Fri, May 15th - 7:03AM
BOOK OF JOHN
"And Nathanael said to him, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Nathanael said to Him, "From where do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel." ~John 1:46-49
Curiously, John is the only one who mentions Nathanael. But the other three gospels do mention a disciple that John does not, Bartholomew. These two names could very well refer to the same person, being the first and last name of that person. At any rate, it is rather easy to observe the prejudicial attitude of Nathanael in these verses. He does not believe that anything good could possibly exist in and come out of Nazareth which was a rather small community of no importance within Israel. And yet, he still responds to Philip's "Come and see." We can tell that Nathanael was a student of the Old Testament scriptures, he knew the importance of someone finally discovering the Messiah had come. Philip must have been a good friend of Nathanael's, for he wasted no time in going to find him sitting under that fig tree. And we also know that Nathanael was a person who spoke his mind, he did not play games nor speak falsehoods.
So Nathanael rejected Philip's initial claim of having found the Messiah. He did it in a rather negative, skeptical, reactionary spirit. He questioned it; he would not accept it nor believe it. Apparently he had tried to follow so many voices in his world that he had just lost hope. There were so many in his world who had promised much, only to leave him still empty and searching. Why should he now believe and follow another man's voice? Isn't this what we are faced with when we share with people what Jesus has done for us? Are we not shown skepticism, negativity, and rejection? All that we can say is, "Come and see!"
Today there are still many voices in the world around us promising the path to life and fulfillment and joy and satisfaction. However, their claims are eventually discovered to be false, and they still leave the human heart empty and wondering. People caught up in despair wonder about the real purpose, meaning, and significance of their lives.
Nazareth was an obscure village in Galilee. Galilee bordered Gentile nations; and so it was sometimes called in those days Galilee of the Gentiles. The Jews were so deeply prejudiced against the Gentiles that they considered anyone or anything touched by a Gentile to be unclean in the sight of God. Nazareth was despised by the Jews because it was on the border of Gentile country and was so commercially touched by Gentiles. It was despised by the Romans because its citizens were a conquered people. This was the source of Nathanael's bigotry/prejudice concerning Nazareth.
Despite this man's preconceived beliefs, Jesus declared him to be a Jew without guile. Jesus knew the man's beliefs and his lineage. This man was definitely a Jew. Jesus clearly knew his character as well, saying that he had no guile, or deceptiveness. Nathanael was the epitomy of an Israelite, what an Israelite should be. He believed the promises of God. He tried to live up to the covenant name, the standard God had set for Israel, and he was looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the Messiah. Jesus knows what our beliefs are, that which we set our hearts upon. He knows both the good and the bad beliefs, the godly and the evil thoughts of our human hearts. Just as Jesus knew the character of Nathanael He knows our character as well. Nathanael was a man without guile (dolos). He did not deceive, bait, or mislead other people. He did not hide what he thought; he said what he thought and acted what he felt. He was straightforward, open and honest, not deceptive or hypocritical. One huge tragedy in our society is that too many people are full of guile. Many deceive and mislead others, they are not straightforward, open, and honest.
The end result of this interaction of Jesus with Nathanael is that Jesus knew the man's innermost being, what he was yearning to know. Nathanael realizes that Jesus has to be the Promised One, the Messiah. Who else could have seen him sitting under that distant fig tree? And let us not miss the importance of the fig tree. Nathanael sat under a tree that stood for peace, security, rest, and worship (I Kings 4:25; Micah 4:4). Jewish men often would seek solitude and worship under this tree and no doubt Nathanael had been doing this very thing. In telling him that He saw him sitting under the fig tree, Jesus was telling Nathanael that He knew why he had been sitting there. Jesus knew he was longing for peace and release and freedom. This was enough to cause this man to give his life to Jesus forever, declaring Him to be the Son of God and the King of Israel. This man quickly grasped who he was in the company of. Generation upon generation of Jews had ached for and looked for the promised Deliverer of Israel. The people expected Him to be a great general who would rescue and restore the nation to its prior greatness. They expected Him to make Israel the center of universal rule. Jerusalem itself would be the epicenter of the glory and majesty of God Himself. From His throne in Jerusalem God would then execute the Messianic fire of judgment upon the nations of the world. (Matt 1:18, 3:11, 11:1-6; Luke 7:21)
But we have to deal with peoples' misconceptions about Jesus today as well. Nothing has really changed in two thousand years, has it? Mankind remains the same. What does this mean then? It simply means that we must declare God's Word clearly and extend the same invitation that Philip did: "Come, and see!" If we do this, then we can allow God's Spirit to touch their hearts and reveal Himself to them. It will be up to them to choose to believe or reject Him.
Have a blessed day.
