Thursday, June 30, 2016



John 20:11-14            As Mary wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been... They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” She said, “They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

We have come to the end of the story of Jesus earthly life as told us by the Apostle John. If we stop reading here, we would be like Mary, wondering who this was that had spoken to her. The Apostle says it was Jesus, but how do we know? Who on earth is there to validate the statement? How could he come back to life after dying on the cross?

My kids hate it when we sit down to watch a movie and with two or three minutes left I get up and go to bed or do something else. “Don’t you want to see how it ends?” they complain to me. My answer is always, “No, I know how this kind of story ends.” There not impressed. But I do know.

The story of Jesus does not end here. The Apostle’s account of Jesus continues for another chapter. It is there that we find the corroborating evidence. In that chapter you have people who faced the same news of Jesus’ death. But something happens between here and the end. Jesus appears and shows himself to many of his followers. The end of the news story has changed for them. It is not over. Jesus is alive, he rose from the grave. They saw him, touched him, talked with him, and ate with him.

After you read the final chapter how will you respond? Do you see the truth being told about Jesus in these pages? Have you accepted Him as your Savior and your Lord? Will you repent of your sins and ask Him to forgive you? Here rests the final decision.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016



John 18:38-39            “What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”
The final hours of Jesus’ life were conditioned by the sinful hearts of the religious and political authorities and one disciple. Each had a role to play in bringing about God’s plan of salvation for his people.  

The religious authorities put Jesus through routine questioning at his trial. They knew what his answers would be since many of them had followed his ministry, had questioned him in the past and had been present at some of the places he taught. Some had hosted dinners and had invited Jesus to speak at their gatherings. They understood the negative impact his teaching was having on their control over the people. As Jesus’ followers grew in number the religious authorities’ control of the people shrank and directly threatened their customs and practices at the Temple.  

The political authority was headed by Pontius Pilate. His job was to maintain peace in the occupied lands and prosecute any violation of Roman laws. The religious laws would be handled by the various religious leaders in the land. The Jews brought Jesus to Pilate because they were not permitted to execute anyone. It was the Passover and it not in their best interests to deal with such an “unclean” issue as Jesus. They washed their hands of any responsibility for him. When asked by Pilate whom he should release for the customary holiday pardon, they chose Barabbas, not Jesus. 

In the world, truth is conditioned by the voices around you. Truth is not found on the lips of men or in the pages of a book. Truth is found in the loudest voices and the latest public opinion polls. What is best for our position and authority dictates to the world which voice will be listened to. Jesus listened only to God. Pilate listened to the loudest voice. Jesus made decisions based on the Word of God. Pilate made decisions based on the popularity polls of others. He chose the option that best suited his position, his power and his purpose. That is the world’s meaning of truth.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016



John 17:20-21            My prayer is not for them [the original disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Have you ever looked at the prayers of Jesus in the New Testament? There are many different scenes where he prayed. I have not counted the scenes depicted in each Gospel, only the unduplicated number. I think there are twelve. Some scenes merely allude to Jesus going off to pray in a solitary place. Others give the words he actually used in his prayers. Of the prayers that we have with his words, they are important to consider. If you were to look at all the prayers in the New Testament that Jesus prayed, what do you think you would find?

Every prayer that Jesus offered to the Father was answered. Yes, there were times where is emotions got in the way but he allowed the truth to direct his petitions to the Father. When he wanted to elevate his will over the Father’s in the Garden of Gethsemane, what happened? Jesus relented of that urge and elevated the Father’s will over his. In submitting to the Father, each of his prayers would be answered for they were a part of God’s plan. Sometimes his prayers were general in nature but they were still in line with God’s plan for Jesus and for us.

May God continue to grow you in the likeness of His Son. May your prayers conform to His will. May you pray that God has his way in your heart and mind. Be mindful of the Spirit’s presence and ministry to you personally and allow Him free reign in your heart and mind. In submitting our prayer life to Him, we find more unity in thought and action as we align with His will.

Monday, June 27, 2016



John 16:7-8    But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.  

The Holy Spirit is a person. He is the third person of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Being a person, he is a spirit. He is not any old run of the mill spirit. He is God the Spirit, The Holy Spirit. Being one with the Father and the Son, he takes from them and communicates the truth to us. Christ send him to those Christ chooses to send him. The process of receiving the Holy Spirit is determined by Jesus Christ. He sends Him to us.

