Archive for December, 2011

Come And See (3)

Posted in Come And See, Scripture on December 30, 2011 by nmpreach

As we continue through the study of John’s Gospel, I want to focus on just one phrase.  Too often, I think, we read our English translations and glance over important words, phrases, or concepts that the original readers/hearers would have appreciated.  The text again is from John 1.

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’  I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”  And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.  I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.  And I have seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (vs 29-34 ESV)

Let’s talk about what “Lamb of God” would mean to those in the Ancient Near East.  As a good Jew, you would quickly be reminded of the lamb of the Passover.  In Exodus, God delivered His people.  It’s with a the lamb (particularly the blood) that God reminded His people of His deliverance.  The Jews had celebrated this particular feast for thousands of years.

But this isn’t the only thing that John must have meant.  A Passover lamb would never be able to take away sin.  And John’s description of Jesus included, “who takes away the sin of the world.”  This lamb was to be different.  Whereas the first lamb had limitations ie. remembrance, the second Lamb had no limitations.  The second Lamb would prompt one to remember the past but look forward to the future.  In regards to the future, the Jews had a particular interest.  They had long-awaited the coming of the Messiah – one they believed that would overthrow the Romans, do away with their enemies, promote them within the “food chain.”

But there’s something else we must see regarding the Old Testament.  The Jews of John’s day would have also have been reminded of a prophecy from Isaiah.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. (Is 53:6-7 ESV)

Can you imagine?  Seven hundred years prior to Christ Jesus’ birth, Isaiah prophesied about the crucifixion of Jesus.  Not only that, but he used the picture of a lamb being led to the slaughter.  Could it be that John the Baptist also had this Old Testament text in mind?  I think so.

John was from a family of priests.  He would have known what sacrifice was all about.  He would have known that the temple sacrifice – being performed at the temple on a daily basis – was limited.  The temple sacrifice was to remind one of his/her sin.  But it wasn’t the ultimate sacrifice.  The Lamb of God – the ultimate sacrifice – the one who would destroy the power of sin completely had now arrived!  Remember Abraham speaking to Isaac?  God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.  (Gen 22:8 ESV)  Jesus brought old and new together.  Everything found fulfillment in Jesus.  And John recognized that fact.

We’ve just celebrated the birth of Christ.  And without a birth, there could be no sacrifice.  There would be no atonement for sin.  Hope would be impossible.  But as it stands, Christ Jesus willingly came and became the Sacrificial Lamb.  And notice John says, “…for the whole world.”  Wow!

Behold , the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Advertisements

Seeing With The Heart

Posted in Discipleship, Scripture on December 28, 2011 by nmpreach

The person who led our Bible study this morning drew our attention to John 12:36-43.  This text has always been intriguing to me.  Jesus speaks of the unbelief of the Jewish people and the consequences for their unbelief.  I plan to write at length about this text in the Come and See series.  But I wanted to say a few words today regarding our conversation.

1) Sometimes we “lose things” in translation.  In other words, we read Jews and assume it means to entire Jewish race.  However, a closer study of the Gospel reveals that’s not always the case.  Jews might mean the entire Jewish people.  But there are times it means Pharisees, Saducees, religous people, etc.  It’s important that we read these texts in context;

2) John quotes from the prophet Isaiah in this text.  It seems he was familiar with the Old Testament scriptures and makes application to his own time.  We should do the same!

3) The Evangelist speaks of pleasing man rather than God is foolish.  In this case, the “authorities” were fearful of the Pharisees (man), so much so that they weren’t willing to confess their belief in Christ Jesus (God).  I’m reminded of Matthew 10:28.  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (ESV)

4) Notice what happens in verse 36.  John says Jesus departed and hid himself from them.  Because of their lack of belief, the consequence was Jesus removed Himself from their presence.  This begs the question: What is belief?  Is it simply a profession? or does it lead to lifestyle change?  Sometimes I believe we have rationalized our lifestyle by saying “I believe.”  However, the fig tree is not producing figs.  My prayer is that I don’t become so blind so and so calloused that despite the signs, I still fail to believe.  Seeing with one’s eyes is so much different than seeing with the heart.

Great Bible study this morning and much to think about.  Any thoughts?

So What’s It Take?

Posted in Discipleship, Jesus, Priorities, Scripture on December 20, 2011 by nmpreach

What would it take for you to change your life – how you view things, how you react to challenges, what your priorities are, how you live? Don’t answer too quickly. What has to happen today, so that tomorrow and the rest of your life is lived much differently?

Last time, we spoke about the phrase “to all who received him.” (Jn 1:12). But what does it mean to receive Jesus?  What does it mean to believe?  In John 3, Jesus uses the phrase “born again.”  No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.  I’ll say more about the John 3 text in future posts.  But for now, let’s focus on the two words “born again.”  What does that mean?  Nicodemus surely didn’t understand it.  Jesus spoke about being born of the Spirit or being born from above.  Wouldn’t this change your life?  Wouldn’t that make you different?

Notice Jesus didn’t say, “You must say the sinner’s prayer.”  He didn’t say, “You must walk down the aisle at a church.”  Not, “You must be dunked in a large tub of water.”  “You have to be religious.”  Nope!  Jesus said, “You must be born again.”  And when you are born again, you will no longer be the same.  That’s what it would take for you to change.