Wed, May 6th - 9:19PM
THE BOOK OF JOHN
"The following day Jesus would go out into Galilee, and find Philip, and said to him, "Follow Me." Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, "We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
Here we witness Jesus finding Philip and telling him to come follow Him. Philip did not hesitate, he did not procrastinate nor did he make up excuses as to why he could not follow Jesus. We need to burn that into our brains. Philip discovered and witnessed Jesus. He obviously knew the Old Testament Scriptures for he told Nathanael that Jesus was the one that the scriptures had spoken about and they had found Him.
Let's look at three points involving Philip's experience: First, Jesus Himself went out and found Philip, Philip did not go looking for Jesus. The initiative came from Jesus completely. Jesus chose to find and save Philip and then to enlist him in His mission. Jesus had walked a long way to find Philip and He will go a long way today to find those whom He knows will believe in Him. It does not matter how terrible their sin may be, or how hidden or shameful it is, nor how hopeless or helpless they may feel. Christ will see that every person has some chance of turning back to God. It is completely up to the person to heed the seeking of Christ, to respond before He turns away. We believers should be willing to go any distance to reach people for Christ. Too many people are considered and treated as being untouchable: alcoholics, immorals, poor, prisoners, addicts, and the diseased.
Secondly, Jesus Himself called Philip. Philip was aching for deliverance, aching to find the Messiah. Therefore, Philip had sought out the company of those who were like-minded. In doing this he had reached a point where Christ went to where he was. Thirdly, Jesus called Philip of Bethaida to follow Him. Follow meant to become a close companion, a close follower, a disciple. The two big ideas in this word: union and likeness, or cleaving and conformity. So to follow Jesus means to cleave, to be united to Him, to be in close union with Him and to become like Him, to be conformed to Him. Now doesn't that cover a majority of what a Christian is supposed to be, or not?
Of course, we then observe what Philip immediately did. He went and found Nathanael to tell him who they had found. See, Philip did exactly what Jesus had just done: he went and found someone and told him who he had found. Philip exhibited conviction, the One prophesied was Jesus Christ. The Messiah has been found! Notice his joy, his jubilation and excitement, rejoicing to Nathanael. Philip's needs and craving heart had been satisfied by Jesus.
Isn't this what we yearn for Jesus to do for each of us today? To come and find us? To come and satisfy our needs and our broken hearts? Do we not wish that our hearts could be filled with joy, jubilation, excitement, and rejoicing? Sure we do. And it will be done for us, if we accept Christ into our hearts and repent of our sin. We merely need to totally commit ourselves to Christ.
Blessings and peace,
Sun, Apr 12th - 6:27PM
BOOK OF JOHN
"Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where do you dwell?" He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where He dwelled, and abode with Him that day: for it was about the tenth hour of the day. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first went and found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ." And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, He said, "You are Simon the son of Jona: you shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone."
Here we witness Andrew's discovery of Jesus and what his response was. Andrew's experience, surprisingly, was simple and somewhat like the experience of very many people who come to Christ. Andrew "stood" where preaching was taking place. John the Baptist had been holding his "campaign" around the Jordan River. Andrew, who had an ache, a yearning, for the Word of God, had got interested in what was happening and had attended the meetings, and at some point had become a follower of John. The point here? Andrew hungered for righteousness; therefore he took advantage of the opportunity to hear solid preaching of God's Word. He was there to hear the Messiah proclaimed.
Andrew "heard" the preacher speak. He listened to the message, staying focused upon what was being said. He was alert and aware so when the announcement that the Messiah had come, he was ready. Of course, appropriate to this time of the year is the proclamation, "Behold the Lamb of God!" We see that Andrew "followed Jesus." The word "followed" is in the Greek aorist tense, meaning a once-for -all action. Andrew turned to Jesus, ready to commit to Him.
These same three steps must be taken by each of us: We must stand where the Word, Christ Himself, is preached. We must have a hunger that drives us to hear preaching, a hunger that drives us to stay alert and awake to hear the Word proclaimed. We must then hear the Word, the announcement: the Lamb of God has come to take away the sin of the entire world. Finally, we must choose to follow Jesus (John 8:12, 10:27, 12:26; Hosea 6:3).
Of course, people will miss Christ. Two things basically will cause us to miss Him. If we do not stand where Christ is being preached: standing elsewhere in the world, in self, in the flesh, or standing in the midst of those who do not care for Christ nor for the preaching of the Word. The other thing is if we do not hear: allowing our mind to wander or be distracted, being sleepy, disinterested, or simply not paying attention.
We should notice some significant facts about John the Baptist: first, his message was all about Christ, the Lamb of God, come to take away the sin of the world. Second, his purpose was to point people toward Christ, even his own disciples were pointed in that direction. Third, his spirit was just filled with enormous humility. He was completely selfless, without inflated ego.
