Day 7: John 19-21 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from John 19 – 21 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend” ( John 19:12).

Pilate has a choice to make. Release Jesus because he finds no fault in him, or crucify Jesus to settle the crowd. It seems like an obvious choice. Do you do the right thing, or do you do the wrong thing because in the end it benefits you the most (or at least spares you some hassle)? Pilate chose the path of least resistance. That is the way of this world. Jesus was showing us a different way. Doing the right thing, even at great cost and personal sacrifice. Jesus calls his followers to be like him (and not like Pilate).

Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? (John 21:15).

In the Greek language several words are used for love, two are used in this passage.  Jesus asks Peter the first two times, “Peter do you love me? (agape – Strongest form of love).” Peter responds, “Lord, you know I love you” (phileo – like a brother). The third time Jesus asks, “Peter, do you love me (phileo – like a brother).” This is when Peter breaks down and recognizes the weakness in his own Character and says, “Lord, you know I love you” (phileo -like a brother).

Likewise, Jesus’ statements to Peter come to life when you understand the Greek a little better. The first statement is “take my lambs to pasture” (a long term experience). The second, “feed my sheep” (a short term experience). The third statement “take my sheep to pasture” (a long term experience).

This is a beautiful picture of Jesus restoring Peter. You will remember that when Peter denied Christ three times (see John 18:17, 25-27) with the rejection seeming more sever each time.  Here Jesus is asking Peter if he loves him, each time the command “feed my sheep” growing in responsibility.

Here is how I am praying through this passage today:

FATHER, Thank you that you are a restoring God. Thank you that you restored Peter even though he denied you. I am asking you to today to bring back to faith and repentance those who I know need restoration. I pray also what we would be bold witnesses for the gospel when and where we are given the opportunity. I lift up those who are hurting, those who are wandering, those who are healing, those who are in pain, those who have forgotten you, I pray for those in my care as a pastor. Give me boldness to speak your truth in love, to carry out the ministry of reconciliation and to encourage them in the faith. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 4: John 10-12 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from John 10-12 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

“I have come [as] a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.  “And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. (John 12:46-48, NKJV)

John’s message continuing to be pounded out. Jesus will be lifted up. Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus is being rejected by people who should be the first to welcome Him, etc.

Then a few other things jump out at me from the text today.

1. Between the reading for yesterday and the reading today a new and subtle theme is emerging.  Through both the man born blind and the death of Lazarus we see places where the darkness seems to be winning. When questioned about it Jesus comments that these events are for God’s glory. The light shines the brightest after the darkness. Blindness wasn’t the end for that man. Death wasn’t the end for Lazarus. In the midst of suffering and injustice it is important for us to remind ourselves that these current conditions are not the final, but rather shadows before the sunrise. We’ll see this again with the dark hours at the cross and the morning of the resurrection.

2. Jesus continues to make a distinction between those who believe in him and those who reject him.  He used the analogy of a shepherd and explained that the pharisees didn’t follow because they weren’t his sheep. Following Jesus demands that you actually follow him. My fear is that there are many today who are religious like the Pharisees who do not follow Jesus in the only real way that counts.  They offer lip service and can tell you where the lines are, but don’t seek to lovingly trust and obey Jesus themselves.

3. I think sometimes we can imagine that if we just present the truth in a better way that more people will believe, but we have to remember that near the end of chapter 12 Jesus illustrates that the same light brings belief in some and hardens hearts in others. Charles Spurgeon summarized this thought well when he said, “The same sun with melts wax hardens clay. And the same gospel which melts  some persons to repentance hardens others in their sins.”