The purpose or mission of the person of the Holy Spirit is clear. He will convict people of their lost state of life. He will stir up within them a longing that they can never seem to fill or meet. People will attempt to fill that longing with activity, knowledge, material things, etc. but will never find the hunger or thirst relieved. The Holy Spirit is unique in his role and the manner in which he does this. The lost will always grope around in the world looking or sensing a need. The do not even know will fill the need. It is futile situation. Not unlike the rat on a treadmill trying to get to the end of the wheel, and not understanding why it is taking so long.

The Holy Spirit orders circumstances in the person’s life in a way that enables them to begin to see and hear the truth of Scripture. He moves the person to a place where the Gospel is preached, allowing them to experience their own guilty conscience. They know the guilt of sin by seeing the standard, the Living Word, whom they have violated. They recognize the sinless nature of Jesus the Christ and their comparative unworthiness. The person realizes that if Satan is defeated then God alone is the judge they will face.  Burdened by their predicament, they come to their senses, they confess Christ and begin the journey home to the Father. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016



John 13: 15-17           I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
In some Christian traditions, foot washing is a regular practice. It is not a sacrament but a practice that reflects a person’s our humility and willingness to serve others as Christ has served us. It is a symbolic act that Jesus used to teach his disciples. Jesus used this practice to reflect his willingness to serve others as a slave serves his master. Jesus wanted his disciples to see that as followers of him they were to take his lead in find ways to serve others.

It is a practice that was quite humiliating and degrading in Jesus day. Household slaves and servants were tasked with this duty. It was not unusal for someone to wash his own feet when entering a home. Wearing sandals or walking barefoot left your feed dusty and dirty. It was good manners to do this before entering. But to wash another’s feet is to take on a different role.

To wash someone’s feet today is almost unthinkable. If someone offered to do that when you entered McDonald's or Macy’s or Auto Zone, how many people would even want it done? How degrading an offer. Leaving foot washing behind, we see the principle Jesus was communicating. There is no personal need beneath the Christian when someone has a need. To wash and invalid is not below our line of duty. You can think of all the services to another human, they are not below our calling. We are called to serve, help and to reflect Christ in the process.

One last thing. What do you get in return? Jesus says you will be blessed. And it won’t be in a material way, either. Now the question, do you want to be blessed?

Saturday, June 25, 2016



John 12: 27-28           Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!  
Never forget the humanity of Christ. Yes he was the Son of God, divine in his nature. But he was also a bearer of the human condition. His human nature allowed him to experience life as we do. He felt physical pain. He experienced the sadness and sorrow over someone who died. His cleansing of the Temple reflected the frustration and anger for his Father’s house to be defiled. He knew the confusion that circumstances can bring us as we see in this passage and his praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Now where do we find his reflection of the human condition which is not true or beyond what all people experience and share in this fallen world.

The sole difference in Christ’s humanity and ours is that he was without sin. When we experience life, circumstances, threats, frustration, fear and anxiety; we will not always respond righteously. That is, we may respond to others and to God from our sinful nature. We will doubt God. We will claim him to be unjust toward us and others. We will directly disobey his commands and his plans for our lives. But Jesus never did. He became troubled, anguished and overwhelmed with sorrow yet submitted to God’s plan for him and the Cross. Only doing the Father’s will is what Jesus chose to do. He made the right decision and took the righteous road. He did not sin, he did not obey the Father.

His obedience in a time of deep anguish and monumental significance he did not falter. In obediently going to the Cross and dying, he has secured for us the freedom from sin’s punishment on us. By his sacrifice of himself we are freed from suffering a similar fate. Having obeyed the Father we will share in the benefits that his victory has won from Satan. He blesses us with freedom from the enslavement to sin. He blesses us with his presence in the Holy Spirit. He blesses us with the hope that we will one day spend eternity in his presence. Never forget that we have overcome our own human nature because of the divine nature, Holy Spirit, that indwells us today.

Friday, June 24, 2016



John 12:9-11  Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was [at the home of Lazarus] and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.
Throughout the New Testament, the more Jesus and God’s people speak the truth, heal the sick and raise the dead, the greater and more deadly becomes the response from the religious and secular authorities. You would think that doing good and telling the truth would be welcomed by all. But as is true then and today, truth places pressure on the authorities to conform to a different standard. Truth in God and his Son Jesus Christ entails submitting to an entirely different system or world view. The darkness hates the light.

In this story of Jesus’ anointing by Mary at the home of Lazarus we see the contrast between those devoted to Him and those devoted to themselves. Mary and Judas contrast this point. For her no expense was too great to anoint her Lord and show her devotion. Judas saw only the lost financial value of a special oil, the failure of his Lord and his soon to be shattered expectations for personal gain from following Jesus. 

