Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Behold, I am coming quickly

Azalea yellow


“Behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me, to repay each one according to what his deeds are!  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 
  Revelation 22:12-13
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The above verses are part of the benediction found in the book Revelation.  There are many things about the book of Revelation that are confusing. The vivid symbology is sometimes interpreted differently. There are several different widely held views in the Christian community for interpretations of some of the predictions for the future.   To discuss the various views and label one specific interpretation as the correct and only proper view is beyond the scope of this blog.  My personal view has changed several times over the last fifty or so years. My views may yet change again.  As history unfolds we will understand more fully what are God's plans. One thing that does not change is the Word of God. God is sovereign, He knows and planned the future. The future is exactly what God has made it to be. Christians can rest safely in God's hands. We cam be sure that Christ is coming again.

 Throughout this letter of John the narration has switched from the angel and Jesus. Jesus is speaking these words.  Jesus  again declares that He is God.  I AM.   I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.  Revelation 22:13  Jesus tell us that Behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me, to repay each one according to what his deeds are!  Revelation 22:12   Jesus will come again and quickly!  One might ask, "If He is coming soon, why has He not come in the past 2,000 years?"  The greek word used here is ταχύ tachu, it is often translated as soon, quickly or without delay.  Some of the early Christians believed that Jesus would come again in their lifetime. The word is also translated a meaning suddenly or by surprise.  This would be a good interpretation for the word here.  For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  1 Thessalonians 5:2   In my reading I found this illustration for the meaning of the word.
... The meaning of returning “soon” is that it would happen “at any moment.” It is like my phone-answering machine. The message informs the caller that I am away from my desk but will return “soon.” I use the same message whether I expect to be gone two minutes or two weeks—for the very simple reason that I want to encourage the person without revealing exactly how long I will be gone!
(I have lost the source for the credit. If you know what it might be make a comment so that I can add the citation).

Christ is coming soon to repay all people by their deeds.  We are saved by grace.  We cannot earn our salvation by works.  We are sinners and therefore are condemned to hell.  By grace we are forgiven our sins, not by works.  For by grace you have been saved by faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9  Not every statement of belief is genuine.  We are saved by the grace and power of God in Christ alone.  Our works do not save us.  Our works should indicate the seriousness and depth of our belief.   Our works and words should point others to Jesus.  All believers will be rewarded for their faith and service. No true believer will be left behind.  Jesus is telling us here that He will return at any moment.  Time is short for each individual.  Don't put off making Jesus your Lord.

There is absolutely no one like Jesus.  Jesus Christ has total grasp of the future. He is the beginning and the end.  He views all time as the present. When He speaks of the future it is but now for Him.  He lives forever and He lives outside of time.  Time is also a creation of God that is made for mankind. Mankind can only live in the now.  Man views time as a line that only moves forward. God lives forever and at all times.  He is eternal. There is no past for God because He was always there.  Jesus is God and He is: the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.  Revelation 22:13  God is sovereign overall things. From the beginning he has unfolded each stage of history according to his plan. "Who has performed and accomplished it, Calling forth the generations from the beginning? ' I, the LORD, am the first, and with the last. I am He.'"   Isaiah 41:4

The end is really near. One does not know how near the end might be for themselves.  If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior, the time is now.  It must be done before time is no more.
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When a scheduled jet from New York comes toward Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, the controller knows all the details of the flight pattern. He knows exactly where it will be at various stages in the flight, when it departed, and when it will arrive.  
On the other hand, a young lady whose fiancé is on the flight knows only the approximate time of arrival, but she is still overjoyed at the prospect of his coming!  
I’d rather know very little about Christ’s coming and have a heart full of anxious anticipation than know many of the details about his return and be indifferent. Of course, it might be better to have both, but the important issue is a joyful heart that is waiting in hope.


Illustrations for Biblical Preaching Edited by Michael P. Green


Monday, April 29, 2013

I AM the first and the Last


Red tulip
And when I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead person, and he placed his right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid! I am the first and the last, and the one who lives, and I was dead, and behold, I am living forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and of Hades.  Revelation 1:17-18
I am the First and the Last”   Revelation  1:17
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In these verses Jesus again proclaims that He is God.  He again uses the "I  AM" statement. The I AM statement was the words that God used as His name to Moses at the time of the burning bush. On this occasion John is receiving a revelation from Jesus concerning the "end times."  The resurrected King Jesus, appears to John from His throne in heaven. When John see Jesus, he immediately falls  to his feet as if dead. The glorious appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of the golden candlesticks literally knocks John to the ground.  John was familiar with Jesus, he had walked and studied with Him on earth for several years. John saw Jesus at this time in much of His glory.  John fell at the feet of Jesus for respect and honor, but also this was an immediate act of fear. 

Falling on one's face in the presence of the glory of God is a natural  response. In our human state and body we could never tolerate the full glory of God. God must hide much of His glory from us or we would die.  In Genesis 17:3  we see Abraham "fell on his face".  Moses also has a similar response, Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.  Exodus 3:6    Balaam “bowed his head and fell flat on his face.” Numbers 22:31  Ezekiel did the same in the presence of the Lord, As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake. Ezekiel 1:28   There are other Old Testament examples of a human to the appearance of God.  In the New Testament the reaction of the disciples who witnessed the Transfiguration was; When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. Matthew 17:1-8  Also there is the conversion of Paul; As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”  Acts 9:3-4

John fell as if dead before Jesus. Jesus responded to John with amazing tenderness.  Jesus touches John with His right hand. The hand that scattered the stars in the sky.  The hand of the Almighty, the hand with total power.  The hand of God reaches out to touch John. Throughout the Bible the Right Hand of God is a familiar anthropomorphism.  It is found sixty times in the Bible. The right hand of God is used figuratively to show the power and majesty of God.  It is a symbol of God’s strength, salvation, and majesty. The  "right hand" of God demonstrates His omnipotence. In heaven now Jesus now sits at the right hand of God.  Jesus, while God the Son in the flesh, completed His saving power on earth.  Sitting at the right hand of God indicates that Jesus has sat down from his saving work to reign as the Almighty God.  Jesus is the Lamb upon the throne. The Holy Spirit is at work in the calling of new Christians.  

John was overwhelmed by the majesty of the glorified Son of man. When Jesus appeared to John at this time, He did not appear in His human body.  The character of God is displayed in His tenderness and concern for John the beloved.  Jesus further comforts Jesus with the words, "Do not be afraid!" How amazing is that!  Jesus knew the fear that John would feel in his presence.  Jesus gave comfort and encouragement to John with those words.  

"I am the first and the last, and the one who lives, and I was dead, and behold, I am living forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and of Hades." These words of Jesus announce His eternal existence.  His words describe His being and His purpose for becoming a man. He was a sinless man who voluntarily took upon Himself the burden of our sins.  He laid down his life that he might take it again, and thereby gave magnificent proof that he is The Living One, the one who lives. Christ is self existent.  His life came from none and is sustained by none. He is the Living One. He was dead.  He chose death His death to ransom us.  He was resurrected, and lives forever. The keys of Hades and of Death describes Christ’s sovereign dominion in and over the invisible spiritual world.  Death and Hades are similar, but death is the condition and Hades is the place of the dead.  Christ decides who lives, who dies, and when death will occur.