Here is how I am praying through these chapters today:

Lord, Thank you that you are the Good Shepherd. Thank you for Shepherding me. I look to you today for wisdom and leadership. Guide my steps, direct my path, let my heart continue to long to follow after you all the days of my life. Keep me from straying. Thank you that even when we face the dark shadows of life that you are there, you are in control and you love me. I pray for those who are sick and hurting, those who have wandered, those who are estranged in their family relationships, those who grew up in church and are far from you, those like me who are under-shepherds charged with leading your flock, those who don’t know you, those who have yet to hear, those who have hardened their hearts, would we all be touched by your word today and drawn to follow you in faith and repentance. In Jesus Name, Amen.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

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River of Living Water (John 7)

Lots to unpack here. Do you notice the theme again… Jesus is making reference to the fact that he healed a man on the Sabbath.  It’s like an issue that he can not shake.  He won’t be moved.  He was justified in healing on the Sabbath and yet he is condemned by people who are claiming to uphold the Law of Moses.

Jesus points out that they don’t even uphold the Law (John 7:19)… not that he is removing the law, but questioning how they judge the law (John 7:24).  He points out that even when the law appears at odds with itself they show preference to care for people over the sabbath (7:23).

This isn’t a side show debate.  Jesus is forcing the real issue.  The real issue is that we have unclean hearts and we cannot see just how sinful we really are.  These men were no zealous for the law, they were zealous for the reputation they had gained in interpreting the law.  They had become experts in a law that foretold of Jesus everywhere, yet when they were confronted with him they did not recognize him.

Jesus sets himself up against this backdrop of dead religion and offers salvation to all those who would believe.  He had come to set captives free.  He had come to satisfy the thirsty.  He had come to set things right.  Yet, somehow his righteousness exposed them for the fraud they were and they could not handle being in the presence of the king, so they set about with a plot to assassinate him.

Application: When you see others growing in Christ are you provoked to joy or bitterness?  If provoked to bitterness examine your heart for dead religion.  It comes in all shapes and sizes but at the end of the day claims that God owe’s you. God doesn’t owe you any thing and you owe him everything.  Repent today and cling to Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our faith.

Father,

I cling to you today.  I have tried to be righteous by my own merit.  I have tried to live as though the world were mine and I were in charge.  I was so foolish.  thank you for loving me, even in my worst state and still offering to me eternal life if I would but trust you and believe. Thank you.

Morning: Psalm 9

Mid-Day: Psalm 57

Evening: Psalm 109

Believe! (John 6:25-71)

Wow.  Lots to unpack here and think through in the gospel of John.  First note that Jesus says that God is working… Rather “this is the work of God” (John 6:29).  In my mind this is a throw back to the whole Healing on the Sabbath Day debacle. There Jesus said, “My father is working until now, and I am working” (John 5:17). This was his justification for working on the Sabbath… That though God had rested the 7th day, was still at work.  Here Jesus proclaims that the work of God is for people to believe whom he sent… (hint: that’s Jesus).

Then in John 6:40 there is the throw back again to John 3 where Jesus talks about being lifted up like the serpent in the wilderness.  Only here not the emphasis is on the looking… or belief.  In John 3 the emphasis was that Jesus would be lifted up, here the emphasis is that now those who look on Him and believe will have eternal life!

But wait there is more.  Jesus says that he is the bread from heaven.  He is the true manna from God.  Manna was the miracle bread that God provided for Israel while they wandered in the dessert.  God provided by sending bread down each day.  Here Jesus is saying that He is the true bread of life.  That once someone has gone to him, they don’t need any more.  He is enough.  He satisfies.

Enter now the context of feeding the 5000 earlier in this chapter.  Jesus proclaims that his body and his blood will be offered for the benefit of the world. He will indeed multiply the benefit of his death, burial and resurection to all those who would call on Him.

Application: Jesus is the true bread of Heaven.  You will never be content in this life if you continually feast on the things that do not satisfy.  Are you looking to Jesus today to fill you and sustain you?

Father,

I thank you for your kindness to me in drawing me to faith and repentance in Christ.  This indeed is truly a better gift than I could have ever imagined.  You are my daily bread.  You are what sustains me in good times and in bad.