The John’s concern at this point in the Gospel is to point us to the growing following for Jesus due to the miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection. He stresses the importance of the miracles or signs revealing the identity of Jesus. They have been chosen and documented by him for the purpose of Jesus’ self-revelation as the Christ, the Son of God. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016



John 11: 41-42           So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”  
The Scriptures record four resurrections from the dead. Yes, four specific events. The first is in Luke 7:15 where Jesus raises the Widow’s son from the dead. The second is Luke 8:53 where Jarius’ daughter is brought back to life. Scripture also reveals that more people were raised from the dead by both Jesus and his disciples. In Matthew 10:8 we see Jesus giving resurrection powers to the twelve disciples. And in Matthew 11:4, Jesus informs the John the Baptist’s followers that both He and the twelve were raising the dead. The fourth resurrection, the greatest resurrection, is that of Jesus himself by Himself.

In this event, Jesus allows himself to be caught up in the grief that Mary, Martha and the others felt. As the Son of God he does not come to redeem the world from some imaginary grief. Neither does he minimize the grief that we feel when someone close to us dies. His arrival, although delayed, is never too late.

Jesus never intended that our faith be a “miracle faith”. He did not intend that we think that the more a person believes in what God in his omnipotence can do, the greater the hold we have on that omnipotence or the more it is at our disposal. Jesus is not a “Genie in a bottle.” As the story ends with the miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection, Jesus leaves us with the knowledge that all he does is in agreement with the Father’s will. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016



John 9:30-33     The formerly blind man answered the Pharisees, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could no nothing.” 

The miracle was performed by Jesus on a man born blind. The man was then seen by neighbors, family and others in the area. He was brought before the Pharisees to be investigated. They were agitated by the fact that this miracle happened on the Sabbath. They demanded to know who performed the miracle. Some questioned whether he was even born blind. They called in his parents to question them. Nothing would convince them that the man had been healed of blindness. The man’s insistence on the truth of the events led the Pharisees to throw him out of their synagogue.

After his expulsion, the man is confronted again by Jesus. Jesus wants the miracle understood within the context of his mission. He wants the man to be conscious of the greater things to which the miracle points. Jesus wants to place him in a permanent, personal relationship of faith to himself.

Look at the contrast between this man who believed in the Son of Man and the responses of the Scripture-trained Pharisees. Judgment has come. The dividing-line is between those who see Jesus for who he is and those who are blind to him. The people in this story place themselves on one side or the other by how they react to the truth, to Jesus’ miracle. Judgment is not reason Christ came into the world but the effect of his coming.

“Not seeing” describes the general state of a person before the light of the world has illuminated him or her. The way to the light is open to all. Those who do not “see” are those who imagine that they can see. They “become blind”. Their “not seeing” becomes their inability to see. The result is they place themselves under judgment.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016



John 8:31-33     To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” 

There are many who believe in Jesus and hold to another set of beliefs. It can happen in churches where people have created rules for members to follow so they do not fall under the world’s influences in a particular time or place. After time passes and society changes, these rules remain and take on greater importance. Some call these rules “traditions”, “the way things have always been”. This problem faced Jesus and continues to trouble the church today.

Being able to link your family tree back to Abraham was important to the Jews. It documented the fact they were the people of God and children of the covenant. They believed this lineage alone made them recipients of the promises God made to Abraham and his descendants. But Jesus says that holding to His teaching will reveal to them the truth and that then they would be set free. They protest the fact that as covenant children and Abraham’s descendants they have never been enslaved. They already had a spiritual superiority as children of Abraham and were therefore exempt from any servant relationship to others.

 The truth Jesus speaks is about himself. It is salvific truth. It is truth that saves. Jesus speaks truth that is liberating to those who are enslaved. The freedom he speaks of “is not that of a person to manage his life free of all the ties that might hinder him in the development of his own identity or authority”. Rather, Jesus is referring to “a freedom that a person does not possess within himself, even if he thinks otherwise and attempts to live by that illusion.” (Herman Ridderbos, The Gospel of John, pg. 308)

People are ready to accept Jesus’ teaching as long as it is teachings about God and fits into their own understanding or framework of beliefs. Jesus does not permit this. Jesus makes our freedom contingent on faith in him. It is this boundary that Jesus establishes that many refuse to cross over. 