John was imprisoned on the island of Patmos when He received this revelation from the Lord. John has just frightened by the glory of the Lord.  Jesus knew of John's fear.  Jesus cared for His beloved John and comforted him with kind words and a touch.  Jesus is the First and the Last. How wonderful it is to know Him as your Savior.  Jesus is alive forever.  Those whom He has redeemed are known as His children. Christians will have trials in this world.  We are not promised a rose garden here on earth.  But if  Christ is our Lord, we will know Him. We have His promises. We can expect comfort from His right hand. We can hear Him say, Do not be afraid.  And we can look forward to an eternity where will will see God in His glory.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Alpha and Omega –– Revelation 1:8

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 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, " who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
 Revelation 1:8



The first three words of the Greek text in Revelation are "apocalypsis Iēsou Christou",  literally this is translated as revelation of Jesus Christ.  Revelation 1:1  This is best understood as both a revelation about Jesus Christ and from Jesus Christ.  Apocalypsis literally means an unveiling or an uncovering. God uncovered for us His plan for human History. God has shown us His will.  He is showing us how He will set right all the wrongs of our fallen world.

Jesus tells us that He is the "Alpha and the Omega."  This is another I AM "ego eimi." I am is the name of God in the Old Testament. Exodus 3:13-14  Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The Lord God is the beginning and the end. The Jewish teachers, commonly used the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet to denote the whole of anything,  from beginning to end.  Jesus is the whole of everything.   John MacArthur states,  The 26 letters in the English alphabet, arranged in almost endless combinations, can hold and convey all knowledge. Christ is the supreme, sovereign alphabet; there is nothing outside his knowledge ...  Jesus establishes His identity in the past, present and in the future.

God's sovereignty over all times was also stated in the Old Testament. Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning?  Isaiah 41:4 6 Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.  Isaiah 44:6  Jesus is eternal not only in that He is not bound by time, but also in that He is the Master of time.

Jesus describes Himself as "who is and who was and who is to come."   That covers it all, that is the whole of everything.  Jesus says He is Almighty.   The word here for Almighty is παντοκρατωρ pantokrator.  It is compose from two words pasa and kratos that together means the all-ruling,  absolute and universal sovereign, he who holds sway over all things.  God has power over everything.  He controls every person, object and event.  He controls the electrons, protons and neutrons in every atom, of every molecule, in every element and compound in the universe.

Particle physicists define elementary particles or fundamental particles as the smallest building blocks in the universe. Particles such as leptons and quarks have no substructure. They're as small as it gets. In school you may have learned of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. What Heisenberg discovered was that the observation of a system in quantum mechanics disturbs the system enough that you can’t know everything about the system. In other words, one's observation of a particle will alter the natural behavior of that particle. The more precisely you measure the position of a particle, for example, the less it’s possible to precisely measure the particle’s momentum.  Before this odd principle, science decided that we couldn't gain all the information we needed because we did not have tools that could measure things more accurately.  Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle states that nature itself doesn’t allow you to make measurements of both energy and time beyond a certain level of precision.  Today there is something called the "string theory".  We don't have the tools to measure particles that are smaller than quarks, so by theory and mathematics we can propose that each so-called fundamental particle actually contains a tiny, vibrating, one-dimensional loop of string. The vibration of the string determines the charge and mass of the greater particle.  Once we figure out the string, we will know just about everything.  We will learn how and when the universe came about.  There will be no secrets in nature.  We will have the key to all knowledge.

I am not diminishing science, if indeed quantum science is really a science.  The word  science is from the Latin word scientia  which means knowledge.  Science is only possible because of the existence of God. God created this universe by His Word.  He made certain rules that the universe obeys.  These rules are a mark of His creation.  It is because of these rules that scientific study is possible.  God's natural rules make it possible for us to study His creation. We can expect that exactly repeated actions with the same substance under the same conditions will always cause the same results.  These rules are a gift to mankind to allow him to improve his earthly life, battle illnesses, grow more food, and many other things.  In reality there are no "laws of nature."  There are only laws that God created and established that the universe must follow. These laws allow us to gain knowledge of His creation, and that is science.

The Almighty has power over everything.  He controls everything.  No mater how small the particle, string or non particle, God controls it.  If the objects do not act according to "nature" then it is a miracle.  Miracles are acts of the Almighty God that do not follow, what we call natural laws.  God is in control. He is sovereign, He is the whole of everything. Heisenberg may be uncertain of the energy, time and location of subatomic particles or non-particles, but God is certain of it all. The placement, conditions and energy of all things is known, planned and placed there by God.  The string theory will likely never be discovered.  There are multiple string theories that have been proffered  and being worked on.  As Christians we can be sure that God has made the "strings" and is weaving them into the future of His plans.  We can take comfort in a sovereign God There is no uncertainty, all is moving according to His plan.

The Almighty One is a designation of God from the Old Testament.  This name conveys a military image. God is the great and mighty warrior. God has all power.  Jesus, in the introduction to the book of Revelation, announces that He has all power to accomplish all of that is disclosed in this book.  He is Almighty from the beginning and the end of all creation. The character of Jesus is stated so amazingly in the few words of this verse.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. He is the one who is, and who was, and who is to come.  He is the Almighty, the eternal and absolute source of all creation, time and history.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

I Am He

Water drops on hosta leaf

Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples.  So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons.  Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, Whom do you seek?  They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said to them, I am he. Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.  When Jesus said to them, I am he, they drew back and fell to the ground.  So he asked them again, Whom do you seek? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus answered, I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.  This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.  ––  John 18:2-9
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The I AM - "ego eimi" occurs three times in the verses above.  Jesus uses the I AM - "ego eimi" statement twice to verify who He is. John 18: 5-6  John 18:8  This is in keeping with the reference to God as I am in Exodus 3: 14 and  Isaiah 41:4  Isaiah 43:10  Isaiah 43:25  I these I am statements He is establishing his equality with God the Father.

The circumstances of these statements of Jesus are well known.  Jesus has just betrayed by Judas.  Soldiers and officers of the temple have come with weapons to arrest Jesus.  The word translated as band in verse 3 is σπειρα speira.  It means: anything rolled into a circle or ball, anything wound, rolled up.  It also refers to a military cohort, the tenth of a legion which is about 600 men. It can also refer to 1/3 of a cohort which is two hundred men.  The soldiers were accompanied by the temple officers.  These temple police were the primary arresting officers because Jesus was to go before the high priest. They expected trouble from Jesus and His disciples so they came armed. They also brought lanterns. They were expecting the criminal Jesus and His band would be hiding in the dark and would attempt an escape.


Jesus came forward and asked the soldiers who they were after.  Jesus, knew that they were coming and why they were there.  His plan for redemption of His people was proceeding as planned.  Jesus could have miraculously escaped, but He didn't.  He did not do so because it was His time.  Jesus was voluntarily submitting to the coming ordeal that was planned by His Father.  He came forward. They did not need to search for Him.  They answered that they were  looking for Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus answered them with "I am he."  By His asking this question, Jesus established that they were there only to arrest Him, therefore they were not to arrest the disciples. This showed His love and caring for the disciples. This answer surprised the temple police.  They drew back and fell to the ground.