All of the basics of spreading the Word are found in this passage. The invitation to come to Christ is here. Many people will behold Christ but not choose to follow Him anywhere. The work of Christ's disciples today is to look for those who hear the invitation and choose to come to Christ. Jesus' extends His invitation to "Come and see" immediately. Andrew and Simon Peter wanted to see where Jesus was staying, to discover where He was dwelling. Of course, Jesus meant far more than simply seeing where He was physically staying. He spoke of seeing the Truth and learning all about Him. These two men then chose to remain in Jesus' presence. Note here: their choice changed their lives forever. This fact remained more than 50 years later when this got written down. How is it that John, the author of this book, can remember this turning point in the lives of these two men so clearly? Could it be that he is the "other disciple" that was with Andrew? John's life was forever changed as well, this meeting of Jesus was the turning point in his life.
Andrew stated that he had found the Messiah. Witnessing of the preaching had convicted his heart of the truth. Andrew had met Jesus personally, just as each person today must still meet Jesus personally. The word "beheld" means to look upon with an intense, earnest look, to concentrate, to stare and gaze upon. Jesus, in other words, looked into the innermost being of Peter. Jesus then told Peter that "you shall be called" Cephas. This is future tense, his name would be changed. He would become changed from a self-centered, defensive, overbearing, and carnal man into a strong, solid, immovable and unbreakable rock for God.
This is exactly what Jesus will do with each and everyone who hears the Word, believes the Word, and follows Jesus in their heart. They will become changed people. This is how our world can become transformed. One changed heart at a time. This is the kingdom work that Christ assigns to believers today: pointing people towards Jesus, showing them where He dwells, letting them hear the Word of God being preached, and then allow them to meet Jesus personally.
That is all for tonight my friends. May God greatly bless you and your family during these stressful times of dealing with the coronavirus.
Tue, Mar 31st - 8:50PM
BOOK OF JOHN
Let's continue looking at this concept of the Lamb of God. This Person is not of mankind, but of God. The idea in Scripture is that the Lamb belonged to God; meaning God gave, supplied, and provided the Lamb for sacrifice (Genesis 22:8). All of this speaks of the unbelievable love of God for mankind, of the great sacrifice and humiliation Christ underwent for mankind (Philippians 2:6-8; I Peter 2:24), of the forgiveness of sins and salvation which came from God's grace and not from mankind's resources and works (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 2:4-7). It also speaks of the deity of Christ, His being of God.
John the Baptist said the Lamb of God "takes away the sin of the world." The phrase "takes away" comes from the Greek term airon. meaning to lift away, to carry off. It means to bear in behalf of one, as one's substitute. Thus, Jesus Christ was the sacrificial Lamb of God who bore our sins. He lifted our sins off of us and bore and carried them away. The word "sin" (harmartian) is singular, not plural. All of the sins of the world are taken and placed into one package. The whole package of sin was laid upon and borne by Christ Jesus. God looks at our world as a whole. Christ did not bear the sins of just some people but the entire world, both then and up to today. No matter how deep and ugly a person's sin may be, Christ bore that sin.
John the Baptist also stated that Christ was the Preeminent One, the One before all. John did not know who the Messiah would be, only that the Messiah would come. John did know Jesus for they were cousins. John was probably six months older than Jesus (Luke 1:36). But John did not know that his cousin was to be the Messiah. Even though John did not know who the Messiah was, he remained faithful and preached and baptized as God had instructed him to do. He believed God. So, today believers need to follow the example of the Baptist and declare that Christ is before all, declare that He has come, and get about our mission of proclaiming Christ to the world!
Now we come to consider the Holy Spirit in all of this The Messiah was the one upon whom the Spirit of God came and remained. The Spirit descended in the form of a dove. The dove was a sacred bird to the Jewish people. It was their symbol of peace and gentleness, of purity and innocence; but even more importantly, this bird was often identified with the Spirit of God. The dove settling upon Jesus identified Him as the Messiah and endued Him with the power of God. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit came upon men only in special situations and never came and remained upon them. With Jesus it was vastly different. The Holy Spirit entered the life of Jesus once-for-all, permanently and powerfully, in His full manifestation and unlimited power. And so when a person today is baptized by the Holy Spirit into Christ, the Holy Spirit enters the life of the believer and becomes a permanent experience of the believer. He remains dwelling within the believer.
Finally, we must ponder and accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. We have to take notice of the definite article. Christ is the Son, not a son of God. It means that He is the only Son, the only begotten Son, who came from the very bosom of God. This means that He came from the deepest part, from the most intimate place, from the most honorable fellowship of God. All four Gospel writers say Jesus is the Son of God. They also say that He constantly claimed that God was His Father, that He was the Son of the Father in a unique sense. I could provide all of the Scripture references for this, but there are over 40 of them.