Monday, June 20, 2016



John 8:3-5       The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
I had a cat named Sprinkles when I was growing up. One summer day she came in the back door, it was always ajar so she could come and go. Mom was at the sink washing dishes and felt Sprinkles rub up against her leg. Mom ignored her, keeping to her dish washing. A few moments later Sprinkles meowed loudly. Mom looked down to see Sprinkles sitting proudly next to her, with a dead blue-jay between her paws. Sprinkles’ was quite pleased and satisfied with her accomplishment. A dead bird was what all cats live for, right? And who better to share this accomplishment with than her master. Mom, not really impressed, quickly ushered them both outside.

The woman in our story was caught red-handed in the act. The Pharisees knew they had a real sinner in their hands. It was their job to monitor the religious adherence of the people and to root out evil wherever it arose. So when they brought her to Jesus, they were looking to see if he would flinch. They were satisfied with the dilemma Jesus would be in.  Would he agree with their assessment that the Law required her to be  stoned to death? Or would Jesus ignore the Law and do something else with her? They peppered Jesus with more questions as to the best way to handle this situation. If they could find a flaw in Jesus’ response, they would do the same to him as they were about to do to her. They were pleased with themselves in rooting out this evil woman. The punishment for her was clear in the Law and they were ready to carry it out.

Jesus knew the Law’s punishment for adultery, too. But Jesus knew one thing about the Pharisees that they failed to recognize about themselves. They too were sinners deserving of the same punishment. Jesus did not come to punish the world for their sins. He came to forgive the sinners of their sin. Who can appreciate Jesus as Savior but the one who recognizes their own sin and their own need for forgiveness? With one sentence Jesus ends their plan and in another sentence reveals his own. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016



John 7: 40-43     On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Christ.” Still others asked, “How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.
I hope it is not a surprise to you that so many people today struggle to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world. When confronted with the words that Jesus spoke then and now, people are amazed. His claims are not that of other men who have come to prominence over the decades and millenniums. Isn’t it interesting that when Jesus’ words are spoken large crowds will gather to listen. In time only a few remain who believe what he says. Even fewer actually obey his commands. Few live their lives according to his standards. Fewer still speak to others about the monumental changes that occur in them and their lives after they believed.

Those who believe in Jesus understand that the misconceptions, doubts, and opposition from the crowds are normal now as they were then. Jesus himself was understood by some and rejected by others. Those who rejected him should have known better. The Jews were prolific students of the Old Testament: the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. They believed they were God’s people. Yet with the knowledge they had, they failed to see and hear Jesus.

Jesus sets himself as the one who knows God and if they knew him, they would know the Father who sent him. In sending his Son, God was revealing himself to them and making himself known as he really was. Because of this, Jesus’ verdict (“him you do not know” vs.28) is not the closing of a door to God. Rather it is an all-or-nothing call to them to come to the true knowledge of that God whose people they claimed to be and whom they claim to know. Jesus calls them to believe in God in the sense of opening themselves to his gracious disposition that prompted him to send his Son into the world.

Saturday, June 18, 2016



John 15:5        I AM the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

When we get sick we go to a doctor to get relief from the illness. He will examine our condition and then prescribe a medication for us to take. The medicine is taken for several days and before long we are recovered. We don’t revisit the doctor again until there is a recurrence or the initial illness does not go away. Most people do not regularly visit the doctor for preventative treatments. Yes, we might go once a year for a check-up, but even that is rare for most. Never do we go each day to the doctor for preventative treatment, unless of course you are a hypochondriac.

The Great Physician, Jesus, tells us we are to remain with him each day. Unless we are in Him daily we are not truly his child, nor can we be assured of a healthy Christian life. Unlike our medical doctor, daily doses of Jesus are a must. They are not just to prevent our sinful nature from taking over us, but daily time with Jesus ensures that we receive the nourishment that we need to grow as he chooses.

Ten times Jesus tells us to “remain” in this teaching. If we remain in Him, he will remain in us. As a branch can only bear fruit if it remains in the vine, our lives cannot bear godly fruit unless we remain in Jesus. He promises that if we remain in him we will bear much fruit. Apart from remaining in Jesus our lives will be a wasted branch that is good for nothing. As we remain in Jesus and his words remain in us we can ask him whatever we wish and it will be given to us. (Of course, remaining in him will change the things that we ask him for!) Lastly, he says we are to remain in his love. We can remain in his love by obeying his commands, just like He remains in the Father’s love by obeying. 