Why did they fall to the ground?  You decide.  Those who came to arrest Jesus were expecting trouble.  The soldiers were trained to expect physical violence against them. They came They were surprised that there was no resistance.  They were surprised by the courage of Jesus.  OR, They were   responding to His I AM statement.  They were overcome by the statement of Jesus' claim of divinity.  Jesus had just answered their question by telling them He was God.  Perhaps with that announcement, Jesus manifested such glory that it literally threw the soldiers to the ground.

In the scriptures we find that falling to the ground was a common reaction to divine revelation.

Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple, and I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple of the Lord. And I fell on my face.  Ezekiel 44:4   Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground.  Daniel 10:9  And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?  Acts 9:4


Jesus asked them again, Whom do you seek?  The soldiers again answer "Jesus of Nazareth."  Again Jesus answers with, "I am he." Jesus again tells them He is the Messiah. He again looks out for His disciples and with authority commands the soldiers, "So, if you seek me, let these men go." Jesus the selfless Son of God shows His love for His true followers. Let these men go, I'll go with you without any fuss. Jesus, the I AM, voluntarily gave Himself up for His disciples.

Jesus is the I AM  Jesus willingly took the pain and blame for our sins. Jesus gave Himself for all who follow Him in earnest.  Jesus love us.










Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Jesus speaking in the Temple near the treasury.

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 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me. They said to him therefore, Where is your Father? Jesus answered, You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.  These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. 
So he said to them again, I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.  So the Jews said, Will he kill himself, since he says, Where I am going, you cannot come?  He said to them, You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.  I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.  So they said to him, Who are you? Jesus said to them, Just what I have been telling you from the beginning.  I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.  They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said to them, When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.  And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.  As he was saying these things, many believed in him.       –– John 8:18-30
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In the above few verses Jesus is speaking in the temple near the treasury.  It is obvious that He was telling the listeners that He was the Messiah.  No one arrested Him at this time because it was not time for His arrest and crucifixion yet. The ministry and miracles of Jesus did not happen according to accidental circumstances, it all went according to the plan of a sovereign God.  The word I am  occur a number of times in these verses.  I have highlighted the ones that my ESVST Bible indicates are "ego eimi" occurrences.

Jesus had previously stated that He was the light of the world.  The Pharisees challenged Him for His self - declaration. He had no proof of His statement.  He made the statement Himself with no one to back it up.  John 12:17  The Pharisees told Jesus anyone could claim anything about themselves and it doesn't make the statement true.  They need someone else to back up the statement. Jesus says that His testimony is not unsupported. Jesus tells them that His Father will bear witness about Him.  John 8:18  They ask Jesus, "Who are you that you can make this unsubstantiated statement about yourself?"  His answer begins this passage of Scripture. " I am the one who bears witness about myself."  "ego eimi"  He is the eternal One.

The religious leaders did not believe the divine origin of Jesus, they considered Him to be a fake Messiah.  They were concerned that He would make their situation with Rome much worse for them. The angry Pharisees respond by cynically asking, Where is your Father?  The Pharisees slam Jesus with an  insult. They insinuate the illegitimate birth of Jesus, and they know that Joseph is dead.  Jesus tell them, You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.  John 8:19  Jesus ignores the insult. He rebukes them by pointing out that anyone who believed that Joseph was His father did not know His real Father.  Furthermore they did not know God.  Jesus here stresses that the Father is known through the Son and that to know one is to know the other.

So he said to them again, I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.  So the Jews said, Will he kill himself, since he says, Where I am going, you cannot come?  John 8:21-22 Maybe it is just my thinking, but I think the Pharisees are really being quite snippy. They can not really be that obtuse.  They were mocking Christ. They suggested that He could suicide, then in death they could not follow Him.  Jewish tradition condemned suicide as a horrible sin that would result in permanent banishment to the worst part of Hades.   Jesus is telling them of his impending death, resurrection, and ascension to the Father.  Jesus was going to die, but at their hands.  Jesus was willingly going to become a sacrifice for His people. Where He was going was heaven.  He was going to prepare a place for those who loved Him. They were not going there unless they they knew Him and His Father.

You are of this world;  I am not of this world.  I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.  John 8:23-24  There are two more I AM -" ego eimi" statements in this sentence.  We are from below. We are are sinners. We do not like to hear this, but we are.  Like the Pharisees, we sometimes are unwilling to believe that we might be wrong.
Jesus is from above.  He reigns in Heaven and sits at the right hand of God.  The Pharisees had accused Jesus as being a sinner on a number of occasions, but He is the only Man without sin.  Jesus told them that they would die in their sin. The word used for sin is αμαρτια hamartia. This word means to wander from the path of uprightness and honor  to do or go wrong to wander from the law of God, violate God's law,  sin, an offense,  a violation of the divine law in thought or in act collectively.  for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.  Every person is a sinner. One must believe in Jesus as Savior to have eternal life.  Only he who serves Christ as their Lord is forgiven of their sins.  The I AM He, statement of Jesus is an "ego eimi" statement. I AM from the beginning, and forever.

When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.  John 8:28-29  The expression "lifted up" was well known at that time.  It signified crucifixion.  Jesus was not telling the Pharisees they would all believe in Him after His crucifixion. Jesus is telling them that His claims would be proven by His crucifixion and resurrection.  Jesus was telling the Pharisees that God is His Father. Jesus told them that His death would glorify His Father.  Jesus would submit to His Father and do what was pleasing to God.

Jesus very plainly told His listeners who He was.  Some understood Him, some did not.  It is the same today, some people hear the words of Jesus and take them to heart.  Some people do not even listen to His words.  Some hear His words and get angry about them.  There were those who heard Jesus that day and "believed in Him."  Which person are you?


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Dear friends, I hope that these devotions/Bible studies are helpful to you.  I have found that I am running behind in preparing them.  Situations may prevent me from preparing one for each weekday. When I began this blog several years ago the blog was only a Scripture reference, a comment anda quotation.  Most of those have been deleted from the blog.  I do want to continue as often as I can.  I have the rough drafts for 3 more I am working on.  I am not quitting –– just catching up.

There is a place after each blog to make a comment, please take the time to do that now and then.  It would be good to know if anyone is out there and stopping by.

Thanks,
Phillip








Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Jesus Gives an Example

Jesus Gives an Example


Wash Feet for Blog

 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one anothers feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 
I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.  Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He.  Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 


John 13:13-19



 Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He.
John 13: 19

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People traveling the dusty roads of Palestine found it necessary to wash their feet for comfort and cleanliness. The footwear of that time was sandals. As an expression of hospitality guests were offered vessels and water to wash their own feet.  If it was a wealthy household, a servant might be stationed by the door with basin, pitcher, and towel. As the guest arrived, the servant removed the guest's sandals, rinsed their feet, and then wiped away the dirt and water with a clean towel.  This foot-washing was only performed by the lowliest servant in the household. 