Morning: Psalm 108

Mid-Day: Psalm 56

Evening: Psalm 8

Something from Nothing (John 6:1-14)

He took a small lunch and made it enough for everyone.  Ever wonder about that?  Ever wonder how He could multiply the fish and bread and make enough for left-overs?  I mean… what does that say?  What does that mean?

I think the implications are clear.  He is God.  He spoke the world into existence.  He made something from nothing.  So on the one hand I get it…. on the other hand I notice that here he starts with something.  He starts with five loaves and two fish.  He starts with something and somehow makes it enough for everyone.

I think that’s important.  There is enough… actually there is more than enough.  At first the supply looks pretty limited, but in Jesus’ hands it is enough for a 5,000 person fish and bread buffet.

Perhaps there is the meaning.  Perhaps this is the sign.  Just like the fish and bread was really only enough for one, he would multiply the benefit of lunch to an entire crowd of 5000 people.  While his death burial and resurection can hardly be compared to lunch, I do think it is fair to note that as one man he would take on the sins of the world…. he would eat sins demands for each one of us.

One man standing in the gap for millions.  Seemingly impossible, but very possible with the one who can serve up fish-fil-a for 5000 starving guests on the country side.  He is saying, “I will meet your needs.”  No one else on that hill could have multiplied the bread and fish that way.  Only Jesus could take not-enough and make it enough.

Application: You will never be able to come to the banquet table and feast on the riches of God until you realize that Jesus Christ has provided for you what you could not provide by yourself.

Father,

Thank you that you have brought me to yourself through the work of Christ. Thank you that I get to share in delighting to see Jesus save people from their sins.  Thank you that I get to tell others about you and how you provided for my sin debt.

Morning: Psalm 107

Mid-Day: Psalm 55

Evening: Psalm 7

Who Get’s the Glory? (Meditations on John 5)

Just a side note before we get started.  I’ve been blessed beyond measure for the last few weeks of my life have been revolutionary in terms of my walk with God and my understanding of His Word.  Familiar passages have taken on new meaning as I have been digging deeper.

John 5 is rich with meaning.  God has blessed me with more than I will ever be able to share here, but here are a few highlights that I hope are a blessing to you…

Who Get’s the Glory (John 5:44).  The folks mentioned in this chapter were busy keeping rules.  They were rule keepers.  They gave each other props for figuring out how to do things by keeping all the rules and a few extra traditions along the way.  They were in the business of giving each other glory.

Basketball hadn’t been invented yet and so I guess they were glad to become fan’s of different guys who could parse the scriptures and teach diligently.  But these guys were missing it.  Jesus was standing in their midst and they were worried about the rules (some of which they made up). They didn’t want to share their “glory.” They didn’t want to give him credibility.  They said he was breaking the Law…coincidentally the Law pointed right to him.

You see that’s the big deal.  That’s the big hairy monster in the room that no one wants to talk about.  The scriptures (Old and New Testament) reveal Jesus.  Yet how many times do we examine passages or hear sermons preached that share the “moral of the story” like they were just fables. The truth is that the scriptures are true and they point to Jesus.

The story of Jesus walking on Water and Peter coming out to meet Jesus… is actually about Jesus… It isn’t about having faith to step out of the boat… It’s about the savior that can walk on water and who will come to us in our deepest storms and even when our faith fails will stick out his arm to save us… The first way leaves people with a “moral” a principle if you will on how to live… “Have faith”… the second way points us to Glorifying God.  To be fair these statements are two sides of the same coin, but one way says it was my faith that kept me afloat… the other way says it was Jesus who kept me a float even when my faith was sinking.  In the first order I get the glory for faith (or shame for no faith). In the second order Jesus get’s the glory (and he should… the story is about how he saved Peter)…. You see you’ll never really have the faith to get out of the boat until you trust the one who has come to you in the middle of the storm.