Friday, June 17, 2016



John 14:6        Jesus answered Thomas saying, “I AM the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”    

 I love the disciples and the way they are openly portrayed in Scripture. Thomas seems to speaking for the group in asking a logical question of Jesus. Jesus speaks of his Father’s house and that he is going there to prepare a place for you. Ok, fine; but then Jesus says that you know the way to the place. Huh? How can I? I don’t know where your Father lives. How can I know the way to your Father’s house?

Smartphones are great. There is an app that acts like a GPS system for your car. All you need to do is type in the street number and name to find directions to that home. Road by road and turn by turn the system lays out the shortest way to the home. It is great help when we travel. But without one piece of information, the GPS system is useless. You have to know where the place is with the street address, what town, or state or country. Thomas’ question is logical and merited. How can we know the way with the information he had to that point?

Jesus gives us the missing information. He is the way. He is the destination and he is the route. In Jesus we find the road to travel to get to the place where he is today. In Jesus we find our destination, now and in the future. In Jesus is all the truth and the life we are seeking in this world. It is in Jesus that we journey through life. Along this journey to Jesus we find personal meaning, self-worth, purpose and a future.  

Thursday, June 16, 2016



John 11:25-26    Jesus said to Martha, “I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  

In this section of the Bible we come to a new hope unveiled. Job and David expressed desire for a life after death, a desire without  assurance that such a hope could exist. Here, for the first time, a resurrection of all believers is clearly stated. We also learn of the power behind the resurrection this of believers and the source of that power.

Martha, the sister of Mary, was the one busy with cooking and preparation the earlier time Jesus visited them. While Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to him speak, Martha was busy with all the needs of hosting the visitors and complained to Jesus that Mary wasn’t helping her. Jesus lovingly spoke of the greater things people like Mary want for their life and opened the door for her to join them.

Martha reminds me of a certain type of believer. They do not distrust Jesus, but neither do they believe with a fully assured confidence that allows him or her to lay aside their care, and rest in His promised provision. They believe but they are continually asking: How, Why, or What If questions. They miss Jesus’ blessings of a full life because they do not believe for simply, more in a childlike manner.

This kind of faith seems to limit God or limit his promises. Martha reflects this in her words: “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus delayed his visit intentionally. Her words were a rebuke of Jesus, knowing she had sent word to him in enough time for Jesus to have come and healed Lazarus.  Secondly, faith like Martha’s treats the words of Jesus impersonally. When Jesus says to her that her brother will rise again, Martha pushes this promise into the distant, unknown future. She says that Jesus’ words had no meaning or relationship to her or the current situation.

Jesus Christ’s promises are all inclusive. There is a promise of spiritual life and physical life, a promise of life now and also a life to come. Most urgently important is the clearly stated fact that this life is only for those who believe in Jesus Christ and are members of his covenant family. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016



John 10:14-15            I AM the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me (just as the Father knows me and I know the Father) and I lay down my life for the sheep.

The Good Shepherd has three qualities that false shepherds do not. First, Jesus says that only the true shepherd will give his life for the sheep. The hired hand takes no ownership interest in the sheep. He is someone who receives benefit on terms that make him only concerned about his pay, his welfare in the relationship. When trouble comes or severe weather strikes, the hired man will run for safety, his safety. Abandoning position as a hire man reveals the shallow level of interest and care for the lives of the sheep. If the sheep are stolen by threatening robbers or die in natural disaster, the hired man has only lost his wage. He has lost nothing, they’re not his sheep.

Second, the Good Shepherd is recognized, known by his sheep and they listen to his voice. The implication of knowing and hearing the Good Shepherd is that his sheep will follow him. They will gather with other flocks of his sheep. Many people hear the message of Christ yet only a small number follow and believe. As the early church expanded the message they took was the voice of Christ Jesus beckoning his sheep to follow. To this day, many have heard the voice of Christ in the message of the good news and from the pages of Scripture. And to this day only a few know him and listen to him.

Lastly, the Good Shepherd has the authority himself to lay down his life for his sheep and to take it up again. The laying down and the taking up of his life points directly to his crucifixion and resurrection. The Son of God, has the power to obey the command of the Father. 

How is your heart responding to these teachings? Are you saying, “What nonsense! Who could ever believe this raving mad-man? Why should I listen to him?” Or are you thinking that these words make sense. Are you saying to yourself, “Jesus must have known what He was saying. Can a mand-man open the eyes of the blind or heal the crippled?” If you are saying the later, then don’t you believe you should listen to more he says in Scripture? Do you know that you must trust him and follow him?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016



John 10:9        I AM the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.

