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One of the definitions for the word “excuse”, when it’s used as a noun, is “a reason put forward to conceal the real reason for an action; a pretext”. Billy Sunday, an evangelist during the early 1900’s, put it this way. He said, “An excuse is a skin of a reason stuffed with a lie”. That being said poses this question…why do so many people refuse to turn to Jesus when given the opportunity or opportunities to do so? People give a variety of excuses for not turning to Christ. They are worried what their friends or family might think or say. Fear and persecution are driving factors given the climate in America today and its fear and persecution of Christians. After all, who wants to be a part of that?! One of the biggest excuses though is hypocrisy. Again you can’t argue with that one either. There is a lot of hypocrisy in Christianity today. In fact, it’s been said that Christians are the worst enemies of Christ. Hypocrisy was one of my main excuses for not coming to Christ when I was younger. All of these… fear, persecution, hypocrisy, or whatever the reason, is all just a cover-up though to protect the real reason about why people don’t turn to Jesus…He contradicts people’s lifestyles! You’ve heard people say over and over again how there are so many contradictions in The Bible. In fact people will go out of their way to find them! Here’s a newsflash for you though…there are no contradictions! What it does though is contradict people’s lifestyles and this is the real reason why people turn away from Christ! “What? I’ve got to do what? I’ve got to give up what? Uh-uh! No thank you!”. Jesus is well aware of this motive for turning away from Him as well. Back in Chapter 3 in John’s Gospel, Jesus says to Nicodemus…

(19) And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. … John 3:19-20 NKJV

To finish out Chapter 7 of this study, we turn our attention to the people’s response to the altar call that Jesus has just made to the people. Some people respond positively but most of them respond negatively coming up with some pretty lame excuses! Let’s get started and as always, the text link for the entire chapter and the audio are included so you can follow along. Before we get started though, let’s go to the Lord in prayer…

Father,

Thank You for Your Word and this time that we are about to spend in it. Bless this time Lord and make it fruitful. Lord we pray that this particular study in John’s Gospel will open eyes and hearts of those who don’t know You. Lord, we put away all distractions and our hearts and minds are open to hear Your Word. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening! In the saving name of Jesus we pray…Amen! 

John 7

Let’s look at the passage for this post which is considerably larger than the last passage we looked at. For context purposes, we start back up in verse 37 again…

(37) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. (38) He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (39) But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (40) Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” (41) Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? (42) Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” (43) So there was a division among the people because of Him. (44) Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him. (45) Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” (46) The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (47) Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? (48) Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? (49) But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” (50) Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, (51) “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (52) They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.” (53) And everyone went to his own house. … John 7:37-53 NKJV

The final part of Chapter 7 takes place on the final day of The Feast of Tabernacles or Booths on the day that a big feast is held called the Shemini Atzeret. We looked at the rituals that take place during this feast in my last post so I’m not going to go into any detail about it here but as the priest is pouring the water out of the pitcher, Jesus cries out to the crowd, “If anyone thirsts…” etc etc, and the crowd is stunned by His words because in essence, Jesus is claiming to be God! We looked at verses 37 to 39 in the last post and I just included them here for context purposes and you’ll see why in just a second. Now let’s look at verses 40 through 53 in greater detail. …

v 40 – (40) Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.”

The reason why I included verses 37-39 in this post is because of the first word that we read here. It is the word therefore. Whenever you read the word therefore in The Bible, you have to see what it’s there for! What it’s there for, is because of what Jesus says in verses 37 and 38. He says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  When Jesus said this, it caused a major commotion because this man that was standing before them and crying out was claiming to be God! It was not only this saying by Christ that was causing a commotion but everything else that He had said during the time that He was there at the feast which is what the phrase when they heard this saying really means. Now begins the opinions from the crowd. The first one we read which many in the crowd said is truly this is the Prophet. Notice the word prophet is capitalized. The crowd was flashing back to what Moses had said and what we read in Deuteronomy 18…

(15) “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, … Deuteronomy 18:15 NKJV

During the time of Jesus, the hope of the arrival of the Messiah had reached a fever pitch. Remember back in the first chapter of John which introduces John the Baptist? The Pharisees ask him, “Are you the Prophet?” which John the Baptist replies, “No I am not”. The people were looking for the Messiah’s arrival and now Jesus is here at this feast saying all of these marvelous, glorious, and mysterious things and they begin to wonder, “Is this the Messiah?”. Some of the crowd have already come to this conclusion as we look at the next verse. …

vv 41 – 43 – (41) Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? (42) Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” (43) So there was a division among the people because of Him.

There was some in the crowd that said, “Yep this is the Christ no doubt about it!”. Let’s clear up a misconception before we move on. The term Christ was not Jesus’s last name! Jesus did not come from the Christ family living on such and such street in Nazareth! A lot of people seem to believe this though when they put the letter “H” between the words Jesus and Christ! That is blasphemy! The term Christ is a title not a name. The term Christ is the Greek word Christos which means anointed one or the Messiah.

Some of the crowd though disagreed saying, Will the Christ come out of Galilee?. They knew Jesus lived in Nazareth and there was nothing in the Old Testament prophecies that said that the Messiah would come from Galilee. They even say amongst themselves, Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?. They were right though. The Christ would come from Bethlehem and from the seed of David. If they had taken the time to search Jesus’s background further though, they would have discovered that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and He was from the seed of David on Mary’s side of the family. This was God’s way of getting around the curse that is announced in Jeremiah 22…

(28) “Is this man Coniah a despised, broken idol— A vessel in which is no pleasure? Why are they cast out, he and his descendants, And cast into a land which they do not know? (29) O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the LORD! (30) Thus says the LORD: ‘Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.’ ” … Jeremiah 22:28-30 NKJV

Ever wonder why there are two genealogies of Jesus? This is the reason why. The genealogy that we read in Matthew shows the lineage of Jesus through Joseph giving Him the legal right to the throne of David through David’s son Solomon, thereby proving Jesus to be the Messiah. As legal Son of Joseph, the Lord fulfilled that part of God’s covenant with David which promised him that his throne would continue forever. But Jesus could not have been the real son of Joseph without coming under God’s curse on Jeconiah, which decreed that no descendant of that wicked king would prosper. The genealogy in Luke traces the bloodline of Jesus through Mary and another one of David’s sons, Nathan. As the real Son of Mary, Jesus fulfilled that part of the covenant of God with David which promised him that his seed would sit upon his throne forever. And by being descended from David through Nathan, He did not come under the curse which was pronounced on Jeconiah. This genealogy proves Jesus to be the Son of God.

Back to this passage in John’s Gospel so now we have a back and forth ensuing among those that believe that Jesus is the Messiah and those that didn’t. Moving on now…

v 44 – (44) Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

Some of the people were angry at Jesus for what He had been saying. Why? Nothing that He had been saying was threatening or insulting. He had said sweet and gracious things. One reason was for blasphemy. Here was the man Jesus claiming to be God and that was blasphemy in their eyes. I think the real reason though might have been conviction. The things that Jesus had been saying was sinking in and as the saying goes “cutting them to the heart”. Most people confronted with something that causes conviction in them will fight back either verbally or physically. In the Book of Acts, the apostle Stephen is lecturing or rather making a statement to the Jewish rulers defending himself from a charge of blasphemy. It is a rather lengthy statement but he ends it with one of my favorite passages in the book. Turning to Acts and Chapter 7, Stephen says to them…

(51) “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. (52) Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, (53) who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” … Acts 7:51-53 NKJV

What was the response from the Jewish rulers and anybody else who was in earshot of this statement? Did they stand and clap and whistle and yell, “Attaboy! You tell us!”? No we read that they stoned him! Why? Because they were convicted by his words which is also probably happening here to the crowd and Jesus. The one thing though is that even though some of the people in the crowd acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah, John makes no mention of any of these people becoming followers and disciples. It was a statement of fact not faith. Many Christians are that way as well. They acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God but they don’t surrender their lives to Him.

Some people wanted to take Him, literally grab a hold of Jesus. This actually happens several times in The Gospels. In Luke, Chapter 4, Jesus is grabbed and led to the brow of a hill where they wanted to literally throw Him off a cliff. He evades them though just as He does here as we read but no one laid hands on Him. Why? Because Jesus’s time had not yet come which was His crucifixion. Jesus was on His own timetable not man’s. Moving on now to verse 45 and looking at the next few verses…

vv 45-49 – (45) Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” (46) The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (47) Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? (48) Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? (49) But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”

The Pharisees and the chief priests had heard enough and they wanted Jesus silenced! It would seem, if you read between the lines, that the Pharisees and the chief priests were not even at the feast but in their council chambers. Going back to John 7:32, we read…

(32) The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him. … John 7:32 NKJV

The fact that the Pharisees and the chief priests may not have even been at the feast was rather odd considering this was a holy mandatory feast. Wherever their location, the officers that the Pharisees and the chief priests had sent to arrest Jesus, come back empty handed which doesn’t sit to well with them! They begin to wonder if they too have been taken in by what Jesus had been saying. They ask the officers why they didn’t bring Jesus to them. Their words are probably the most memorable coming from the mouths of what is presumed to be unbelievers…No one ever spoke like this Man. These officers had probably heard a lot of men speak and teach and captivate an audience but there was something about what was coming out of the mouth of Jesus that made them prevent them from what they were sent out to do. Which brings to mind about what Peter says in 1 Peter about the conduct of Christians out in the world. He says…

(11) Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, (12) having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. … 1 Peter 2:11-12 NKJV

and also in 1 Peter…

(15) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; (16) having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. … 1 Peter 3:15-16 NKJV

Because Jesus was speaking with such grace, authority, and wisdom, the officers actually were convicted and ashamed to arrest Him. Again, John makes no mention though of any of these officers being converted.

The Pharisees are furious because the officers do not have Jesus with them and accuse them of being deceived as the crowd had been. Their argument was have any of  the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him. This was a terrible argument. It was not only a tragedy that the ruling class and the priests failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah and believe on Him but it was clear that they also wanted to keep others from believing on Him as well. This is going on in the world today and especially in America. Those who do not want to come to Jesus and be saved try to prevent others from doing so. I was reading an article the other day where it has been determined that The Bible has been deemed, and I quote, “incompatible with humanity”! Really? It would seem that we, for the most part, have become incompatible with the teachings of The Bible something that everyone is going to have to find out the hard way! Moving on though, the Pharisees then say that anyone who believes in Jesus is accursed because they do not know the law meaning the teachings of the Scriptures. The same thing is happening today in America where we have these Democratic Socialist politicians quoting passages from The Bible and taking everything they quote way out of context. They accuse Christians of being cruel and heartless when it comes to illegal immigrants by quoting a passage out of Matthew 25. The passage that I am referring to is Matthew 25:31-46. They have absolutely no clue to what this passage really means! Most recently, Cory Booker quoted Micah 6:8 at an LGTBQ townhall hosted by the Communist News Network, CNN, which had absolutely nothing to do with the question he was asked! Incidentally, Cory Booker claims he is a Christian and yet supports gay marriage! Many Christians today are just like this. It’s called “dalmatian theology”. They pick and choose which part or parts of God’s Word suits them or their lifestyle. They’ll say, “Yep I love this, the way Jesus talks about love and forgiveness but let’s not talk about this, the judgement for those that don’t accept Jesus and let’s definitely throw out the Old Testament that shows what happens to a nation and its people who accept idolatry!”.

It was the Pharisees and not the people who were out of touch with the Scriptures. You can almost detect the Pharisees disdain for these people, these “deplorables” if you will, that believed Jesus to be the Messiah. In the King Jimmie Version, this crowd is translated as this people or in Greek houtos ochlos which loosely translated means “this rabble”. A good translation for this verse would be, “How dare these deplorables say this man Jesus is the Messiah when we know He is not!”. Not all of them feel that way as we move on to verse 50 and finish out this passage and Chapter 7. …

vv 50-53 – (53) Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, (51) “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (52) They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.” (53) And everyone went to his own house.

One of the Pharisees, Nicodemus, speaks up now. We were introduced to Nicodemus back in Chapter 3. He came to talk to Jesus at night and Jesus gives him the “born again” discourse. After this meeting with Jesus, it would appear from what we read in this verse that he had accepted Jesus and was saved and now Nicodemus comes to His defense. If you love the Lord, you defend that love! You don’t hide it from others because it might to be too inconvenient or uncomfortable at the time! Nicodemus uses a simple argument and one backed up by the law that they spoke so highly about knowing. I think there was a bit of sarcasm in Nicodemus when he says this to his colleagues, sort of calling them out…Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?. Under Jewish law, it was forbidden to condemn someone before hearing their side. No civilized nation should condemn anyone before hearing them. Even though it was forbidden under their law, this is exactly what the Jewish rulers and religious leaders were trying to do to Jesus.

Now in verse 52, the Pharisees turn on one of their own. They accuse Nicodemus of being deceived by Jesus as well. They chide back to Nicodemus, Are you also from Galilee?. They assumed, wrongly of course, that Jesus was from Galilee. Being from Galilee in those days was not exactly a badge of honor and being from Nazareth which is in the Galilee region, and where Jesus lived at the time, was even worse. Back in John Chapter One, when Philip invites Nathanael to check out Jesus, his response was, when Philip tells him that Jesus is from Nazareth, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”. If you lived in the Galilee region during that time, you were considered kind of like a hick! The Pharisees then tell Nicodemus probably one of the stupidest misinformed statements possibly in The Bible…Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee. Really? Let’s see there was Jonah and Nahum. They were from Galilee. Elijah, definitely one of the heavy hitters of the prophets, he was from Galilee. So was Hosea and Elisha, five total all from Galilee. This is a prime example of not knowing what we’re talking about! This statement ranks right up there with another statement that the Pharisees will make in the next chapter that we will look at where they say, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been in bondage to anyone.” Really? I guess the 400 years of slavery in Egypt doesn’t count? Or the 70 years captivity in Babylon? That doesn’t count as being in bondage? It was clear that the Pharisees did not know the Scriptures or their own history! We come to the end of Chapter 7 with the Feast of Tabernacles coming to an end as everyone went to his own house.