Previously the disciples were disputing who was going to be the greatest in the Kingdom.  Jesus told them that greatness in His Kingdom would come through serving others. Luke 22: 24-30  The disciples did not seem to learn that lesson. Jesus gave them an unforgettable demonstration of humility. At the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. Jesus washed the feet of every person at the table—even Judas, His betrayer.  John 13: 5-6   Jesus explained that this humble act of His was an example of the humble ministry that they must be ready to perform for one another 

Jesus turns to was the feet of Peter, but Peter objects. Peter exclaims, "You don't really plan to wash my feet, do you."  Peter was telling Jesus that it was inappropriate for the Messiah to was the feet of anyone.  Peter thought that this act of Jesus was demeaning.  Peter insists, "You will never wash my feet." Peter called Jesus, "My Lord," yet he still told Jesus what he should and should't do. 
Jesus then told Peter that He would have nothing to do with him unless He washed him.  Peter was devastated and begged Jesus to wash, “Not my feet only, but also my hands and my head”John 13: 9

“You call Me Teacher and Lord” John 13:13  In that day a disciple would never address the rabbi with whom he studied by his name. The disciple would acknowledged his subordination by addressing his rabbi as “Teacher” or as “Lord.” Jesus tells His disciples that they show Him this respect, and that they are right in doing so. “If I then, your Lord and Teacher” John 13:14-15. Jesus had washed their feet to give them an example to follow. As Jesus had taken the role of a servant, so they also should be willing to to serve one another just as He served them.“A servant is not greater than his master.” John 13:16–17  Jesus was telling His disciples that if at any time in  the future they were tempted to see themselves as better than others, they need only remember how Jesus had stooped to take a servant’s role at that Last Supper.

Jesus announced that someone reclining at the table that evening would not receive any blessing. Jesus said, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you”  John 13:10  "Not all of you,” means that Judas was not a believing disciple and he would betray Jesus. Apparently this comment did not attract much attention at this time.  He told the remaining eleven disciples that they were fully washed and their sins were forgiven.  Jesus then stated that He was telling them these things that were going to happen in the near future so that they would know "that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He."  John 13:19  Once again Jesus stated that without a doubt He is the I AM.  The Greek words used here for I am He are the "ego eimi ."

Jesus knew the His betrayal by Judas would shake the faith of the remaining disciples.Jesus reassured His disciples in advance.  Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. John 13:19-20  To "receive" one sent by Christ is to receive Christ, and to receive Christ is to receive the Father.  The word translated as receive is the Greek word λαμβανω lambano. This word means to get hold of, to catch, to accept, to attain, to experience to receive what is given, to gain.

It is essential and wonderful to know that Jesus is the I AM.  He is eternal and alive now, and forever.  If we receive Jesus we receive the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Having received them we are clean.  That does not mean we will no longer sin, but Christ has paid the penalty for our sins.  We, like Peter will find ourselves calling Jesus Lord, yet telling Jesus what He can and cannot do. We must repent, confess and trust in the Great I AM.




Monday, April 22, 2013

There came a woman


I who speak to you am He".   John 4:26


Leaves on water

There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, Give Me a drink.  For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman? (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)  Jesus answered and said to her, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.  She said to Him, Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?  You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?  Jesus answered and said to her, Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life. 
The woman said to Him, Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw. He said to her, Go, call your husband and come here.  The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said to her, You have correctly said, I have no husband; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.  The woman said to Him, Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.  Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.  Jesus said to her, Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.  You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.  But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.  The woman said to Him, I know that Messiah is coming ( He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.  Jesus said to her, I who speak to you am He.
–– John 4:7-26


"Jesus said to her, I who speak to you am He".   John 4:26

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This is another absolute  I AM statement of Jesus.  In this statement Jesus tells the woman of Samaria that He is the Messiah. This is not a metaphor or a comparison. It is a straight forward statement following her description of the Messiah.

Jesus traveled back and forth between Galilee and Judea.  Jesus saw that His ministry in Judea was attracting attention for the wrong reasons.  People were primarily interested in His miracles and not His teachings.  Provoking the Pharisees at this time was not His goal.  That would come later in His ministry according to His perfect time. The most direct route from Judea to Galilee was through Samaria. The Jews hated the Samaritans, so they would generally take a much longer route just to avoid encountering the Samaritans.  By the providence of God, Jesus and the disciples took the shorter route. The statement, "He had to travel through Samaria", probably refers to the providence of God.  Jesus had to travel that way so that He would meet the woman at the well.   John 4:4

Racial and religious prejudices separated the Jews and Samaritans. The Samaritans were descendants from foreigners brought to replace the ten tribes of Israel deported by the Assyrians. The foreigners had intermarried with the remaining Israelites. This left behind a mixed race that the  Jews felt represented the downfall of Israel. The Jews were told not to have intermarriages between Jews and Gentiles. The Samaritans worshiped God according to their own traditions rather than the Old Testament Scriptures. The Samaritans set up a rival religious system, claiming God should be worshiped on Mount Gerizim.

It was about the sixth hour and Jesus was tired and hungry. Jesus, as fully human and divine, suffered from His physical limitations in His humanity. According to the Roman time keeping, the first hour began at 12 noon, therefore the time was about 6:00 p. m. In the Jewish notation of time it was probably about 12 noon. Jesus stopped at the well to rest, and for refreshment. The disciples were sent ahead to purchase some food for the group to eat.  They took very little with them as they traveled.

As Jesus sat at the well a Samaritan woman came to the well for water.  Only one woman came. Women usually came to the well in groups.  They came early in the morning or just before sundown when it was cooler. The time of day she came was either 6 p.m. or 12 noon, it was quite hot.  The women also came in groups to socialize and to share the labor of drawing the water.  The water was generally carried in a pottery jug.  There was probably five gallons of water, weighing about forty pounds.  This woman came in the heat of the day, and she came alone.  This would suggest that she was an outcast and would not be welcomed by the other women.  This also reinforces that our sovereign Lord had to be there and travel that way for the very purpose of meeting this woman. Jesus knew that the woman would be there.  

Jesus engages the woman in conversation.  This was something that was not generally done at that time.  At that time Jewish religious teachers rarely spoke with women in public.  Rabbis taught that women could not learn the Law.  It was also thought that a long conversation with a woman could lead a man astray.  Also, as mentioned above, the Jews detested the Samaritans.  Jesus asks her for a drink of water.  The shocked Samaritan woman replies sarcastically.   One soon discovers that this woman is a very bright, witty, woman with a caustic bite to her remarks.  How can you, a high and mighty Jew, speak to me, a lowly Samaritan. f  I'm just a filthy inbred Samaritan.   Worse than that, I just a woman.  How can you even acknowledge me, let alone ask me for water?

Jesus does not react to her defensive comment. He answers with kindness. If you knew whom you were talking with, you would have asked me for a drink of water.  I would have given you living water. There were no major rivers to supply water in the country of Samaria.  There were only wadis to collect the seasonal rain waters, these dried up for months at a time. The historic Jacob's well would be the perfect place to illustrate the familiar symbol of living water. The well today is over 100 feet deep and it was probably deeper at that time.

The woman again responds with quick wit. This is a pretty deep well. You don't have a rope or a hope of getting water from this well without the equipment.  Where are you going to get this living water.  What makes you so special?   You are not any greater than Jacob who gave us this well. He drank from this well and so did his sons and his cattle.  Jesus said to her, Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.  John 4:13-14  (The word used here for spring is a word that implies a substance that is gushing up. It is a fountain of water. The fountain does not have to be the original source of the substance. It is the substance that is gushing. The water is gushing from the source. No work by the one who drinks the water it is required to obtain it.).

