Archive for April, 2018

John 6:16-25

John 6:16-25 has another familiar story being told.  “In the evening his disciples went down to the sea, got in the boat, and headed back across the water to Capernaum. It had grown quite dark and Jesus had not yet returned”.  The disciples climb into a boat after feeding the 5000 to head back across the sea.  It was dark, but a number of the disciples were fishermen, so this was nothing new to them.  Rowing across the lake after dark was no big deal.  But then things changed.  “A huge wind blew up, churning the sea”.  Not only did it get windy, but the waves began to grow and the Sea of Galilee is well know for sudden change that turned things dangerous.

These guys were scared to death.  “They were maybe three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat. They were scared senseless, but he reassured them, “It’s me. It’s all right. Don’t be afraid.” So they took him on board. In no time they reached land—the exact spot they were headed to”.  Experienced veterans or not, they were fearful.  But then Jesus comes walking toward them and assures them that He’s got this under control.  After struggling to make progress against the wind and waves, once Jesus joins the crew things go quickly and they reach the other side.  He had never taken His eye off them.  They failed to stay focused on Jesus, but He never for a minute lost sight of them.

The crowd figured out something was different about their journey across the sea.  “The next day the crowd that was left behind realized that there had been only one boat, and that Jesus had not gotten into it with his disciples. They had seen them go off without him”. How did Jesus get across as He hadn’t been in the boat when the disciples left.  The crowd was trying to figure out what had happened.  “By now boats from Tiberias had pulled up near where they had eaten the bread blessed by the Master. So when the crowd realized he was gone and wasn’t coming back, they piled into the Tiberias boats and headed for Capernaum, looking for Jesus”.

Some of the boats brought people who had heard about the miraculous feeding of 5000 and they were looking for Jesus.  They came to where He had been the night before, but found He was gone.  So they took the boats across the lake looking to find Him.  There were lots of people that wanted to get across to the other side to pursue Jesus, but there was no way these few boats could transport all the people.  He has a crowd looking for Him and they are doing whatever they could to get to the other side, either by boat, or by walking around the lake to get there. “When they found him back across the sea, they said, Rabbi, when did you get here”?  They couldn’t figure out how He got there.

John 6:10-15

John 6:10-15 has Jesus dealing with the impossible situation of feeding the 5000.  He has just asked Philip what to do, and was told it was not possible.  Andrew had just suggested the little boy with some fish and loaves as a start. Five loaves and two fish to be exact. But now, Jesus takes over.  “Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them”.  Jesus was in no panic or hurry.  He didn’t appear worried at all.  After all, He had these fish and some bread to work with, and only five thousand to feed. He had a huge catering job to get done, but went about His work in an orderly way, making them sit down upon the grass.

Jesus did everything in a very orderly way. Those there had to come under Jesus’ plan to receive Jesus’ miraculous provision. And then He took action.  He thanked God for what He had to work with.  It wasn’t complaining He didn’t have enough resources.  Just thanksgiving to God.  “Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted”.  He fed those who followed His instruction to sit on the grass.  And not only did He give them some food, they all had all they could eat.  But wait, there is more.

Jesus didn’t just meet the immediate need.  “When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves”.  Jesus was generous, giving everyone as much as they wanted.  And He demonstrated the giving character of God the Father, who always gives us more than we deserve.  Jesus didn’t waste any of what God provided.  He had the disciples gather it all and they ended up with more scraps than they began with.  God is not limited in His ability or generosity.

It was a pretty powerful miracle, to say the least.  So what was the crowd reaction?  “The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done. They said, “This is the Prophet for sure, God’s Prophet right here in Galilee!” Jesus saw that in their enthusiasm, they were about to grab him and make him king, so he slipped off and went back up the mountain to be by himself”.  The crowd loved Jesus for the bread He gave them, but went off on a tangent to try and make Him king.  We often only love Jesus for what He give us as well, rather than simply loving and obeying our Savior and Lord.  Do you love Jesus for who He is, or what He does?