So this brings a close to a very long and detailed look at Chapter 7 of John’s Gospel and I have a question for you if you still haven’t accepted or trusted in Christ…what’s your excuse? What fallacy is preventing you from coming to Jesus? Many people say, “I have to clean up my act and then I’ll come to Jesus”. No! You come today! Psalm 95 says…

(6) Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. (7) For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: (8) “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, … Psalms 95:6-8 NKJV

The fact is that the excuse that people use not to come to Christ is to cover up the real reason…rebellion. That is what is going on in America today. People view Christianity as a serious threat to their freedoms and lifestyles that must be crushed whatever it takes! This is why the Democratic Party is so popular because they promise to drive God out of America! In closing, on the lighter side, I love the show “Young Sheldon” on CBS. It’s a great show with a great cast and even though I’m not exactly thrilled with the atheistic attitude that Sheldon has, I heard the best explanation for coming to Christ on one of the episodes and it doesn’t come from The Bible. It comes from a scientist named Blaise Pascal. Sheldon was quoting something that Blaise Pascal had said. The full quote of Pascal’s is…

“Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.”

In other words, believing in Jesus will cost you nothing. Not believing in Him though could cost you everything! Let’s pray…

Heavenly Father,

As we bring this chapter of John’s Gospel to a close, we pray for all the lost souls in our country that haven’t accepted Your Son Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Lord we believe in You and we know that belief is not false and we thank You for Your grace and mercy that You show to anyone that comes to You in faith. Lord we love You! Thank You for all the blessings, and even the hardships, that we have in our lives. Help us to become stronger more convicted believers in You and help lead others to You that do not know You and we pray this Lord in Your Name…Amen!

A few years back, the company Sprite had a catchy slogan for their soft drink. They may still use it, I don’t know, but you probably have heard it…”Obey your thirst”. It’s not only a catchy, re-memorable slogan, it is also a matter of fact where your body is concerned. Face it if you don’t drink anything, you will eventually die. It is not only important to drink but it is also important what you drink. For instance when you’re hot and thirsty, you don’t drink alcoholic beverages because they will just increase your body’s dehydration. You need water or something to boost your electrolytes if you’re really dehydrated like Gatorade or Powerade. I found out the hard way a few years back about how important it is to keep properly hydrated when you are outside on very hot days. I was working in construction back then and during lunch, instead of drinking something to boost my electrolytes or water, I drank a soda, an energy drink soda. Not going to mention the brand because it’s not important and I don’t want to get sued! LOL! The point is, these type of drinks do nothing for dehydration. In fact, I found out, that it worsens it. To make matters worse, I was so involved in working that I wasn’t drink much water. After a few hours, I fell out with severe heat cramps because my potassium levels were dangerously low. I had to drink a couple containers of Gatorade and eat a banana for my body to regain proper function again.  The most important fluid your body needs is water. It regulates body temperature, helps process food and flushes out waste. It keeps all of our body tissues in good working order so it’s important to drink lots of it. You are supposed to drink a gallon or two every day so I’ve heard.

Satisfying spiritual thirst is the same way. It is very important what you “drink” to satisfy that thirst. We have a lot of spiritually thirsty people in America today who are trying to satisfy their thirst with the wrong things; money, sex, power, status, material possessions, etcetera; instead of drinking and taking in the spiritual water of Jesus Christ even though it is offered to them time and time again. Many so called believers in Christ are just as guilty of this as unbelievers. In Jeremiah, God tells Jeremiah…

“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water. … Jeremiah 2:13 NKJV

In Chapter 7 in John’s Gospel, we have been examining different types of spiritually thirsty people and also a group of people who resent Jesus for offering the solution to that spiritual thirst. In the last post, we left off with the beginning of what may be the greatest altar call that Jesus makes in the Gospels. He is calling out to these spiritually thirsty people and in this post, we are going to take a very close look at this altar call that Jesus makes. Unlike the last few posts where we have looked at larger passages, a much smaller passage here, just a few verses, but a wealth of spiritual knowledge in them so let’s get started! As always, the text link and audio for the entire chapter is included so you can follow along but first, let’s prepare our hearts to receive God’s Word…

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your Word and this time that we are about to share in it. Bless this time and make it fruitful. Lord we live in troubled times right now in our country. It may be affecting our lives in our homes, our schools, our jobs, maybe even inside the church but we turn to you Lord because it is You that will help us in times of trouble because the help of man is useless and You will tread down our enemies! Lord as we look at this passage of Your altar call that You made thousands of years ago, let us not forget that this altar call is still open and still available to those who are willing to accept it. Lord, we put away all distractions and our hearts and minds are open to hear Your Word. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening! In the saving name of Jesus we pray…Amen!

John 7

Let’s look at the very small passage for this post…

(37) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. (38) He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (39) But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. … John 7:37-39 NKJV

Now let’s look at this passage more closely. …

vv 37-38 – (37) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. (38) He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

This takes place during the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. The Feast of Tabernacles lasted seven days but it was followed on the eighth day by another feast called Shemini Atzeret. This is when this probably takes place. In order to understand the significance of what is happening here, you have to know what is happening in the background that God’s Word doesn’t tell you about. I did a lot of research on this and hopefully I got it right. Like I said, the Feast of Tabernacles lasted seven days. Every day of the feast, in the morning, the people would head up to the temple area, the courts, where they would be met by a priest. They would be carrying in their left hand a piece of citrus fruit symbolizing the fruitful land that God had given them. In their right hand, they would be carrying branches from three different trees…a palm branch, a willow branch, and a myrtle branch. That symbolized the 40 years of wandering around in the wilderness before they got into the Promised Land. They were singing songs as they were heading up to the temple, probably the Psalms of Ascent which is Psalms 120-134. The priest would meet them and he would have a golden pitcher full of water. They all go from the temple area to the Pool of Siloam where the priest would take the pitcher and dip it into the Pool of Siloam and they would all head back to the temple area. They would then recite the Hallel, Psalms 113-118. The priest would then take the pitcher of water, walk around the altar, and pour it out onto stones of the altar while the people sang out in unison a passage from Isaiah 12…

(3) Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation. … Isaiah 12:3 NKJV

The pouring out of the water symbolized God’s provision of water from the rock in the desert when they were wandering around the wilderness which is told about in Exodus and again in Numbers. So you get the picture. This is done for the seven days of the feast. Now we come to the eighth day, the last day, that great day of the feast. This is the Shemini Atzeret. It is spoken about briefly in this passage from Leviticus…

(36) For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it. … Leviticus 23:36 NKJV

The water ritual is done again but this time, the priest walked around the altar seven times before pouring the water out. Why seven times? Because they marched around Jericho seven times before they actually entered the Promised Land. On the sixth time around, the priest was met by another priest carrying a container of wine. Water and wine. Wine symbolic of joy. God has given us joy—refreshment! Then the priest with the pitcher of water would ascend the steps of the altar. As he would get up and start walking, every step the people shouted louder and louder. And then he would pause at the top and lift the pitcher of water up slowly and with every little millimeter of movement the crowd shouting would get louder and louder and louder until the pitcher was at the very top that that priest could reach, then there was a hush over the crowd. Then the water would get poured out. This ceremony is called the Hoshana Rabbah, the great HOSHIANA, which translated means “save now”. This will give you an idea of what is going on in the background of this passage. So now as the priest is pouring out the water, Jesus cries out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Can you imagine the uproar this must have caused?! The priest had just poured out the water as an appeal to God to provide water for the people, and Jesus, as if to answer the prayer, tells the people to come to Him for water. What a radical statement and shocker to the crowd! Jesus was claiming to be God Himself!

The text says that Jesus stood and cried out. The word is krazō  in Greek. It means to scream or call aloud, or to shriek. No megaphones back then and Jesus knows that there are lots of spiritually thirsty people out there so He wants to get His point across about what these people need to do! Notice that Jesus says anyone. Didn’t matter who they were, what race they might have been, whether they were God’s “chosen” people or not or anything else. He meant what He said…ANYONE! It still applies today as well! But there are a couple of conditions. First, you have to have a burning desire. Jesus says anyone who thirsts, the Greek word for it is dipsaō . There are three stages of dehydration in case you didn’t know. First, what happens is what is called dipsea which is just common thirst. If you don’t satisfy that in time, you go to the second stage which is called hyperdipsea. This is extreme bouts of thirst. That’s critical and if you don’t do something about that, you go into the third stage which is called polydipsea. This is where you have a sustained thirst where you will drink anything. Someone who is suffering from this will drink ocean water even though it is loaded with salt.

We have people today who suffer from hyperdipsea only in a spiritual sense. They will “drink” anything to get satisfied. They try to satisfy their spiritual thirst with the wrong things; money, sex, power, status, material possessions, drugs, alcohol, etc. My question is how is that working out for you? Never seems to be enough doesn’t it! A person who is suffering from hyperdipsea who is drinking ocean water to satisfy that thirst is poisoning their body because as I said, ocean water contains salt, which in large amounts, poisons the body. The same thing can be said for people who “drink” anything to satisfy their spiritual thirst. It “poisons” the body too.

The second condition is found in verse 38. Look what the text says. Jesus says…He who believes in Me. You have to believe that Jesus is the only way to satisfy that spiritual thirst, that He is the only one who can save you and grant you eternal life with the Father in heaven. Everyone believes that John 3:16 is the most important verse of The Gospel. We all know it but in case you don’t, this is what John 3:16 says…

(16) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. … John 3:16 NKJV

However before that verse has any bearing on your life, you must believe what Jesus says in John 14:6. Jesus says in John 14:6…

(6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. … John 14:6 NKJV

So if you don’t believe John 14:6, John 3:16 means nothing to you and will not have any affect on your life whatsoever. I’ll take it back even a step further and what I truly believe is the most important verse of The Gospel and it isn’t found in any of The Gospels. It’s what Paul says in 1 Timothy. Turning there and in Chapter 1 down to verse 15…

(15) This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. … 1 Timothy 1:15 NKJV

What Paul is saying here is that no one is a bigger sinner and need of saving than he is. This is of course is not the case because this describes EVERYONE! Believers and non-believers alike fit this category. He is just admitting this and believing this. Notice that Paul says that he “is” and not “was” chief of sinners. Even after coming to Christ, Paul still carried this belief in him and we who come to Christ should as well but many of us don’t. How many Christians can say deep in their hearts that this their favorite verse and they truly believe this? This has become my favorite verse, though I have to remind myself of this from time to time. After all, I’m not perfect! None of us are! My customers ask me from time to time though what my favorite verse is and I rattle this one off to them and I get puzzled looks from them! LOL!

Now we come to the third and final condition. Jesus says back again in verse 37 in our passage, come to Me and drink. There has to be some kind of action on our part. We have to come. We have to put our human pride aside and admit that we are sinners, the chief of sinners, if you will and then we have to do something about it. We have to come to Jesus because we believe that He is the only way out of our fallen condition. Coming to Him is not enough though. We must drink that is to accept Jesus into our hearts, our souls, and into our lives. If you are suffering from thirst and you just walk up to a glass of water sitting on a table, and then just look at it or admire it, and not drink it, it will do nothing for you! You have to pick up the glass of water and drink it for it to do any good for you.

By Jesus telling the people let him come to Me and drink, He was telling the people that He was the way to salvation and not the ceremonial law that the Pharisees strictly enforced. This of course threw the Pharisees into a fit who held the ceremonial law sacred. The ceremonial law could do nothing though it was a sign for something better to come. The Law was given for one purpose and one purpose only…to show people how fallen their condition really was. No matter how many lambs and other animals were sacrificed year after year, it could never pacify the people’s conscience or pacify God. Now Jesus comes along and tells the people, “You don’t have to do this anymore! Come to Me!”. In Hebrews, it says…

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. … Hebrews 10:1 NKJV

Going to verse 38 of our passage now and looking at that more closely, Jesus says He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. We must not just believe in Christ but have a belief in Him that fits what The Bible says about believing in Him. In other words, we don’t make Jesus into what we want Him to be or what we think He should be. There is this overwhelming belief that Jesus is this loving, all forgiving God that will come back and take everyone to heaven. Nothing in The Bible claims this! If you think this way, may I suggest that you read Revelation! Yes, Jesus is a forgiving and loving God but we must come to Him on His terms not ours! We must come to Him as a true fallen, broken, sinner and in repentance and trust and believe in Him. This statement that Jesus makes here to the people probably made them flashback to what God said to Isaiah. Isaiah 55:1 says…

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. … Isaiah 55:1 NKJV

They knew what Jesus was telling them…He was telling them that He was God! By the way if you have a pastor or religious leader at your church that tells you that salvation depends on giving to their church, pull out this verse! LOL! Another good verse to rattle off to them, and one of my personal favorites, is what Peter tells Simon the magician in Acts…

(20) But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! … Acts 8:20 NKJV

Ouch! LOL! That’s a different topic altogether but I thought I would throw that out there. We should be cheerful givers not forced givers!

Throughout the Old Testament though it was taught that people who accepted the Messiah would not only have their own needs supplied but they would also be a blessing to others. This is the way it is supposed to be for us as well. When we come to Christ, we are not supposed to be a reservoir, taking everything in and giving nothing out, but a fountain spewing our faith to others and letting them share in the blessings that comes when one accepts Christ into their lives. The promise that Jesus makes here in verse 38 is that we will not only be blessed but we will become a blessing to others! It has been said that if one claims to be living with the Holy Spirit in them and is not sharing that with others, then the Holy Spirit is not there! Now to verse 39 to wrap up this passage. …

v 39 – (39) But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

The living water that Jesus talks about in verse 38, is in fact, The Holy Spirit. The people who had accepted and believed in Jesus at this time did not receive The Holy Spirit but Jesus was not yet glorified. Now what exactly does that mean? It means that Jesus had not been crucified and gone back to heaven yet. He hadn’t gone to the cross yet and fulfilled His mission. In about six months or so from this feast, Jesus would be crucified and after three days, be resurrected. After some time afterwards, He would then go back to the Father in heaven. When that happened, His followers received The Holy Spirit. That happens in Chapter Two of Acts, the day of Pentecost, about 50 days after Jesus’s resurrection.

