Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

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No Broken Bones

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

BIBLE READING: John 19

“But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs… these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.”” (John 19.33, 36)

Just before liberating Israel from slavery, God instructed them to sacrifice a lamb without blemish. As part of the process, he explicitly directed that none of its bones were to be broken (Exodus 12.46). What is the point of this detail? Some see this as a power play from a controlling dictator. But what God was doing in that time was establishing a pattern that would help future generations understand his work through Jesus (Hebrews 9-10).

The Passover lamb foreshadowed God’s ultimate work and deliverance through Christ (Psalm 34.20; John 1.29; 1 Corinthians 5.7). Just as the Israelites were enslaved and without hope, so are we enslaved to sin (Romans 3.23, 6.6; Galatians 4.3, 8). But God, promises deliverance to those who would follow his command and apply the blood (Exodus 12.21-32; Colossians 1.20; 1 Peter 1.18-19). This detail from John’s gospel undeniably connects the death of Jesus to God’s work through this specific event. He created salvation and God expects his people to remember that! The foreshadowing of Christ throughout the Law reveals to us that God was in control of the whole process.

God knew what would happen to Jesus when he sent him into this world (Acts 2.23). But not only that, he knew HOW it would happen, down to the most minute detail. And so, we not only see consistency in God’s plan, but we see fulfillment.

These details are the substance of our faith. They remind us that God hasn't changed his mind or altered his plan. This is important because sometimes the moment you’re in doesn’t make sense. But God is always in the details. “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord, according to his purpose” (Romans 8.28). As demonstrated through the Exodus and through Christ, the result of God’s plan is always liberation and victory. It doesn’t always look that way in the details… But that’s because we haven’t gotten to the end yet. These details remind us God is there and that he’s working his plan.

We need to trust that even if things don’t make sense for us now, God is faithful. He’s proven that through the fulfillment of his plan through Jesus; and one day everyone will know the faithfulness of God.

“Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53.10-11)

This is Eternal Life

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

BIBLE READING: John 17

"This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (John 17.3)

What do you hope for from eternal life? What does that look like for you? The Revelation to John offers glimpses into the splendor of eternity. Streets of gold, a magnificent throne room, peace and security, no sickness and death. As God revealed to John, eternal life is an experience of complete perfection. But a clear point is pushed forward as John concludes: perfection exists because everything flows from God. He is the Originator of life and light, and in His presence they exist in perpetuity (Revelation 21.22-22.5). 

In scripture, the picture and promise of eternal life is not in what will be seen, but with whom it will be spent. Our Maker wants us to be with Him, where he will sustain everything, forever. And so, eternal life is not a destination… it is a relationship with the One who is eternal through his word. “Blessed is the man who delights in God word and meditates on it” (Psalm 1.1-2, paraphrased). The psalmist compares him to being like a tree that is planted by a stream— it always flourishes and prospers (Psalm 1.3, paraphrased). 

Eternal life is a connection to God, through Jesus the Word (John 1.14; 15.7). Notice how John has emphasized this point:

  • “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life…” (John 3:36)

  • “…whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life…” (John 5:24)

  • “Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…" (John 6:68-69)

The word of God through Jesus brings us into a unified relationship with the Father (John 17.22-23). This is why Jesus was adamant about doing and teaching the Father’s will (John 5.19, 30). Obedience and submission made him one with God (John 10.30). 

Our deliberate obedience makes us like God in our nature and character. Knowing God is not merely about information. To know God is to be transformed, and thus to be introduced to a life that could not otherwise be experienced (Romans 12.1-2).

With this in mind, it puts our actions in proper context. To read God’s word is to become more intimately aware of Him. To conform our lives to His will is to pull ourselves closer to the One who heals, helps and sustains us. As Paul would proclaim, "I count everything as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3.8). 

Eternal life will not simply be a place of fun, filled with our favorite things from this lifetime. It is a continuation and completion of our relationship to the Father. We will no longer struggle with the separation from God, but will know Him fully, as He knows us. And so, “let us press on to know the LORD" (Hosea 6:3) and “Jesus Christ whom he has sent” (John 17.3).