John 6:1-9

John 6:1-9 contains one of the famous stories of Jesus as He fed a large crowd. This story is recorded in all four of the gospel accounts.  He was back in the Galilee region. “After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee (some call it Tiberias). A huge crowd followed him, attracted by the miracles they had seen him do among the sick”.  People had seen or heard about His healing and miracles, and they were focused on being in His presence.  Everyone wanted to see what He might do next, or attempt to receive His blessing and a miracle for their own life or loved ones.

But Jesus had crossed the sea to have some downtime and get away, although it didn’t work out that way.  “When he got to the other side, he climbed a hill and sat down, surrounded by his disciples. It was nearly time for the Feast of Passover, kept annually by the Jews”. It was Passover time, and it is possible that the large crowd was on their way to Jerusalem for their annual trip for the feast.  Although Jesus was tired, He sees the crowd and has compassion.  He asks Philip about how they might feed the crowd.  “When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, Where can we buy bread to feed these people”?

There are a couple issues with this idea.  First, there was no place to buy enough food to feed this crowd.  And secondly, there wasn’t enough money even if they could find the food to purchase.  So why did Jesus ask?  “He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do”.  Jesus wanted to grow Philip’s faith, so He gives him an impossible task that he could not possibly achieve.  Jesus knew what miracle He was about to perform, but wanted to use the opportunity to teach His disciples. For Jesus this wasn’t only about getting a job done (feeding the multitude), but also about teaching His disciples along the way.  And Philip responds exactly as Jesus expected.  “Philip answered, Two hundred silver pieces wouldn’t be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece”.

Philip only saw the limitations he faced.  Philip’s knowledge of the situation was accurate and impressive (two hundred denarii is more than six month’s wages), but his knowledge was useless in getting the problem solved. He thought in terms of money; and how much money it would take to solve the need of feeding the crowd. But Andrew, another of the 12, looked at it differently.  “One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this”.  Andrew again introduces someone to Jesus.  First it was his brother Peter, now the little boy with the fishes and loaves.  Jesus took it from there.  All we need to do is offer Jesus time, talent or treasure.  He can take whatever we have to offer and use it to His glory!

John 5:41-47

John 5:41-47 has Jesus continuing to teach the religious leaders about His ‘why’.  It wasn’t to gain popularity.  He came to provide a way to deal with sin and set us free from the penalty related to it.  Jesus is the WAY we can receive God’s love and gain eternal life.  That’s God’s agenda for mankind.  But we have to receive Him.  “I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda”.  Jesus knows the religious leaders were not really all that interested in finding God’s solution for their sin problem.  They were focused on their own agenda of power and greed.

Jesus makes it clear that that having life is found in fulfilling the command “come to Me.” “Christ is a person, a living person, full of power to save.  But we have to come to Him.  We have to acknowledge that He alone can save us, and has the authority and power to set us free to life eternal.  “I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God”?  These religious leaders were focused solely on their own agendas, trying to gain an advantage over others in their patch.

Clarke wrote “The grand obstacle to the salvation of the scribes and Pharisees was their pride, vanity, and self-love. They lived on each other’s praise. If they had acknowledged Christ as the only teacher, they must have given up the good opinion of the multitude; and they chose rather to lose their souls than to forfeit their reputation among men”!  These folks were completely focused on self, without regard to the cost of that selfish view.  “But don’t think I’m going to accuse you before my Father. Moses, in whom you put so much stock, is your accuser”. Moses accuses them, because Moses wrote about Jesus and they would not receive the testimony of Moses.

Jesus makes it clear their choices were their downfall – their choice around how they would believe God’s Word.  “If you believed, really believed, what Moses said, you would believe me. He wrote of me. If you won’t take seriously what he wrote, how can I expect you to take seriously what I speak”?  Jesus did not call these religious leaders to a new or a different faith. He called them to believe what Moses, what the Scriptures, what His works, what John the Baptist each testified about Jesus: that He is the Messiah, the Son of God and God the Son.  The evidence is overwhelming.  What will you do with Jesus?