So to wrap this post up, here’s the takeaway…no one is too good for damnation and no one is too bad for salvation. Turn back to Matthew and to the passage of the Parable of the Two Sons which begins in verse 28. Jesus says, addressing the religious leaders…

(28) “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ (29) He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. (30) Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. (31) Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to Him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. (32) For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him. … Matthew 21:28-32 NKJV

The Lord interpreted the parable. Tax collectors and harlots were like the first son. They made no immediate pretense of obeying John the Baptist, but eventually many of them did repent and believe in Jesus. The religious leaders were like the second son. They professed to approve the preaching of John, but never confessed their sins or trusted the Savior. Therefore the out-and-out sinners entered the kingdom of God while the self-satisfied religious leaders remained outside. It is the same today. True self professed sinners receive the gospel more readily than those who profess to know Christ but never really admit to themselves that they are sinners. Giving to charities, being raised by religious parents, going to church, or rattling off Bible verses ad nauseam doesn’t get you into heaven. Only trusting and believing in Jesus does that! The question is do you? If not this is your chance now.

Now, this is a moment of invitation to you if you do not have Christ in your life. If you are rejecting Christ, you too do not have that much more time. When Christ comes and the curtain is drawn, time is up and there will be no second chances! It doesn’t have to be this way though. Nothing that we can say, nothing that we can do will be acceptable to God unless we accept His Son Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior who died for our sins. He paid our sin debt and He, and He alone, is the only way to salvation. Jesus says in John 14:6:

““I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” … (John 14:6 NKJV)

All you have to do is ask Him to come into your life! In Romans 10:9-13, Paul says:

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” … (Romans 10:9-13 NIV)

Now just pray this simple short prayer. Remember it really doesn’t matter what you say. What matters is that what you say comes from your heart!…

“Dear Lord, I admit that I am a sinner. I have done many things that don’t please you. I have lived my life for myself. I am sorry and I repent. I ask you to forgive me. I believe that you died on the cross for me, to save me. You did what I could not do for myself. I come to you now and ask you to take control of my life, I give it to you. Help me to live every day in a way that pleases you. I love you, Lord, and I thank you that I will spend all eternity with you. Amen.”

If you’ve prayed the above prayer with a sincere heart, then you are saved. The next step is to start going to church, getting baptized to publicly profess your faith, and reading the Bible and learning God’s Word. I pray with all of my heart that you prayed the above prayer! Please let me know if you need any help with your new “walk” with Christ! ( *_* )

There are things in life called “once in a lifetime” opportunities. They are what they say they are. One shot to take advantage of it and if you don’t, they are gone forever. Friendship, marriage, a dream job, a dream vacation can be listed as some of those things. My once in a lifetime opportunity came many years ago when I had the chance of a promising career in radio broadcasting. I was young and irresponsible back then and the result was I got fired from the radio station for being late one too many times and I have never been able to have a crack at being a broadcaster since then.

Salvation can be listed as a once in a lifetime opportunity as well. The reason why is because if you are presented an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as your savior and you don’t take advantage of it, you could die the very next day and that opportunity is gone forever and you will be doomed to eternal life in hell. Now to be perfectly honest, most people do get several opportunities to accept Christ but they don’t take advantage of them. They hear the Gospel message time and time again and time and time again, they turn away from it and perhaps, lose their once in a lifetime opportunity for salvation!

In this passage in Chapter 7 that we are going to look at in this post, Jesus is confronting a group of these kind of people. They have seen the miracles that He has done and they have heard what He has been saying but they are still deaf and blind to the truth of who He really is. They are offended by what Jesus has been saying and doing and they want Him arrested if not killed! This passage is a warning that Jesus gives the people about turning down His message and His discourse and the feast culminates with perhaps what might be the greatest altar call that Jesus gives in the Gospels. That altar call we will look at in greater detail in the next post but let’s get started! As always, the text link and audio for the entire chapter is included so you can follow along but first, let’s prepare our hearts to receive God’s Word…

Heavenly Father,

We thank You for Your Word, the Word that does Your work in the hearts of Your people who truly believe! Father, we pray as we look at this passage of Jesus’s warning to the unbelievers in this crowd, that those unbelievers who might be reading this post will open their eyes, ears, and hearts to the truth and accept Your Son Jesus today! Bless this time in Your Word and make it fruitful. We put away all distractions and our hearts and minds are open to what You have to say. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening! In the name of Jesus Christ we pray…Amen!

John 7

Let’s look at the passage for this post…

(25) Now some of them from Jerusalem said, “Is this not He whom they seek to kill? (26) But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ? (27) However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from.” (28) Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, “You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. (29) But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me.” (30) Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. (31) And many of the people believed in Him, and said, “When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?” (32) The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him. (33) Then Jesus said to them, “I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me. (34) You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come.” (35) Then the Jews said among themselves, “Where does He intend to go that we shall not find Him? Does He intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? (36) What is this thing that He said, ‘You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come’?” (37) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. … John 7:25-37 NKJV

Again, Jesus is at the Feast of Tabernacles, a feast that celebrated how God provided for the Hebrews during their 40 years of wandering around in the wilderness. He had been teaching the people and many took offense to it since He had not studied under any of their rabbi’s. At this point, this is probably about six months away from the crucifixion. The Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot, took place in October during the fall. The next big feast, Passover, six months away in April, Jesus will be arrested, brought before the Jewish Sanhedrin and Pilate, and crucified. In this passage, Jesus is being confronted and is addressing His “haters” and some doubters as well. Let’s examine this passage a bit closer now. …

v 25 – (25) Now some of them from Jerusalem said, “Is this not He whom they seek to kill?

Apparently, word had gotten around that the Jewish rulers wanted Jesus dead. Jesus knew of this as well. Going back up to verse 19 of this chapter, Jesus tells the people…

(19) Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” … John 7:19 NKJV

I forgot to go into some detail regarding this verse in the last post, something that came to me after I had already published it so I’ll briefly do it now. The Law, is The Ten Commandments of course, as well as the 300 or so other ones listed in Leviticus! LOL! The fact is no one keeps the Ten Commandments! If you say you do, then you are a liar and you have broken the one regarding lying! It is impossible in our sinful nature as human beings to keep the Law. Now true most of us do not murder, do not commit adultery and we honor our parents. We probably follow all the “biggies” but everybody has lied at least once in their lives about something or another and everybody, everybody, covets. It is in our human nature and if you break just one of God’s Laws just once, you have broken all of them! In James, he says…

(10) For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. … James 2:10 NKJV

Jesus goes as far as to say if you even THINK about it, you’re guilty of breaking the Law. Here’s what Jesus says about adultery…

(27) “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.’ (28) But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. … Matthew 5:27-28 NKJV

Now let me ask you something…which one of us guys is not guilty of this? LOL! Seriously though the fact is that the Law was not given to keep. It was given to show us that it is impossible to keep! It was given so we could recognize sinful behavior. In Romans, Paul says…

(7) What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” … Romans 7:7 NKJV

That’s not to say that we as believers should just do whatever we want just because we have accepted Jesus into our lives which many of us believe that we can do. Again in Romans in the chapter before, Chapter 6, Paul again says…

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? (2) Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? (3) Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? (4) Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. … Romans 6:1-4 NKJV

Anyway, this is something that I forgot to cover in the last post and I thought it would be a good time to cover it now. Moving along now…

vv 26-27 – (26) But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ? (27) However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from.”

The people in the crowd could not understand why the Jewish rulers were allowing Jesus to speak so boldly and doing nothing to Him. They began to wonder if the rulers had come to believe that Jesus was in fact the Messiah. In verse 27, the crowd reasons amongst themselves that when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from. There was a belief at the time that when the Messiah came, it would be a sudden mysterious appearance. Kind of like a “Ta Da!” moment. However these people knew that Jesus had come from Nazareth and they knew His mother Mary and, who they thought to be, His father Joseph and His brothers and sisters. Yes, contrary to Catholic doctrine, Jesus had brothers and sisters. They were more like half brothers and sisters. In Matthew, we read…

(55) Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? (56) And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” … Matthew 13:55-56 NKJV

They knew everything that there was to know about Jesus at the time or so they thought. If they truly knew their scriptures, they would have known that the Messiah would be born a baby in Bethlehem and grow up to be a man. Jesus would, however, have His “Ta Da!” moment in a few short months when He would say to His disciples, “Hey go get me that donkey in the next town” and He would ride into Jerusalem on it! Moving on…

vv 28-29 – (28) Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, “You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. (29) But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me.”

Jesus then cried out as He taught in the temple. Jesus raises His voice probably louder than He had throughout this discourse with the people. He not only raised His voice to be heard but mainly because He was grieved and concerned because of the hardness in the people’s hearts to what He had been saying. Even though Jesus doesn’t say it here, it was definitely a whoever has ears, let him hear moment.

When Jesus tells the people you both know Me and you know where I am from, He isn’t acknowledging the fact that they believed Him to be the Messiah. He was saying that they just recognized Him to be a man. They knew He was from Nazareth and they knew His mother and brothers and sisters but that’s all they knew about Him. They did not recognize Him to be God. Jesus again, acknowledges this fact in the rest of these verses. For the people out there that say “Well you know Jesus never claimed to be God”, here it is right here in these verses! This is key to the answer whether someone is a saved Christian or not. If you do not believe that Jesus is God then I am sorry but you are not saved! There are a lot of so-called Christians out there that just believe that Jesus was just a good man or a good teacher someone to model their lives after but they do not acknowledge nor believe that fact that He is God. Salvation will come down to the question that Jesus asked His disciples…Who do you say that I am?.

Jesus came from Nazareth but He did not come of Himself. In other words, Jesus did not come to this world to do His own will. He came here to do His Father’s will and His Father they did not know. They knew God in name only but they did not know the nature of God. They knew of Him but they did not know Him. Their religious traditions overshadowed the true knowledge and love of God. Henry Ward Beecher, a preacher in the 1800’s put it best commentating on this passage…

Men know where they are going when they follow a principle; because principles are rays of light. If you trace a ray of light in all its reflections, you will find that it runs back to the central sun; and every great line of honesty, every great line of honour, runs back towards the centre of God. And the man that follows these things knows that he is steering right Godward. But the man that follows policies, and worldly maxims, does not know where he is steering, except that in general he is steering toward the devil.—Henry Ward Beecher.

The fact is, people reject Christ because they don’t understand or know God’s nature of His love and forgiveness. “You mean all I have to do is believe and I’m forgiven?”, they’ll think, “Nah can’t be that easy! Have to do something else!” or they try to find a more logical, scientific explanation for everything. Remember “Velma” the girl with the glasses on the “Scooby Doo” cartoons? She would always say and look for logical explanations to solve mysteries. This is the way people who reject God are and while Velma was right in the cartoons, people are not when it comes to God! On the flipside of the coin, we Christians don’t know God either though we claim we do. We talk about the love and forgiveness of God but seldom do we talk about the price of shunning that love and forgiveness. We also believe that somehow God is more “advanced” and compassionate now and has changed His mind and that the Word of God has become outdated and no longer applies. We have become secular Christians putting stock more in the U.S. Constitution (most of the freedoms in it taken way out of the context of the way our founding fathers meant it to be by the way!) than in the Word of God. We have forgotten about what The Bible says about allowing paganism and what happens to countries who practice it. We’ve forgotten what The Bible says about immoral practices and those who practice them and we’ve forgotten about what The Bible says about allowing a government that encourages and enacts laws favoring all of this. We think that God has become more tolerant now and talk more of His first advent rather than His second when He will come back to avenge Himself upon His enemies and those who have shunned His love and forgiveness. Yes it’s true, we are living in an age of grace and by all means we should encourage people by telling them about the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ but we also need to remember that this age of grace is coming to an end and people need to know that as well.

Getting back to the passage now, verse 29, Jesus points out to the crowd that but I know Him, for I am from Him and He has sent Me. Jesus is pointing out that He and God are one in the same! He was always there from the foundation of the world. Back in Chapter 1 of John, we read…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. … John 1:1-3 NKJV

Jesus was there when the world was created. We can go even further back, in Genesis…

(3) Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. … Genesis 1:3 NKJV

This is not only the creation of the physical form of light but I also believe it to be the first mention of Christ in The Bible since Jesus is referred to as “the light of the world” several times.

vv 30-31 – (30) Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. (31) And many of the people believed in Him, and said, “When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?”

The crowd may have been confused about the things that Jesus was saying but the Jewish religious leaders weren’t. They knew that Jesus was claiming to be God and the Messiah and they considered that to be sheer blasphemy. They considered Jesus just to be an ordinary man because they knew His family. They were totally in the dark though about where Jesus got His powers to heal and perform other miracles from. They actually accuse Jesus of getting His powers from Satan or Beelzebub at one point…

(22) And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub,” and, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.” … Mark 3:22 NKJV

Because of the things that Jesus was saying, they sought to take Him. In other words, they wanted to arrest Him but no one laid a hand on Him because His hour had not yet come. Jesus was on His Father’s timetable not man’s. The hour described here of course is His arrest, trial, and crucifixion. Until then, no one could do nothing against Him. Jesus at one point even manages to slip through and get away from a crowd that had seized Him and wanted to throw Him off a cliff! Talk about an escape artist!

Not everyone however felt this way because John says that many of the people believed in Him. There’s a saying that says, “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck”. Not to compare our Lord and Savior to a duck but you get my drift. These people heard His words and saw the miracles and put two and two together and realized that Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be. There could be some doubt though whether this belief was genuine or not. The reasoning was could someone else, if he were the Christ, perform more miracles and show more signs than Jesus had. Their reasoning was no and therefore they believed Him to be the Messiah. Moving on to verse 32…

vv 32-34 – (32) The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him. (33) Then Jesus said to them, “I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me. (34) You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come.”

