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Monday, January 8, 2018

My Sheep – John 10:27

            Listen to My voice

          Jesus tells the Pharisees, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.” Jesus had told the Pharisees that they were not true shepherds. Shepherds were those who loved, tended and cared for the sheep.  Now Jesus tells them that they are not even His sheep. He explains who are His sheep – “those who listen to His voice and follow Him.” In other words, true followers of Christ are not hearers only, but doers of His Word. They do as Jesus says and does. Jesus said in John 18:37, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me.” One of the reasons Jesus was sent to earth was to testify to the Truth. He was testifying to Truth as He spoke to the Pharisees, but they didn’t hear His Word.
         The way to know the Shepherd’s voice is through studying the Bible comparing scripture with scripture. No part of the Godhead will speak contrary to scripture. If we don’t know and understand the Word of God, we can easily be led astray. Eve was lured into sin by the serpent. Eve received God’s Word secondhand through Adam making her vulnerable. Adam received it directly from God. While Eve was alone, the serpent put doubt in the woman’s mind about God’s Word, Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the Garden?” Genesis 3:1b Then the serpent convinced Eve that there would be no consequences for disobeying God’s direction.  “You will not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5 The devil is a counterfeit, so he will use scripture by twisting it and coming as close as he can to the original scripture to deceive us. For this reason, it is important for Christians to know the Word of God, rightly-divide it, understand it and then do it.

             I know them 

     Jesus knows each one of His followers intimately and personally. We are His  treasured possession. God doesn’t change! He called Israel His treasure in Exodus 19:5 above all the people of the earth. The Israelites were the carriers of the Word of God even though they were sinful and didn’t always obey God. For this reason God had to send the Perfect Man who was also fully God (Jesus) to earth to be perfectly obedient to the Father so humanity could be saved. Only One who is God could do this. Now, both sinners whether Jew or Gentile must be restored to the Father through the sinless, shed blood of the Perfect Man Jesus. The sin of the first holy man Adam had to be paid for by a holy Man Jesus – the Second and Last Adam.
     Those who love and follow Jesus are His treasure – both Jew and Gentile. And, God wants us to treasure His Word. Proverbs 7:1: My son, keep My words, and treasure My commands within you. In Psalm 119 about the Word of God, he said, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it that I will follow your righteous laws. Vv103-106 David understood this. He was a man after God’s own heart although not perfect.
    Jesus is continually drawing us closer and closer to Him. If we are to be satisfied, we must find our meaning and purpose in Jesus. We were made through Him, by Him and for Him. (see Colossians 1:16-17) When His Word abides in us, He abides in us because He is the Word brought to life.

·         They follow Me

    “Follow” is in the present tense meaning that it is a continual and habitual activity. To follow Him means to have faith in Him and learn from Him – to walk as He walks. When Jesus invites us to follow Him, He is inviting us into an intimate relationship with Him. This relationship is fueled by love just as Jesus’ relationship with His Heavenly Father was fueled by love. Jesus was obedient to the Father because of His love for Him and for humanity. He wants us to do the same with Him. He is our example. We don’t earn salvation through obedience. Our obedience shows Him that we love Him and establishes His Word and life within us. He abides in us! In obeying and following Jesus, we bring glory to God and Jesus as Jesus brought glory to God in all that He did while on earth. He only did what the Father told Him to do and only spoke what the Father told Him to speak. Because Jesus was in human form, He was submitted to the will of His Heavenly Father.
      Jesus goes ahead of His sheep and they follow Him. He even went ahead of the Old Testament saints who had died and they followed behind Him to the Heavenly Promised Land.

·         “I Give Them Eternal Life”

      Hearing Jesus’ words and obeying them is the way Jesus and the Holy Spirit breathe spiritual, eternal life into us now. When we do His Word, Jesus’ life abides in us. In other words, His Word takes on spiritual life within us and is established in us. The way of salvation and eternal life is through the death of Jesus in the flesh. Obedience is not giving us salvation. That is the gift of God through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, but listening to Jesus and the Father’s Word breathes spiritual, eternal life in us as we walk on earth. We obey Him and want to please Him because we love Him, just as Jesus pleased the Father through His obedience to His will and word, and love. The mark of Christ’s sheep is that they listen to Him and follow Him. The greatest glory and honor a believer can give to Chris t is to listen and obey Jesus and His Word.

    Jesus wants us to be fully human. The Godhead operates in fullness. The Godhead wants to transform us into the very spiritual being that they are. Jesus -- who is the Word of God brought to life -- and the Holy Spirit are slowly and progressively perfecting us as we walk this earth. All they need is a willing, obedient heart. This perfection will be completed when we too are resurrected from death. We will be like Him – spiritually perfect – Godlike, without sin and radiating His light and glory. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit will always be greater than us. Their position over the entire heavens and earth will never change. Sin has never touched them unlike us! God created the original Man/Adam perfect and holy. Unfortunately sin corrupted Adam and Eve making them no longer holy. The love of God toward those who were created in His very image and likeness had to correct this. Jesus was, is and will ever be sinless making Him worthy to stand in God’s presence. Only Jesus’ death on the cross for sin makes us worthy to stand before God. His death on the cross was not for punishment but for His love for God and for sinful human beings. He suffered what He did for us! Jesus had power over His own death, and He has power over the death of those who love and follow Him. Jesus gave His life and took it up again! To those who have faith in Him, He gives eternal life. They will never perish.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Unbelief of Some of the Jews – John 10:24-33

          Last week, we saw the division of those who believed in Jesus and those who didn't. We also saw that Jesus is the New Living Temple not made by human hands, but sent of God.

The Unbelief of Some of the Jews – John 10:24-33

          The Jewish Pharisees once again gather around Jesus and question Him. “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly. “v24  Jesus responded, “I did tell you, but you do not believe.”v25 Let’s refresh our memories of what Jesus has told these religious leaders. He reminded them of what He had already taught them and why they didn’t understand His Words – “they are not His sheep.”
  • ·         He told them that no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit – born again. John 3:3, 5a
  •            He told them that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 Jesus is the giver of eternal life.
  •             He told them that He is the Son of God. John 5:19-23
  •             He told them that He is the judge of all. John 5:22
  •             He told them that He is to be honored as the Father is honored. John 5:23
  •             He told them that the scriptures (Older Testament) were written about Him. John 5:39
  •             He told them that if they believed Moses, they would believe Him because Moses wrote of Him. John 5:46-47 
  •             He told them that He is the Living Bread (Manna) that came down from heaven. John 6:51
  •             He told them that He is the perfect and complete revelation of God. John 7:28-29
  •             He told them He is the One who will send the Living Water (Holy Spirit). John 7:37-38
  •             He told them that He always pleases the Father. John 8:29
  •             He told them that He speaks the Truth and if they held to His teaching, they are His disciples and the Truth would set them free from sin and the enemy.  John 8:31-32
  •             He told them that God is the One who sent Him. John 8:42
  •             He told them that He was sinless. John 8:45 
  •             When the Pharisees claimed that Abraham was their father, Jesus told them that before “Abraham was born, I am!” John 8:58
  •          He told them that He opens the eyes of the spiritually blind. John 9:39
  •             He told them that He is the Door of the sheep that gives them entrance into the Heavenly House of God. John 10:7
  •             He told them that He is the Good Shepherd. John 10:11, 14
  •             He told them that the miracles He did spoke for Him. John 10:25
  •             He told them that those whom the Father had given Him cannot be snatched out of His Hand. John 10:29
  •             He told them that He and the Father are One. John 10:30                                  
                How much plainer could Jesus get? Yet, the Jewish Pharisees didn't believe Him. Jesus didn't withhold Truth from them! Unfortunately, they were spiritually blinded to Him because of their understanding of  scripture. God was doing a "new" thing in sending His Son Jesus to earth. Jesus was trying to show these religious leaders that He is the One who was written of in their scriptures -- the Older Testament. The heart and love of Jesus wanted them to see that He is the fulfillment of all of God's Word and promises int he Older Testament, but they refused to see and hear.

“My Miracles Speak for Me.” John 10:25

            Next Jesus tells the Pharisees that the miracles and works He did testified of Him. The Pharisees were well-schooled in the scriptures. Jesus was fulfilling all of the Older Testament scriptures and in this instance, those spoken through the prophet Isaiah in 35:5-6. “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer and the mute tongue shout for joy.” Jesus had restored sight to the blind man, healed the lame man and restored speech to the mute man. (see John 9:1; Mark 9:25; Luke 11:14) John the Baptist who was well-versed in the Older Testament scriptures had obviously started to doubt whether Jesus was the Promised Messiah. Jesus told some messengers to “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard. The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear and the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” Luke 7:22-23  Every one of Jesus’ miracles showed that He was the One sent of God to fulfill the Older Testament scriptures, save, heal and reveal the Father. He was set apart by God to do all that the Father sent Him to do. He did this wholly and perfectly. Scripture cannot be broken! All scripture is given by the inspiration of God. Jesus had to come to fulfill completely the Older Testament scriptures. The Old and New Testaments become one in Christ. He is the Living Word of God from beginning to end. The fullness of the Godhead and the Scriptures abide in Jesus.