John 5:34-40

John 5:34-40 has Jesus making it clear that he wasn’t there to win a popularity contest.  God sent Him on a mission to save people from the punishment of sin – eternal punishment – that we’ll all face at judgment day if we don’t repent.  “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”.  John the Baptist was the first to bring that truth.  He shined a light on the sin problem all mankind faces.  “John was a torch, blazing and bright, and you were glad enough to dance for an hour or so in his bright light”.

And while John did a great job lighting the way, Jesus makes it clear that there was a much bigger and better one.  “But the witness that really confirms me far exceeds John’s witness. It’s the work the Father gave me to complete. These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent me. The Father who sent me, confirmed me”.  Jesus claimed another witness regarding His identity and deity – the very works that He did. This present controversy started with a remarkable healing of a man paralyzed for 38 years. This was one of many works that testified to the deity of Jesus.  The New Testament is full of them.

God Himself has testified that Jesus is His Son, sent to save the world.  In virtually every work and word of Jesus, God the Father testified to Jesus’ status as the Son of God. But specifically, the Father testified of the Son in Old Testament prophecy and at the baptism of Jesus.  He makes it clear that Jesus is His Son.  But the religious leaders of the day missed it completely.  “And you missed it. You never heard his voice, you never saw his appearance. There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously”.  They were too caught up in protecting their turf to even hear what God has told and shown them about Jesus.

They miss this truth because they were looking for the wrong thing.  “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! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want”.  Jesus makes it clear that they were looking the wrong place.  It’s not that scripture is bad, but they read it not to search for God, but to find arguments to support their own positions. They did not really love God; they loved their own ideas about him. They weren’t really looking for the Savior.  We must be careful not to do the same, to be self-focused rather than looking for the One who was sent to save us!

John 5:25-33

John 5:25-33  has Jesus telling the religious leaders that what He has shared is more than slightly important.  In fact, it is a matter of eternity.  Jesus explained to the astonished religious leaders that those who heard his word would have everlasting life. They would have the life connected with eternity, and have that live now.  He makes it clear that His authority over death is essential to everlasting life; to escape judgment for sin and to pass from the position of death to the position of life.  He is the One empowered “to decide and carry out matters of Judgment”.

The religious leaders act surprised.  But Jesus tells them there is no mystery to it.  This is God’s plan to save the world.  “Don’t act so surprised at all this. The time is coming when everyone dead and buried will hear his voice”.  Jesus had already explained that one who lives can hear His word, believe, and have everlasting life. Now He adds that one day even the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and be raised again.  We will all stand before Jesus someday for judgment.  It should not be a surprise, but an expectation.  The outcome won’t be a mystery.  Jesus defined the two options clearly.

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”.  Jesus explained this to the astonished religious leaders to explain who He was, the nature of His authority and deity. At the same time, it tells us something remarkable about humanity; that everyone, both those who have done good and those who have done evil will live forever.  Where that eternity happens will be determined by how we have lived.  Sin puts us into a place separated from God, and unless we have received God’s grace through Jesus, that will happen at judgment.

I can’t do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I’m not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders. If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness”. Jesus explained that He is qualified as a completely righteous judge, because His power is in submission to God the Father. He repeated the themes: I can of Myself do nothing… I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.  Jesus simply is obedient to God.  “If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness”.  It is not about Him but His Father that He came to serve.

John 5:20-24

John 5:20-24  has Jesus in a full blown argument with the Jewish leaders of that day.  They were upset that He healed the man at the pool of Bethsaida, and then had the audacity to say He was the Son of God.  They were out to kill him, and silence His words. Jesus takes it to the next level. “But you haven’t seen the half of it yet, for in the same way that the Father raises the dead and creates life, so does the Son. The Son gives life to anyone he chooses. Neither he nor the Father shuts anyone out”. Jesus used the work of resurrection as an example of the shared work between the Father and the Son. He makes it clear that the Son has the power and authority to raise the dead and give life to them just like the Father does.