The Jewish rulers, the Pharisees, didn’t like what the crowd was saying about Jesus. They were jealous of Him and the attention that they were giving to Him. They were afraid that more people would listen to Him and follow Jesus. Under the climate that they were living in at the time, their belief of this could be justified. They were under Roman occupation and there was some fear that a movement of following Jesus would be seen as a threat to Rome. There is proof of this in the Scriptures. In John Chapter 11 after Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, it says…

(47) Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. (48) If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.” … John 11:47-48 NKJV

The real reason why they hated Jesus though was probably jealousy.

The statement that Jesus makes in verse 33 is probably directed at the officers who tried to arrest Him. They were also directed to anyone else within earshot. Jesus knew what His ultimate fate would be which is why He says I shall be with you a little while longer. What Jesus says next, and then I go to Him who sent Me, only angered the Pharisees further. Notice that Jesus says I go meaning that this was freedom of choice not driven away by force. It was voluntary. He would finish His mission on earth and then He would go back to God. It would seem that when Jesus says, I shall be with you a little while longer, He was comforting Himself knowing that He only had a very short time left in this world with these people. It grieved Jesus of the hardness of heart and unbelief in most, not all, of the people He ran into. This is the attitude that we should have as true Christians. We should have absolutely no ties or desires to be in this world any longer than the Lord wants us to be. I’ve made the joke several times that if Jesus was to come back today that He would have to drag Christians kicking and screaming back to heaven because we have way too much desire to be in this world than to be with Him. Yes we should enjoy ourselves while we are here. There is nothing wrong with that but we should not become obsessed with that enjoyment and forget where our real home is. I love reading the Psalms. I read at least one every day. I was reading Psalm 73 the other day and this passage caught my eye and substantiates my argument about having no ties or any desire to be in this world any longer than we have to be. In verses 25 and 26 of Psalm 73, it says…

(25) Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. (26) My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. … Psalm 73:25-26 NKJV

Jesus then tells the Pharisees and the other non-believers in verse 34 You shall seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come. There would come a time that the Pharisees and the other unbelievers in the crowd would seek out Christ. They would need a Savior but because of their unbelief, they would be separated from Him forever. These are chilling and prophetic words to all who shun Christ’s love and forgiveness. There will come a time when you too will seek out Jesus but you will not find Him and you too will be separated from Him forever. The more you harden your heart to the message of the Gospel, the more the Lord will solidify that decision that you have made until it will be absolutely impossible for you to change it. Please note that the words Jesus says you cannot come meaning to be with Him in heaven is voluntary. It is because “you will not come”. In his commentary on this verse, Matthew Henry says it best…

Those who hate to be where Christ is, in his word and ordinances on earth, are very unfit to be where he is in his glory in heaven; for indeed heaven would be no heaven to them, such are the antipathies of an unsanctified soul to the felicities of that state. … Matthew Henry

Let’s move on and finish out the passage. …

vv 35-37 – (35) Then the Jews said among themselves, “Where does He intend to go that we shall not find Him? Does He intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? (36) What is this thing that He said, ‘You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come’?” (37) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.

It is quite obvious from these words from the Jews that they didn’t have a clue to what Jesus was referring to. They had no idea that Jesus was talking about going back to heaven and instead thought that He meant that He was going on some kind of preaching tour. The Dispersion that the Jews are talking about here is the “Diaspora”. These were Jews scattered about the world for various reasons. It actually exists today because as we all know that not all Jews live in Israel. These were Jews that were living in Greece.The people thought that Jesus was going to teach them or perhaps maybe even the Greeks themselves. In verse 36, the Jews again show their blindness of unbelief by sarcastically repeating Christ’s words in verse 34. The passage ends with perhaps one of the greatest altar calls made in The Gospel which we will look at in greater detail in the next post of this study.

In closing there is a passage in 2 Corinthians that emphasizes taking advantage of an opportunity to accept the message of The Gospel. It’s found in Chapter 6 verse 2 where Paul says…

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. … 2 Corinthians 6:2b NKJV

We don’t know what will happen tomorrow or for that matter, moment to moment. I remember a few years back riding home on the train after work getting off the train and seeing a guy who seemingly was fine when he got off the train collapse all of a sudden without absolutely no warning. Turns out, he suffered a fatal heart attack and died right there on the ground before the paramedics arrived I had heard the next day. I can’t remember if this was before I accepted Christ or not but I think about it now from time to time wondering if this guy knew Jesus or if he had passed on an opportunity to accept Him and now, it was too late! Here one minute and the next…gone! Don’t make that mistake if you don’t know Jesus! Accept Him today! Let’s pray…

Heavenly Father,

As we bring this study on this passage to a close, we thank You, for those of us who have accepted Him, the gift of Your Son Jesus Christ and the sacrifice that He made for all of us and we thank You for Your Word that helps lead us to Him. Father, we don’t know how much time each and everyone of us has on this earth but we take the comfort in knowing that we are on the way to a far better place than we are right now. Father we pray that those who are reading this and don’t know Your Son Jesus Christ, that they would come to know Him and accept Him today and not miss, perhaps, their once in a lifetime opportunity. We pray this in the name of Your precious Son Jesus Christ…Amen!

I hate religion! I hate it if someone says, “Oh, you’re a religious person!”! I do not practice a religion and I am definitely not a religious person! What exactly do I mean by these statements? If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ then you know exactly what I am talking about here. True believers in Jesus Christ do not practice a religion and we are not religious people. What we have is a relationship with Him like a child has with a parent. We do things to please Him again not unlike a child tries to please his parents. That is what true belief in Jesus Christ is…a relationship. You either have it or you don’t and there is no middle ground!

86% of the world is religious. Religion is man’s attempt to please God. Religion is doing certain things during certain times of the day and certain times of the year all in a futile attempt to please God. It is a system of a series of rituals rather than a meaningful one on one relationship with the Lord. Here’s another thing that might surprise you…God hates religion! Whether you want to believe this or not, there is only one religion in the world…Judaism. It is the only one that God instituted for His people. All the rest are man-made! True Christianity is not a religion. Like I said it is a relationship. I’m sorry but if you’re a Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Lutheran or any of the other Christian sects, you are basically practicing a man-made religion! These religions, except possibly Baptist, believe you have to work for your salvation. True Christianity believes that work is already done and all you have to do is believe it and accept it!

We began Chapter 7 in the last post looking at groups of people who were forming their own opinions of who Jesus was. Jesus had secretly gone to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, one of the feasts that required mandatory attendance, and now the people had located Him and, in this passage that we are going to look at in this post, He begins to teach the people. Let’s get started and as always, the text link for the entire chapter and audio is included so you can follow along. Let’s prepare our hearts to hear God’s Word by going to Him in prayer…

Father,

Thank You again for this time in Your Word. As we look at the difference between religion and having a meaningful relationship with Your Son Jesus, may our hearts and minds be open to hear what You have to say. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening. In the name of Jesus we pray…Amen!

John 7

Let’s look at the passage that we will be studying in this post…

(14) Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. (15) And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” (16) Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. (17) If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. (18) He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. (19) Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” (20) The people answered and said, “You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?” (21) Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. (22) Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. (23) If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? (24) Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” … John 7:14-24 NKJV

Now let’s look at this passage a bit more closely. …

vv 14-16 – (14) Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. (15) And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” (16) Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.

Jesus is in Jerusalem for The Feast Of Tabernacles, one of the three mandatory attendance feasts. The Feast of the Tabernacles celebrated when the Hebrews were in the wilderness for 40 years and dwelt in makeshift tents or booths and how God provided for them. For one week out of the year, they would re-enact this, so to speak, by putting up lean-to’s and tents. They would go about their business during the day but at night, they would camp out under the stars.

The first thing you notice about this passage is that when Jesus gets to Jerusalem, He doesn’t do it with fanfare. He doesn’t heal people. He doesn’t go there proclaiming Himself a king. What He does is He goes to the temple and teach the people. It is the Greek word didaskō which means to teach or instruct. 36 times in the Gospels, Jesus is mentioned teaching people and Jesus is called Teacher, the Greek word didaskalos, 47 times. Jesus was majorly into doctrine and teaching people. Doctrine should also be important to us as well if we truly follow Christ. If you don’t think that doctrine is important, this is what God thinks about it…

(6) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. … Hosea 4:6 NKJV

This is the problem with the Church in America today. The Church no longer wants to hear the truth. They want a show. They want to feel good about themselves. Want to know why America is steeped in paganism, idolatry, immorality and growing persecution against Christians? Because the Church in America allows it instead of doing what God commands us to do in His Word!

Verse 15 sounds like a compliment when in fact it really was derogatory. Their statement wasn’t…”How can He?”. Their statement was…”How dare He!”. The word for letters is the Greek word gramma or grammata. It is where we get the word grammar from. In this case it means the Scriptures, rabbinical teachings basically The Old Testament writings. They took offense that Jesus was teaching people having never studied under their rabbis. I’m sure a lot of people who read my blog posts wonder how I can conduct a written Bible study when I’ve never been to a seminary or any kind of religious course. First of all, these are not my thoughts or opinions. Before I put together these Bible study posts, I read the passages very carefully over and over again. I read several commentaries on those passages and take bits and pieces from them. I also listen to messages by pastors on those passages and again take bits and pieces from them. Second, and probably most importantly though, as I am reading and putting these together, the Lord will put certain things on my heart to add to these posts and I always back up my writings with God’s Word because that speaks louder than I ever could! It doesn’t matter how old you are or how smart you are. Anyone can teach the word of God because the more you read it, the more God opens up to you. There is no such thing as reading The Bible too many times or reading it enough. Some of the examples of what I am talking about are these first from Jeremiah when God is recruiting Him…

(4) Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: (5) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (6) Then said I: “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” (7) But the LORD said to me: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. (8) Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the LORD. (9) Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. … Jeremiah 1:4-9 NKJV

In the New Testament, Paul says to Timothy…

(6) If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. (7) But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. (8) For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. (9) This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. (10) For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. (11) These things command and teach. (12) Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (13) Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. (14) Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. (15) Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. (16) Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. … 1 Timothy 4:6-16 NKJV

The world is often amazed and will take offense to anyone who can teach and preach the Word of God having absolutely no real religious training.

In verse 16, Jesus tells the people, My doctrine is not Mine but His who sent Me. Now here with this statement, you could make a strong argument that God and Jesus are not one in the same. Why didn’t Jesus say “My doctrine and the One who sent Me” or just “My doctrine”? Simply put, Jesus was humbly submitting Himself to God the Father. He was telling the people that these words were not taught but through divine revelation. God had promised a prophet and that He would put His words in His mouth. In Deuteronomy, Moses said to the people…

(15) “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, … Deuteronomy 18:15 NKJV

and also again in the same passage, God tells Moses…

(18) I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. … Deuteronomy 18:18 NKJV

When Jesus spoke these words to the people at the feast, they should have instantly flashed back to these verses in Deuteronomy and what Moses had told them if they truly knew the Scriptures. In reality, it was the people and not Christ who were scripturally illiterate!  Moving now to verse 17…

vv 17-18 –  (17) If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. (18) He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.

Jesus’s words here are proof again that if one is willing to truly seek God with their heart, soul, and mind that they will know whether or not the doctrine being told to them is truly from God or just the person’s because God will reveal that to them by revelation through His Word. It’s called researching the Scriptures something that these people obviously didn’t do. The same can be said today of the Church. In one of my favorite passages, in Acts it says in part…

in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. … Acts 17:11b&c NKJV

The Church today is willing to swallow any kind of doctrine hook, line, and sinker! It is mainly because Christians want to be politically correct and not rock the boat but the other reason is because the Church today is scripturally illiterate! A perfect example of this are the Methodists who allow women behind the pulpit and gay preachers, both forbidden in The Bible, and the Catholic doctrine that forbids priests to marry and confessions of sins to a priest along with the other do’s and don’ts of their religion. Paul warns of false doctrines and believers being swayed by them in 1 Timothy…

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, (2) speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, (3) forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. … 1 Timothy 4:1-3 NKJV

Also in 2 Timothy where he says…

(3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; (4) and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. … 2 Timothy 4:3-4 NKJV

There are other examples as well throughout The Bible but they are too numerous to list here but these are the most well known passages. Moving on…

vv 19-23 – (19) Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” (20) The people answered and said, “You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?” (21) Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. (22) Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. (23) If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?

Religion is harmful because it causes people to kill others in the name of their religion. Islam is prime example of this as well as the Crusades of long ago. The Jewish leaders were willing to kill Jesus in the name of religion even though God forbid them to. I have a theory of why they wanted to do this. I can back it up scripturally but again it’s only a theory. If you remember, God sent the Hebrews into captivity for 70 years in Babylon. One of the reasons why was because of the people’s violation of the Sabbath and because they were swayed by false prophets and bad rulers. So here comes Jesus now healing people on the Sabbath and saying, “Follow Me”. What I think they did was flash back to the time where Moses tells them and this is in Deuteronomy 13…

(1) “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, (2) and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—’and let us serve them,’ (3) you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (4) You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. (5) But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst. … Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NKJV

Fearful of God’s judgement again, they take everything out of context here that Moses told them and decide, “Hey! He’s got to go!”. What the people weren’t hearing was that Jesus wasn’t telling them to follow false gods but to follow God. Again this is just a theory but I think this is what was running through the people’s minds at the time.

In verse 20, the people tell Jesus You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill you?. Can you imagine telling the God of the universe, our Creator…”You have a demon”? They will do this several times throughout the Gospels. Again the people mentioned here are the Jewish rulers, the Pharisees, and probably not just the ordinary people. The question posed to Jesus about seeking to kill Him is probably a question of guilt more than informational. It’s like, “Uh-oh He knows!”.