The story of Daniel isn’t about picking your friends wisely or even how to live godly in an ungodly world.  The story of Daniel is ultimately about Jesus.  One way to preach Daniel is to talk about standing up to peer pressure and how we should all take a stand like Daniel did.  But the Story of Daniel is really about Serving the King of Kings.  You see you will never have the courage to stand before an earthly king and defy his edicts if you do not have a relationship with the king of kings.

one way of interpreting the scriptures says that you should “live better” and you should, but this ultimately just leads to a form of legalism.  The second way seeks out Christ at every turn and provokes our hearts to praise and worship.  By coming to a place of worship we relinquish our grasp on the things that would stop us from fully worshiping God.  In essence… We have faith to step out of the boat and we have boldness to defy a king… but only after we have come to a place of worship.

Jesus says here in this chapter that these men who were so excited about seeing the “moral of the story” would one day be judged by the “moral of the story” and be found wanting… The stories were never really about the moral as much as they were about Jesus.  These men were too busy looking for the moral that they missed Jesus.

Father,

Save us from staring at your scripture and missing the obvious truth about you.  We beg that We would see Jesus at every turn in your word.  Where our eyes are week, bring us teachers to strengthen our sight so that we might see you.  Give us grace to grow in knowledge of you.

Morning: Psalm 105

Mid-Day: Psalm 53

Evening: Psalm 5

My Food is to do the will of Him who Sent Me (John 4:34)

The disciples see themselves as providers for Jesus, they don’t get that ultimately He is the one who is going to provide for them.  They imagine that someone else has brought a party tray by and fed the master.  Perhaps they become indignant. It was their job to go into town and buy lunch.

Jesus lets them wrestle with the issue long enough and then fills them in on what he really means when he says, “I have food that you don’t know about.”  They need to know that they ultimately do not provide for Jesus, but that Jesus provides for the whole world.  They need to see what really drives their master, beyond human appetite.  Beyond the desire to have a full stomach, Jesus desires to obey they father.  This is worship.

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. (John 4:34, ESV)

He challenges his disciples to see past hungry stomachs and see hungry souls, to look beyond the physical reality of a hungry tummy to see that true worship is a heart rightly submitted to God.  What fuels Jesus?  The disciples must learn here that food is for the body, but worship is for the soul.  Jesus is seeing past the physical into the spiritual.  If the disciples are ever to be like him they must come to a place where they desire God’s will to be done more than they desire their daily bread.  Indeed later Jesus will teach them to pray to the father and before daily bread comes the request that God’s will would be done.

Now like the Samaritan woman before them, he presses his disciples to see all the people coming out of the city.  See them with spiritual eyes.  They walked into the city to get food, never once did it cross their minds to see the great spiritual need, but now they see it as the whole city comes out to the well.

Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:35-42, ESV)

It was a common saying in the day of Jesus to say, “there are four months till harvest.” It was a way of saying, “relax,” don’t worry, don’t be in such a hurry, there isn’t anything you can do right now.  Our modern saying is something like this, “Good things come to those who wait.”  Here Jesus is saying the opposite.  He is saying, “look!  You didn’t plant anything and now there is a harvest field.”  You didn’t tell anybody in the city about me and now the whole city is coming out to meet me.

Application: You will never be able to serve God fully until you realize what Christ has done for you.  Only in the power of Christ can we see the world around us the way that He sees it.

Father,

Thank you for the cross and all that Jesus did to purchase me from my sin.  I ask that you will give me eyes today to see people the way that you see them.

Morning: Psalm 104

Mid-Day: Psalm 52

Night: Psalm 4

As Moses Lifted Up the Serpent (John 3:14)

A little background: In Numbers 21:1-9 the people of Israel sinned against God by grumbling about their deliverance. God sent serpents upon the people and many people were bitten and died.  The people cried out to God in repentance and God told Moses to create a bronze serpent and put it in the middle of camp.  Everyone who looked upon the serpent would be healed of their bite.

In Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus he tells Nicodemus that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must he be lifted up.  In other words.  We all have a sin problem and only those who look to Jesus will be healed.

In the midst of this passage Jesus reminds Nicodemus the he hasn’t come to condemn the world, but to save it.  Just like those who looked at the snake were healed of their bite, so to, those who look to Jesus in faith will be delivered from the consaquences of their sin.

Jesus is the True and better Moses.  Where Moses obeyed God and constructed a serpent for the healing of his people, even more Jesus offered his own body and took in the flesh the penalty that was due you and I so that we might free from the debt of sin and have life in Him.

Application:  You will never be able to deal with the sin in your life until you look to the one who bore your sin on the cross.

Father,

Thank you for the atoning work of Christ on the cross for my sin.  Thank you that he paid the price for my sins so that I can look to him by faith and be delivered from your wrath.  Thank you for my salvation and the great price that was paid.  I am walking in your freedom today.

Morning: Psalm 103

Mid-Day: Psalm 51

Evening: Psalm 3

What Sign Do You Show Us for Doing These Things? (John 2:18)

Read all of John 2 to grasp the context.

Do you get it?  Do you see the logic?  The reason behind the question?  Jesus flips tables.  He takes a whip and clears the Temple.  The people around start asking for a sign.

They get it.  They realize that here is a man who has no position or title to give him authority in the Temple, yet he is acting out like he has authority in that sphere.  He is acting like a prophet.  They know their history.

Moses performed miracles when he approached Pharoah. Elijah called fire down from heaven.  They want to know if Jesus is a prophet, possibly even the messiah.  If he is, they reason, he should show them a sign.

Jesus doesn’t play any parlor tricks here.  He has already changed water into wine back at Canna of Galilee.  He could easily do something here, but instead he points to the temple they are in and says, destroy this temple and in 3 days I’ll build it back.  They thought he was talking about a building.  He was talking about his body.

They had perverted worship by bringing money making schemes into the Temple.  Their offerings were an offense to God, but they would offend God further by putting Christ to death.  But that would not be the end of it.  The ultimate sign that He would give is that he would rise from the dead.  Worship would no longer center around an earthly temple made by human hands, but would center of Jesus Christ.  (There is a great depth and richness to this passage, but not enough time to go through it all here).

Also note 2 things. 1. The disciples immediately recall Psalm 69:9 in reference to Jesus’ actions here (John 2:17). 2. When Jesus is raised from the dead the disciples remember this event and it causes them to believe the scripture (John 2:22).  Remember the New Testament hadn’t been written yet.  The scripture that the disciples  believe is the Old Testament in reference to Jesus as the Messiah.

Application: Jesus is the True and Better temple that was destroyed and ressurected so that we might also be raised from the dead and enjoy eternal life with God. Thank God today for all Christ has done for you and live in free worship of Him by how you live.

Father,

I thank you for the work of Christ on the cross and his ressurection for my benefit that I might enjoy the pleasure of knowing you.  I rejoice that your word is singularly focused on the message of the gospel.  I ask for grace to walk worthy of Christ in thefreedom that you have given me.

Morning: Psalm 69

Mid-Day: Psalm 3

Evening: Psalm 102

Jesus is the True Jacob’s Ladder (John 1:51)

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:47-51)

Here it is again.  Do you see it?  The story of Babel (Genesis 11) and the story of Bethel, where Jacob saw a ladder coming from Heaven (Genesis 28)  and we are still in the first chapter of John.  Babel reveals our inability to reach God.  Bethel reveals that God is reaching down to us.  Jesus promises here that He is the ladder.  He is the one that bridges the gap between God and Men.  No one sees God apart from the way that God has made.  Do you see it.

Application: You will never reach God. You will never please God. You will never even see God apart from going through Jesus Christ. Jesus has come to rescue us and restore us to a right relationship with God.  The message of Heaven is simply this… Emmanuel God with us!

Father,

Today I am provoked to praise.  Glory to Jesus Christ for what He has done so that I might know you.  He is indeed the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Guard my heart from being tempted to think that I stand or fall before based on anything to do with me.  It’s all about you.

Morning: Psalm 50

Mid-Day: Psalm 101

Evening : Psalm 2

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