This particular chapter begins in a whirlwind. Jesus is teaching in the temple and the scribes and pharisees bring in a woman that was caught in the act of adultery (nevermind bringing the man that was also sinning with her). These people were always trying to find a way trick Jesus into saying or doing something wrong. His next action is something we could all learn from. They say the law says to stone her, and ask what Jesus says should be done. Jesus stoops down and writes on the dirt, “as if he heard them not.” Now, I’m not saying the silent treatment is the way to go, but notice how while Jesus does still answer them, He does not do it right off, He takes times to consider what He will say. They kept badgering Him of course, and honestly, His answer convicted their hearts even though it held no “specific to them” judgement.
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” I hear this all the time in response to making judgements about others. Please remember that Jesus has said, judge righteously, and to take care of your own sins, so you can help others take care of theirs, all on the topic of judging. What was happening here, in this particular situation was a set up. They brought ONLY the woman, and in order for their to be a proper/righteous judgement or stoning in this situation, the man in adultery with her should also have been brought to be stoned as well. Jesus knows all this was meant to trap Him, so instead of highlighting the judgement of the woman, He pointed that flashlight back to them, their hands were tied too. They knew they were wrong in bringing her alone as well.
So they left because they were convicted in their hearts. Jesus then looks to the woman and sends her on her way telling her to sin no more. How beautiful for this woman who was dragged into the middle of all this, who should have been punished because she was still guilty of her sin, to taste the grace of the Messiah. And is that not a perfect picture for us? We are born into this mess of a world, we are sinners, and we do deserve death because of it. But there is hope in Jesus Christ. We can fall into His forgiving and gracious arms with a chance at new life! Amen!
Jesus then proceeds to have a discussion with the Pharisees about His identity and their unbelief. As per usual, they aren’t understanding that He is speaking of God, and they actually claim that He has a devil.
In Verse 32, Jesus states, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Free? Free!, they scoff, are we slaves or bondman that we need to be made free? They ask Jesus. Yes. My friends, the truth is the same for them as it is for us. We are born a slave to sin. We may think there is freedom in living however one wants with no regards to God or to others. But in the end, sin brings death. So yes, we are free to die and be separated from God forever. You see, we can only serve one master, sin or God. And while service is involved with both, one leads to death and the other to life. Jesus is saying that if we are a slave to sin, we will reap death, but if we choose to serve Christ, we are free to live eternally.
Yes, as a lost person, they can do good deeds. And yes, as a Christian, we can still sin. But at the end of the day, or rather at the end of our life, it all depends on who claims you as their servant. And only in Christ can we experience freedom unto life.
Read: John 7 & Matthew 7.1-5
There are several situations happening in this chapter. It opens up by setting this scene: the feast of tabernacles is coming near, Jesus’ brothers are talking to Him, and He is officially a hunted man, since the Jews are out to kill Him. His brothers are telling Him to leave and do works so that He may be known to the world. This seems harmless enough, but I think they were probably mocking Jesus; they probably knew what the Jews intended for Him, and then verse 5 shows the truth of it all, “For neither did His brethren believe in Him.”
I can honestly see both sides to that. Can you imagine being the sibling of Jesus? It could not be easy living in the same house with a literal perfect person. But also think about Jesus’ side. Could you imagine being the Savior of the world, and your own beloved siblings don’t even believe you?
Jesus did finally leave to go into the city for the feast, albeit secretly. The Jews were looking for Him, and there was quite a bit of debate among the people as to whether Jesus was a good man or a deceiver. Jesus shows up at the temple and begins teaching. He took this time to confront head on what the Jews sought to kill Him for. They were offended that He healed on the Sabbath (which was against the Law of Moses), but in this offense, they were being hypocritical. Jesus asked why they circumcise on the Sabbath as to not break the law of Moses while simultaneously breaking the law of Moses by “working” on the Sabbath. Verse 24 really gets down to business, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgement.” The people were judging Him because of some outward thing, meanwhile they were ignoring their own transgression of the same law. Jesus was not upset that the people were judging Him, He was calling them out for judging unrighteously. That is not how God intended it to be. Matthew 7.1-5 gives Jesus teaching about judgement, and I will put the Scripture right here, but I do urge you to read it on your own as well. I may do a study on judgement soon.
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of they brother’s eye.”
Jesus went back to His own teaching about judgement and is pointing out that they are so worried about the thing Jesus did (a mote), that they aren’t even considering their own breaking of the law (the beam). Jesus taught the people well, even while calling out the hypocrites. The people noticed and discussed the truth of Christ while He was proclaiming it.
Let’s be careful, dear ones, that when the truth is concerned, we pay attention to what God is telling us rather than what the world is shouting. Let us not miss the truth right in front of us.
Read: John 6.22-71
At the beginning of chapter 6, Jesus performed the miracle of feeding the 5,000, rested, then met up with His disciples (by walking on the sea to them). Once they dock, the crowd from before finds Jesus again. He makes it clear that He knows they are there looking for Him because of His miracle rather that realizing and understanding what that miracle meant about who He is. Jesus warns them not to spend their time working for things that will not last, but rather for the things that last forever, such as eternal life. The people… oh the people… those people hear all this then promptly ask for another sign.
I can’t even judge them a little bit. How many times in our lives do we ask or hope that God will prove Himself again and again although we know that He is Jehovah Jireh, God the Provider. I don’t know about you, but God has never failed to provide for me (even if it doesn’t look the way I think it should), and God has always been faithful. In fact, one of His names is Faithful One. So why do we, like these people, feel the need to have God continue to prove Himself to us?
The last part of this chapter is a very hard and sad truth to understand.
Jesus begins speaking about Him being the living bread and that men must eat his flesh (the bread) and drink of his blood and they will live forever. While that sounds very cannibalistic, we know that He is talking about His perfect sacrifice and partaking of that free gift He offers. The breaking of His body and the spilling of His blood is what grants us eternal life to those who believe in the death and resurrection of this Savior.
Jesus knew the crowd wanted to be able to “work the works of God” (vs 28). They wanted to work their way into heaven, but this isn’t a works based salvation. Hear me: there is NOTHING we can do of ourselves that can make us worthy enough to be reconciled unto the Holy God. But God sent His Son to bridge that gap for us. We only need to believe in the gospel of Christ.
After those strange statements, many of His disciples said that this was a hard thing and asked who could bear it. The gospel of Christ (and what needed to happen to get to that point) was offensive to them. They walked no more with Jesus.
This, unfortunately, reminds me of “Christianity” in today’s society, and dare I say it? Especially in America. Many people are born into Christian families and grow up in the pews. They spend their time thinking they are following God, but its not the truth. I’m not trying to cause doubt, I’m just pointing out out that while the believing in Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection doesn’t seem so hard on the outside, the actual following of Him isn’t a cake walk. Many people have this easy believism that equates knowing about God or having grown up in a church with being an Christian. But when they are confronted with the painful truth of the gospel, admitting our sinfulness, and accepting His blood riddled gift of salvation… they say it is too much and realize they never knew Christ in the first place.
Jesus suffered and God sacrificed to make it possible for us to have a personal relationship with Him. We just have to be brave enough to admit that it’s all on God, and reach out and grasp it. And we must know that the truth of who Jesus is outweighs our comfort in this world.
Jesus’ twelve disciples knew who He was and chose to stay. Many more than those twelve left. They counted the cost, and it was too high. Friends, we need to count the cost of following Christ. Jesus already gave His life for our sins and to reconcile us to God… what will you do or what have you done with that truth?
Read: John 6. 1-21
This chapter has quite a lot happening in it. There is the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus walking on water, a sermon about the bread of Life, and a falling away of disciples. In all of that, there are many lessons to be learned and applied.
1. The feeding of the 5,000 ~ most know the story. Everybody has been listening to Jesus’ teachings all day, they all get hungry (and probably a bit grumpy), Jesus wants to feed them but all the disciples can scrounge up is a young boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Andrew then asks a very valid question, “What are they among so many?” WHICH I LOVE!!! Because what are we among so many lost and broken and searching for hope? The answer is NOTHING, we are nothing without CHRIST!!! Only He can take what little we have to offer and turn it into something we never dreamed of! What is awesome about this miracle is that Jesus uses the lacking of something to provide in a major way. In this case, they were in need of food, and in that need, God’s provision was able to shine through that much brighter. Think about your life… it seems that God is the strongest, speaks the loudest, comforts the deepest, and provides the most when we are in NEED, sometimes our most desperate need. He takes what’s missing in our lives and uses that empty space to work in our lives. How beautiful!
2. It is very important to note that after spending time with all these people and providing for their needs, Jesus went out on His own. I believe He needed time to Himself to rest, to pray, to commune with God. Listen closely… if Jesus takes some time to Himself, we can know that in the midst of our busy lives, it’s okay to take time out to rest, rejuvenate, pray, and work on our personal relationship with our Savior too. If we try and do ALL THE THINGS for ALL OF THE TIME, we will burn out and have nothing left to give. If you want to give your best to God, to your spouse, to your kids, to your work, to your passions, think of WWJD… because if a break was good enough for Jesus, we aren’t above having a break either.
3. After that quiet time, Jesus goes to catch up with His disciples who just so happen to be on a boat going toward Capernaum. The disciples were 2.5-3.5 miles out (I did math!) when they see someone coming at them, ON THE WATER, and were very understandably afraid. Jesus simply says, “It is I, be not afraid.” and they ceased to be afraid. What I absolutely love about this is that Jesus, who is over all things, the Creator, has this unpredictable force of nature under His control. It’s a great reminder because sometimes I get a bit crazy and start acting like my life is too ridiculous or has too many problems for God to handle. That is simply not true. God created all things, He can most definitely handle all the things. We just have to remember that He is God, and to not be afraid.
*The rest of John 6 will be out in a couple of days.*
Read: John 5
I always consider the first portion of this chapter to be a lesson in patience. There is a man waiting by a healing pool… a man that has had an infirmity for 38 years! He of course waits with many other sick and crippled people to go into this pool to be healed, a pool that is literally touched by an angel (does anyone else remember that show?). This man’s infirmity is such that he cannot take himself down to the pool. Who knows how long he has waited or tried to wait on the mercy or pity of others to take him into those healing waters? I know my patience would wear thin or I would become bitter and entitled and probably blame others and complain about the situation. But this man… patient always.
Jesus walks up and surveys the scene. He sees this man and knows his exact situation and asks if he will be made whole. Jesus then heals this man, which is amazing and awesome, right? Well, Jesus did the healing on the Sabbath, which is a day of rest. For the man, it was not lawful for him to carry his bed. That’s what the Jews pounced on, not a miracle of the Messiah, but rather attention to the restrictions of the Law. The Jews were trying with all their might to find something to bring Jesus down. Look at Verse 16, they sought to slay Jesus because He did these things on the Sabbath.
Jesus goes one further in the next verse and says something that equates Him with the Father. This, of course, makes the Jews VERY angry. Jesus then begins to preach to them. I love what His message here. He preaches that He can only do things that He sees God the Father do, that He can do nothing of Himself. Even Jesus is under an authority. He goes on to say that whoever believes on Him will have an everlasting life, and then tells the future that the time is coming for the resurrection. Jesus acknowledges that if He were the only one to speak for Himself, He’d be a liar, but there are others bearing witness to Him being the Messiah.
1. His forerunner, John the Baptizer 2. God the Father and 3. The Scriptures
Jesus knew that the Jews would not see Him as the Messiah, and sadly for many Jews, that is still the case today. With this sad situation, the salvation to the Gentiles came, but how heartbreaking is it to not be received by your own people, those who knew to look for you?
And with that realization, I ask you today to pray for the chosen people of God, pray for the Jewish people to open their hearts to the gospel of Christ, especially in these coming times.
One last thing to think about in this chapter. Jesus claimed a lot of things, but He let the witness of others speak for Him when it came to the truth. In our lives, we should be living differently than the world and there may be times when we are being attacked or ridiculed for how we live and respond to situations because of our faith. Have no fear, Jesus said if the world hated Him, then it will most surely hate us. But what we need to think about is the fact that we may want to defend ourselves and make our own reputation, but we need to let the witness of God, Jesus, and the Scriptures speak for us and through us.
The Samaritan Woman at the Well.
Two of those words tell their own story. The Jews and the Samaritans did not have a good relationship. This goes back to the Old Testament, the separation of the twelve tribes, different places of worship, and the Samaritans intermarrying with the Assyrians (outside of their religion). So the fact that Jesus went through Samaria is interesting in itself. On top of that, Jesus stops to talk to a woman. Please remember that this was a different time and culture all together, and the role that women had back in those times was completely different.
What I love about Jesus doing this is that it shows that He went out of His way for the people that society might consider the “untouchables” or “outsiders.” Knowing that this is Jesus’ heart, that He Himself sought out those people, I know that as Christ followers, we too should have a heart for ALL people from ALL walks of life.
Jesus asks this woman for a drink from the well and even the woman is baffled as to why this Jewish man would be talking to her. He goes on to offer her the Living Water and then prophesies about her situation (5 previous husbands and a current live in boyfriend) She immediately connects the dots and kind of inquires when she says that there is one coming who will tell all, the Messiah. And in a rare direct admission, Jesus confirms His identity.
After a lengthy discussion, this woman runs back into town to declare that Christ has come. From there, many go down, meet with Christ, and believe. The beauty of this is that God used a woman who was an outcast, both culturally and socially, to bear the good news of the Messiah. Our God cares for all, and there is no one “too far gone” to be saved and used of God to do wonderful things, no matter where you’re from, what lifestyle you’ve led, or any other thing that would be considered an obstacle to anyone else.
So let’s take a look at our own lives. Which side of the well are you on? Do you think you lifestyle, situation, or previous actions make you an untouchable? Do you think that you’ve done too much to be forgiven by God? OR Are you a Christian who is afraid to be seen with those that seem unlovable? Do you judge other people harshly or do you, dear Christian, reach out the hand of fellowship to those who are lost as you once were?
We all need to take a cue from Jesus and reach out with truth and love to those that are hurting or lost while remaining humble and remembering our sinful beginnings. Let us be those hands and feet of Christ, even when it is uncomfortable, or out of the way, or any other thing we could think of to stay away.
I’m sure that the first verse that comes to mind for this chapter is John 3.16. While it is a phenomenal verse, I would also like for us to take note of the things surrounding it which are just as fantastic and monumental.
In this chapter, Nicodemus, a Pharisee, comes to visit Jesus by night. Jesus explains to him that “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Now Nicodemus was a smart man, but his first thought and response were physically minded - how can a man enter the womb a second time? I honestly can’t blame him for thinking so literally as I often misread the meaning of what God says. Or worse, purposely twist His Word to fit my own agenda.
Jesus redirects Nicodemus and basically tells him that if He (Jesus) speaks of earthly things and we don’t understand, how will we understand the heavenly things. Nicodemus knew that Jesus was a man of God, but he didn’t realize that Jesus was the Messiah. As a Pharisee, Nicodemus would have spent most of his life training to serve God and would have known the Scripture enough to be looking for the coming Messiah. Here is the Messiah standing in front of him, and he almost misses it. I believe this is a picture of today’s society. We have the whole Bible and tons of churches on every street corner, and yet while many people know about God or claim to be Christian, there are so many people who miss what’s right in front of them; the free gift of salvation and a personal relationship with Christ.
