Posts Tagged ‘Obedience’

John 8:31-33

In John 8:31-33  Jesus defines what it looks like to be a disciple.  “Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure”.  If you want to be Jesus’ disciple, you must abide in His word. There is no other way. To be a follower of Jesus is to abide (to live in, to dwell in, to make your home in) His word.  Jesus said, ‘If you’ – He emphasized a distinction from those who had not believed so faith is the foundation of discipleship – ‘stick with this (or abide in my word as other translations have it)’ – not simply being content with taking the first step towards faith and obedience but continuing to walk with Him – ‘then’ – but not till then – ‘are we really His disciples.

We don’t put nearly enough focus on the importance of being a disciple.  Jesus left us with a commandment in Matthew 28.19-20 to “go make disciples of all nations”.  Sometimes we apply that as something we need to get others to do, when in fact it has to begin with us becoming a disciple ourselves first.  We can’t make disciples until we become a disciple.  Discipleship is much more caught than taught.  Jesus was clear that there were significant benefits for those who walk with Him on this journey.  “Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you”.  This is the result of abiding in the word of Jesus – we are set free from the deception and lies of the enemy and world around us.

When we prove ourselves to be His disciples and we know the truth, God works His freedom in our life through His truth. The freedom Jesus spoke of doesn’t come from just an academic pursuit of truth; but from abiding in His word and being His disciple.  It is how we live that truth day by day and moment by moment that sets us free.  There is nothing like the freedom we can have in Jesus. No money can buy it, no status can obtain it, no works can earn it, and nothing can match it.  And it is free for the taking if we’ll only believe in Him, receive the free gift of grace God offers, and then spend our life walking in obedience to Him as a disciple.

To be a disciple means to be a ‘learner’ which is what the word means.  We can only be learners if we are studying at the feet of the Master.  Becoming a Christ Follower is not just praying the sinners prayer and then going on with life.  It begins there – when we realize that we are on a path to eternal destruction and separation from God – but from there we move from Jesus as Savior to Jesus as Lord.  That’s the lifetime relationship walking with Him as a true follower or disciple.  It isn’t a hour or two in the pew on Sunday morning.  It’s a day by day, moment by moment pursuit of His truth through the Word and a personal relationship with Him through prayer, meditation and other spiritual disciplines.  Are you a disciple of Jesus?  That’s what He has called us to be.  It’s not hard – ‘stick with me’ – but it is extremely difficult to actually do.  It’s what we are called to do.  Are you living that way every day?

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John 8:25-30

John 8:25-30 has the religious leaders still trying to figure out who Jesus is.  They really don’t get it.  “They said to him, Just who are you anyway”? They have no intention of believing what He says, but were trying to get Him to mess up any way they could.  Actually it a wonderful question to ask with a sincere heart. Yet this question of the Pharisees came from a combination of confusion and contempt. Though Jesus told them again and again who He was, they continued to ask, always hoping for an answer they could use to trap and condemn Him.  There was never any intent to believe what Jesus said, only a desire to trap Him somehow so they could lock Him up or put Him to death.

Jesus calls out the issue with their ability to believe Him.  They plainly didn’t trust God either. “I have so many things to say that concern you, judgments to make that affect you, but if you don’t accept the trustworthiness of the One who commanded my words and acts, none of it matters. That is who you are questioning – not me but the One who sent me”.  Jesus emphasized the point again, that His words were from God the Father. Therefore if the Pharisees opposed Jesus, they really opposed God the Father.  They definitely didn’t want Jesus messing up their system and power, so they had to refuse to hear God too.

These leaders were dense. “They still didn’t get it, didn’t realize that he was referring to the Father”.  They not only couldn’t believe in Jesus – they were unable to connect the dots that Jesus was talking about God as the ‘One’ who sent Him. But He doesn’t give up.  He makes another run at trying to explain things. “So Jesus tried again. “When you raise up the Son of Man, then you will know who I am – that I’m not making this up, but speaking only what the Father taught me. The One who sent me stays with me. He doesn’t abandon me. He sees how much joy I take in pleasing him.” When he put it in these terms, many people decided to believe”.

When the Pharisees heard Jesus speak they became even more opposed to Him. Yet there were many who heard the same words and believed in Him. They believed despite the evident opposition of the religious leaders.  This makes the religious leaders even more against Jesus.  After all, He was upsetting the apple cart and messing with their power and livelihood.  It had nothing to do with whether Jesus was who He said He was.  It was all about protecting their turf and making sure that Jesus didn’t disrupt the good things they had going.  He was never going to convince them to believe, but that never stopped Him from continuing to try.

John 8:1-11

In John 8:1-11 Jesus has left the crowd as they have all gone home to their own homes to rest.  He “went across to Mount Olives” to rest.  It wasn’t long before Jesus was “back in the Temple again”.  He has remained in Jerusalem a few days post the Feast of the Tabernacles, and is still teaching although the religious authorities wanted to silence Him, or even arrest Him.  Their efforts were failing as “Swarms of people came to Him”.  Jesus didn’t run from the people who were wanting to hear God’s truth, even though He knew it would make Him a target.  “He sat down and taught them”.

The religious leaders decided to try a new approach. If they couldn’t scare Him away by threatening Him, they decided to try and make a fool of Him.  “The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery”.  They knew full well her situation, and what the law said about it.  She not only was guilty but was continuing in her violation of the law.  But the point of their dragging her before Jesus was to try and discredit Him.  To mention the obvious, there was also a man involved in this very act of adultery – yet the guilty man was not brought before Jesus for judgment. It also meant that there were pre-arranged spies sent to witness this affair, and they carefully noted the sordid details.  This was a setup.

They state the obvious: “Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say”?  Jesus knows exactly what they are up to.  “They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.  They kept at him, badgering him”.  This wasn’t about the woman or her sin at all.  Jesus doesn’t dispute the law, or condemn the woman to death.  “He straightened up and said, The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone”.  Jesus turned the tables on them.  This woman was being used as a pawn in their efforts to get Jesus.  But He changes the focus to them, and gives them the choice of appearing to be without sin if they were to cast a stone at her, as the law stated.

He wasn’t done. Jesus didn’t react with anger or outrage. He didn’t scream at the woman or those who brought the woman. Jesus paused and stooped down to a low posture, identifying with the humiliation of the woman. “Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt”. He didn’t stare down the accusing men in an act of intimidation. He comes to her place, right where she was. Scripture doesn’t say what He wrote.  But it certainly got their attention. “Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone”.

“Jesus stood up and spoke to her. Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?  No one, Master. Neither do I, said Jesus. Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin”. Jesus changed the game for this woman.  The woman – guilty of sin, and a great sin – knew the goodness of having no condemnation. She passed from sin and a death sentence to forgiveness and life.  Jesus sent her away with an exhortation to stop her sin, without ever approving of or accepting her sin, yet forgiving her completely for it.  That’s our Savior and Lord.  He longs for our repentance and following.

John 7:16-20

In John 7:16-20 Jesus reminds those listening to Him that “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me”.  Jesus was the Son of God, but He never loses sight of the fact that He was on a mission for the Father and God set the agenda and the message to be communicated.  Jesus doesn’t point to any credentials in His teaching.  He merely points to the doctrine He taught, which was all rooted in the Old Testament scriptures.  Jesus wanted the words He shared to stand on their own.  He didn’t speak His own words, but the words of the One who sent Him.

Jesus was not educated in the traditional ways.  We was a gifted teacher but wasn’t self-taught.  He was God taught.  “Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own”.  He didn’t get authority from man, but from God Himself.  “Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies”.  There was no self-seeking by Jesus.  He wasn’t out to get glory or honor or praise.  Jesus gives us two measures of a true teacher:

  • Does the teaching come from God?
  • Does the work glorify God?

The issue is not Jesus’ teaching, but how the leaders were receiving that teaching.

Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me”.  The truth is that mankind has always struggled to keep God’s law back to the early days of history.  1.2 million people left Egypt to head to the Promised Land, and only two were allowed to enter.  That was because the rest failed to obey God’s law.  Rather than deal with the reality of disobedience and sin in our lives, and own up to it, we look for someone else to blame.  In this case, the crowd was blaming Jesus and wanted to kill the messenger rather than get their own life in order.  The guilty were unwilling to own their guilt, and were looking for someone else to punish.

The crowd calls Jesus demon possessed and Jesus challenges that. Jesus had told the crowd that He was without sin, and that they were in fact the ones guilty of disobedience.  “The crowd replied, You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you”?  The people didn’t know that the rulers wanted to kill Jesus because He healed a man on the Sabbath (John 5:16). They thought Jesus was crazy and perhaps paranoid.  But the rulers were definitely out to get rid of Jesus as He was upsetting their plans and disrupting their future.  Obedience does that – it requires that we focus on something beyond what we want.  God had a plan, and Jesus was executing it flawlessly.  Are we doing that in our walk as a Christ Follower?

John 7:1-5

John 7:1-5  has Jesus moving to Galilee to continue His teaching and to stay away from the religious leaders who were certainly not fans.  “After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death”.  It was not a lack of courage that made Jesus stay in Galilee, but an awareness of the Father’s perfect timing – and it was not time yet for Him to be arrested and delivered to the Gentiles.  He knew His purpose for being on earth was to carry the price of our sin to the Cross, so it wasn’t fear.  But He also was completely in tune with God’s plan and timing, and there was still much to be done before He went to the Cross to complete His mission.

Those around Him weren’t worried about the plan – only that He should participate in the Feast of Shelters and display His power.  “But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles”!  This Feast was a weeklong celebration in September or October when families came together and camped in temporary shelters to remember God’s faithfulness to Israel in the wilderness.  Sometimes it was called the Festival of Booths which described it well as people lived in makeshift dwellings made of branches and leaves, with some being on their flat rooftops if they owned a home.