The woman replies that she would like some of the water that will never make her thirsty again. Jesus continues to speak to her.  She appears to be focusing on her physical needs.  She will never be thirsty, and she won't have to draw water from the well.  Jesus steers the conversation from her physical needs to her spiritual needs. Jesus knew the woman and her circumstances. Jesus knew of her sexually promiscuous life. He tells the woman to bring her husband to him.  This seemingly common request went right to the heart of the woman.  It directed her thoughts to her spiritual needs.

She answers that she has no husband.  This was a true response, but only part of the truth.  In the traditional sense of the word she had no husband. She attempted to change the subject. Jesus knew all about the woman and her needs.  Jesus knew that she was living with a man that she was not married to.  He knew that she had previously been married five times.  He did not condemn her for her sins, he pointed her to her spiritual needs.  He treated her with compassion and dignity.

The woman realized that Jesus knew all about her without having been told by anyone.  She thought He must have been a prophet.  She asks Jesus a question about where one should worship God. Both the Jews and Samaritans recognized that God had commanded their forefathers to identify a special place for worshiping him. The Samaritans claimed God should be worshiped on Mount Gerizim, while the Jews worshiped God in the temple in Jerusalem.  Jesus explained the truth to her.  The location where someone worships God is not important.  The quality of worship is what is important to God. The death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus would complete the plan of redemption for all people.  True worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth.  God does not identify with a specific location or nation.  He is present everywhere.  We are to worship God through His Son.

The woman tells Jesus that she knows that the Messiah is coming.  She tells Him that the Messiah will come and tell them all things. The Messiah will know the answers to all the questions.  Jesus then tells her,  I who speak to you am He.  Jesus declared to this Samaritan woman that He was the Messiah.  He said "I who speak to you am."  This is another I AM -  "ego eimi" statement. This was the purpose of His visit to the Samaritan woman.  Jesus told her that He was the Messiah.  This truth had a huge impact on the woman.  Then the woman left her water jar, went into town, and told the men,  “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?”  John 4:28-29   She did not keep the news to herself.  She enthusiastically shared the news to people from the town.  These were people that she had previously avoided because of her poor reputation.  But this news was just so wonderful that she had to share it with them.  She told everyone about Jesus. Her witness of truth of the Messiah encouraged other to come and see Jesus.

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What did I learn from this incident in the life of Jesus. God is sovereign.  He knows everything.  He knows everyone.  He knows the future. He deserves to be worshiped.  He deserves our praise.  Jesus is God the Son.  He is the Messiah. Sin is something all humans engage in.  If we hear the good news and follow Jesus as our Lord, our sins are forgiven.  A very important part of the story that I often miss is the action of the woman after hearing the good news.  She was so excited by the Good News that she could not contain it.  Her life had been changed. She told everyone the news, even those who had been avoiding her.  She wanted all of them to know of her experience. She had drank of the Living Water.  May we not be complacent about the Living Water.  May we always choose to tell others about the good news.  Precious Lord, my Savior forgive me for my lack of joy and enthusiasm, and let the waters gush.




Friday, April 19, 2013

More I Am statements of Jesus

More I Am statements of Jesus


Untitled

There are several more "I Am" statements of Jesus. These do not follow the same exact format of the previous 'ego eimi' statements.  I will present these over the next few days.  They will be listed with some verses before or after the statements for clarification.
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And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?  But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?  And Jesus said, I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.  And the high priest tore his garments and said, What further witnesses do we need?  You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision? And they all condemned him as deserving death.         –– Mark 14:60-64
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In the above verses Jesus is on trial before the Sanhedrin.  This was a biased and hostile trial. The Sanhedrin had already decided that they wanted Jesus crucified.  The chief priests and the whole counsel were trying to find enough testimony against Jesus to put Him to death.  They were unable to find any valid testimony against Him.  There were many who lied about Jesus and what He had said and done, but the testimony was conflicting.  They ask Jesus to answer the charges against Him. Jesus is silent. These same men had resisted and twisted Jesus words before. Why should he speak to them now?

Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?   And Jesus said, I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.  Caiaphas, the high priest, pressures Jesus and charges Him under oath to answer the question: Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?   Jesus answers the question affirmatively I AM.  This is an I AM - "ego eimi" statement. Then Jesus applies to Himself messianic prophecies from the Old Testament.  The Lord says to my Lord: Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.  Psalm 110:1   ... and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.  Daniel 7:13-14

Upon hearing the answer of Jesus, Caiaphas made a dramatic performance.  He tore his own garments and pronounced that the answer of Jesus was blasphemous.  The high priest had achieved his goal. All of the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together and condemned Jesus as deserving death.  Jesus

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Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,  but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.  And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea.  But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, It is a ghost!, and they cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.                                            –– Matthew 14: 22-27
 Parallel passages are found in  Mark 6:50    John 6:20

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After Jesus blessed and multiplied  the loaves and fishes to feed the 5,000 men (plus the women and children with them), He dismissed the crowd.  He told the disciples to take the boat and go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus remained behind to pray by himself.  Jesus spent the evening and night in prayer with his heavenly Father. When evening came, Jesus was alone.  He looked down from the mountainside and could see the disciples out on the lake rowing against the wind. The boat with the disciples was along way from the land. There was a storm with high winds and waves on the water. Depending on the point from where the disciples departed, the sea was about 4 to 5 miles wide where they crossed.  At this time the disciples were probably 3 or 4 miles out on the lake. We can figure the distance because they finally landed at Gennesaret.  Matthew 14:34 and John 6:17

The Roman military divided the night into four watches,  each watch was three hours long.  The watches started at 6:00 p.m. and continued until  6:00 a.m. The fourth watch would have been between 3: 00 and 6: 00 a. m. At the fourth watch Jesus came walking to them on the stormy waters. This means the disciples had been battling the storm for over nine hours.  They were frightened and exhausted.  Jesus told them not to be frightened.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.  Matthew 14:27    

This statement "it is I" is an "ego eimi,"  I AM statement.  This was the same words in Yahweh's proclamation from the burning bush to Moses.  I Am that I Am.  Jesus provides assurance to His disciples. His walking on the water in the middle of a raging storm demonstrated that He was indeed Lord over all creation. There was no need for the disciples to be afraid, their Savior was with them.  And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "You are certainly Gods Son."  Matthew 14:23  The disciples responded by worshiping Jesus. They acknowledged that Jesus was truly (amen) the son of God.  This is the first time that all the disciples as a group called Jesus the Son of God.





Thursday, April 18, 2013

Another I AM - continued

Another I AM

Azalias

The Jews responded to Him, “Aren’t we right in saying that You’re a  Samaritan and have a demon?”  “I do not have a demon,” Jesus answered. “On the contrary, I honor My Father and you dishonor Me. I do not seek My glory;  the One who seeks it also judges.  I assure you: If anyone keeps My word, he will never see death—ever!”

Then the Jews said, “Now we know You have a demon. Abraham died and so did the prophets. You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste death—ever!’  Are You greater than our father Abraham who died? Even the prophets died. Who do You pretend to be?”

 “If I glorify Myself,” Jesus answered, “My glory is nothing. My Father—you say about Him, ‘He is our God’—He is the One who glorifies Me. You’ve never known Him, but I know Him. If I were to say I don’t know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know Him, and I keep His word. Your father Abraham was overjoyed that he would see My day; he saw it and rejoiced.”