The one work that Jesus is talking about in verse 21 is the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda that was covered in Chapter 5. Jesus heals a man who had been lame for 38 years and then tells him to pick up his mat and walk. It is witnessed by the Pharisees who throw a fit because the healing and the man carrying his mat were done on the Sabbath and both were forbidden by their law. They marveled not because of the miracle but that Jesus did it on the Sabbath. In verse 22, Jesus points out to them that they circumcise a man on the Sabbath according to the law of Moses which wasn’t Moses law but God’s. According to God’s law, a male had to be circumcised on the eighth day after birth and if that eighth day after birth fell on a Sunday, it still had to be performed. It had been practiced by the fathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob etc out of necessity. In verse 23, Jesus points out that the people were willing to do something out of necessity on the Sabbath, mutilate a baby boy, then why have an objection to something done out of mercy on the Sabbath, making a man who was suffering for so many years completely whole. Let’s move on to the last verse and wrap this up. …

v 24 – Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

Verse 24 is a command from Jesus to judge. It would seem here that Jesus is contradicting Himself. In Matthew, part of His “The Sermon On The Mount” discourse, Jesus says…

“Judge not, that you be not judged. … Matthew 7:1 NKJV

This verse is often taken out of context because most people, including most Christians, don’t know what Jesus means here. Jesus is not saying that we shouldn’t judge. The fact is, we are judged all the time! We are judged by our employers. We judge our friends. If we’re parents, we judge our kids & our kids, in turn, judge us! LOL! If we’re teachers, we judge our students who also judge us and so on and so forth. Let’s face it…life is full of judgement! We judge or are being judged every single day of our lives! So what did Jesus mean when He told His disciples not to judge others? Jesus meant not judging others on two principles:

1) Judging to tear others down instead of judging to build them up. Jesus explains if you read on in the same passage from Matthew…

(2) For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. … Matthew 7:2 NKJV

2) hypocritical judgement – For example telling someone it’s wrong to steal when you steal yourself! Again, Jesus explains as you read on…

(3) And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? (4) Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? (5) Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5 NKJV

“Do not judge” is not a blanket statement against all criticism of others. I mean if you’re heading down a road of spiritual darkness, wouldn’t you want someone to let you know that you are? I know I would! We just have to make sure that we’re not on the same road!

Jesus tells the people not to judge according to appearance but judge with righteous judgement. This means not to judge someone’s motive behind anything that they do. That is God’s job not ours. We cannot tell what is in someone’s heart but God knows and that is the way that he judges us not by our actions but the motive behind them. In 1st Samuel, it says…

For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” … 1 Samuel 16:7b NKJV

So in closing, here is the difference between just being religious and having a true meaningful relationship with the Lord. It has to do with the differences between fundamental religion and the Gospel. Religion emphasizes the outward but the Gospel emphasizes the inward. It’s kind of like the movie “The Wizard of Oz”. The wizard looked mighty and fearful but when Dorothy’s dog Toto pulled back the curtain, there was just this little old man pulling levers and pushing buttons. Same thing with believers. Just because someone carries a bible around with them and spouts biblical verses ad nauseam, does not mean they are a true follower of Jesus. Jesus says by their fruits you will know them. Look at a person’s actions and how they lead their lives when the church spotlight is off of them. That determines whether or not they have a saving relationship with Jesus. The next thing is that religion emphasizes prohibition, what you can’t do, but the Gospel emphasizes freedom. Religion says you can’t. The Gospel says you can! Further on in the Gospel of John in Chapter 8, it says…

(31) Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. (32) And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” … John 8:31-32 NKJV

Notice the key word here though abide. It’s not enough to just believe in God’s Word. You have to follow God’s Word. The way you follow God’s Word is to read God’s Word…all of it not just the parts we like. The third thing is that religion puts up barriers but the Gospel tears them down. Where Jesus was teaching in the temple was known as the court of the gentiles. It’s where anyone could go even Jewish women. There were other courts there but you couldn’t go there unless you were a Jew. If you did, you would be killed. That’s why Jesus chose to teach there because it opened His message up to everyone and that is who the Gospel is for…everyone! Paul says in Galatians…

(28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. … Galatians 3:28 NKJV

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew?…

(28) Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. … Matthew 11:28 NKJV

That’s a message that should unify and bring comfort to everyone who wants it! The last thing is that religion says you have to work your way but Jesus says “I am the way”! Religion says if you are good and you pray and you confess your sins to a priest and you don’t eat meat on certain days and you help old ladies cross the street or many of the other “ands” that many religions require then you will get to heaven. Jesus says just believe in Me and you’re there! Again further on in John’s Gospel…

(6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. … John 14:6 NKJV

Again this should be another message that unifies and brings comfort to everyone who wants it! Not to belabor this point because I want to save it for another time but I think you have to believe John 14:6 first before John 3:16 will have any benefit for you! Finally and to close this out, it’s not hard to discern the truth and what’s not… just read God’s Word! Before I became saved, I had a belief that God was the human body and The Bible was its owners manual. In some regards I still believe that in that The Bible is our owners manual. It teaches us what is the truth and what is not, how to take care of our bodies, what pleases God and what doesn’t, and makes us have a more, closer and deeper relationship with Him the more we delve into it. In this day and age, there is no reason for Christians not to be into God’s Word. No one’s life is that busy that you can’t sit down and read it every day especially with all these smartphones and i-phones. Instead of downloading useless apps, download an app that has The Bible. There are a lot of them out there and read the whole Bible not just the parts you like! Instead of reading “The Mueller Report” and worrying about whether President Trump is guilty of colluding with Russia or not, start colluding with God! President Trump is not your ticket to salvation! LOL! Let’s pray…

Heavenly Father,

Thank You again for Your Word and the freedom that we have to read it and talk about it…a freedom that we all take for granted. Lord in this day and age, there are so many voices out there telling us what is the truth and what is not but Lord we have Your Word which is the ultimate truth. Lord, I pray that Your people would not only read it but also apply it to their lives and the life of this nation. Father we pray for all of the broken, lost people out there who are following useless religions struggling to find peace, comfort, and meaning behind them when all they have to do is to turn to Your Son Jesus Christ who You sent to this earth to die on a cross so we can enter Your Kingdom unhindered and nothing that we can do or say can ever replace that…or belief in Him and that wonderful work and it’s in that wonderful, glorious name of Jesus we pray…Amen!

Turn in your Bible to John Chapter 7. I found out something interesting listening to a message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque as I was preparing for this study on this passage that we will be looking at in this post. What is the foggiest place in the world? Surprisingly, it’s not any of the obvious places that would come to mind like London or San Francisco. It’s not even Seattle. It’s a place called Grand Banks which is located in Newfoundland. It has on the average, 206 foggy days out of the year! Just a bit of trivia for you.

Fog is really a cloud because it is formed the same way as clouds are, from droplets of water. Fog can be dangerous because it drastically reduces vision depending on how thick it is and sometimes without warning. This can be extremely dangerous while driving. You can’t tell how close you are to the car in front of you which is why fog ranks right up there with the cause of most weather related car accidents. In fact, a few years back, there was a 200 car pileup in India that injured hundreds of people and killing several. The cause was fog.

The truth is though the foggiest place is not a place on this earth. It is in the human heart especially when it comes to the perception of who Jesus Christ is. Like driving in a fog, that can be very dangerous because depending on your perception of who Jesus Christ really is, it can condemn you to an eternal life of damnation! Not my words, His!

Here in Chapter 7, there is “fog” that has settled on people’s hearts concerning Jesus. We have a fog of unbelief, his brothers, and a fog of hatred, mainly the Jewish leaders. There are also a lot of the people looking at Jesus through the fog not with hatred or unbelief but their perception of who He is. “He’s a good man,” they say. Others will think He is a good teacher. This is about as far as they will go though. They don’t truly have belief in Jesus and who He really is. These are the perceptions that many professed Christians have today…dangerous perceptions!

In Chapter 7 though, we see the start of animosity towards Jesus that will continue to grow. They don’t like Him or His actions or His words and they especially don’t like who He claims to be. Let’s get started with our study and as always the text link for the entire chapter and the audio are included so you can follow along but as always before we get started, let’s pray… 

Father,

Thank You for this time again in Your Word. Father as we look at these verses in John’s Gospel, we put all distractions aside. Our hearts and minds are open to hear what You have to say to us. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening. Lord, bless this time in Your Word in Jesus’ name we pray…Amen!

John 7

Let’s look at the passage for that we will be studying in this post…

After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. (2) Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. (3) His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. (4) For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” (5) For even His brothers did not believe in Him. (6) Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. (7) The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. (8) You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.” (9) When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee. (10) But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. (11) Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?” (12) And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.” (13) However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews. … John 7:1-13 NKJV

Let’s look at this passage closer now. …

vv 1-2 – After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. (2) Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.

John starts out the chapter with the phrase after these things which we ask, “after what things?”. We would assume that it would be after the events of Chapter 6 but actually, six months have passed since the events of Chapter 6 and where we are at now in Chapter 7. How do we know this? Go back to John 6 and to verse 4…

(4) Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. … John 6:4 NKJV

Now we read here in verse 2 of Chapter 7 Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. Passover was a feast that was in the spring or our March or April and the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths, takes place in the fall or our October. The Feast of Tabernacles celebrates when the Hebrews left Egypt and how they lived in tents and makeshift dwellings in the wilderness. Between Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles is about six months so the things that John is referring to are the things that take place during this six month time period. What are they? The time period are the events of Matthew Chapters 15 through 18 and the parallel Chapters 7 through 9 of Mark. They fill in the gap between Chapter 6 and the start of Chapter 7 in John. Basically what Jesus is doing during this time period is spending time with His disciples, teaching them and also trying to make them realize who He really is. The crowds that were following Him are gone now so it’s just Jesus with His twelve chosen disciples. He tells the meanings behind the parables to them. He goes to Caesarea Philippi where Jesus asks the question, “Who do men say that I am?” They rattle off a variety of opinions…a teacher, a prophet, some say John The Baptist, all of these which are wrong. Jesus then poses this question to them…But who do you say that I am?”. Peter is the one who replies correctly, “You are the Christ the Son of the Living God!”. This is a question not found in John’s Gospel but I chose the question for the title of this study because it is a question that we will all have to answer and John’s Gospel is the undeniable proof of Peter’s answer to Jesus’s question. During this time period, the transfiguration will take place which is described in Matthew 17. The feeding of the four thousand takes place and several healings take place as well…many of them on the sabbath. 

Jesus did not go to Judea and instead stayed in Galilee because the Jews sought to kill Him. The Jews that John speaks of here are the Jewish rulers and religious leaders. Jesus doesn’t avoid Judea because of cowardice or fear but because His time had not yet come something that Jesus will say in verse 6 of this passage. What “time” was that? His crucifixion. More on this in a bit. Moving on to verse 3…

vv 3-5 – (3) His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. (4) For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” (5) For even His brothers did not believe in Him.

Here is further proof that Jesus had brothers. There is a belief that is taught that Mary, after giving birth to Jesus, was whisked away to heaven having completed her earthly work. There isn’t much mention of Mary after Jesus’s birth in the Scriptures but where there is, it totally refutes this doctrine. She is mentioned in Matthew when the magi (wise men) visit Christ to present Him with their gifts. Then we have this passage also in Matthew which not only mentions Mary but proof that she had children after Jesus. …

(46) While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. (47) Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” … Matthew 12:46-47 NKJV

John also mentions her as being in Cana for the wedding which Jesus turns water into wine which we have already looked at and she will be mentioned again by John as being there at the foot of the cross when Jesus is crucified.

These brothers that John mentions here were not true brothers of Jesus since their father was probably Joseph while Jesus was immaculately conceived. Some say they were distant cousins but I prefer the literal translation of the word. Their names were James, Joseph, Simon (not Simon Peter) and Judas (not Iscariot). Whoever or whatever they were, it proves that proximity to Christ does not denote one’s belief in Him. There will be a point though where they will become true believers. James goes on to pastor the church at Jerusalem and writes the Book of James and Judas, or Jude, goes on to write the Book of Jude. At this particular point in their lives though, they are not believers.

In this passage, the brothers are literally ridiculing Jesus. They are telling Him, “Look if you are who you say you are, then make yourself known to the people!”. Why did they want Jesus to go to Jerusalem? There are a variety of reasons. For one thing, they had seen how most of the crowds had quit following Jesus and they figured this would get His popularity back. This is probably doubtful though. Another reason, they, like everyone else, were awaiting the arrival of the Messiah, someone who would free them from the oppression of Rome, and they wanted to force Him to reveal Himself to the people as such. Again, probably not because John says in verse 5 For even His brothers did not believe in Him. Another reason could have been for personal benefit. They figured if He was the Messiah, they would have a special place on staff, riding on His coattails so to speak. There is another reason though, a much darker one and probably the real reason why they wanted Him to go…so He would be killed! Now follow me on this. Jesus was the oldest of them. Not only was Jesus the oldest, He was sinless. He was perfect! He was every parent’s dream…to have a perfect child! Can you imagine what it must have been like to have Jesus as a brother? Can you imagine the animosity that they must have felt towards Him? In every family, there is always some type of friction between siblings and while most don’t resort to killing or wanting to see their sibling killed, we know that it can and does happen. Take for instance the story of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis. They were so jealous of Joseph because of his dreams and what they saw as favoritism shown by their father Jacob towards him, that they conspired to kill him. The brothers were envious of their brother Joseph and you can bet that Jesus’s brothers were even more envious of Jesus. It is quite possible that they wanted to get rid of Jesus and tried to coax Him to go to Jerusalem in hopes that He would be killed. Let’s move on. …

vv 6-9 – (6) Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. (7) The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. (8) You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.” (9) When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee.