Suffice to say, Jesus is not the biological Son of God. He is the second Person of the Godhead, or Trinity. The Son was combined with a human form in the womb of Mary in order for the Father's plan to redeem mankind from its sinfulness to come to fruition. Through His human body Jesus experienced everything that we do. In His deity He was able to live a sinless life in order to provide us with a living example to aspire to. He also in His deity was able to become our Substitute upon the cross and take upon Himself all of the sins of mankind and with His shed blood pay for them in full. Believers are bond servants simply because Jesus bought our freedom from sin with His own blood. We are no longer the owners of our lives, Jesus is.
That is all for tonight my friends. I hope this post has provided you with assurance, a sense of peace, and perhaps some things upon which to chew for awhile.
Mon, Mar 30th - 9:56PM
THE BOOK OF JOHN
"The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I said, After me comes a man which is preferred before me: for He was before me. And I did not know Him: but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore I am come baptizing with water." And John bore record, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him. And I did not know Him: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said to me, "Upon whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizes with the Holy Spirit." "And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God."
John : 29-34
Here we see one the greatest witnesses ever given by a person. John the Baptist was unmistakable in his proclamation of the Lord Jesus the Christ.
1. Christ is the Lamb of God.
2. Christ is the Preeminent One.
3. Christ is the Messiah, the One upon whom the Spirit of God remained.
4. Christ is the Son of God.
Christ Jesus is the "Lamb of God". Down through the centuries this concept has been one of the most cherished symbols of Jesus that has been held by believers. What are the reasons for this concept? The lamb is a picture of Christ our Passover who was sacrificed for us (I Corinthians 5:7). Historically, the Passover refers back to the time when God delivered the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 11:1). God had pronounced judgment, the taking of Egypt's firstborn, because of their injustices. The faithful were instructed to choose and slay a pure lamb, one without any blemish or disease, and sprinkle its blood over the door posts outside their homes. This blood of the innocent lamb would serve as a sign that they believed God had already passed judgment and it had been carried out. God would pass over those houses upon which this blood appeared on the doors. All those who did not believe and had not applied the lamb's blood to their doors discovered their firstborn children were dead.
Symbolically, the Passover pictures the coming of Christ as the Savior. The lamb without blemish pictures His sinless life, and the blood sprinkled on the door posts pictures His blood shed for the salvation of the believer. It is a picture that the life and blood of the innocent Lamb has been substituted for the believer. The eating of the lamb pictures the need for the spiritual nourishment gained by "feeding" upon Christ, the Bread of Life. The unleavened bread (bread without yeast) pictures the need for putting evil out of one's life and home (Matthew 26:17). Of utmost importance here is that the blood of the lamb saved people. The lamb had to be chosen, sacrificed, and its blood applied. This lamb symbolized Christ our Passover who was chosen and sacrificed for all of us who believe. If we believe and apply His spilled blood to our hearts and homes, He saves us. If we do not, He destroys us. It is the shed blood of Christ that saves us from all of our sins.
The Lamb is a picture of the precious blood of Christ Jesus which redeems us (I Peter 1:18-19). It is said that the head of each Jewish household would select a perfect lamb from the flock. It would become like a member of the family for several days. The head of the household would then lay a hand upon its forehead, identifying personally with the lamb. Then it would be slaughtered and cooked for the family to consume in one meal. The people knew their sins had separated them from God and that these sins must be removed before they could be reconciled to God. Thus, their sins were transferred from them to the lamb, which bore the judgment of sin (death). Through the lamb's death the family was set free symbolically from their sins. But we need to note that it was not the deed that caused God to remove their sins, it was the faith of the people in God's Word that He would remove the sin.
This all is a picture of Christ Jesus, mentioned in the Old Testament in Isaiah and Jeremiah as well as in the New Testament books of Acts, I Corinthians, Hebrews, I Peter, and Revelation. We need to keep in mind that Jesus willingly offered Himself as our sacrifical Lamb, as our substitute and sin-bearer, and that God willingly accepted the offering and sacrifice of His only begotten Son for us. God is satisfied with the settlement for sin that Jesus made. If any person really believes the blood of Jesus to be precious, that it really covers their sin, God will take that belief and count it as righteousness.
This is rather important as we are a couple of weeks away from observing Easter Sunday in the Christian parts of our world. People everywhere can have access to the joy and peace of God in these times of turmoil, fear, sickness, and yes, even death. Each of us can receive assurance from God that even if we must face death today He will be right there with us each step of the way. He will be there to comfort, strengthen, love, and provide us with His peace that surpasses all of our understanding.
There is more to come in a couple of days! Amen.