Sheep are a unique animal. They are very skittish, loyal to only one shepherd, unaware of their surroundings and easily lost. Sounds a lot like humans, doesn’t it? When pasturing sheep in Jesus’ time, pens were constructed of low stone walls or wooden corrals. There was one entrance and exit for the shepherd and sheep to pass through. In verses 1- 5 we hear Jesus explain how a thief or a robber could enter the pen and manipulate the sheep and steal them from the owner, the gatekeeper. These verses were not understood by his listeners and people today.

Jesus then explains clearly his meaning to them. He explains this story with two examples: The Gate and the Good Shepherd. People, the children of God, are the vulnerable sheep. Some of his listeners had been gathered into the pen which is Israel, the family of God. They were being led by shepherds. But they were not shepherds the gatekeeper let into the pen. They had climbed over the walls into the pen. You see, Jesus is the gate. If the shepherd got into the pen some other way, he was really a thief or a robber. He wanted the sheep for some other purpose than the gatekeeper’s.

To be a sheep of a particular flock required that you enter the pen through the gate. There was no other way in for a sheep. So for us to enter into the flock, the children of God, it requires that we enter through the gate intended by the gatekeeper. Jesus is the gate. He is the entry point intended by God, the gatekeeper. Entering by way of Jesus ensures us they we “may have life, and have it to the full.”

There are many paths we can take in life. But there is only one path that leads us to the gate. It is this one path which the gatekeeper intended his sheep to pass through. If you do not pass through the correct gate, you will never be among the flock owned by the gatekeeper.

Monday, June 13, 2016



John 8:12        When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I AM the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

It is no accident that Jesus’ statement to be the “light of the world” follows the story of a woman caught in adultery. The story of this woman and of her accusers is a greater revelation of the dark nature of sin than anything yet told to us in John’s gospel. In his statement, the purity and brightness of Jesus shine through in abundant clarity.

John’s opening chapter of the gospel speaks of the light six times. “In him was life, and that life was the light of men” reveals Christ Jesus as the source for true understanding in life, true light to live our lives by. Those living in the darkness of this world, living by the falsehoods of the world are they who do not understand the truth of Jesus. In fact, those who remain in the world’s darkness do not receive the truth about him and do not place their faith and trust in him. They live by the letter of the law and know no forgiveness for sin. They live by their own standard of law and justice.

Remember the Israelites when they were led out of Egypt and into the desert by God. There they followed the presence of God in the pillar of cloud that moved ahead of them. Remember when they camped at the foot of Mt. Sinai which was covered with a thick cloud. Remember the people could not see God nor did Moses who hid himself in the cleft of the rock. God was present in a form that did not reflect his full nature. Moses received the Ten Commandments which would be God’s written standard for his people.

John sees in Christ Jesus the coming of a new standard grounded in justice and forgiveness, obedience and mercy, truth and grace, hope and love. The light of Jesus is the perfect reflection of God in human form. His death makes clear the forgiveness of sin forever, a forgiveness that the Ten Commandments only could allude to. He brings light to our understanding and life to our sin-tortured souls. The darkness that had been our world is dissolved in forgiveness and mercy. He is God’s presence, protection and purpose for each of our lives. He is the light of life.

Sunday, June 12, 2016



John 6:35, 37  The Jesus declared, “I AM the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty… All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

“I AM”, is the name God gives himself in Exodus 3:14. It is by this name that God would be known and worshiped by the Israelite's. This name expressed the character of God; his dependably and his faithfulness. God desired that his people would place their full trust in Him. Jesus applied this phrase from Exodus to himself; in doing so he claimed to be God and risked being stoned for blasphemy in John 8:58-59. Seven times he draws attention to himself in this manner by saying of himself, “I AM”.

I AM the Bread of Life. In this passage Jesus declares the fulfilling and unchanging power that he has. He is able to feeds us in a manner that brings emotional and spiritual fulfillment to us. When many people seek him for the material blessings, like food, they miss the fact that his mission is to feed us by meeting the spiritual needs we have. The emptiness in people’s hearts is caused by the absence of God and the consequences of  sin. Like the woman at the well, we have needs that we can never fulfill ourselves or with the help of others. This need can only be met and relieved by Christ. He is able to meet all our needs.