Jesus tells His brothers My time has not yet come. Jesus’s life was always on a timetable and we see this throughout John’s Gospel as in these examples…

(30) Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. … John 7:30 NKJV

(20) These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come. … John 8:20 NKJV

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. … John 13:1 NKJV

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, … John 17:1 NKJV

That timetable or hour was the time of His crucifixion. The whole purpose of Jesus’s life was moving towards the cross. In Galatians, Paul says…

(4) But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, (5) to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. … Galatians 4:4-5 NKJV

Jesus tells his brothers your time is always ready. What does He mean by this statement? As of this point in the lives of the brothers, they were not believers. That would eventually change but not at this particular point in their lives so they were children of the world not children of God. When you are a “child of the world”, you do things and go places according to your desires not according to God’s will. You are following your own desires and passions and not God’s plan for your life. This was the case with Jesus’s brothers. They could come and go at will because they were following their own desires and passions. Jesus however was living in accordance to His Father’s will and on a strict timetable and He wasn’t ready to make Himself known in that way just quite yet no matter how much His brothers goaded Him. That time would come though. In fact, that time is predicted in Daniel. Flip back to the Old Testament to the Book of Daniel and Chapter 9 down to verse 25…

(25) “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.  (26)  “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. … Daniel 9:25-26 NKJV

Sir Robert Anderson, one of the heads of Scotland Yard during the 1800’s, found this prophecy fascinating and decided to do an investigation on it. His findings are in the book that he wrote titled, “The Coming Prince” published in 1894. You can actually find the book on line for free. Anyway going by the first part of the prophecy, which is actually verse 24, and by the Hebrew translation of the word “weeks” which means weeks of years, he went by the historically factual date that the command was given by King Artixerxes to rebuild Jerusalem which occurred on March 14th 445 BC. He then counted from that time 483 years, 360 days a year according to the Babylonian calendar, 173,880 days, and arrived at the date of April 6th 32 AD. What happened on that day you ask? Oh, not much really, just the exact date that Jesus told His disciples to go get a donkey and He rode into Jerusalem, “Palm Sunday”. Five days later on April 11th 32 AD, He was crucified or “cutoff”. So much for a “fairytale” huh?! Which makes me wonder why we celebrate Easter sometimes in March since we have the exact date that the resurrection occurred which would have been April 13th. Moving on to finish up this passage…

vv 10-13 – (10) But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. (11) Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?” (12) And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.” (13) However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.

After the brothers departed to go to the feast in Jerusalem, Jesus goes there in secret, kryptos is the word in Greek. It means without a big show or fanfare. He goes there because He wanted to not to mention that attending the feast was mandatory but He does so in secret. There are different groups of people when He gets there. One group are His enemies, the Jews who sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?”. These are the people that want to kill Jesus, the religious Jewish rulers. They notice that the brothers of Jesus are there so they are wondering where their brother Jesus is. There are two other groups there also. One group is in favor of Jesus and the other is not. These two groups of people were looking for Jesus because of the miracles that they heard, or perhaps saw, that Jesus had performed and they were hoping for a repeat performance. John says that there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. These two groups though are looking at Jesus through the fog so to speak. One group is saying, He is good while the other group is arguing No on the contrary, He deceives the people. Neither group sees Jesus for what He truly is…He’s God! No one in their right mind would go around telling people “I am God and if you don’t believe that, you will die in your sins” unless they were in fact God. Jesus not only said that He was God but also gave proof that He was. John, in this Gospel, gives overwhelming proof of the identity of Jesus Christ.

So in closing here’s the question…how do you see Jesus Christ? Are you too looking at Him through the fog? Do you think He’s a deceiver? Perhaps you think He’s a good teacher, someone to model your life after? The only answer and the correct one is what Peter says back in Chapter 6…”You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” If you are a professed follower of Jesus Christ and not seeing Him in this way, then you are not a true believer! In order for John 3:16 to have any meaning and effect on you, you must first believe John 14:6! …”I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. I’ll end with what famous author C.S. Lewis wrote. He writes…

“Either this man was and is the son of the God or else He is a mad man or something worst. You can shut Him up for being a fool. You can spit at Him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God.”

I don’t know about you but I think I’ll take my chances, fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God! Let’s pray…

Father,

We live in a world where so many people have different opinions on who Your Son is. They see Him through a fog. Some even don’t see Him at all. Just like this passage we have been looking at, there are people who see Him as a good teacher, a good person. Others think He’s a deceiver of people. Lord, we thank You for this Gospel of John who proves undeniably who Jesus is. We pray Lord, that those people who don’t see Him and know Him in that way, would come to know Him today. Thank You our Lord and our God! In the saving name of Christ we pray…Amen!

We are taking our final look into Chapter 6 in John’s Gospel. For those of you who may not be aware, my mom passed away and went to be with the Lord on March 13th at the age of 81 after nine long years from a blood cot that was found on her brain. It was about nine years ago that they operated on her to remove it but in so doing, my mom was basically left incapacitated. She spent the final years and especially the last few months of her life in misery and unable to communicate with anyone so in that regard, it’s a relief that she is gone so she didn’t have to suffer anymore. Over the last few weeks since learning of her passing, I’ve been wrestling with my feelings over the news. My mom and I did not exactly have the greatest relationship when I was growing up and it also continued well into my adult years. In fact, I basically cut off all contact with my family for many years, around 10 years I think, and it was only within last 20 years or so that I reestablished contact with them. I made a trip back to Orlando, where my parents now live, but unfortunately it wasn’t in enough time to say goodbye to my mom something I deeply regret. Although I made up with my mom years ago, I regret the time that I missed with her and the rest of the family because of my stubborn ways. Proof that just because you give your life to Jesus Christ doesn’t mean that everything you’ve done or said prior to that gets totally erased in this world. We are totally forgiven by God but there are still consequences for our actions. A lesson to be learned.

Okay, on with our study. Like I said, we are wrapping up Chapter 6 in John. Hypocrisy is one of the biggest sins in Christianity. The root word of hypocrisy is hypocrite. The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” Did you know that the hypocrisy found in most Christians is one of the biggest obstacles preventing unbelievers from coming to faith in Christ? We Christians talk the talk but we don’t walk the walk, at least most of us. There are some that do. This gets noticed by unbelievers and prevents them from coming to faith in Christ! I saw this at a young age. I can remember going to Catholic services on Sundays. If you are familiar with the way a Catholic service is conducted, there is a part of the mass where the priest will say, “Let us offer each other the sign of peace”. You would then turn to the person next to you and the person behind you and shake their hand and say “Peace be with you” or something of that nature. However I would notice that after the service was over and we were leaving, people would literally be trying to run people over trying to drive out of the church parking lot! That’s hypocrisy! The recent priest sex abuse scandal, that’s hypocrisy probably at it’s worst! James put it best when he says in James 1….

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. …. James 1:26 NKJV

In this passage, “not bridling the tongue” means any type of behavior inconsistent with the way we are supposed to have as saved Christians not just what we say. 

In this final part of Chapter 6 and this passage that we will look at in this post, Jesus is dealing with a hypocritical crowd. The people are following Him but for the wrong reasons. They’ve witnessed a miracle and they want more. Jesus knows this, that they are more interested in what He can do rather than who He really is, and He begins to “thin out the herd” so to speak. Let’s get started with our study and as always, the text link for the entire chapter and audio is provided so you can follow along. Before we get started though, let’s pray…

Father,

Thank you for the word of God that does the work of God in the hearts of the people of God. We bring our hearts, our minds, and our attention to the words that we will be reading, the thoughts that Your Holy Spirit will give us, and the questions that we will be wrestling with which will hopefully be answered and some truths that might be hard to swallow. We pray that you would feed us and teach us, but more than that equip us to be vessels to speak your word, to share truth, to encourage others, to have knowledge, but then, Lord, to act on it. We ask this is in Jesus’s name…Amen!

John 6

Let’s look at the passage that we will be studying here. For context purposes, we’ll pick it up a couple of verses before the passage…

(57) As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. (58) This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” (59) These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. (60) Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” (61) When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? (62) What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? (63) It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (64) But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. (65) And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” (66) From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. (67) Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” (68) But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (69) Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (70) Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (71) He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve. … John 6:57-71 NKJV

Let’s look at the passage more closely now…

v 60 – (60) Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”

Whenever you see a therefore in The Bible, you need to find out what it is “there for”. Jesus has just told the people that eating His flesh and drinking His blood will grant them eternal life. He doesn’t mean this literally of course and an argument ensues because the crowd just doesn’t get it. In this passage, John says many of His disciples. By this time, Jesus had a whole lot more people following Him than just the original twelve. They were following Him for the wrong reasons though. They weren’t true followers. John uses the word disciples because anyone who professed to following Jesus and believe in His teachings was considered to be a disciple. It didn’t mean that they were true believers though. These “disciples” now say amongst themselves This is a hard saying; who can understand it?. When they say that what Jesus was telling them, it wasn’t because it wasn’t easy for them to understand per say but more that it was very offensive for them to receive. The word hard, as used here, is the Greek word sklēros which means harsh or severe. In the King Jimmie, the word understand is replaced by the word hear. In other words, they didn’t like what they were hearing. They were basically saying, “We can’t stand here and listen to this anymore! It’s offensive to us!”. The same can be said about the church today. Talk about the Savior’s love but don’t you dare talk about sin and the consequences of it or about how Christ died for it! That is God’s people’s complaint these days about why The Bible is such a bloody book and why churches have to talk about the blood of Christ. In 2 Timothy though, Paul warns about the falling away of God’s people…

(3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; (4) and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. … 2 Timothy 4:3-4 NKJV

Charles Spurgeon, a famous preacher back in the 1800’s, put it best where he said that a ministry without the blood is lifeless!

Moving on to verse 61…

vv 61-65 – (61) When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? (62) What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? (63) It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (64) But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. (65) And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”

In verses 61 and 64, is evidence that Jesus knows the thoughts and actions of people. Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this and Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. Further down the passage in verse 71, Jesus actually calls out Judas, not by name though, as His betrayer. If we as professed believers think that we can pull the wool over Jesus’s eyes by pretending to be believers, think again! Jesus knew exactly what the “disciples” were complaining about. They were complaining about His claim that He had come down from heaven and that they had to eat His flesh and drink His blood to gain eternal life so He asks them, Does this offend you?, knowing full well that it did! It offends people today as well. Christ’s claim to exclusivity of access to God offends many Christians today. It is offensive for them, as well as unbelievers, to hear that Christ is the only way to heaven and to think any other way is an automatic ticket to hell. A good example of this is everybody’s hero, Oprah Winfrey, a professed Christian, when asked if she believed that Jesus Christ was the only way to heaven replied no and that there were many ways she believed that person could gain access to heaven. She’s not the only one either. Ask a professed Christian the same question and most of them will either, one, change the subject or two, will answer no. This is a good way to find out if one is truly saved or not because if they don’t answer with an emphatic, unwavering “yes” then they aren’t! Perhaps we should be asking this question more to our church leaders!

Moving on now in verse 62, the people had taken offense because Jesus said that He had come down from heaven so now He asks what if they see Him go back there. He was speaking of His resurrection. It was sort of a trick question. The people thought He was talking about literally eating His flesh and drinking His blood so now Jesus poses this thought…how can you do that if I’m not here! Of course He wasn’t talking about literally eating His flesh or drinking His blood and in verse 63, Jesus points this out again to the people by telling them that flesh cannot grant eternal life only the spirit, meaning the Holy Spirit. In other words, what Jesus is saying here when He says that the flesh profits nothing, is that human achievement does not grant eternal life. Only belief in Him and until they accepted and truly believed that, then they did not have eternal life.

In verse 64, John says that Jesus knew from the beginning who would believe in Him and who wouldn’t. What did John mean by this? From the beginning of this discourse with the crowd? Jesus knew this from all eternity being God of course so John could have possibly meant that but he probably meant from the beginning of Jesus’s ministry on earth. It wasn’t so much that these people who did not believe couldn’t because they didn’t understand but because they were unwilling to understand. Jesus would become a “stumbling block” and a “rock of offense” to them and it still holds true with people today. This is exactly what the Lord foretold through Isaiah. Jesus would have a twofold effect. In Isaiah, the prophet says…

(14) He will be as a sanctuary, But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense To both the houses of Israel, As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. … Isaiah 8:14 NKJV

However, further on, Isaiah also says…

(16) Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily. … Isaiah 28:16 NKJV

Paul summarizes both trains of thought nicely in Romans…

(33) As it is written: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STUMBLING STONE AND ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND WHOEVER BELIEVES ON HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME.” … Romans 9:33 NKJV

It was true of the people back then and it is true of people today.