Take Jesus Seriously

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

BIBLE READING: John 15-16

“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin" (John 15.22)

Many people thought Jesus was crazy. Just the way that he talked was shocking and distinct from everyone else’s (John 7.46). In fact, his claims were so brazen people couldn’t decide if he had a demon or if he actually was the Son of God (John 10.19-21).

Jesus’ teaching forced listeners to come to moments of decision. This claim of Jesus highlights the bold and polarizing nature of his teaching. He equates rejection of his words to sin.

Sin, on a basic level, is separation from God. It is a fracture in the relationship because we’ve done what we wanted and fallen short of his glory and expectations (Romans 3.23). We are all guilty of sin because we are unable or unwilling to see things God’s way. Every human finds themselves in sin at some point because we are not God.

But not Jesus.   

On multiple occasions Jesus claimed that he was one with the Father and that he only spoke what the Father would say (John 5.19, 30; 12.49). He asserted with perfect clarity because he had come from the Father to show humanity the way back to Him (John 8.42; 16.28). For Jesus to claim that his teaching would alleviate the problem of sin imposes his deity and highlights the significance of his time on earth.

If these things were not so, he would be the madman many thought he was. But his life proved otherwise (John 10.37-38), allowing him to offer hope and freedom from sin and judgment (John 3.16-18; 5.24).

The magnitude of Jesus’ incarnation is that now, sin is not simply exposed but condemned (Romans 8.3), and a way to life is revealed (John 5.25-29; 14.6). His words offer direction and hope; but more importantly they prompt change (John 6.63; 12.48).

Some have suggested that ignorance to these things would be better, but that is simply not an option for humanity. The existence of God is evident, the effect of sin is devastatingly obvious, and the need for hope in the future is felt by all (Acts 17.24-31; Romans 1.19-20; 8.18-24)

Every human needs what Jesus offers. Jesus came to shed light in the darkness and give life to the world (John 1.4-5). If you don't listen to him and abide in his words (John 15.7) you cannot come to the Father (John 14.6) and you will die in your sins (John 8.21, 24). God is not sending another prophet or revelation. He came to us in a form we could fully relate and showed us the way to life… will we take Jesus seriously?

“See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven?” (Hebrews 12.25)

The Power of Service

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

BIBLE READING: John 13

“Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (John 13.5)

The act of washing feet is simple but incredibly profound. Jesus — the Savior and King of the world — engages in the dirty, menial task of servitude in some of his last moments on earth. He didn’t speak to them of his greatness or flaunt the power he would soon receive. This would have been expected. In fact, Peter indignantly tried to keep Jesus from washing his feet (John 13.6, 8). 

But it was because Peter didn’t understand the nature of Jesus and his work. Jesus didn’t rise to prominence because of military prowess or strategic political maneuvering. It wasn’t his intellect or any sort of manipulation that made him influential. He submitted himself to the Father’s will. And so, by serving others, Jesus had put himself in a position of power that no one could touch. 

Naturally, this doesn’t make sense. People of prominence should be served by those of lesser position. We are in many ways conditioned to see things through the lens of rank. But Jesus completely rejects this notion. 

The true power of Jesus was that he was subject to no man. It didn’t matter what others thought of him, said of him, or even did to him. By making himself a servant to all, he assumed control of his life that no man could take (John 10.17-18). But more importantly his humility aligned him with the Father and provided greater opportunity for God’s glory (John 8.49-50). Ultimately, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet because true power serves others. 

“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you understand what I have done to you?”” (John 13.12)

His question is somewhat rhetorical because he knew his disciples wouldn’t understand in this moment (John 13.7). They thought they were on the way to greatness—which they were… but not like they expected. And so, in this critical moment, he needed them to be impressed by his service and not by his power. 

Do we understand what Jesus did? Even our most noble pursuits are self-seeking at times. We, like Peter, tend to rank our morality and service in hopes of some sort of recognition. But in these moments we need to see our Savior get on his knees and wash their dirty feet. Only then will we begin to see his love and understand the true power of service. 

“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13.13-15, 17)

You Will Die In Your Sins

Monday, December 30, 2019

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)

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