the sure sign of how to know the Messiah. He would be the one on whom the Holy Spirit descended upon from heaven. John is a reliable witness regarding who Jesus is, because he has had confirming evidence from God.

John 1:19-27

John 1:19-27 has the Apostle continuing to describe what’s happening as Jesus comes into His public ministry.  John the Baptist deals with the questions that are flying at him.  “When Jews from Jerusalem sent a group of priests and officials to ask John who he was, he was completely honest. He didn’t evade the question. He told the plain truth: I am not the Messiah”.  He is emphatic that he is not the Christ.  It was unthinkable to him that the attention was on him rather than the One he was focused on proclaiming.  But he deals with the false assumptions head on.

They don’t believe it so keep on asking.  “They pressed him, Who, then? Elijah? I am not. The Prophet? No. Exasperated, they said, Who, then? We need an answer for those who sent us. Tell us something—anything!—about yourself. I’m thunder in the desert: Make the road straight for God! I’m doing what the prophet Isaiah preached”.  The crowd doesn’t get it.  They can’t believe he isn’t at least some famous biblical character or at the very least a prophet.  But John makes it clear that he’s just a simple voice in the wilderness talking about what is to come.  He is the advance man for the real King.

The folks questioning John go back to those who had sent them – the Pharisees – who come up with some questions of their own. “Those sent to question him were from the Pharisee party. Now they had a question of their own: If you’re neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet, why do you baptize? John answered, I only baptize using water. A person you don’t recognize has taken his stand in your midst. He comes after me, but he is not in second place to me. I’m not even worthy to hold his coat for him”.  And John continues to point to Jesus, the One true Messiah and the One he had come to proclaim.

The Pharisees were caught up in John baptizing people.  They didn’t understand that was his name – John the Baptizer – but more importantly they didn’t understand that his baptism was preparing for the King by cleansing people.  Baptism prior to this was about ceremonial washing to become clean.  John is clear that his baptism is with water.  Baptism to this point in history was about cleansing, but it did nothing to keep people clean.  But the baptism Christ brings is spiritual and illustrates our death with Christ and our rising with Him to new life.  This is the transformation that Christ will bring to this age old act.  It moves from a cleansing action to a spiritual birth and eternal cleansing from sin.

John 1:12-18

John 1:12-18 has John continuing to describe Jesus.  When we believe in Him, when we receive Him as the Son of God who was sent to cover our sin and set us free, we are transformed into the people God intended for us to be.  We are not made perfect here on earth, but we are set apart as sons of God.  “But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves”. We become what God created when we get to know Jesus. Our status changes.  “These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten”.

Jesus came to earth and became like us.  It was God’s plan for our redemption, but in order for that to happen, Jesus has to come off His throne at God’s right hand and live life like we do as human beings, suffering and experiencing rejection leading to His crucifixion, so He could die, be buried and then raised from the dead victorious over sin and death that we might be set free.  “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish”. There was no mystery or mistake, it was God’s plan all along.

John the Baptist spent his time pointing to Christ as the Messiah who was sent by God to deal with our sin problem.  “John pointed him out and called, This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word”. He was faithful unto death to point everyone to Jesus, the true Messiah and God’s appointed solution.  We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift”. John makes it clear that Jesus is the only thing we need.  He is the answer.  He is way.

God has pointed to this time throughout scripture.  This isn’t a mystery, but a fulfillment of prophecy.  “We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, This endless knowing and understanding— all this came through Jesus, the Messiah”.  God’s revealed his plan bit by bit through history, and now John is shouting from the mountaintop that the Messiah has come.  And God is showing us something that had never been experienced before.  “No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse. This one-of-a-kind God-expression, who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day”. God is doing a new thing, and that love, the sending of His only Son to become the sacrifice for our sin, reveals the very heart of God and His love for us!  What a God.  What a Savior!

John 1:1-4

John writes the fourth gospel and in John 1 shows us a different view of Jesus.  Why four gospels?  Each gospel presents a different perspective on the life of Jesus, and we need all four of them to get the full picture.  Guzik describes the focus this way:

  • Matthew shows Jesus came from Abraham through David, and demonstrates that He is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament (Matthew 1:1-17).
  • Mark shows Jesus came from Nazareth, demonstrating that Jesus is a Servant (Mark 1:9).
  • Luke shows Jesus came from Adam, demonstrating that Jesus is the Perfect Man (Luke 3:23-38).
  • John shows Jesus came from heaven, demonstrating that Jesus is God.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the three synoptic gospels. Synoptic means “see-together” and the first three gospels present Jesus’ life in pretty much the same format. The first three gospels focus more on what Jesus taught and did; John focuses more on who Jesus is.