The Pharisees were religious.  But they were also called “white-washed tombs.”  The apostles interacted with Jesus yet were amazed when Jesus calmed the wind (Mk 4:41).  Thomas knew what Jesus had said.  But Thomas declared, “Unless I see and touch…”  Peter followed all the way to the Garden and then denied Jesus three times.  You must be born again.

Something has to happen in our life that we’re no longer who we once were.  Read Acts 9 and Paul’s conversion experience.  He was no longer the same.  So what’s it take for you?  Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that you’re saved.  Why?  Because you walked down the aisle, said a prayer, or got dunked.  You must be born again.

Maybe you’ve made a deal with God.  If you’ll just get me out of this Lord, I’ll serve you, love you, tell others about you, etc.  And after the “passion” waned, you found yourself back in a rut.  You must be born again.

Will you hear me for a sec?  In Matthew 25, there’s a section about the final judgment.  The grades have been turned in and no extra work will be accepted.  A parable of ten virgins opens the chapter and the premise is to be ready for Christ’s return at any time.  Next, Jesus speaks about being good stewards of what you’ve been given.  If you know the truth, don’t continue to live by old ways.  And then a text on sheep and goats.  The goats represent people who didn’t put others before themselves.  Summary:  You must be born again.

Look long and hard in the mirror.  Have you changed?  I didn’t say, “Are you good.”  HAVE YOU CHANGED?  Have you allowed God to be the Lord of your life?  Or are you still holding on to control?  You must be born again.  There’s no better time than when we celebrate the birth of God in the flesh.

 

Come and See (2)

Posted in Come And See, Scripture on December 6, 2011 by nmpreach

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.  John 1:12-13 NIV

I’m excited about working through the Gospel of John during the first few months of 2012.  If you’re not aware, John’s Gospel account is much different than the synoptic gospels.  This is just one of many examples.  John sets out to prove that Jesus is who said He is (20:31).  In other words, if you and I were the jury, John attempts to convince us based upon the evidence.

In these particular verses in chapter 1, I want you to notice the duality of relationship.  For example, watch this:

  • Yet to all who received him
  • to those who believed in his name

Notice those are mankind’s responsibility.  We must receive Him.  This might be a good time to read the first 11 verses of the Gospel.  Also, we must believe in His name.  We must believe means we must live our lives with an unparalleled faith.  But we don’t have faith in just anything.  We have faith “in his name.”  That makes all the difference in the world – literally!  Knowing that God is bigger than anyone or anything and he has our best interests at heart should give us an immense amount of peace.  Those things are our responsibility.  No one can do them for us.

  • he gave the right to become children of God

Don’t miss this!  God gave us the opportunity to become children of God.  Wow!  This is the time that we often refer to as “The Fork In The Road.”  There’s a choice to receive or reject.  God is faithful and He always comes through with His part.  The question is:  Will we?

I love this!  God is God.  And He could do anything He wants.  But He offers us a relationship – a duality of responsibility.  Here’s the point:  God allows us to be a part of what He’s doing.  He doesn’t force.  He offers.  And when He does, we then have to make a choice.

Realize God is going to do His part.  Will you?  Will I?

Come and See (1)

Posted in Come And See, Jesus, Scripture on December 2, 2011 by nmpreach

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life… John 1:1-4a NIV

The word “zoe” is used thirty-six times in the Gospel of John.  Life is a theme throughout John’s writing.  However, we should note this isn’t just the ability to breathe or to have a heartbeat.  The life John refers to is much greater.

Life refers to something only given by God.  It is what He intended at creation.  And to be separate from God equals the absence of life.  Sin separates us from what God intended – a relationship between Creator and created.  Because all are disobedient (Rom. 3:23), there is a great chasm between the unrighteous and a holy God.

It is for this reason that Jesus had to come and provide a way back to the original – when things were “good” or “very good” (Gen. 1; Jn 3:16, 10:10).  In other words, it’s only through Jesus that life can take shape (Jn 14:6).

Tired of searching for answers that never come?  Interested in a peace that is often times hard to explain?  Want more than a heartbeat or a breath?  The Gospel is going to point to the One who can provide all that you need – The answer, The Peace, The Life – Jesus.  Come and See!

Night

Posted in Uncategorized on December 1, 2011 by nmpreach

I’m wondering today.  Wondering about effort.  Wondering about apathy.  About complacency.  About settling for something less.  I’m wondering.

I’m thinking of people of all stripes.  People including myself.  I’m wondering.  What?  Why?  How?

What could have happened to allow this feeling to surface?  Or maybe it’s not a feeling at all.  Yes.  That’s it!  There is no feeling.  Maybe that’s why I’m wondering.  There’s something missing – something not right.  I know what it is.  But What can I do to “fix it”?

I’m wondering.

Why does this happen?  I know it’s happened to me more than once.  I’ve seen friends fall by the wayside.  I know friends now that no longer wonder.  Although I’ve attempted to encourage them and do what I can, often I’ve been unsuccessful.  Why do I  often feel like giving up, like throwing in the towel, like settling for mediocrity.  Why would they?  Why do we allow the enemy to win?  And Why is the enemy allowed to be a part anyway?

I’m wondering.

How?  How could God love me?  How can I love myself?  How can I love God more than anything else?  And How do I lead others to do the same?  How can I even begin to understand love?  How will my efforts be measured?  How impotent I am on my own!

I’m wondering today.  I wonder if anyone else is wondering.  I wonder if I’m all alone.  I wonder if everyone else is as messed up as I am.  I’m wondering. I’m wondering if I’m making too much out of nothing.

I’m wondering if it really matters.