The other point to note in this passage is that Jesus has power beyond meeting that need. You and I must continually eat, each day, every week, our entire lives. When Jesus feeds a person’s soul, he feeds it once and forever. Once healed by His touch, the healing remains. Once saved by the power of the Holy Spirit you remain saved. “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away” says Jesus. If we come to him he feed us and we will never go hungry again. If we believe in him we will never be thirsty again. Coming to him and believing in Him is a salvation moment. If God gives us to Jesus, then we go to him and we then believe in him. He will not lose us and we will have eternal life with him. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016



John 6:29        The crowds asked Jesus, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

 .Jesus fed 5,000 people with a boy’s five small barley loaves and two small fish (John 6:9). The disciples had seen no available resources available to help so many people. The result of this feeding miracle was that the people he fed wanted to make him king, by force. Later that day, the disciples boarded a boat to cross the lake. On the way a large wind threatened to capsize them. Jesus approached the boat walking on the water. They were at least three miles from shore. The disciples were terrified.

People today struggle to understand and make sense of Jesus’ miracles. People work hard to find an earthly explanation for feeding 5,000 people. Could it be that many people had already eaten, having brought their own food. Maybe those needing food were in the minority and the crumbs left over were the remnants from people who had brought food.  Was Jesus able to walk on water because he knew where the sand bars and hidden boulders were in the lake? Maybe the wind had blown the water so fiercely that the level of the lake dropped to a foot deep. Explanations leaves us with answers that require more faith than the miracle itself.

             To believe that Jesus is the Son of God gifted with the powers to perform these miracles is a struggle for many people. It takes great effort to believe, trust and walk in His footsteps. To explain his miracles Jesus says that we are to work at believing that He is the one God sent into the world. Believing is work. It is a struggle to set aside our propensity for explanation and to trust that what is said about Jesus is true, accurate and historical. To believe that Jesus is the Son of God is work. Not performing good deeds, not feeding nor clothing but working to believe is the most difficult task we face each day as Christians.

Friday, June 10, 2016



John 5:6-7      Jesus asked the invalid, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

  Jesus heals a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. No one today can imagine the suffering he experienced back then when the options for assistance were very few. If he lived today it would be different, right? Today such a person could reach out to many different agencies in a community for help. He could call the government, too, and find a department that could help. He might even call a church or para-church ministry that could show him love, compassion and care.

The miracle Jesus performs is astounding. In the midst of a crowd of disabled people – the blind, the lame and the paralyzed – Jesus asks him if he wants to get well. What a startling question given the situation of this man and the others around him. They were next to the healing waters of the pool. They wanted to get healed or they wanted to beg for alms.

The man answers and Jesus, without hesitation, commands him to pick up his mat and walk. He does as Jesus says, he is healed. What a wonderful event for this man and for all the others to see. Someone cares, someone can meet their need.

Contrast this miraculous event and Jesus’ question with the words of the Jews who were there and asked the healed man why he was breaking the Sabbath laws by carrying his mat. Jesus is greater than the Old Testament laws, in fact he fulfills them in this event. Their adherence to the law has blind the Jews to the needs of the lame and the poor. Ritual trumps human suffering, in Jesus’ day and today. Despite the concern for following the rules and regulations, Jesus remains Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus can alter the Sabbath, suspend it, or remove as He chooses. He is God. This is His claim.

Jesus is Lord of your Sabbaths, your habits, your aspirations, your abilities, your life. For us at times it is much nicer to amass enough human credits to show Jesus than to allow Jesus to manifest himself in our lives. The Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives is Christianity. Anything short of that is only religion.

Thursday, June 9, 2016



John 4:23            Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  

The passage opens with Jesus seeking a favor on the human level and closes with a supreme claim of Messiah-ship on the spiritual level.

Jesus begins with a natural need. Water is integral for life. But the human barriers of prejudice directed the woman in her initial response. Jesus was a Jew and Jews don’t associate with certain people. Jesus ignores the customs of not associating with Samaritans. Jesus raises her interest by offering to give her living water that will bubble up within her. She knew that he had no bucket to draw water, but she wanted this living water.

Jesus said that first you must get your husband, implying the water would come next. Jesus brings the issue to the spiritual level. Was she thirsty? She had five husbands and now has a sixth man. How disillusioned she was, how disappointed she was, how restless she was. Could this water satisfy me? Her spirit thirsted for love. The offer by Christ had gotten her attention. He knew her past. But in order to receive living water she needed to confess her past.

She tried to throw him off course with a discussion of worship and its proper place. Jesus brushed away Jerusalem and the mountain. Worship would be in the temple of the individual. In spirit and in truth would the true worshipers worship God. She listened and returned to town. “Could this be the Messiah?” she exclaimed to the people.