“You are not My sheep.” John 10:26

          Jesus tells these religious leaders that they are not His sheep because they do not believe in Him and would not listen to His voice. God was sending His undying love through Jesus in spite of the Jews' and all peoples' inability to live up to the standards of God's Word including the Law and the Prophets. Only One who is pure and perfect can do so. Only Jesus because of His perfection (holiness) can forgive sin and restore us to right relationship with the Father. Jesus was motivated by His love for His Heavenly Father and humanity. Jesus' passion was not only love, but also God's glory. Jesus radiated God's glory to the world through His love and obedience to the will of the Father. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Good Shepherd – Part 5

        “I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:15b Previously, Jesus said in the parable of the good shepherd vs false shepherd that the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Now Jesus personalizes this saying “I lay down my life for the sheep” making it clear that He is the Good Shepherd. Jesus will soon lay down His life at the cross for the whole world. The eternal plan of the Father was for Jesus to lay down His life for the sheep. Jesus willingly did this out of His love for the Father and for humanity who were originally made in the image and likeness of God. His self-sacrifice motivated by love not only saves us, but also leads us into the green pastures of His Word by His Spirit to recreate us into the image and likeness of God once again. As we allow the Spirit and Word to take root in us by doing it, we are day by day conformed into His image. Our Good Shepherd will lead us to the path of righteousness and love.
The love of the Father is fully manifested in the Son laying down His life and taking it up again in His resurrection. He had the authority of the Father to do this. Jesus said in John 10:17-18, “The reason My Father loves Me is that I lay down My life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father.”  While Jesus walked the earth in His flesh body, He had all authority given Him by God. They were One – equal in power and authority because they are both God and holy. Jesus raised Himself from earthly death to eternal, spiritual life restoring Himself back to His original place with the Heavenly Father.

Other Sheep

        “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to My voice, and there shall be one flock and one Shepherd.”
            While Jesus walked the earth, He focused His ministry on the “house of Israel.” He came to the Jew first because God had chosen the Jews to be His light to the world. Obviously, they were human just like those in the church, and didn’t do it perfectly which is why God had to reproduce to send His holy and perfectly obedient Son to save all – both Jews and Gentiles. The other sheep Jesus is referring to are the Gentiles – all other nations, tribes and people. The “sheep pen” represents the Jews. After Pentecost, Jesus’ Jewish disciples empowered by the Holy Spirit took the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. There had been many gentiles throughout the ages converted to Judaism. In Christ, however, all – both Jews and Gentiles – must believe in Jesus to become “one new man (body)” (see Ephesians 2:15) in Him. In Ezekiel 37:17-19, God showed this uniting to the prophet Ezekiel using Judah and Israel. The Lord uses the “natural” to teach “spiritual” truth. God honored the Jews despite their imperfection by sending Jesus to earth through a Jewish virgin. What the Jews and the Law couldn’t do for God’s people, Jesus did!
Like the earthly sheep pen Jesus was using to teach spiritual truth, there were many folds led by different shepherds but were one flock. This is true in the spiritual as well. There are many folds, but only one flock (Body) with One Holy and Perfect Shepherd – Jesus. In the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the Good Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd and the Great Shepherd. (see 1 Peter 5:4: Hebrews 13:20)

          At these words, the Jews were again divided. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to Him?” John 10:19
            But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open blind eyes?”v20
            Jesus did not withhold the Truth. He spoke only Truth to them. Some Jews believed in Jesus and some did not. This is nothing new. There are those today and throughout the ages who believe in Jesus and His Truth, and those who don’t.

Feast of Dedication

         Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. John 10:22-23
            This Feast is also known as the Festival of Lights (Hanukah). This Feast of Dedication celebrated the re-cleansing of the Temple and its re-dedication to the Lord. The king of Syria had desecrated the temple by turning it into a house of prostitution and didn’t allow the Jews to circumcise their male babies or possess a copy of the law. Instead the Syrians sacrificed pigs on the altar and sold the Jews into slavery. This evil king oppressed the Jews in every way even putting many to death. He also tried to abolish Jewish worship. A group of Jews referred to as the Maccabees who were willing to fight for their country and their religion took control of Judea from the king of Syria. They purified the temple and lit the 7-branched candlestick but only 1 cruse of pure oil could be found to light the menorah for one day. Miraculously, God let that one cruse of pure, consecrated oil last 8 days – the length of the feast—until new oil could be prepared as God directed. This oil had to also be consecrated by the High Priest. Jesus, the Light of the world and the Supreme High Priest, would eventually pour out the eternal oil of the Holy Spirit to keep His spiritual light and fire burning within us forever. The oil of the Holy Spirit will also defeat the spiritual enemy of God's people. Jesus is walking in the temple down Solomon’s colonnade (porch).  The Living Temple of God not made by human hands was walking in the earthly temple made by human hands in Jerusalem. Solomon means "peace." Jesus is the the eternal King of peace.
         John in this scripture said that it was winter, so Jesus is walking through Solomon’s covered colonnade to be sheltered from the weather. Solomon’s colonnade is on the eastern side of the temple by the outer court. Jesus is our shelter from the storm.He never leaves or forsakes us.
            During this Feast, Jerusalem and the temple were illuminated by large menorahs, and lights were in every house. God’s holy city was full of light. These lights reminded the Jews of God’s provision of oil for the great 7-branched menorah. Seven is the number of perfection/completion. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world.”  He is the perfect and full Light. Jesus is giving the perfect Light of truth to His audience. It was the Word of God that brought light in Genesis. It is the Word of God – Jesus – who is giving the Light of truth in the Gospels. With Jesus and His Word in our hearts, we become the Light of the world whether Jew or Gentile. God is no respecter of persons!