Jesus explains further the relationship He has with the Father.  “The Father handed all authority to judge over to the Son so that the Son will be honored equally with the Father. Anyone who dishonors the Son, dishonors the Father, for it was the Father’s decision to put the Son in the place of honor”.  God has given Jesus Christ the place as Judge.  He is empowered to deal with each and every person when we face judgment day.  Jesus used the judgment as an example of a division of labor between the Father and the Son. It is before God the Son that people will stand on the Day of Judgment.  That means each and every one of us will someday stand before Him.

Jesus explained to the astonished religious leaders that those who heard His word would have everlasting life. They would have the life connected with eternity, and have that future right now. “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. This person has taken a giant step from the world of the dead to the world of the living”.  This is John 3:16 said in another way.  God has put Jesus in charge of judgment, so faith in Him is how real life, eternal life happens.

This is essential to everlasting life; to escape judgment for sin and to pass from the position of death to the position of life.  That happens only one way – receiving the gift of grace from God through His Son on the Cross.  There is no other step that gets us there.  Sin gets in the way of eternal life. Clarke wrote: ‘Death is the country where every Christless soul lives. The man who knows not God lives a dying life, or a living death; but he who believes in the Son of God passes over from the empire of death, to the empire of life’.  The fact is that without Jesus, we will die and miss eternity with God.  We’ll face judgment with Jesus, and our sin will disqualify us from entry into heaven.  Faith in Christ takes us from the world of the dead to that of the living for eternity!

John 5:15-19

John 5:15-19  has Jesus coming off healing a lame man at the pool of Bethsaida.  The religious leaders were upset as this guy was in violation of the rules they had set.  They pressed him for who had told him he could do that.  “The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. That is why the Jews were out to get Jesus—because he did this kind of thing on the Sabbath”.  Violating the Sabbath laws was serious business.  If it was accidental, you had to sacrifice for your sin.  If you did it intentionally, you could be stoned.  This healed guy throws Jesus under the bus as soon as he discovered who the man was that had healed him.  He played right into the religious leaders hands.

Remarkably, the healing seemed to make no difference to those who persecuted Jesus. All they could see was that their religious rule was broken, a rule that went beyond the command of Scripture itself.  They were out to get Him. “But Jesus defended himself. My Father is working straight through, even on the Sabbath. So am I”.  Jesus did not try and explain that He had not worked on the Sabbath. There is no denial of what He had done. Instead, He boldly explained to the religious leaders that His Father worked on the Sabbath, and so He also worked on the Sabbath.  He does make clear His relationship with God – He calls Him ‘My Father’ which certainly would have irritated these religious power hungry leaders.

They are livid with His response.  “That really set them off. The Jews were now not only out to expose him; they were out to kill him. Not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was calling God his own Father, putting himself on a level with God”.  They didn’t miss what Jesus had said.  They knew clearly that when Jesus said that God was His Father, He declared Himself equal with God. That couldn’t go unchallenged.  They had to get rid of this threat and He becomes a target going forward.  He did not deny what they had figured out from His statement, but continued to speak as One who claimed to be the very Son of God.

But Jesus doesn’t stop with their attacks and threats.  He comes back and gives them a deeper answer.  “So Jesus explained himself at length. I’m telling you this straight. The Son can’t independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does. The Father loves the Son and includes him in everything he is doing”.  In case anyone had missed it, Jesus made it double, triple and quadruple clear that He was God’s Son.  He explained to the religious leaders some of the nature of His relationship and work with God the Father. The Son does nothing independently. He was and is fully submitted to the Father’s will.  This is the Jesus we know as Messiah!

John 5:8-14

John 5:8-14  has Jesus with the man who has been coming to the pool of Bethsada for the past 38 years.  He is paralyzed and can’t walk.  Jesus had asked him if he wanted to be healed, to which he replied that he would.  “Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off”. How crazy is this?  The guy has been lying by this pool for decades, and now Jesus tells him to get up and walk.  What does he do?  He gets up, picks up his mat, and walks off.  He obeyed what Jesus told him to do.  That’s a key thing to keep in mind here.  He didn’t argue with Jesus about being unable.  He didn’t ask for help.  He simply did what Jesus said and was healed.