Those around Him wanted Jesus to put His powers and miraculous works on display so He could assemble a larger following.  What better place for that than in the middle of a giant celebration in Jerusalem where many would be gathered.  The people of Jerusalem often looked down on the Jews of Galilee. Since Jesus did most of His miraculous works there, it gave the religious leaders in Jerusalem another reason to say that Jesus wasn’t the Messiah, because He didn’t do most of His work in front of the right audience.  This would put Him center stage in front of those religious leaders and prove once and for all that He was Messiah.

Jesus didn’t really need a PR firm to make Him known in the world.  That would happen in God’s time.  But because of His quiet and even secret living, His following wasn’t growing much.  “For even his brothers didn’t believe in him”.  It doesn’t mean they didn’t believe He could do miracles.  But they hadn’t made the step from that to the truth that He was Messiah.  The brothers of Jesus never seemed to be supportive of His ministry before His death and resurrection.  They never truly supported Him during the years of His ministry. It was only after His resurrection that the brothers of Jesus became disciples (Acts 1:14).

John 6:52-60

John 6:52-60  has Jesus stirring the religious leaders quite a bit.  Jesus has just explained that the bread was His body that would be given as a sacrifice for the life of the world.  Now these leaders are turning His words into some crazy and bizarre cannibalism twist.  “At this, the Jews started fighting among themselves: How can this man serve up his flesh for a meal”?  But Jesus doesn’t change course.  He responds even more boldly and tells them that “Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood….do you have life within you”.  There are no other options.  It’s Jesus or nothing.

Guzik writes “The crucified and risen Jesus must be received and internalized – metaphorically eating – or there is no true spiritual life, no eternal life”.  The sacrificed life of Jesus is food and drink for the hungry and thirsty soul. When we receive Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for us, we truly abide in Jesus, and He in us.  “By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you”.  We have to receive all that Jesus is.  Spurgeon says “In eating and drinking, a man is not a producer, but a consumer; he is not a doer or a giver forth; he simply takes in….Eating is an act of reception in every case. So it is with faith: you have not to do, to be, or to feel, but only to receive.”

Jesus goes on using the concept of heavenly bread as the means to eternal life.  It requires us to take action.  We have to receive it and eat it.  “The one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. This is the Bread from heaven….Whoever eats this Bread will live always”.  Faith in Jesus is not compared with tasting or admiring, but with eating. Jesus says that we must have Him within us, and we must partake of Him.

  • Seeing a loaf of bread on a plate will not satisfy our hunger.
  • Knowing the ingredients in the bread will not satisfy our hunger.
  • Taking pictures of the bread will not satisfy our hunger.
  • Telling other people about the bread will not satisfy our hunger.
  • Selling the bread will not satisfy our hunger.
  • Playing catch with the bread will not satisfy our hunger.
  • Nothing will satisfy our hunger and bring us life except actually eating the bread. He who eats this bread will live forever.

All this happened in Capernaum in the synagogue.  “He said these things while teaching in the meeting place in Capernaum. Many among his disciples heard this and said, “This is tough teaching, too tough to swallow”.”  It wasn’t at some random place with some random people.  It was in the place of worship and Jesus had the opportunity to speak to the congregation.  Those in the audience struggled with it.  The disciples in attendance were not just the 12, but a much broader audience.  But Jesus never preached to tickle the ears of those on hand. He spoke truth, and while it was hard to understand, it was even harder to accept and many not only struggled but refused.

John 6:39-44

John 6:39-44 has Jesus still teaching the crowd He had just fed.  They’ve been asking questions about eternal life. “This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time”.  Jesus knows exactly where He fits in God’s plan.  He was focused on completing every single detail.

Why so much attention to detail?  Because what Jesus was doing would be the foundation of Christianity for all time.  It is the culmination of His life work and God’s eternal plan.  Jesus was focused completely in doing what His Father wanted.  He was creating the opportunity for eternal destiny for any and all who believe.  That’s what eternal life is all about – entering a faith relationship with the very Son of God to receive “real life, eternal life”.  There is nothing fake about Jesus or what He did or was doing.  He was aligned with God and the specific purpose of delivering grace to a fallen world.  And His work was making life eternal at “the completion of time”.

The Jewish leaders weren’t happy with what Jesus was saying.  It was disrupting their system.  “At this, because he said, “I am the Bread that came down from heaven,” the Jews started arguing over him: “Isn’t this the son of Joseph? Don’t we know his father? Don’t we know his mother? How can he now say, ‘I came down out of heaven’ and expect anyone to believe him”?  The people complained about Jesus, thinking what He said about Himself was too big, too exalted.  After all, He had grown up quite quietly among them, and they couldn’t get their head around this new proclamation.

Jesus sets them straight.  The Jewish leaders were not buying into God’s plan.  The Jews thought that they were all chosen by God by virtue of their physical, natural birth.  But that doesn’t matter when it comes to eternal life.  “Jesus said, Don’t bicker among yourselves over me. You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that’s the only way you’ll ever come”.  There’s one way to salvation, and it is Jesus.  We may feel as though we “lead” in our relationship with God. In truth, He calls and we come. All of us who do come to Jesus, drawn by the Father, will receive eternal life and will be resurrected someday.  Are you one who knows the Savior?

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