 The Jews replied, “You aren’t 50 years old yet, and You’ve seen Abraham?”

 Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.” 

At that, they picked up stones  to throw at Him.  But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple complex.    –– John 8:48-59
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The I AM - "ego eime," statement we will look at today is found in John, as were the other seven.  John 8:58  This is the most emphatic statement of divinity pronounced by Jesus.  It is stated in a somewhat different manner, but the words are the same, "ego eimi."  I AM that I AM.  In one short phrase, Jesus proclaimed that He was eternal, preexisted and was God.  This I AM statement is not a metaphorical I AM, but an absolute I AM statement.

Yesterday we looked at some verses that preceded this proclamation of Jesus.  Jesus was under  attack by a very angry group of Pharisees and other religious leaders.  They were upset that Jesus had undermined their authority.  Jesus had claimed that He represented God the Father on earth.  Jesus offered freedom to those who believed in Him. At this time Rome dominated Israel, but the Pharisees insisted that because they were descendants of Abraham they were free and had never been in bondage. Jesus informed them that He spoke of spiritual freedom and bondage to sin.

The religious leaders insulted Jesus.  “Aren’t we right in saying that You’re a  Samaritan and have a demon?”  This insult was a racial slur or could also be construed as implying the Jesus was born out of wedlock.  They also said that Jesus had a demon.  Jesus responds “I do not have a demon,” Jesus answered. “On the contrary, I honor My Father and you dishonor Me. I do not seek My glory;  the One who seeks it also judges.  John 8:49  Jesus tells them He honors His Father who is God. He tells them that He is not seeking glory for Himself, but is glorifying God. A person who glorifies God could not be demon possessed.  Jesus tell them that He is comfortable in allowing God to judge Him and His words.  God the Father will assure the glory of His Son,  Jesus. And God will judge those who dishonor Him.

"I assure you: If anyone keeps My word, he will never see death—ever!”  John 8:51  Jesus tells them that if anyone would follow Him and obey His teachings they would have eternal life.  Physical death could not separate them from this eternal life.  the religious leaders thought that Jesus was referring only to physical life. They respond to Jesus with:"Are You greater than our father Abraham who died? Even the prophets died. Who do You pretend to be?”  John 8:53  The leaders answer with Abraham is dead. All the prophets are dead. How can you say that those who keep your word will never die?  Once again Jesus is speaking on a spiritual level and the Pharisees are thinking, talking and acting on a physical level.  Spiritual death is being a slave to sin.  It is remaining in unforgiven sin. Death is an eternal separation from fellowship with God, is the judicial punishment for sin.  Romans 6:23   Since Jesus died as the substitute for His people, those who belong to Him are freed from the penalty of sin because Christ endured it for them.  Are You greater than our father Abraham?    The simple answer is YES. Abraham and the prophets, great as they were in the history of redemption, could not take away death. Only Christ has triumphed over the grave.

“If I glorify Myself,” Jesus answered, “My glory is nothing. My Father—you say about Him, ‘He is our God’—He is the One who glorifies Me. You’ve never known Him, but I know Him. If I were to say I don’t know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know Him, and I keep His word. Your father Abraham was overjoyed that he would see My day; he saw it and rejoiced.” John 8:54-56  When Jesus was bodily on earth with His ministry, He was a humble servent.  He did not seek the honor and glory that truly belonged to Him as God the Son.  His glory was only seen by those who had eyes to see it.  And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14  Christ's glory was apparent in His resurrection and ascension.  It will be seen fully at His Second Coming.  Jesus told them that He knew God and they did not know Him. He told them that if they knew God they would believe Him.  He told them that their father Abraham looked for the one who  would fulfill all that was promised to him by God. All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.  Hebrews 11:13  This statement tell us that the Old Testament times, believers were saved through faith in Christ.  This was revealed to them by God as His redemptive plan for all people.   “And there is salvation in ano one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:12

 The Jews replied, “You aren’t 50 years old yet, and You’ve seen Abraham?” John 8:57   At this time the age of 50 was the standard retirement age. Jesus was probably about 30 years old at this time.   The Jewish leaders were saying that Jesus was not old enough to have seen Abraham.

Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.  John 8:58    The Greek word αμην is word  is the word used for verily.  It is translated as verily, so be it , Yes, indeed or I. tell you the truth.  No mater how is is translated it is still Amen. It is stated here twice.  Amen, Amen, I say to you...  Jesus then made a statement that no one could really misunderstand.  It was very clearly a claim to deity.  egō eimi. If Jesus was simply referring to age, he would have said, Before Abraham was, I was. But Jesus said before Abraham was born—I am!  This was another "ego eimi" statement. This was a statement of eternal self- existence. This statement denotes “self-identity in self-sufficiency.” The Son of God, unlike all mortals, never has a beginning. He is eternal; and He is God.  Abraham was mortal, he had a beginning and he died.  Jesus was self existing.  He always was and always will be.  Jesus said “I AM WHO I AM”  When Moses asked God who he should tell the Israelites had sent him to deliver them from Egypt, God answered:  “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” Exodus 3:14

At that, they picked up stones  to throw at Him.  But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple complex.  According to the law, death by stoning was the prescribed punishment for blasphemy.  Jesus had just proclaimed that He was God.  But it wasn't blasphemy, He is God.  Then Jesus was gone. Perhaps by divine intervention from God the Father.  It was not yet time for His crucifixion.

There are many times that Jesus stated that He was God.  This "I Am" was very clearly a statement of deity. The Pharisees and other religious leaders knew that was the claim of Jesus, that is why the planned to stone Him.  Perhaps some of them believed what He said, but His methods did not fit their idea of the Messiah. Perhaps after His death and resurrection they did believe. Perhaps their hearts remained hardened.

There are people today that say that Jesus never equated Himself to God. Many will use that as an excuse for not believing in Him as God the Son.  But Jesus did say that He was God., For them to say that He never claimed He was God is wrong. It is just that –– an excuse, and a poor one. Many people say that Jesus was a great man.  An excellent teacher.  They say He was a loving man with great words of wisdom.  These same people revere the man Jesus, but the will not accept that He is God.

A trilemma is a difficult choice from three options, each of which is (or appears) unacceptable or unfavorable.  Possibly the original person with this argument for the divinity of Jesus was the Scots preacher "Rabbi" John Duncan (1796–1870). He said "Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine. There is no getting out of this trilemma. It is inexorable."  C. S. Lewis is responsible known for his famous apologetic quote know as the trilemma.  His trilemma was that Jesus was either  Lord, Liar, or Lunatic.

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.   ... Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God."      –– C. S. Lewis Mere Christianity

If you have not accepted that Jesus is The I AM.  Now is the time to do it.  Do not wait until tomorrow!




Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Another I Am - part 1

Untitled



Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.    –– 
John 8:58 

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 As He was saying these things, many believed in Him.  So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples.  You will know the truth,  and the truth will set you free.”
 “We are descendants  of Abraham,”  they answered Him, “and we have never been enslaved to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will become free’?”  Jesus responded, “I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.  A slave does not remain in the household forever,  but a son does remain forever.   Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.  I know you are descendants  of Abraham,  but you are trying to kill Me because My word  is not welcome among you. I speak what I have seen  in the presence of the Father;  therefore, you do what you have heard from your father.”
 “Our father is Abraham!” they replied.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” Jesus told them, “you would do what Abraham did.   But now you are trying to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth  that I heard from God. Abraham did not do this!  You’re doing what your father does.”
                                                                                                             –– John 8:30-41
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I previously wrote that the were seven I AM statements made by Jesus in the Gospel of John.  That is true. We have looked at those seven "ego eimi" statements.  Why is this the eighth one we are looking at.  The previous seven were stated in the same manner.  I AM - "ego eime," with other words –– the vine, good shepherd, door (and four others). These were metaphoric descriptions made by Jesus describing who He Himself is.   He was exclaiming that He was the Messiah.  He was preparing His disciples for His crucifixion.  He was explaining His mission.  He was also preparing  the disciples for their mission.  As His followers today, these I AM statements are also to show us what His relationship is to us today.  They prepare us to be followers of Jesus.  These statements tell us what our relationship to Him is to be. They are applicable to us today.  They are absolute I AM statements.  They are not I was statements.

The I AM statement we will  next look at is found in John, as were the other seven.  John 8:58  This is the most emphatic statement of divinity pronounced by Jesus.  It is stated in a somewhat different manner, but the words are the same, "ego eimi."  I AM that I AM.  In one short phrase, Jesus proclaimed that He was eternal, preexisted and was God.

I think it is best that we set the stage for this comment of Jesus.  He is unser heavy attack by the religious leader of His day.  Therefore we shall look at the context in which Jesus spoke these two important words.  John 8:30-41


As He was saying these things, many believed in Him.  So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples.  You will know the truth,  and the truth will set you free.”   John 8:30-32   There were people present who believed the teachings of Jesus. Jesus was speaking to those who believed in Him. Obviously, many of the religious leaders did not believe in Him.  The religious leaders were afraid of him and His message.  They were there to criticize Him.

Jesus told His believers the steps the needed to take to become free. Jesus wanted to see His followers increase in faith.  The first step to commitment to Christ is to believe in Him. You must believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and Son of God.  Then you need to abide in Him.  You must remain in His word, you must stay with Jesus. You must pray, study and obey. His disciples and followers are willing to learn and submit to Him.  Discipleship is more than just knowing who Jesus is.

"You will know the truth,  and the truth will set you free."  The truth is more than the facts that Jesus is the Messiah and the son of God.  The truth in His teachings.  The truth is in following Him.  The truth in not an intellectual knowledge, it is a living relationship with Christ.  It is a commitment to the truths He revealed.  Knowing Jesus as who He is, will set you free from the bondage of sin. The truth will bring freedom from darkness, falsehood, and sin.

The religious leaders respond to that statement of Jesus with: “We are descendants  of Abraham,”  they answered Him, “and we have never been enslaved to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will become free’?”  John 8:33  This is a strange thing to say when at this time they are in bondage to Rome.  The religious leaders misunderstood what Jesus meant when He said set free.  They thought He meant  human slavery. Jesus responded, “I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.  A slave does not remain in the household forever,  but a son does remain forever.   Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.  A slave does not remain in the household forever,  but a son does remain forever.   Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.  John 8:34-36

The scribes, Pharisees, and religious leaders at that time thought that they were all liberated. Abraham was the father of their nation and they would receive all the promises of God. They assumed that as God's chosen people they had immunity rather than responsibility.  They thought that because they were born Jews, they were all automatically guaranteed by God to receive all His blessings. This is no different than the thinking of most people today.  Most think that if they were born into a family of Christians, they are automatically Christians too.  God has no grandchildren.  Going to a church, socializing with good people, maintaining approved behavior in the community –– none of these thing make you a Christian.  We are all born into sin. Because of sin we are exposed to the judgement of God.  We are truly enslaved by sin.  Sin rules in our mortal bodies.  Only by knowing the Truth can you be set free from the bondage of sin.

A slave does not remain in the household forever,  but a son does remain forever.   Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free. Jesus told them they were spiritual slaves. As a spiritual slave they had no security.  They were a slave and would remain one.  They would do as their master told them and they would accept their punishment.  Sin was their master and they would do would accept its terms.  If, however, they were part of the family they would have security.  They would be treated as a son, as family. We are all slaves to sin.  Only Christ can change our status to the children of God.  Only Christ can make us free and secure.





Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I am the true vine

I AM the true vine


Wild Grapes

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”
–––  John 15:1
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 
––– John 15:5

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  –– John 15:1-5 
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This is the seventh of the "I AM" - "ego eimi"statements of Jesus found only in the book of John. Jesus is talking to His disciples and is continuing to tell them of His future plans.  He is preparing them for His eminent death. Jesus uses this allegory of the vine and the branches.  This message is at the very heart of the Farewell Discourse.  The Farewell Discourse is found in John, chapters 14-17. This message of the Vine, was given by Jesus to eleven of His disciples. Jesus spoke to them of these things after the conclusion of the Last Supper. Judas had left the group of twelve to prepare for his betrayal of Jesus. The discourse took place on the night before Christ's crucifixion.

"I am the true vine." This was a metaphor that was not new to the Jewish people.  In the Old Testament it was used to describe the relationship between God and Israel. Israel was the vine. This metaphor of the vineyard was a powerful symbol with roots reaching deep into the soil of the history of Israel.  No illustration would touch the Hebrew soul like the image of the vinedresser and his vineyard. God was the vine dresser and God's people were the vine.  God had originally planted Israel in the Promised Land so that would be a means of revealing His Word to the world.  Israel was to demonstrate and teach all nations about God's grace. Israel was supposed to thrive as a living example of  how obedience to God bears the fruit of righteousness. God promised to bless Israel as their relationship with God grew stronger. The vineyard illustrated God's special care for the nation of Israel. But Israel failed. The failure of Israel to produce fruit was because they did not abide in the lord.

You may want to read the "Parable of the Vineyard" in Isaiah 4:1-7  also Psalm 80  These Old Testament Scriptures tell of the wrath of God against of Israel.  God brought a vine out of Egypt and planted it the promise land.  God chose His people and out of them He made the nation of Israel.  He established, planted, watered, nurtured, and brought out of bondage the nation of Israel. He expected fruit, but instead He got wild grapes. So Israel became the corrupt, fruitless, false vine.  

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”   Jesus declared Himself as the "true vine." John 15:1  He indicated to the people that He was taking the place of Israel.   He was the vine and the Father was the caretaker of the vine.  The task of the vinedresser  is essential.  The vinedresser will train the branches. This is done by lifting sagging branches and tie them to a supporting trellis. He will also prune the branches cutting away the dead branches. The vine needs to be pruned to produce more and better fruit.  If the vine is not tended it will grow more leaves, but very little fruit.  Dead wood produces no fruit and is pruned away and useful only for burning. Dead wood is not a part of the vine and will not produce any fruit. It does not belong to the vine that is Christ. It is cut off and burned.

Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:3-5  Jesus reassured the disciples that they already clean. (Remember that Judas had left the group). The remaining disciples are part of the vine. Believers are eternally secure in the vine. Believers are clean. No branch that belongs to Christ can be removed from the vine.  Jesus also promised that abiding in the vine would inevitably lead to bearing fruit. No one who belongs to the vine will be totally fruitless. Believers are the branches. Non believers are not part of the vine. Branches that belong to Christ will bear fruit, and be pruned as necessary to increase their fruit. These words of Jesus were not describing how one becomes a Christian, but how one lives as a Christian after placing their trust in Him. These words are a message to those who are already believing Christians.

If you are an expert gardener of horticulturalist you may recognize a tree or vine by just its shape, bark or leaf.  For most it is not so easy to identify a tree by these clues. If there is fruit on the tree it is quite easily identified.  A tree with big luscious red apples hanging from the limbs is easily identified as an apple tree. Good fruit come from a well tended tree and strong tree. Christians should be recognizable by their fruit. If they abide in Christ they will flourish and produce fruit.  Others will recognize them as Christians by their fruit.

We are to focus on our relationship with Christ.  Abide in Him. Obey and love Christ. Christians often falsely assume that producing fruit is their duty and responsibility. They work long and hard to produce fruit. They focus on trying to bear fruit in gratitude for what Christ has done for them. They find that they fail at producing fruit. This leads them to working even harder to produce fruit. They try again, work harder, fail again. What a vicious cycle. Jesus tells us to abide with Him. Stick close to Him.  Stay in His word, talk with Him and worship Him. The followers of Jesus are to focus on Jesus. The fruit will come to the branches from nourishment of the Vine.

If you have trusted in Christ you are a branch of the Vine. You are chosen of God and absolutely nothing can pluck you out of His hand.  Your eternal destiny has been set.  Your production of fruit however, will depend on your abiding in Christ. Obey Him, love Him and glorify Him. Do this and you will produce fruit.  You will have joy.  You will know that whatever the circumstances you can be content in the protection and security of your Savior.


Monday, April 15, 2013

I am the way, the truth, and the life

I am the way, the truth, and the life.


Gulf Fritillary
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father 's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going. Thomas said to him, Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?  Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.
––– John 14:1-8
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Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1  In the upper room, Jesus was in the process of telling His disciples what was about to happen to Him.  He had told them that He was going to be betrayed, denied and crucified. Naturally, they were not pleased to hear that news.  The still did not understand the the process.  They could not grasp the mission of Jesus.  They believed that He was the Messiah, but they did not understand why He must die.  They were troubled over the news.  They were having a difficult time digesting the news that Jesus had told them.  Jesus urges them to stop being troubled. He instructs the disciples to use their faith in Him and His mission to replace their fear.  In the hours before Christ faced the cross He was  emotionally and spiritually supporting His disciples, rather than they supporting Him.  They are worried about the departure of Jesus.

The Greek word used here for believe is pisteuo.  It means to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing). Pisteuo, is to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in of the thing believed to credit.  This means to place ones total trust in another.  In the New Testament, pisteuo is used 248 times. This word is found more than 90 times in the Gospel of John.  Many people then and today believe that Jesus had miraculous powers, but they do not believe in Jesus Himself.  John 6: 23–26   Others, then and now,  believed in a political Messiah, but not in the One who suffered for their sins.  Mark 15: 32  We must believe and trust in the Jesus in the Son of God who sacrificed His life for our sins. Galatians 1: 3, 4

In my Father 's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  John 14:2-3  My father's house refers to heaven. The many rooms would refer to dwelling places within heaven.  The rooms do not refer to small dwelling spaces, but are to keep consistency in the metaphor of heaven as God's house.  Jesus will return again.  This is not a reference to the resurrection of Jesus, but to His return to earth to reign as King. Jesus will prepare a place for His followers in His Father's house and then come to take them home to be with Him.  these places have already been prepared for those who follow Christ.

And you know the way to where I am going. Thomas said to him, Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?  John 14:5   Jesus has spent the evening in the upper room preparing the disciples for His death. Thomas, however is perplexed. "How can we know the way?" asks Thomas.  Jesus, answers Thomas with this "I AM" - "ego eimi" statement: Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14:6 Through His death and resurrection, Jesus is the way to the Father. Jesus is also the truth and the life. As truth, He is the revelation of God. As life, He is the communication of God to us.

Christianity began with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Church history began on the day of Pentecost. The name Christians, was a pejorative term.  It was first used in Antioch as an insult to those who followed "the Way."   Acts 11:26  Prior to that, the early Church called themselves followers of "the Way".  Acts 9:2  Acts 19:23  Acts 22:4  Acts 24:14   Acts 24:22  Jesus was the Way, and that is who they followed.  Belief alone, was not important unless it resulted in a way of life.  Following Christ  was having a new life and following in the Way.  Jesus is the way to God, the way to the kingdom, the way to faith.  Jesus is the I AM.  He is the door, and the bread of life.  Jesus is the narrow way that yields to life today, that yields to eternal life, that is access to the abode where God resides.  Matthew 7:14  His followers were known as those of "the Way."  Jesus is the one way, He is the way that fulfills the Old Testament symbols and teaching.  Jesus is the only way to God. Today the world believes in pluralism. Pluralism is not true.  The Church cannot buy into the inclusive theology that all people are going to the same place.  there is only one path, one way.

 Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.  John 14: 8  Philip asks Jesus to show him the Father.  Philip says, If You show us the Father, that's all we really need to know.  Philip has been with Jesus for all these years and it doesn't seem to have been enough for him. He has witnessed all the miracles Jesus has done. He has seen incredible things. But he still is not satisfied, he wants more.  We want the same thing Philip asked for.  We want to see God. We went to be able to see him like Moses did.  We want to walk with him in the garden, as did Adam and Eve.  If we see the invisible God, it will be sufficient for us. If we see God, it will be easier to believe in God.   It will be easier to obey Him.

 Jesus rebukes Philip. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.  John14:7  Jesus patiently explained again that He was revealing God the Father to them.  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, Show us the Father ? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. John 14:9-12  Jesus tells Philip that he is talking to God the incarnate. This is a solid claim by Jesus to His divinity.

Jesus says that He does not make this statement on His own authority. I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Jesus was saying that He spoke and acted for God because He was in God and God was in Him.  There is a complete mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son, and the converse is true.  The Father and the Son remain distinct persons within the Trinity, as does the Holy Spirit, and the three of them still constitute only one Being in three persons.  How exactly Gods one divine nature is a unity of three distinct but not separate persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, cannot be fully explained by human logic or reason.

Jesus as the truth fulfills the teaching of the Old Testament and reveals the true God.   John 1: 17 Truth in today's world is not important.  Truth in today's world is thought to be relative. Truth is what ever you want it to be. One cannot argue over truth. Your truth and my truth might be different. Getting along with others is more important.  Truth however, is not relative. There is an absolute truth.  If you want to know the absolute truth, go to Jesus. Jesus is the Truth.

 Jesus alone is the life who fulfills the Old Testament promises of life given by God.  Jesus alone is life.  Jesus has life in himself.  John 1:4   Jesus is able to confer eternal life to all who believe in Him.  John 3:16    Without Christ there would be no life at all.  Without Him there would be no physical life. Without Him there would be no spiritual life.  There would be no eternal life.  Jesus is Life.   ... in Him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28  Christ brought all people into being.  All life exists only by the providence of God.