Jesus crossed the boundary of prejudice. He left the region of people who boasted in their privilege. In the regions beyond he found a human soul, a sinning woman, who had burned through her life and relationships until only ashes remained. Jesus opened to her the way to God and to personal fulfillment. He opened the door to true worship by first dealing with her moral nature (sin) and by satisfying her spiritual thirst. To Jesus the fields were ripe for harvest. This is the Messiah, the Savior of the World.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016



John 3:16        For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

This must be the most quoted and memorized verse in all of the New Testament. The mission of Jesus Christ, the nature of God, the need of man and the avenue to life are summed up here. In this verse we  the intent and purpose of John’s Gospel.

Christ’s mission is to bring about the will of the Father. His mission is not to amaze us with miracles, meet our material needs or cure us of all diseases. No, his mission is to bring into the world a salvation for mankind’s greatest problem, sin. His short life is the offering of a final sacrifice or payment for the penalty of our sins. Once completed, he would accomplish the goal set by the father and distribute that accomplishment to people throughout the world and throughout every generation.

God is love. Over the centuries people have rejected the God of the Bible because of the history of war and slaughter found in the Old Testament. They have read limited portions of Scripture and have drawn their own conclusions about God. Looking at the suffering and evil in the world they have deduced that a God who would allow such suffering was not worthy of their worship or obedience. But God gave of himself in order that the evil and sin within a person could be forgiven and that the everlasting life we each will share would be one with him and not one in hell.

Many a mistake a man makes. Sin is the root of all our struggles in life. It causes us to do the things we do not want to do and prohibits us from doing the things we should do. What a woeful state we find ourselves in. We cannot educate ourselves out of sin. We cannot obey our way around sin. We cannot talk our way into goodness. The bottom line, we are slaves to sin.

The road to life is found through faith in the One God has sent. Faith and trust in Jesus Christ is our road to recovery. God loved us enough to send the best. Whoever believes in him is not condemned. Whoever lives by this truth comes into the light and sees plainly that what has been done in them has been done through God.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016



John 3:2-3      Nicodemus came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

In the Gospel of John, the only two references to “the kingdom of God” are found here in verses 3 and 5. [It is important to take note of such limited references when reading a book of the Bible. There are other occasions in Scripture where a term is used numerous times, which then should also draw our focus and attention.]  Jesus is taking the focus away from seeing the miracles he performed to seeing God’s kingdom revealed in him. The kingdom of God represented by Christ requires more than just being impressed by his miraculous power and ascribing to him a place of honor among men. Jesus is saying that it takes a complete reversal of our understanding, a reversal that he describes as “being born again.”

Being born again entails a radically new beginning for your life. Being “born of water and the Spirit” teaches us of the putting off of the old in repentance and being baptized into the life that Jesus is offering. As natural birth for us is brought about by the work of others, so with Jesus’ teaching here the new birth is brought about by the work of the Spirit. To understand these things the starting point is with the water of baptism for those who repent of their sins and turn to Christ.

The story of Nicodemus reminds us that knowledge alone will not bring renewal to our lives. What is required is a complete change of the inner person. It begins with the individual’s acknowledgement of their need for a savior to save them from their sins. The starting point is only reached when the Spirit himself enters our hearts and begins this renewal.

Monday, June 6, 2016



John 2:18-19  The Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

This exchange occurred after Jesus cleared the temple courts of shepherds selling livestock and men exchanging currencies. The place of worship for God’s people had become commercialized. No longer was God’s temple building and courts a place of awe, reverence and dignity. It had become a place that reflected the cultural norms, priorities and interests of the people. Worshipers had to force their way through those who had established other agendas for the temple courts. The focus had turned away from one looking upward in worship to God. They now were focused on material fulfillment and human approval.

Again Jesus’ actions are misunderstood. The people demanded to know by what right he could do this clearing of their temple courts. They wanted a sign, another miracle that proved his authority to judge their actions and criticize their use of the temple courts. The conflict was not merely over what was permitted within the temple areas but over who wielded ultimate authority over life and worship.

Jesus’ response was intended to take their focus away from the building to the real temple, the body in which God really dwells, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They did not understand him then and they do not understand him today. It was not until after Jesus was raised from the dead that his followers understood this response he gave.

Religion can distort our view of God. The practices and biases of man can interfere with the truth as we strive to draw near to Him. Many drew close to Jesus for they recognized the signs and wonders as living proof of who Jesus was, the Messiah, the Son of God. They believed in Him because of what they saw. Others believed much later, after he was crucified and raised himself to life again. Sooner or later they believed.

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