Jesus had guided the man towards a response of faith.  Healing happened as the man responded in faith and did exactly what Jesus told him to do, though a moment earlier it was impossible to move at all on his own. The fact of his healing was confirmed in that he had the strength to carry his own bed-mat and walk with it.  Great news, right?  Not according to the religious leaders.  “That day happened to be the Sabbath. The Jews stopped the healed man and said, It’s the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll around. It’s against the rules”.  Jesus has done a miracle, and healed a man from a paralysis of 38 plus years.  But the leaders of the day were focused on their rules, not the impact Jesus had made.

The Jewish leaders didn’t want to know who healed the crippled man. They wanted to know who told him to carry a bed-mat on the Sabbath day. “They asked, “Who gave you the order to take it up and start walking?” But the healed man didn’t know, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd”.  They want to know who was undercutting their authority and violating their rules.  To the religious leaders Jesus was the man who broke the Sabbath. To the healed man Jesus was He who made me well.  The healed man didn’t get Jesus business card.  He didn’t know His name.  He only knew that he had been paralyzed and now could walk, even if it was wrong to carry his bedroll.

Jesus found him a bit later because He was concerned for his spiritual health (sin no more so a worse thing doesn’t come upon you), not only his physical health. Living a life of sin is worse, and will bring a worse result, than being crippled for thirty-eight years. “A little later Jesus found him in the Temple and said, You look wonderful! You’re well! Don’t return to a sinning life or something worse might happen”.  Sin carries a price.  We may think that a physical ailment is a real problem.  Those things end when we die.  But the result of a sinful life without repentance and reconciliation is eternal.  We have to deal with sin.  That is why Jesus came to earth – not to heal us physically – but to heal our sin problem through the blood of Christ!

John 5:1-7 

John 5:1-7  has Jesus back in Jerusalem and coming to the pool of Bethesda.  “Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people—blind, crippled, paralyzed—were in these alcoves”. This pool has been excavated in the area just north of the temple area, and found to have five porches, just as John said.  Nancy and I saw it when we were in Israel a few years ago.  Imagine a pool with hundreds of people who were outcasts and ill folks lying there hoping the pool will restore them.

Jesus comes to the pool and sees a man who has been there hoping for a miracle for many years.  “One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years”. Thirty eight years, lying by the pool daily, hoping somehow to get healed. This man has suffered from a paralytic condition for a long time, and apparently was frequently at the Pool of Bethesda in hope of healing.  But he’s been disappointed to this point.  Then it all changed.  Jesus was there talking with him. For some reason, Jesus selected this guy among all those He could have healed. Jesus was not about to heal the masses at the Pool of Bethesda, but He was about to miraculously meet this one man’s need and restore Him to health.

But before He heals him, Jesus asks a very important question. “When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, Do you want to get well”?  Jesus knew that not every sick person wants to be healed, and that some are so discouraged that they put away all hope of being healed. Healing happens through faith and obedience.  Jesus dealt with a man who may have had his heart withered as well as his legs so He attempted to build the faith of this man. As bad as his current situation was, at least he was familiar with it.  So the question on whether he wanted to be healed was sincere, and the man makes it clear he does by how he responds.

The story of the pool was that when the water was stirred and moving, those who were able to get in would be healed.  This poor man had never been able to get in because of his paralysis, so while there may have been healings before, he had missed the opportunity due to his condition.  “The sick man said, Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in”. Spurgeon pictured the multitude waiting around the waters of the Pool of Bethesda, all of them waiting – instead of looking to Jesus. He thought of how foolish this waiting is for many people:

  • Some wait for a more convenient season
  • Some wait for dreams and visions
  • Some wait for signs and wonders
  • Some wait to be compelled
  • Some wait for a revival
  • Some wait for particular feelings
  • Some wait for a celebrity

What are you waiting for?

%d bloggers like this: