Bible Reading Blog
BIBLE READING: John 7-8
“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 8.24)
Jesus never felt the need to coddle his listeners because unless they could be saved from their sins, nothing else mattered. As grating as they may seem, his words were carefully crafted to challenge and change. What is most interesting is Jesus speaks these words to those who were already interested and following him.
Do believers today need to be reminded of this brutal reality? Jesus certainly thought so. Not so they would live in a constant state of fear but rather to keep them humble and receptive to the truth from God. The way to him is based on objective reality that recognizes our insufficiency in dealing with the problem of sin.
The religious leaders often resorted to arguments that lauded their own competency (John 7.47-52) and I think sometimes we do the same. We build good spiritual habits and develop a lifestyle that is in line with God‘s expectations thinking that God is now pleased with us. The reality is that while we were still enemies of God (Romans 5.6-10), he offered us grace upon grace (John 1.16). The only bridge across the separation of sin is trusting in Jesus and not in ourselves.
We must be cautious not to think our goodness is some sort of standard. Compared to Almighty God, our righteousness is worthless (Isaiah 64.6). It is pretentious to think that we have arrived at a place of competency before God. This is the root of many sins because it minimizes the need for God in our life.
We must acknowledge that sin is a problem everyone must deal with. It has very definite consequences which we cannot pacify (Romans 3.23; 6.23). For even the most devout believers, our inability to reconcile sin is the primary motivation for belief in Jesus. If we could appease God’s wrath for sins on our own, why would Jesus even matter?And so, we need clear guidance from Jesus to show us the way to the Father (John 14.6).
But Jesus teaching didn’t simply offer some moral code to follow that would justify us before God. The law had already been given and proved to be useless in this regard (Romans 7). Jesus came to free us from the futility of that system, but we must release the grip of self-justification.
Sometimes the truth cuts to the heart (Acts 2.37). But while the truth about sin is brutal, it makes the life Jesus call us to that much more attractive. We would do well to remind ourselves of our condition without Jesus, and humble ourselves accordingly. God is not interested in your competency, rather he desires your trust.
God, help us to be a more humble people.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3.5-6)
BIBLE READING: John 6
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him… I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6.44, 51)
If I go too long without eating, my body lets me know. My head starts hurting, my stomach makes noises, and my body feels tired. At that point, I’m on a mission to find food. If I’m at home, I’m going to the fridge. If I’m out, any Chik-Fil-A will do. As my hunger increases, it draws me to a place I know I will get fed.
Naturally, we seek out food because physical life can only be sustained by external sources. But even these efforts are short-lived because nothing lasts. Jesus would often play off the need for continual sustenance to point to a greater reality. “Do not work for the food that perishes but for the food that endures to eternal life…” (John 6.27).
We each have a need and craving for spiritual restoration and eternal nourishment. Depression, anxiety, fear, and loneliness are some of the most common indicators of spiritual malnourishment and deficiency. When you experience these things, where are you going for nourishment?
We are naturally drawn to sources we believe will feed that need. This can look like meaningful relationships, pursuits or even lifestyle changes. All of these can be good things, but are not the source of life. If we are truly seeking fulfillment, inevitably we will find ourselves drawn to Jesus (John 6.44).
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6.35). These are promises to not only satisfy, but sustain life eternally (see also Hebrews 13.8). As with food and water, one may eat and drink of his life by feeding on the unchanging word (John 6.68) and having his mind in you (Philippians 2.5).
Partaking with Christ in these things provides hope in the future and resolve to persevere in this life. The scriptures encourage us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34.8), and to delight in the Word who became flesh (John 1.14). He is the source, who not only gives life (John 1.3-4a) but offers it abundantly (John 10.10). Let’s not settle for temporary satisfaction when we can eat and be satisfied with the words of Jesus that produce life.
“Blessed is the man [whose]… delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1.1-3)
BIBLE READING: John 5
“...Jesus answered them,“My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This is why the Jews were seeking to kill him, because... he was making himself equal with God. So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing...” (John 5.17-19)
Secular historians have wrestled with how to define Jesus. Some acknowledge him as a significant historical figure or a good man. Others admit his divine inspiration and lump him in with the prophets. However, based on the claims of Jesus, you just can’t do that. Jesus boldly affirmed that not only had he seen God, but he was God. This means...
- He cannot be just a noteworthy historical figure. He is too exclusive for that. He didn’t claim to be one way of many, like Buddha, Ghandi, Muhammad or any other thought leader. He claimed to be the only way to the Father (John 14.6). He doesn’t allow us to lump him with other historical figures.
- He cannot be just a prophet. He claims to know too much. Unlike others to whom God came down to reveal to his will, Jesus claims to have come from the very presence of God (John 3.12-13). In fact, Jesus claims to be the final revelation of God’s will (John 12.44-47; see Hebrews 1.1-4). No prophet ever claimed that (consider 1 Peter 1.10).
- He cannot be just a good man. He demands attention that expects change and requires people to come to him. Either he must be obeyed, followed, and worshipped or he needs to be sent to the nut house.
To validate his claim, Jesus asserts that he would give spiritual life (21), judge the world (21-22) and raise the dead (28-29). For him to make these claims and not fulfill them would not only make him a liar, but immediately make him irrelevant. The fact that he claimed it, it is documented, and we are still talking about it means that somebody tested and proved it to be true. Otherwise history would have destroyed this claim.
To believe that Jesus was anything other than the Son of God would be a baseless fabrication. He claimed equality with God. And so, we have no choice but to either accept him as such or reject him. The dichotomy is intentional to force us to decision. We need not ask, “Who is Jesus?”, but rather, “What will I do with him?”
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1.18, NIV)
BIBLE READING: John 3
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3.16)
There’s not much I wouldn’t do for my kids. Like any good father, I will stand up for them to anyone and anything that I see as harmful. That’s just the nature of being a parent. You love your kids intensely, unconditionally, and sacrificially.
We often refer to God as “our Father” because he is for those of us who have been born again (John 3.3). But before he was our Father, he had an only Son whom he loved and loves (John 3.35). They were in perfect harmony with one another and he gave his Son everything; which makes sense because that’s the nature of a father. But what I don’t understand is the depth of God’s love to offer that same gift to humanity.
Don’t get me wrong... I understand the great need that we each have to be saved from our sins. I understand that I was dead and doomed apart from the sacrifice of Jesus (Ephesians 2.1; Colossians 2.13). But I just can’t wrap my mind around why God would make that decision. I wouldn't give my children for anyone, much less somebody I don't like.
There’s so much about John 3.16 that I struggle to understand. God is not giving to his son; he is sacrificing him. The Son who loves the Father is being given for those who do not love him. The paradox of God’s love in sending Jesus forces us to ask the question: why would God do it?
We may not be able to fully grasp the rationale behind his decision on this side of life, but the magnitude of his choice demands our attention.
I don’t have good answers to all the questions John 3.16 raises… but here is what I know. There is nothing equal to the love of a father; and thank God he loves us so. In fact, these verses show us just how valuable we are to God. We are not some throw-away part of creation that God takes pleasure in toying with or destroying. He purposefully came to us in patience and long-suffering and hurt to get our attention. We would be foolish to reject or neglect such a profound display of love.
How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure.
That he should give his only Son, to make a wretch his treasure.
(How Deep the Father’s Love, vs 1)
“…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us… rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5.8, 11)
BIBLE READING: John 1-2
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son of God from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1.14)
Whereas the other gospels drive their narrative towards the declaration of Jesus as the Messiah, John offers no suspense about the identity of Jesus. He opens with a poetic depiction of Jesus as the eternal Son of God who empowers and enlightens men to the will of God (John 1.1-18). This section is somewhat enigmatic, but offers clear connections to Jesus' role in God’s work throughout history. Jesus was there in creation (John 1.1-3), he builds on the work of Moses (John. 1.17) and he fulfills what the prophets said regarding the One to come (John 1.15).
John is definitive and deliberate from the start because he is convinced Jesus is the Son of God and he wants you to believe. Everything John records must be read in this context.
To persuade us of this point, John highlights the clarity Jesus had about his own identity. Jesus never wonders what he will do or why he will do it. He is deliberate and even adamant at times with his message as he carries out his mission. There is uniformity with Jesus’ words and works that mirror those of the Father. His resolve to please his Father is unaltered by even the most hostile circumstances.
Jesus' precision is both is enticing and polarizing. He will not apologize for his claims. He is not worried about your fickle emotions. He did not come to haggle with the religious. Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19.10).
You may have questions regarding your own faith and purpose. You may struggle to understand the Word of God and what to do with it. John presents Jesus as the one you can trust to help you. He is not swayed by opinion. He doesn’t lack understanding. He cuts right to the heart of what matters. He is not simply a good moral teacher; he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14.6). The way to God is clearly seen through Jesus, the Son of God, if one is willing to “come and see” (John 1.46).
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!... I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1.29, 34)