  • John shows us who Jesus is by highlighting seven signs (miracles) of Jesus. Six of these miracles are not mentioned in the first three gospels.
  • John shows us who Jesus is by allowing Jesus to speak for Himself in seven dramatic I Am statements.
  • John shows us who Jesus is by calling forth witnesses who will testify about the identity of Jesus. Four of these witnesses speak in the first chapter alone.

John is a gospel written for a specific purpose: that we might believe. It begins this way: “The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one”. When the beginning began, the Word was already there.  It was the beginning of the beginning.  With this brilliant statement, sets forth one of the most basic foundations of our faith – the Trinity. We can follow John’s logic:

  • There is a Being known as the Word.
  • This Being is God, because He is eternal (The Word was first)
  • This Being is God, because He is plainly called God (the Word was God).
  • At the same time, this Being does not encompass all that God is. God the Father is a distinct Person from the Word (in readiness for God).

What was God’s place in creation?  “Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him”. God created all things – not some things – not most things – but ALL things.  There was not one thing that existed that came to be without His touch.  And the greatest of all creation was life.  “What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by”. This life is the light of men, speaking of spiritual light as well as natural light.  Life comes from God and Him alone.  He is the awesome creator of all things with life being the ultimate creation!

Revelation 22

Revelation 22 has John on a tour of the New Jerusalem.  “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month”.  Throughout scripture, a picture of a river is used to express power, growth, provision, yield and peace.  Little wonder that it is used here in the biggest reveal ever to describe what things will be like for eternity.  It all flows from God and Christ, and provides what is essential for the tree of life to continue yielding its fruit.

The tree of life has been around since the beginning, and will be there at the end.  Adam and Eve failed in Genesis 3 to obey God and not eat from the tree of life.  Now that we see it again, after the final victory and the center of eternity, it reminds us that God is in the restoration business and gives us the right to return to Him no matter the past.  We have to deal with our sins, but when we do “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him”.  This is the final resting place.  If our name is written in the book of life, we’ll spend eternity here with God.

He will be our God.  “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads”. Heaven will be a place of intimate, face to face fellowship with God. This will be the greatest glory of heaven: to know God and to know Jesus more intimately and wonderfully than we ever could on earth. The darkness will be gone and God alone will be our light. “And  night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever”. Guzik shares this as a summary of what lies ahead:

No more curse Perfect Restoration
Throne in their midst Perfect Administration
Servants shall serve Perfect Subordination
Shall see His face Perfect Transformation
Name on foreheads Perfect Identification
God is the light Perfect Illumination
Reigning forever Perfect Exultation

John ends his revelation by sharing final thoughts on what is to come.  These words may have come from different people – the scriptures don’t make that abundantly clear.  But we do know this: “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place”.  John makes it clear that his writing of this prophecy is not for mere enjoyment or entertainment.  It is a call to action – a way to live – a guide to success and eternity.  “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book”.

It will come with action.  Jesus says he is ‘coming soon’ but that is based on God’s calendar, not ours.  What we know for sure is that we will stand before the judgment seat and give account and how we have lived will matter.  “I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done”.  No one will get a pass, we’ll all have to give our explanation of what we’ve done (sin) and how we’ve addressed it (grace through Christ) if we expect to enter Heaven.  It’s free to us for that taking, but take it we must and make it our own.  “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price”.  Jesus has made a way.  We have to respond.  “Surely I am coming soon”.

Revelation 21

Revelation 21 has John revealing all things made new – a new heaven, a new earth, and a new city.  “Then I saw  a new heaven and a new earth, for  the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared  as a bride adorned for her husband”.  Guzik breaks Revelation into three segments, and chapter 21 begins the third and final one:

  • Jesus, the Lord of the Churches (Revelation 1 through 3)
  • Jesus, the Lion over the nations (Revelation 4 through 20)
  • Jesus, the Lamb among believers (Revelation 21 through 22)

God finishes His plan.  “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God”. This states the depth of God’s desire and man’s purpose. Simply, God’s desire is to live in close fellowship with man, and man’s purpose is to be a people unto God. And it all comes together as the end times come to an eternal close.  God will remove all things that caused pain and suffering.  “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away”.  We’re going to experience His plan and perfection!

God’s changing everything. “Behold, I am making all things new”.  It’s not a minor upgrade.  The statement is in the present tense – It is already in motion and will come to completion in that day. God’s work of renewal and redemption will come to fruition and be complete that day. “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son”.  God’s eternal purpose will be complete.  We will celebrate His victory and the relationship we’ll have with our Father for eternity.

Certainly not all will experience God’s new world.  “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death”.  Sin will separate those who reject Jesus (our only atonement for sin) from those who have received His gift of grace through Christ.  Their end will not be in God’s new places, but in the place Satan has been banished to for eternity.  Who will be there?  “Only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life”.

%d bloggers like this: