One Small Voice

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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Isaiah 61:3

I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life

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Psalm 121

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“I and the Father Are One”

Week 10  John 10:1-21  The Good Shepherd and John 10:22-42 I and the Father Are One

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Setting

The text of John 7:10 places Jesus in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles. Hendriksen locates this event in what he terms the “later Judean Ministry” (Hendriksen, Vol 1., 36). Jesus remains in this location from 7:10 through 10:39. Much of what John records in these chapters are Jesus’ ongoing conversations with the religious leaders, the “religerati,” who eventually instigate his crucifixion.

The conversations of John 9:40 through 10:21 appear to occur in a single location outside the Jewish temple within a continuous period of time; they connect one with another and involve the same people, the Pharisees (John 9:13).

Between verse 10:21 and 10:22, a period of time passes of which John records nothing. Verse 22 opens a new section, made apparent by the word “then,” or “at that time,” signifying a new time than the verses prior. This is how John breaks up his sections by using time markers. The reader also knows that the material beginning in verse 22 is a new section because John says it was the Feast of Dedication and winter, while the prior section had occurred in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles.

22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.

The Feast of Dedication, known today as Hanukkah, occurs in winter. The colonnade of Solomon was a large covered porch, or portico, constructed as part of the original temple, along the temple’s east wall.

The Dialogue

24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

“The Jews” here refers to the religerati, the self-appointed censors of Jewish law and tradition, who throughout John’s gospel are those who demonstrate great hostility to Jesus. This is made apparent in the ensuing context by the dialogue between Jesus and these religious leaders, including their ultimate action in vs 31 of picking up stones to throw at him.

Given the history of these religious leaders and the dialogue which follows, the reader can discern that their question, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly,” was not spoken in eager anticipation, but as a trap to lure him to speak something for which they might accuse him and arrest him.

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe…

Jesus had already answered their question both directly and indirectly (Jn 5:17-47; 6:29, 35, 51-65; 7:37-39; 8:12-20, 28, 29, 42, 56-58; and 10:7-18).

25 …The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,

Jesus does not base his argument on words but in power. The works (miracles) he had already done could only have been done by one whom the Father had approved and was helping. The prime example occurred in chapter 9, where Jesus gave sight to a man who had been born blind. The Apostle Paul uses the same argument in his letter to the Corinthians–

1 Corinthians 2:4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

The Cause of Their Unbelief

26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.

Which came first–the chicken or the egg? In the case in vs 26, the answer is clear–the religious leaders do not believe in Christ, because they are not among his sheep. In other words, being a sheep of Christ precedes belief.

John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…

Do all the sheep come to Christ in belief? Yes.

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

First a sheep, then a believer. So how does one get to be a sheep? Ask the Father for this blessing. As it turns out, only a sheep would want to be a sheep. Those who are not sheep prove that this is so by never coming to Christ. But if you are in doubt, pray and ask God, and he will make you a sheep, because he never turns anyone away who calls on him.

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Eternal Life and Assurance of Salvation (Final Perseverance of the Saints)

28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Jesus makes it clear through repetition that “eternal life” means eternal, forever.

  1. “I give them eternal life,”
  2. “and they will never perish,”
  3. “and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
  4. “…no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
  5. “I and the Father are one.” I.e., “We are together in full agreement on this.”

The very concept “eternal life” implies assurance of salvation, also known as final perseverance of the saints. If a sheep could by any means at all–through actions by someone else against her or by her own actions against herself–lose the eternal life that Jesus gives, i.e., fall out of salvation, lose her salvation, then the “eternal life” would not be eternal. This is clearly impossible. Eternal life means eternal, forever.

Pause (Selah): Rejoice! If any child of God reading this has sinned grievously and is fearful of having lost God’s favor, then take heart! These words of Jesus teach us that the end has not arrived. Allow your heart to grieve and mourn and sorrow over your sin and the displeasure you know it caused your Father, then lift your eyes and look into the eyes of Christ your Savior, the Lamb of God, and know that for this very moment he died. All your sins are forgiven. Truly sorrow and truly mourn and truly repent and run back into the arms of your Father and your Savior Christ for protection and restoration. One of the biggest lies the enemy tells is that a child of God, one of the lambs of Christ, could sin beyond repair. If you still have doubts, read and reread vss 28-30 and let them permeate your heart. They speak of eternal life in Christ that cannot be broken. Eternal life means eternal, forever, a life that cannot be lost.

Jesus One Substance with the Father

28 I give them eternal life

30 I and the Father are one.

  1. Only God can give eternal life to another.
  2. Jesus clearly and openly states that he and the Father are one.

Jesus in vs 30 does not claim to be the Father, and clearly, the Father is in heaven (Matthew 6:9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name), while Christ is on earth incarnated into a human body. He also states, “I and the Father…”, clearly implying two persons. What Jesus means is that he and the Father are one substance and of one will. Jesus here claims deity and equality with God the Father.

The Religious Leaders Understand Jesus’ Claim to Deity

31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.

Stoning was the punishment decreed for blasphemy in Old Testament Israel.

“Again” refers to John 8:59: So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Jesus Defends Himself from Their Charge of Blasphemy

32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?”

Again, Jesus appeals to the tangible and provable evidence of his “many good works” to corroborate his claim to deity (see also verse 25, “…The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me”). In saying this, Jesus adds a touch of irony to the Pharisees’ action of attempting to stone him.

33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

The religious leaders hostile to Christ place far greater emphasis upon the words of Jesus than upon his actions. They discount Jesus’ claim that his good miracles attest his identity.  However, if all Jesus ever did was speak and make verbal claims, while performing no miracles, then their accusations might be valid. But the fact is that Jesus did many good miracles that only one sent from God could perform, and this fact should have caused these leaders to stop, pause, consider, and inquire further into the identity of Jesus and who he claimed to be.

Then Jesus appeals to what should be their knowledge of scripture:

34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

Below is a paraphrase of the three verses above and the two that follow:

John 10:34-38The Message (MSG)

34-38 Jesus said, “I’m only quoting your inspired Scriptures, where God said, ‘I tell you—you are gods.’ If God called your ancestors ‘gods’—and Scripture doesn’t lie—why do you yell, ‘Blasphemer! Blasphemer!’ at the unique One the Father consecrated and sent into the world, just because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I don’t do the things my Father does, well and good; don’t believe me. But if I am doing them, put aside for a moment what you hear me say about myself and just take the evidence of the actions that are right before your eyes. Then perhaps things will come together for you, and you’ll see that not only are we doing the same thing, we are the same—Father and Son. He is in me; I am in him.”–The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Jesus in verses 34 through 36 employs a “lesser to greater” form of argument:

  1. Scripture cannot lie.
  2. Scripture itself calls human judges “gods” as they perform their duties of carrying out the justice of God.
  3. The “good works” that Jesus has already performed demonstrate that he is one “whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world.”
  4. Christ’s commission and deeds are greater than that of the human judges whom Scripture calls “gods.”
  5. Therefore, Jesus’ enemies should not be accusing him of blaspheming for saying, “I am the Son of God.”

Jesus then makes one final appeal to the evidence of his good works. Jesus makes this appeal in order to give these spiritually blind leaders a pathway to belief, the result of which would be eternal life for them:

37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

Nevertheless, the leaders persist in their stubborn unbelief–

39 Again they sought to arrest him…

And Jesus once again eludes them, because his time had not yet come.

but he escaped from their hands.

Jesus Ends His Later Judean Ministry

40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained.

With his escape from the hands of his enemies, Jesus wrapped up his later Judean Ministry, which  he had begun in John 7:10, returned again to the other side of the Jordan, to the place where John had first been baptizing, and remained there.

And there he  begins what is known as the Perean Ministry, which continues through John 12:11.

41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there.

The “many” of these two verses refers to the people who lived in that region, as opposed to the Judeans, among whom were the hostile religious leaders who had rejected Christ so thoroughly. These “many” remembered the ministry of John the Baptist and the words that this forerunner had said concerning Christ. They believed John’s testimony, though it had not been accompanied by signs and wonders, and “many believed” in Jesus there.

The return to Perea (Joshua 13:8 With the other half of the tribe of Manasseh the Reubenites and the Gadites received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond the Jordan eastward, as Moses the servant of the LORD gave them) marked the end of the Judean Ministry, as well as Jesus’ public ministry. While much of what Jesus spoke and did in Judea was for the purpose of formally presenting his messianic credentials to the nation of Israel and to its religious leaders, the same words and actions expressed the Savior’s evangelistic heart of concern for those who hated him so rismuch.

Jesus will not return to Judea again until the moment that “his time” comes, Passover, the year of his death.

Theological Importance of John 10

Both John and Jesus are master theologians. With simple linguistic images of sheep, shepherds, thieves, robbers, and wolves, four of the most important Christian theological principles are painlessly presented in words easy enough for all to understand.

  1. Election

    • Christ called out “his own” sheep by name (vs 3, 4, 14)
    • He did not make a general call to all the sheep in the pen
    • He had “other sheep” also, not of Israel’s fold, for whom the general scenario of shepherd calling his own remained unchanged (16)
    • The shepherd calls and chooses the sheep; the sheep do not seek out and choose the shepherd (3-5, 14)
    • Those who are not among Christ’s sheep do not believe (26)
  2. Assurance of Salvation (Final Perseverance) (28-30)

  3. One Substance (30)

    • Jesus and his Father share the same qualities and characteristics of deity
    • They both are of one essence
    • Jesus’ statement in vs 30, “I and the Father are one,” refutes the heresy of Arianism, which later denied the claim that Jesus and the Father shared the same essence (both are equal; both are deity)
  4. Two Persons (30)

    • Jesus’ same statement in vs 30, “I and the Father are one,” refutes the heresy of Sabellianism, which later denied that Jesus and his Father were two separate persons.
    • Sabellians claim that while God was on earth as the incarnate Son, he was not also and simultaneously in heaven as Father. They further claim  that while God is Holy Spirit, he is not simultaneously Son and Father. This is somewhat like a glass of water, in which the same water cannot be liquid, solid ice, and vapor at the same time. It must be one of the three at any given moment and not either of the other two.
    • Sabellians deny the Trinity, claiming that God is one person, much like one of Dr. Who’s shape shifters. This, is, of course, not true–Jesus said, “I and the Father,” which signifies two distinct beings.

Final Comment: and let us never forget that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gives his life for the sheep.

John 10:15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

John 10:17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.

 

 

Jesus the Good Shepherd

 

Week 10  John 10:1-21  The Good Shepherd and John 10:22-42 I and the Father Are One

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

good-shepherd

John 10 breaks into two sections:

• Section 1 (John 10:1-21) continues the discourse with the Pharisees after Jesus gave sight to the man with congenital blindness.

• In Section 2 (John 10:22-42) Jesus claims to be co-substantive (same substance) as God the Father; therefore, equal with God.

 

Section 1: The Good Shepherd

John 10:7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

Jesus presents himself as the Good Shepherd, in contrast with the Pharisees, who are false shepherds–thieves and robbers, i.e., “bad shepherds.”

ESV  Zechariah 11:17 “Woe to my worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! Let his arm be wholly withered, his right eye utterly blinded!”

Ezekiel 34:1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts.

Allegorical Interpretation John 10:7-16:

  1. Door into the sheepfold, guarded and operated by the gatekeeper (vss 1 and 2)
  2. Door of salvation for all people, Jewish, Gentile, and all future believers. This door leads out of the sheepfold of national Israel into Christ.

 

The Door into the Sheepfold

ESV  John 10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

The above verses speak of the shepherd of the sheep entering into the sheepfold through the door, which the gatekeeper opens. Clearly, the gatekeeper would not open the gate for a thief, a robber, or a stranger.

door-diagram-copy

“…Christ presented Himself to Israel in a lawful manner, that is, in strict accord with the Holy Scriptures.” (Pink, 555)

Rephrasing the above quotation, Jesus entered the fold of Israel by the door.

“…the ‘door’ was the legitimate and appointed entrance into the fold, and this figure meant that the Messiah came by the road which Old Testament prophecy had marked out beforehand.” (Pink, 512-13)

This helps a great deal to explain why Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (John 5:19)

See also (Deuteronomy 18:18), “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”

Christ did not deviate from either the prescribed words or actions the Father had preordained in Scripture, but did everything upfront and legal, according to all the terms of the Old Testament prophecies of the future Messiah.

Jesus entered the fold of Israel by the door, while all who went before him, namely the Pharisees to whom he was speaking, were thieves and robbers trying to climb over the wall.

• The Greek word for “thief” indicates stealth, while the Greek word for “robber” indicates violence.

The Pharisees were self-appointed rule makers and monitors who did not have credentials from the God of Israel–neither their positions, nor their words nor their actions were God’s. They performed no miracles, and they verbally rebuked and severely punished the weak and needy of God’s flock, even casting them out, as they had done to the man born blind.

NIV  Matthew 23:4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

Christ, on the other hand, met all the requirements for Messiah preordained by God through centuries’ worth of Old Testament scripture. God certified Christ as true and genuine both by the words that Christ spoke and by the miracles Christ performed. (Remember the faultless logic of the blind man in chapter 9, when he demonstrated that, “Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (John 9:32-33)

The Door into Salvation

When exiting the sheepfold, the sheep exit through the door of Christ into salvation. [Yes, the figure changes, and the meaning of the symbols shifts somewhat. I guess that Jesus is allowed to mix his metaphors a bit.]

ESV John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

The “entering” spoken of here concerns salvation. The sheep exit the door of the sheepfold of Judaism and national Israel, through which Christ had properly entered. They don’t just exit, however. They simultaneously enter into Christ and the eternal life of salvation which he is.

Jesus is not saying that people go in and out of salvation. The going in and out and finding pasture represent the freedom in Christ of salvation. He explains further the eternal assurance of salvation for believers in the next section of chapter 10.

Jesus’ sheep from Judaism form a new flock with believing Gentiles and other believers (for example, those who lived before Israel became a nation) of all times, peoples, tribes, and languages. This flock is one flock, no longer enclosed by the sheepfold of national Israel and Judaism.

John 10:16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

What Makes Jesus a Good Shepherd?

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(Hendriksen, 103)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Seven “I Am” Statements in John

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Link to the Outline of the Gospel of John

Culture Wars–Jesus vs the Pharisees

Week 9  John 9  Focus–A Blindness Jesus Could Not Heal

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

blind-beggar

 

John 9:1 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.  2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?”

The prevailing assumption in Jesus’ day was that physical ailments were a direct result of sin.

  • Jesus’ own disciples (read: the good guys) thought that.
  • The Pharisees (read: the bad guys) thought that: “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?”–vs 34.

The difficulty the disciples were having was trying to understand how a baby in the womb could sin sufficiently in order to be born blind. That is why they thought that perhaps it was the parents’ sin the child suffered for–therefore, their question to Christ–“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?”

There was some Old Testament evidence perhaps partly responsible for the strong assumption that physical afflictions (“defects, hardships, suffering, accidents, sickness, death”) were the direct result of sin. (Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 72)

1. Adam’s sin

Genesis 3:17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–

2. Sins of Parents

Exodus 20:5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,

Jeremiah 31:29 In those days they shall no longer say: “‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

3. A Person’s Own Sins

Deuteronomy 28:15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. (See also vss 16-68)

Jeremiah 31:30 But everyone shall die for his own sin. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.

Jesus himself did not think this way.

John 9:3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

 Luke 13:2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Jesus said, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:4-5)

 

How Do We Respond When Someone Crosses Our Path? (Think: Trump and his followers vs Clinton and her followers–Do these two groups in the end both behave very much like the Pharisees in this account?)

Possible Behaviors

1. We can attempt to malign and annihilate the one who is different–the one who arouses our envy or fear.

2. We can examine them intellectually and endlessly–never offering a hand to help.

3. We can love and help them, interacting with them, giving of ourselves to them.

Jesus Is About to Perform His Sixth Sign

  1. The text will show that Jesus fell into category 3 above–loving, helping, interacting, giving of himself–towards BOTH the man born blind and the Pharisees. The Pharisees fell into categories 1 and 2 above.seven-miracles

Prejudice Blinds

Who was blind in the passage covering all of John 9?

  • the man born blind (physical blindness)
  • the Pharisees (spiritual blindness)

Jesus loved them both

  • he healed the physical blindness of the one (John 9:6-7)
  • he performed spiritual follow-up for this outcast (John 9:34-38)
  • as ambassador for Christ, the healed man tried his best to open the eyes of the Pharisees (John 9:8-34)
  • Jesus pointed out the error of the Pharisees (John 9:39-41)

The Pharisees’ Blindness

The Pharisees were certain that Jesus was a sinner, because Jesus was so unlike themselves.

John 9:22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)

1. They could not accept Jesus’ parentage, as it was so different from what they expected.

John 7:27 But we know where this man comes from, [Mary and Joseph in Nazareth] and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.”

John 9:29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” [God sent Moses; we do not believe that God sent “this man”]

2. Jesus had not gone through the normal channels of being educated among themselves, within the “establishment”–he was an outsider.

John 7:15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?”

Matthew 13:54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”

3. Jesus continually broke one of their most important customs–the keeping of the Sabbath according to their own traditions.

John 5:9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.”

John 5:16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.

John 5:18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

John 7:23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well?

4. Jesus hung out with those the Pharisees regarded as sinners.

NET  John 7:48 None of the rulers or the Pharisees have believed in him, have they? 49 But this rabble who do not know the law are accursed!”

The Pharisees’ Prejudice Prevents Them from Considering as Valid the Amazing Miracle Christ Accomplished

1. The Pharisees’ beginning assumption is that Jesus is a sinner, because he healed on the Sabbath (see prior section).

ESV  John 9:13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes.

2. They therefore steadfastly refuse to believe that he could perform a miracle as amazing as giving sight to a man born blind.

3. They cross examine the man, his parents, and the man again, trying to demonstrate that this miracle had not in fact occurred.

• the man

John 9:15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” 18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight.

• the man’s parents

John 9:19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

• the man again

John 9:24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.”

25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”

28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.”

30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” b

34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

4. Unable to disprove that the miracle had really occurred, they attack the man from their prejudice — “You were born in utter sin” — and cast him out, most likely with complete excommunication.

5. Being so completely stubborn in their prejudices, the Pharisees refuse to even acknowledge the possibility that a man might be from God who performed a miracle so great that no one had ever laid claim to it before in the whole history of the human race. Only someone connected with the power of God could have performed such a mighty miracle. They choose to allow the fact of the miracle to remain as evidence sitting abandoned right in front of them–rather than choosing to abandon for even a second their prejudice against the one who had performed the miracle.

6. Nor do they consider the possibility that their own Sabbath traditions may be at fault, since objectively God had indeed appeared to work an astounding miracle through a man, Jesus, even on the Sabbath day.

7. There was this spiritual blindness in them that even the light of Christ himself was not able to penetrate. It was the blindness of sheer, willful, stubborn, angry pride that led this group of holier-than-thou religious people to crucify the Lord of glory in the end.

John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Application Questions: How Could the Pharisees Have Gotten It So Wrong?

1. If a godly miracle occurs in a way that contradicts my own “holy rules,” what should be my response?

For example, many living Christians in the world give firsthand testimony of amazing miracles that they have either witnessed or that have occurred to them, yet other Christians condemn these folk as deluded, or even stronger, as emissaries of Satan. If I myself have never witnessed or experienced an amazing miracle, how might I respond to the testimony of others in a way that would save me from the condemnation of judgment Jesus himself pours out upon the religious leaders in this account?

John 9:39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

2. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day failed to recognize the arrival of the Son of God, mostly because he did not match up with their prior expectations of what their Messiah should look like. Their prejudices blinded their judgment.

In those days, the expectations of Messiah were mixed–the entire religious culture was composed of many strands which emphasized different aspects of Scripture or religion. There was no uniformity across the various factions of 1st century Jewish culture of that day. There was no single, clear picture of what or who Messiah would be when he came. Nevertheless, it appears that the religious leaders expected a messiah who would bring back the glories of King David–the military victories and the independence from foreign rulers that King David had achieved. Jesus severely disappointed these expectations, so much so that these same religious leaders asked the Roman government (represented by Pilot) to crucify him.

Is our Christian religious culture making similar errors today?

For example, one issue that divides is the expected Second Coming of Christ. What are some of the different views concerning how this will happen?

Given the account in John 9, how certain should a Christian be that their own viewpoint is correct?

Based upon the occurrences in John 9, as a Christian, do I allow my own views to sway me too heavily in my attitudes and responses towards those who hold a different view?

Do I allow my own views to influence my political expectations of those who are not even of the Christian faith?

3. The formerly blind man’s parents were so afraid of the leaders’ power to expel them from the synagogue that they failed to really rejoice and glorify God over the miraculous and amazing gift of vision for their son.

What are the metaphorical “synagogues” in my life from which I fear expulsion if I testify too strongly of Christ? (social groups? peer groups? family groups? work groups?)

Who are the metaphorical Pharisees before whom I hide my testimony of Christ in fear?

How real/deep/genuine is my faith if I let these fears dominate me?

4. Are there “religerati” in my life of whom I am afraid? (Are there factions or people in the church I attend whom I allow to dominate the expression of my beliefs in my own church?)

5. The Pharisees approached this amazing miracle of Jesus with a ferocious and predetermined bias against him that affected their judgment in every way.

What are my predetermined biases and against whom are they aimed?

6. With which character(s) in this story do I mostly identify?

7. Why does this blog’s author think that the scriptural account in John 9 has anything at all to do with the most recent presidential election?

In this presidential election of 2016, is it likely that either of the two sides is completely, or even mostly, correct?

What aspects of the “other group’s” lives, fears, hurts, and needs am I failing to see in an understanding way?

What really makes them tick?

What  exactly were they voting for, rather than against?

What about them am I missing?

Where are my blind spots?

Where are my prejudices?

Can I pray and ask God to help me clear away my blind prejudices in order to create solutions to problems that that will allow pathways that don’t transgress the differences as much as the currently proposed pathways do? (In other words, can God help me create pathways of peace to accomplish my goals, pathways that walk around the other’s sore spots rather than tromping right through them?)

Am I the Pharisee in this story, completely loveless and blind to the needs of the life that Jesus came to save–that is, am I loveless and blind to the needs of the blind man for whom Jesus gave his life?

Am I one of the Pharisees, blind to my own blindness towards others?

 

The Water of Life Replenishes

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Vote!

Hey! What’s Your Problem?

Reader Challenge: As you read through this portion of Scripture, John chapters 7 and 8 (see link just below), try to answer the question found in the title of this blog–What is the problem that the enemies of Jesus have that prevents them from seeing Christ for who he actually is?

Week 8 Part 2 John 7:1-8:59  Focus–Jesus Confronts His Enemies

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Summary of Chapter 7 (based upon Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 30-31)

The Galilean Ministry has ended. Jesus has retired to the northern regions of the country. After six months, he returns again to Judea for the Later Judean Ministry and the feast of Tabernacles.

1. John 7:1-13 His blood brothers, not yet believers, (see Acts 1:14 for their later belief) attempt sarcastically to entice him to go to the feast with them. Jesus refuses, but later goes up “not publicly, but in secret” (vs 10). In the meantime, at the feast, the “Jews” are murmuring about where “that man” might be, while the crowds call him a “good man”  They are all afraid to say anything openly, for fear of the religerati©.

2. John 7:14 Halfway through the feast, Jesus goes up to the temple and begins to teach. He causes a stir.

ESV  John 7:37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”

3. John 7:15-52 The people react.

a. The “Jews” are generally skeptical and oppositional (15, 20, 35-36).

b. The crowd is divided–some derisive and some more or less open (vss 12, 20, 25-27, 31, 40-44).

c. The Pharisees sent guards to arrest him (32, 45-52).

d. The guards sent to arrest him are dumfounded with awe-filled amazement at the manner in which Jesus spoke while teaching (32, 45-46).

e. Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees who had personally gone to inquire of Jesus (John 3:1-12), speaks up in defense of the law, a fairly safe and noncommittal way to defend Jesus himself (50, 51).

Summary of Chapter 8 (based on Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 68-69)

1. John 7:53-8:11 Discussion among experts is inconclusively split concerning whether or not this section should be included in Scripture.

This is the highly popular and famous scene in which Jesus loves unto salvation a woman caught “in the act of adultery.” The great contrast is between the non-judgmental (yet highly aware) love of Jesus versus the callous condemnation and deceitfulness of the “teachers of the laws and the Pharisees.”

2. John 8:12-59 The confrontation between Jesus and the religerati© continues (see Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 68-69).

Scene: the temple courts the following day (1-2)

Jesus: [Theme 1–the light] I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (12) [JESUS’ SECOND GREAT “I AM” IN JOHN] (Light of the World: 1:4,5,7,8-9; 3:19, 20, 21; 8:12; 9:5; 11:9, 10; 12:35, 36; 12:46)

Pharisees: “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.” (13)

Jesus: [Theme 2–Sent by God] The [my] Father sent me (7:28; 8:14b, 15, 16, 17, 18, 26, 49-50; 5:31, 5:38)

Pharisees: They don’t get it–they remain literalistic and concrete; their scope is narrowly focused on the physical, carnal world only.

• “Where is your father?” (8:19) [slanderous insinuation]

• “You, who are you?” (8:25) [scornful disdain]

• “They did not recognize that he spoke to them of the Father.” (8:27) [ignorance born of prejudice]

The Crowd of Religious People: “While he was saying these things, many believed in him.” (8:30) [mental agreement only, quickly changing to disdain–8:31, 33, 39, 41, 44, 48, 52, 53, 57, 59] [see also The Parable of the Sower, especially vss 5-6 and 20-21]

Jesus: [Theme 3–The Son of Man to be lifted up] “When you will have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he.” (3:14-16; 8:28; 12:32-33) [Also, Theme 6–I AM]

Jesus: [Theme 4–Truth] “If you remain [abide] in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (8:31-32; 1:9, 14, 17; 3:21, 33; 4:18, 23, 24, 37; 5:31, 32, 33, 45; 6:32; 7:18, 28; 8:13, 14, 16, 17, 26, 32, 40, 44, 45, 46)

The [Supposedly] Believing Crowd of Religious People: “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” (8:33)

Jesus: [Theme 5–My Father, your father] “I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” (8:38) “If you are Abraham’s children, you are doing the works of Abraham. But now you are seeking to kill, me, a man who has been telling you the truth which I heard from God. This Abraham did not do. You are doing the works of your father.” (8:39-40)

The [by now] Non-believing Crowd of Religious People: “Abraham is our father.” (8:39) “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father–even God.” (8:41)

Jesus: [Theme 5–My Father God, your father the devil]If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me (8:42) [Also Theme 2–Sent by God]. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (8:44) “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” (8:47)

The [now] Hostile Crowd of Religious People: “Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” (8:53)

Jesus: [Theme 2–Sent by God] “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’  55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.” (8:54-55)

Jesus: [Theme 5–My Father, your father] “Your father Abraham [according to the flesh] rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” (8:56)

The Hostile Crowd of Religious People: “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” (8:57)

Jesus: [Theme 6–I AM] “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (8:58)

The Hostile Crowd of Religious People: [Theme 7–Jesus’ Enemies want to kill him] So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (8:59; 5:18; 7:1, 19, 20, 25; 8:37, 40)

So how did we do in the Reader Challenge? (see top of post)

Hint: What is the one thing that Jesus had that none of his enemies had? L-O-V-E.

1. See Jesus’ many miracles:

• water to wine demonstrates compassion for a groom, his bride, and the parents (2:1-11)

• healing the nobleman’s son demonstrates love for a social class not his own (4:46-54)

• healing the paralyzed man demonstrates Jesus’ love for the outwardly weak and defeated, the unattractive and unlovely (5:1-9)

• healing the paralyzed man on a Sabbath demonstrates Jesus’ (and God’s) love for people above an overly zealous and ungodly love for human religious tradition

• feeding the 5,000 people demonstrates love for people’s physical needs 6:1-15

2. Jesus’ actions demonstrate love:

• cleansing the temple demonstrates love for God and for God’s house of prayer (2:13-22)

• Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus demonstrates love for potentially hostile people (3:1-21)

• Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well and his long visit in her village demonstrates his love for ethnic and religious classes not his own (Jesus was Jewish by human birth) (4:4-43)

• Jesus’ long discourses with his enemies in chapters 6, 7, and 8 demonstrate his love for those who hate them

• These same discourses demonstrate Jesus’ love for God in his willingness that none should go without hearing the gospel of salvation, even those whom he knows will use this gospel against him in order to kill him

3. Lack of love prevented Jesus’ enemies for recognizing that Jesus was a good man.

Yet, even without LOVE, two other attributes would have worked to help these blind enemies of Christ: KNOWLEDGE and OBEDIENCE

 

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1. Obedience

2. Knowledge

John 7:17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.

obedience–if anyone’s will is to do God’s will

knowledge–he will know

Obedience–John 7:19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?”

John 7:23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well?

Knowledge–John 7:27 But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” 28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.”

Obedience and Knowledge–John 7:49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” [The chief priests and Pharisees do not obey the law that they claim to know.]

Knowledge and Obedience–John 8:4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” … John 8:7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. [In their claimed knowledge of the Law, the Pharisees test Jesus to see if he will deny the love for common folk, which he often displays, or deny his obedience to the Law of Moses. Jesus’ outwits them by causing them to recognize their own guilt of disobedience.

Knowledge and Obedience–John 8:49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. [The religious leaders did not know God, nor did they obey him. They dishonored God by dishonoring his Sent One–Christ.]

Summary: If they had known God and wanted to obey him, they would have investigated Jesus’ claim of being God’s Son with an open mind and an open heart, given that God backed up Jesus’ claims with astounding miracles, and that Jesus taught with astounding teaching. If these Pharisees had sought to honor God (to know, obey, and love him), they would have fairly investigated Jesus’ claims, as Nicodemus, who was one of them, apparently did. Seeking to do God’s will (obedience), they would have discovered (knowledge) that Jesus truly was who he claimed to be. Knowledge of God and his Son leads to love for both. So, in love, they would have honored God by honoring the Son. They did none of these, thereby showing that they had neither knowledge of God, nor a heart of obedience towards him, nor did they have the love of God in their hearts. Jesus told them flat out that they had none of these because they were not “of God” but of their father, the devil (8:44).

 

 

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