Jesus then goes on to explain some amazing things. Specifically the beginning of the Gospel. There is a God that loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for our sins and pay that sin debt. If we believe in Jesus, we will have everlasting life. Jesus wasn’t set to condemn, but rather to save. Choosing to not believe on Jesus is what condemns you. Jesus is the Light that came into our dark world, and no surprise... many people love the darkness more than light. We see that truth over and over again in the world and even sometimes in our own life. I’ll be the first to admit that there are many times that I lose the battle to some recurring sins in my life. I am just so thankful to have the Light of the world love me personally. I pray that because of the goodness, love, light, and mercy that He brought to my life, that I can turn around and offer those same things to the world around me and point them to Christ.
I’m going to leave off with a very important and possibly offensive verse that can either be hope or despair… depending on what each individual chooses.
Verse 36 - “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not on the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
There is only hope and salvation in Christ, and there are consequences for those who choose the path of darkness.
I hope that we as Christians will continually pray for those who haven’t yet made a choice and for those who sadly haven’t chosen God. I hope that we can be transparent with our lives and paint the whole picture with love, compassion, and sincerity.
Something major happens at the beginning of John 2 - Jesus’ first recorded miracle, turning water into wine.
What I love about this particular event is his mom. There was a problem, and good ole mom turns to her son, the Messiah, to fix it. No second guessing, just obvious and complete faith and trust. And though Jesus seems slightly annoyed, Mary continues to trust that He will come through. We can see this trust when she tells the servants “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” Bada bing, bada boom… Wine! I know that I need to take a page out of Mary’s book and learn to fully, totally, and unwaveringly trust in Jesus from the big things like finances, relationships, and children to the smaller things like “where are my car keys,” “give me strength to deal with this stress,” and a personal favorite and well used one of mine, “please help me get some rest tonight.” It always sounds so simple, but trust me, friend, I know how hard it can truly be.
It is so easy to get wrapped up in trying to take control of every little thing in our lives. We want to be in control and on the throne. There truly can’t be two ruling at once. So we must decide: keep the stress and chaos and control OR trust that God is God of the universe and is more than capable of being the Lord of our lives. The awesome thing is that it isn’t about us or what we can or can’t do… we need to be like Mary and look to our Savior for all things. And while there is no promise of an easy life, let’s sit back, take a load off, and trust in the Faithful One.
As far as the second half of the chapter, there are many gems to be uncovered, but I’ll keep it down to three.
1 - Jesus went to the temple at passover and saw that people had turned the temple into a place for profit. Take note at how Jesus responded. He made a scourge (a whip) to drive the animals out, dumped all the money and flipped some tables. So when you ask yourself WWJD? Don’t forget that flipping tables is within the realm of possibilities!! Joking… mostly. Jesus was righteously angry that the House of God had been turned into something worldly and defiling. I think that often times, this can happen in our churches today, where the focus is off Christ and on the newest trend or oldest tradition. We need to be careful to keep Christ at the root of Christianity.
2 - The Jews then ask for a sign and Jesus replies, “Destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up.” Of course they scoffed at him because they didn’t realize He was speaking about His death and resurrection. Even His disciples on their best days didn’t understand some of what Jesus was telling them. We are so blessed to have the Bible, the chance to read and study it, and the hindsight to see what God was saying at that time. Let’s remember that there is a future ahead of us that we may not understand in whole, but we still need to be prepared for it, just like Jesus’ disciples.
3 - Verses 23-25 says that many saw the miracles and believed in Him, yet Christ did not commit himself to them because He knew their hearts. The important thing about this particular section is that God knows us inside and out. We cannot play games with Him. We are either His or we are not. There cannot be an in between.