What follows in verse 65 is Jesus re-emphasizing what He said in verse 44…no one comes to Him unless granted by God. Jesus makes this statement because of the crowd’s continuing disbelief. This also puts emphasis on the fact that we do not deserve nor can we earn salvation. The people thought that just because they were Jews, God’s chosen people, that they automatically had a ticket to heaven. In today’s society, the belief is just because you are a participant in life you are granted that ticket no matter what your belief system might be. In verse 65, Jesus says think again! Let’s move on now to verse 66…

v 66 – (66) From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

After this, many of Jesus’s disciples walked away and stopped following Him. The word disciples really shouldn’t be used here. It should read many people because they were never truly disciples. They were never true believers! They were following Jesus because of the miracles. They loved His works but hated His words. Many people can bluff their way through life pretending to be believers but eventually, true motives are discovered. Here’s a real good example of this. Remember right after 9/11 how the churches across the country were packed full of people and how everyone got so “spiritual”? As time went on and the events of that day got further and further away and people began to forget (boy did we forget!), church attendance got less and less and all that spirituality disappeared. Why? Because more and more people were convicted by what they were hearing in churches and what they were reading in The Bible which totally conflicted with their lifestyles and most, not all, turned away. Jesus did not meet this crowd’s expectations. They were looking for a king, a liberator to free them from Roman oppression. When it was clear to them that He wasn’t going to do that, many turned away from Him. When Jesus doesn’t meet our expectations, we turn from Him as well. It is the reason why I spent most of my adult life away from the Lord. He didn’t meet my expectations. 1 John, John says about these type of followers…

(19) They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. … 1 John 2:19 NKJV

Doubting one’s faith from time to time is normal and to be expected but this speaks of a pattern of continuing to fall away. Hypocrisy will always be exposed. In Hebrews, it says…

(13) And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. … Hebrews 4:13 NKJV

Not everyone walks away from Jesus and His words though as we move on and finish out the passage…

vv 67-71 – (67) Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” (68) But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (69) Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (70) Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (71) He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve. … John 6:67-71 NKJV

I don’t think Jesus was surprised or upset or disappointed that the people walked away. He knew they would. Apparently though from what we read in this passage everybody was gone except for the twelve disciples. Jesus asks an honest point blank question to His remaining twelve disciples…Do you also want to go away?. He asks this question to test them. Did they really believe in Him and His words or were they just there for the show like the crowd? Peter speaks up, probably almost immediately, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. He then follows that up with the statement and the answer that Jesus was testing them for…Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Peter makes a bold statement here. He also uses the word we speaking for all twelve of them and Jesus corrects him and says that not all of them feel that way. He knew that one of them, Judas Iscariot, would eventually betray Him, a point that John brings out in this passage. Jesus doesn’t call him out by name but the statement that Jesus makes is His way of telling Judas, “Think about what you are going to do!”. Even though Jesus knew that Judas would eventually betray Him, He did give Judas several opportunities to back out of it and become a true disciple. That’s important to note because if Jesus did not give up on Judas then we should not give up on anyone as well. ALL people are worth the chance of salvation not just those we like and love. It’s just up to them whether they accept it or not. The statement that Peter makes is not exactly true. After Jesus is arrested, Peter will deny knowing Him and the disciples will flee and go into hiding except for John who is right there when Jesus is crucified. The statement that Peter makes though is what He truly felt in his heart at the time. As I said we all go through momentary lapses of faith and that’s what happens to Peter and the others. Judas however, never felt this truly in his heart though. There are a lot of “Judases” in the church today. It’s like, “I’ll follow You now but the moment You do something or say something that I don’t like, I’m out of here!”.

So here are the takeaways from this passage that we have been looking at. True words are hard to hear. Not necessarily because we don’t understand but because we can’t tolerate it. It offends us and contradicts our way of life. Jesus’s death on the cross for sin offends a lot of people many of those who are in the church. True motives will be discovered. Not all people who profess belief in Jesus Christ and His teachings are true followers of Him. The moment He doesn’t meet their expectations, they bail. The last thing though is that true disciples will never leave. True disciples have devotion and loyalty and they would never think of leaving. Yes there are momentary lapses of faith that we suffer but it’s not long term and we usually bounce back with even a stronger faith than what we started with. There is a sense of satisfaction in us who believe in Jesus and also a sense of conviction. I have said it before and I will say it again…true Christianity is NOT a religion. It is a RELATIONSHIP! You either have it or you don’t! For those of you that don’t, you can have it today. All you have to do is ask Him! Let’s pray…

Father,

Thank You again for this time spent in Your Word. Help us Lord to strengthen our resolve to worship You in spirit and truth not just once or twice a week in a special building but in our homes, on our jobs, in our schools and then help us to go out and find and convert others to do the same. As we put a lid on this chapter Lord, help us, strengthen us, to become true disciples. Lord, take care of all who have passed away and now are in Your loving care, especially my mom. Let her know that even though we didn’t see eye to eye on many things and fought a lot, that I love her and will miss her very much. Finally Lord bless us, bless our families, our communities and our nations wherever we may live. On this Easter weekend, we pray that more people would come to faith in Your Son Jesus Christ and we pray this in His name…Amen!

Quick…what is the topic that sells the most books? You’ll be very surprised at the answer! It isn’t anti-Trump propaganda or any other Democrat Socialist propaganda. It isn’t sports, automobiles, science, romance, or even sex. It’s cooking! It’s true! There are more cook books published, sold, and read than any other books. Not only that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the largest category of establishments in America are eateries. Eateries…restaurants, bistros, fast food joints etcetera. Given our society of today, I would have thought that adult bookstores and adult video joints would be the most. Apparently though, we love eating more than anything else!

Which is perhaps why the Lord Jesus Christ used food analogies so much when talking to people and we find so many of them in The Bible. It was something that they, and we, can relate to. We are in the middle of looking at just one of those…”I am the bread of life” passage. One of the other most famous “food” passages can be found in Revelation in Chapter 3 down in verse 20 where Jesus says…

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. … Revelation 3:20 NKJV

Yes, Jesus knows that we love to eat and probably, so does He since that He loved to talk about it so much! LOL!

Anyway, this next part of Jesus’s sermon to the people reinforces the verses that we looked at in the previous post so this post will be an “altar call” post. It will be the first of quite a few that I will be doing as I move along in this study of John’s Gospel. An, “altar call” post is where I give you, the reader, a chance for you to accept Christ if you haven’t done so already and I hope and pray that you will take the opportunity to do so if you haven’t already. Since most of this passage that we’re going to look at this time was covered in the last post, I’ll be summarizing and zeroing in on only a few verses so let’s get started! As always, the link for text for the entire chapter as well as the audio is included so you can follow along. Before we get started though, let’s pray…

Heavenly Father,

We thank You for Your Word and the truths found in it. Father, we come before You with open hearts, open minds, and open hands to mold us as a potter does with clay to make us more and more into the image of Your Son Jesus Christ. Father help us to think the way He thought and feel the way He felt and do what He did. Help us open up Your Word to a nation and a people and a generation that for the most part doesn’t want to hear it. Too many of us, Your people Lord, look at this country through rose colored glasses and say, “We’re okay”, “our country’s okay” when nothing could be further from the truth. We’re not okay…our country, America, is not okay. It is failing and it is failing because Your church has failed You! We are not walking with You in our daily lives and we are not doing what You have commanded us to do. Help us change that Lord. Help us to become more like You. Lord we pray for the victims of the recent storms and tornadoes. Be with them and strengthen them as they try to put their lives and homes back together in the saving name of Jesus we pray…Amen!

John 6

Let’s look at the passage for this post. It is quite long but like I said most of it will be summarized. …

(41) The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” (42) And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” (43) Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. (44) No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. (45) It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT BY GOD.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. (46) Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. (47) Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. (48) I am the bread of life. (49) Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. (50) This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. (51) I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” (52) The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” (53) Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. (54) Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (55) For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. (56) He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. (57) As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. (58) This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” (59) These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. … John 6:41-59 NKJV

What we are looking at here in this passage is the first of many serious objections to what Jesus is telling people and His response to them. It’s not that they didn’t understand what Jesus was telling them. They were slowly beginning to get it. It was conviction and resentment towards Jesus and what He was telling them. We see this starting in verse 41…the Jews complained about Him. They were saying amongst themselves, “Hey! We know this guy! We know his parents Joseph and Mary! We know that he was born in Bethlehem! He didn’t come from heaven! We know this guy!”. Here is an interesting fact that you may or may not know about Bethlehem by the way. The name, Bethlehem, is Hebrew for “house of bread” or “place of bread”. Bethlehem was the breadbasket of the world back then. It’s where grain was grown and where the wheat fields were. How ironic is it that Jesus, “the bread of life”, was born in Bethlehem…”the place of bread”! All part of God’s plan! Too bad the crowd couldn’t grasp the significance of it!

Again in verse 43, Jesus reiterates to the people no one comes to Him unless the Father chooses him. We looked at this in the last post. Two doctrines or concepts are being presented here…election and choice. It is called prevenient grace. I didn’t cover this phrase in the last post but what it basically means is that before man can seek God, God must seek him. God draws people and enables them to make their own choice and believe in Him. Even today, this frustrates people and many use it as an excuse not to turn to Jesus. The argument is “What if God didn’t choose me?”. How do you know that if you don’t make that move and accept Him? To put an end to this argument and to make this concept easy for you to understand is that God chooses EVERYONE! It is your choice, your freewill, though to choose Him or not! Here’s a very important point and you need to let this sink in if you are an unbeliever…light rejected is light denied! The more you turn away from Jesus, the more He will harden your heart towards Him and His teachings and at some point, it will be impossible for you to come to Him! A lot of people think that they can come to Christ on their deathbed but the fact is, is that many of them don’t get that chance! The more you turn away and scoff at the Good News of the Gospel, the harder it will be for you to understand. This is basically what is happening to this crowd. They are scoffing at what Jesus is telling them. If they can’t understand the simplest things that Jesus is telling them now, the harder it is going to be for them to grasp and accept the meanings of more difficult things that He will expound to them later and we are going to see this more and more as we go along in this study. This was prophesied in Isaiah. If you turn back to that book and to Chapter 6 down to verse 9, it says….

(9) And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ (10) “Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.”

This was true back then and it still holds true today. The more you turn away, the more likely you will never turn back! Let’s go to verse 45 and look at verses 45 and 46 a bit closer. …

vv 45-46 – (45) It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT BY GOD.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. (46) Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.

Having stated that no one can come to Him unless God draws them to Him, Jesus now explains on how that is accomplished. Jesus starts by quoting another passage from Isaiah…

(13) All your children shall be taught by the LORD, And great shall be the peace of your children. … Isaiah 54:13 NKJV

God draws people to Jesus through His Word. He reaches people’s hearts with it. Quick without thinking what is the most valuable and treasured possession that you have? Your car? Your home? Maybe it’s a person. Perhaps your children? Your wife or husband? Your parents? If you are a believer, you should have answered The Bible. Why? Because at some point in your life, you heard or read something in it that made you realize that you needed Jesus Christ in your life! God drew you to Him! Not only that, it should be what you turn to, to bring comfort and reassurance in troubling times. This verse in Isaiah brings up this point. God’s Word will bring peace to you, your family, and God’s Word will bring peace and healing to America!

In verse 46, Jesus points out that just because man is taught by God doesn’t mean that they have seen Him. No one has seen God the Father except The Son. Jesus is the only one who has seen Him because He came from God. What the crowd was totally oblivious to is that they were actually seeing God in the person of Jesus Christ! What a thrilling time it must have been to have the Creator right there in their midst! To verse 47 and a look at the next two verses…

vv 47-48 – (47) Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. (48) I am the bread of life.

Verse 47 is the shortest, clearest explanation of the Gospel and the way to salvation that there is in The Bible. Salvation has nothing to do with church membership, how good you may think you are, how much money you give to charities, what your family’s religious history is, whether or not you were baptized as an infant or whether or not you are circumcised or uncircumcised. The only thing that matters is belief. A true and honest belief in Jesus Christ. Salvation is not based on what we do. It’s not about works because the truth is we are so flawed as human beings that there is nothing that we could possibly do to earn salvation. That is not a popular message these days but it’s a stone cold fact. Salvation is a gift from God but it requires for you to take that first step and accept and believe in Jesus Christ. Jesus uses the phrase most assuredly. In the King Jimmie, it is translated as verily, verily. In the NIV, I believe it translates as truly, truly. Whatever version you like to read, it means it’s fact that you can count on it. What Jesus is telling the crowd, and us, is that if we believe in Him, we are guaranteed eternal life. There is no doubt about it! In verse 48, Jesus again says I am the bread of life.

Jesus then talks about manna again, the physical bread, that God provided their forefathers in the wilderness. He points out to the crowd that even though they ate it, they eventually died. The manna only sustained life physically not spiritually. Jesus, the true bread of life provided that. Now we look at verse 51…

v 51 – (51) I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

Jesus now gives a much more cryptic message to the crowd. What is Jesus talking about in this verse? He is making a statement regarding His death on the cross. This is the first time in John’s Gospel where Jesus mentions His ultimate mission in coming to the earth…His death on the cross to save mankind from sin. This is not the Messiah that the people were expecting. They were expecting a king or a warrior. They were expecting someone that would save them from Roman oppression not someone who would save them from the oppression of sin. Even today, people want to think of Jesus as the sweet infant in the cradle in Bethlehem not a Savior who went to the cross for them, shed His blood for them, all of it so we could be saved from our greatest need…sin! That is mankind’s greatest need but people didn’t want to hear that back then and they still don’t want to hear about it today! It can’t even be talked about anymore in the church. A look at one more verse. …

v 54 – (54) Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

This is part of Jesus’s response to yet another argument from the crowd. They were arguing amongst themselves asking, How can this Man give us His flesh to eat not realizing Jesus was referring to His death on the cross to save them from sin. However, it does not mean what the Catholics believe. There is a doctrine taught in the Catholic church called transubstantiation. The word means to change substance. This is where it is believed at Communion, the bread and the wine are literally transformed from one substance to another that they literally become Christ’s flesh and blood at the Eucharist. This totally goes against what The Bible teaches though. For one thing when Jesus says what He says in verse 54, the Last Supper hadn’t even occurred yet. It would also mean that communion would be the way to salvation. Again that’s contradicting Jesus when He says several times in The New Testament that all you have to do is accept Him and believe in Him to be saved. It would mean salvation through works which defies Biblical doctrine of grace through faith. What Jesus means by this statement is to believe on Him. If you compare verse 47 to this saying in verse 54, this is definitely what Jesus meant. In verse 47, Jesus says he who believes in Me has everlasting life. Now here in verse 54, Jesus says whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has everlasting life. There is absolutely no argument what Jesus meant. He meant believe on Him…case closed! 

So now in closing and before I get to the part of this post where I give you, the reader, the chance to accept Christ into your life if you haven’t already, what does that mean? To believe on Him? It means to believe in Jesus with all your heart, body, mind, and soul! We don’t just pull out Jesus when it is convenient for us. Too many of us Christians are what I like to call “Out of the box Christians”. We pull Jesus “out of the box” on Sundays and maybe the occasional Wednesday. We pull Jesus “out of the box” on Christmas and Easter. We pull Jesus “out of the box” when times are hard. In other words, we pull Jesus “out of the box” when it is convenient for us and we don’t live with Him in our hearts every single day of our lives. We also only read and believe the parts of God’s Word that only suit our purposes and shy away from the parts that don’t suit our purposes and convicts us. Most Christians won’t even read The Old Testament saying that it doesn’t apply anymore. While it is true that we are under a new covenant and the old covenant is no longer in effect, ALL of The Bible applies especially the Books of the Prophets. Most Christians can’t handle Jesus being anything more than cute, cuddly, child in a manger. Jesus hanging on a cross, bleeding, and dying for mankind’s sin and Jesus as the avenger in Revelation, Christians can’t handle that and those messages are being lost in today’s churches much like it was with this crowd that Jesus addresses here. To accept, believe, and trust in all aspects of Jesus is eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ so take Him all in!

Without Jesus Christ, we have reason to be worried. Without Jesus Christ, we should be fretting. Without Him, we have no hope, no future, no forgiveness, no eternal life. But when we come to the cross of Calvary where Jesus died for our sins, when we ask for forgiveness on the basis of his blood shed there, when we pray to him, asking him to become our Savior and Lord, He saves us and sets us free. He gives us peace. Have you received him as your Savior? Are you living in His peace? Today is the best day you’ve ever had to give your life to Him and to cast on Him your every care. You have the chance to do it now! Just pray this simple short prayer. Remember it really doesn’t matter what you say. What matters is that what you say comes from your heart!…

“Dear Lord, I admit that I am a sinner. I have done many things that don’t please you. I have lived my life for myself. I am sorry and I repent. I ask you to forgive me. I believe that you died on the cross for me, to save me. You did what I could not do for myself. I come to you now and ask you to take control of my life, I give it to you. Help me to live every day in a way that pleases you. I love you, Lord, and I thank you that I will spend all eternity with you. Amen.”

If you’ve prayed the above prayer with a sincere heart, then you are saved. The next step is to start going to church, getting baptized to publicly profess your faith, and reading the Bible and learning God’s Word. I pray with all of my heart that you prayed the above prayer! Please let me know if you need any help with your new “walk” with Christ!

When I was a kid, my mom would make sandwiches for me for school lunches and regular lunches. We used Wonder Bread. I think it was the only bread around at the time. There could have been other brands but my mom always bought Wonder. Anyway, I can remember how good and tasty the sandwiches were and the bread made all the difference.  It even made the sandwiches that I didn’t like taste better. I had forgotten about how good sandwiches tasted until I bought a loaf of Wonder Bread about a week or so ago and found out that the bread is just as good now as it was back then!

This brings to mind a question. How would you like a bread that is good for you, never goes bad, and is satisfying? This bread that I am talking about is not a physical bread. There’s no such thing. The “bread” that I am speaking of is Jesus Christ. Once you “eat” this “bread”, you will never want or look for anything else again! The “bread” that is Jesus Christ will make all the difference in your life!

There are seven statements that Jesus makes in the Gospel of John that begins with the words “I am”. There’s “I am the light of the world”; “I am the door”; “I am The Good Shepherd”; “I am the resurrection and the life”; “I am the way, the truth, and the life”; “I am the vine” and the first one that appears in this chapter that we will be looking at…”I am the bread of life”. These seven statements that Jesus makes appear in none of the other Gospels except for John’s. The reason is because of the viewpoint that John is trying to convey to his readers and he makes no mistake about who Jesus Christ is. He is none other than God in human flesh!

This sermon that Jesus gives the crowd is quite long so we will be looking at it in 3 parts. The reason being is that it is just too long to cover in one post so I will be doing it in 3 shorter posts. Let’s get started and as always, the link for text for the entire chapter as well as the audio is included so you can follow along. Before we get started though, let’s pray…

Lord,

We give thanks to You for You are good and Your mercy endures forever. Thank You for Your Word and the time we have to spend in it. Show us Your ways and teach us Your paths for You are the God of our salvation. Lord, our hearts and minds are open to hear what You have to say through Your Word. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening! We ask this in Jesus’s name…Amen!

John 6

Let’s look at the passage we’ll be examining in this post and for context purposes, we’ll start a couple of verses up from verse 30. …

(28) Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” (29) Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (30) Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? (31) Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD FROM HEAVEN TO EAT.'” (32) Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. (33) For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (34) Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” (35) And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. (36) But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. (37) All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. (38) For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (39) This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. (40) And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” … John 6:28-40 NKJV

Now let’s look at the passage more closely. …

vv 28-30 – (28) Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” (29) Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (30) Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?

Jesus continues His discourse with the people whom He had just performed a miracle…the feeding of the 5000 or rather, about 15,000 actually. The following day, they went seeking Jesus. There was nothing wrong with the crowd doing this. There was a high anticipation that the Messiah was coming and they might have been remembering the words of Moses in Deuteronomy when he said…

(15) “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, … Deuteronomy 18:15 NKJV

Their reasons for seeking out Jesus were hypocritical though and Jesus calls them out because of it. The question that the crowd asks in verse 30 is very hypocritical. They had just witnessed a sign the day before when Jesus fed them all and yet, they were asking for another. This is also typical of unbelievers and Christian skeptics. They want to see a sign first before they will believe in Christ. Having true faith though is believing before seeing.

When Jesus did a miracle or sign, it was a setup for a lengthy discourse of the message behind the miracle or sign and that is portrayed throughout John’s Gospel. So there’s a sign, or signs, then a sermon. For instance all the signs that Jesus does in Chapter 2, the water being turned into wine, the overturning of the tables in the temple, and the healings that are described by John are all a setup for the discourse that Jesus gives to Nicodemus in Chapter 3 of what it means to be born again. In Chapter 4 when Jesus reveals the details of the Samaritan’s woman’s life at the well, it is a setup for a discourse with the woman about drinking living water. Then in Chapter 5 when the man is healed at the pool of Bethesda, another sign or miracle, it was a setup for Jesus to give the crowd a fourfold discourse on just who He was. Now here in Chapter 6 after the miraculous feeding of this enormous crowd, He is about to give them a discourse on the bread of life…accepting Jesus into their life. There are others as well but we will cover them as we get to them.

vv 31-33 – (31) Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD FROM HEAVEN TO EAT.'” (32) Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. (33) For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

When the people tell Jesus our fathers ate the manna in the desert, what they are referring to is the food that God provided the Hebrews when they left Egypt and is talked about in Exodus. Nobody really knows what manna really was. Even the word manna literally translates as “what is it?” in Hebrew. The closest description of what it was we find in Exodus 16…

(31) And the house of Israel called its name Manna. And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. … Exodus 16:31 NKJV

So it was basically “donuts” from heaven! LOL! It fell from the sky and people gathered it up every morning except on the Sabbath. They were told to gather a certain amount except on the day before the Sabbath when they were told to gather up twice the amount because there would be none the following day because of the Sabbath. The only catch is that they had to eat it before the evening because if they didn’t, it would go bad. God provided this for forty years not Moses which the people claimed and Jesus points out to the people in verse 32. He also points out to the people that the manna that God provided the people in the desert only sustained life physically. It did nothing for the well being of the people’s spiritual life. Notice the word life in verse 33. It is the Greek word zōē. There are three forms of life. The first is bio. It means physical life. We get the word biology from it. The second is psuche. This is our consciousness, our thought life, and our personality. We get the words psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychotic. The third, and what Jesus generally meant when He used the word, is the word zōē. It means eternal life or your spiritual life. 

vv 34-35 – (34) Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” (35) And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

Here we have two different trains of thought being portrayed here. The statement that the crowd makes, Lord, give us this bread always, is not a statement of faith in Jesus. They have absolutely none. They are asking for physical bread to feed them whereas Jesus wants to “feed” them with something way better…bread for eternal life. This is similar to Jesus’s encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in Chapter 4. When Jesus offered the woman living water, she was thinking about real water not the spiritual water that Jesus was offering her. Jesus is pointing out to the crowd that they shouldn’t be seeking out food that perishes but seeking the “food” that will give them eternal life. Much like the Samaritan woman though, the crowd misses the point too.

Notice the words that Jesus uses in verse 35, I am. This term is Christ’s claim to deity. When Moses went to check out the burning bush on Mt. Horeb in Exodus, Moses has an encounter with God. Turn over to Exodus and Chapter 3 and down to verse 13. …

(13) Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” (14) And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” … Exodus 3:13-14 NKJV

Now when Jesus makes the statement, I am the bread of life, the crowd realizes exactly what Jesus is doing. He is claiming equality with God! It won’t be the last time that He uses the words I am and the more He uses them, the more the people, especially the Pharisees, will turn against Jesus especially when Jesus tells them in Chapter 8, “Before Abraham was I AM”. What the people don’t understand though is that it would be absolutely ludicrous and sinful to make these statements unless there was some evidence and truth behind them. In fact in Deuteronomy, Moses warns the people against such things. …

(1) “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, (2) and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—’and let us serve them,’ (3) you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (4) You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. … Deuteronomy 13:1-4 NKJV

The penalty for such blasphemy was to be stoned by the people, something that they try to do to Jesus later on by the way. However, the people totally misunderstood what was happening with the miracle that Jesus had did the day prior. He wasn’t enticing them to go after another god or gods. He was telling them to love God and giving them evidence that He was in fact, God. In verse 35, Jesus emphasizes to the crowd the same point that He made to the Samaritan woman at the well…that He is their answer for their spiritual hunger.

v 36 – (36) But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.

Jesus is clarifying the purpose of His ministry. Spectacular miracles and free food are not the point of His mission on earth. Today’s Christians, especially in America, have this misconception of what Jesus’s ministry is. There is an immense belief that if you have faith in Christ that you will see miracles and you will have nothing but good fortune in your life and if you don’t, it means that your faith isn’t strong enough or that you don’t have any at all. The fact is that nowhere in The Bible does it say that if you accept Christ that life will be nothing but a bed of roses. In fact if you truly have faith, the exact opposite generally happens. There is a saying, and you probably have heard it, that Satan never rocks the cradles of sleeping saints. The more faith you have and the stronger it becomes, the more obstacles get thrown in your way to shake you from that faith.

Our focus should never be on miracles and “free food”, the worldly things in life, but the eternal things. In Matthew, Jesus points out…

(19) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; (20) but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. … Matthew 6:19-20 NKJV

How many Christians actually live by this statement and believe it though?

In verse 36, Jesus points out that the crowd has seen more than enough—in the form of miracles—to realize the truth He is explaining. And yet, the people stubbornly refuse to believe. Instead, they ask for even more miracles, as if that would finally convince them.

v 37 – (37) All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

This is a very important verse in The Bible because it displays two doctrines…election and responsibility. The first, election, is that God “chooses” those who will be saved. Who are the chosen? Anyone who comes to Jesus and truly believes in Him. The second is responsibility. It is your choice to come to Jesus. He will never force you to come to Him. It is strictly your decision. No one can make it for you and, like it or not, despite what people are taught to believe these days, we humans are sinful and wicked from birth. Despite that fact though, God loves us and does not want to see anyone of us suffer eternal damnation. Here’s a fact that you may or not know but hell was never meant for man. In Matthew, Jesus says…

(41) “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: … Matthew 25:41 NKJV

You hear this question all the time…”How can a loving God send anyone to hell?”. The fact is though that God doesn’t do that. You do that based on your decision not to come to Him. In 2 Peter, it says…

(9) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. … 2 Peter 3:9 NKJV

It is also because He is a kind, loving God that He must allow this. Just as He rewards obedience to Him so He must render justice for disobedience. Once we come to Jesus though, we are guaranteed salvation. Nothing can take that away from us. We have His guarantee and assurance…and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out. Let’s move on and finish out the passage. …

vv 38-40 – (38) For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (39) This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. (40) And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Once again, Jesus has committed blasphemy in the minds of His critics by saying that He has come down from heaven. This is the second time that Jesus has said this to the crowd. The first time was back in verse 33. It would be absolutely ludicrous for a normal person to make this claim but again, Jesus is not a normal person. He is in fact God incarnate and John makes this point throughout the Gospel. Jesus could act independently but His own will always lined up perfectly with the Father’s. He could never go against the Father’s will. The will of the Father was that everyone who came to Jesus would be saved. The words nothing and it used in verse 39, refers to believers. The last day in Christian terms is when those who believe in Jesus will rise and meet Him in the air and be taken to heaven to be with Him forever otherwise known as the rapture. Although the word rapture does not appear in The Bible, the concept of it does. Paul refers to it in 1 Thessalonians where he gives us a brief description of it…

(16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (17) Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. … 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NKJV

The phrase that Paul uses, caught up, is the Greek word harpazō which means to snatch away or to seize. Jesus also makes reference to it as well in Matthew 24…

(31) And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. … Matthew 24:31 NKJV

The word elect in this passage from Matthew 24 are the believers that Jesus talks about in verses 39 and 40 in John 6. We have Jesus’s reassurance from His own mouth that all who believe in Him will be with Him for all eternity. Paul backs up what Jesus tells the crowd in verse 40 of John 6 again in 1 Thessalonians. Going back up to verse 14 in 1 Thessalonians, Paul says…

(14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. … 1 Thessalonians 4:14 NKJV

That completes the first look of this long discourse that Jesus has with this crowd. Here’s the takeaways from this post. First, the “bread” of Jesus will save you but coming to Jesus has to be your choice. No one can make it for you. There is no “two for one special”. Just because you come from a family of believers, it doesn’t give you a free pass into heaven and your parents can’t decide for you just because they have you baptized at birth. On the flip side of the coin, the decision can’t be made by forcing someone to go to church against their will either. Parents are most guilty of this with their children. They think that if they make their children attend church that it will save their kids or score “points” with them with God. Newsflash…it doesn’t work that way! You can educate your child(ren) the importance of coming to the Lord and studying The Bible but it all comes down to their decision. Same thing goes with your friends and family members. The entrance is not really a gate. It’s more like a turnstile where everybody goes through one at a time. God will never force that decision upon you. However He will throw you a “life preserver” every now and then in the form of some type of hardship to maybe make you realize that you need Him and my advice to you is the next time that happens to take it! So the “bread” of Jesus saves. The second point is that that this bread will satisfy you! When you come to Jesus, He will satisfy and fill that hunger and longing that we all have. You can have money, power, friends, whatever, and still feel empty and lonely inside. Solomon was the king of Israel and had it all but he was empty inside and he wrote a book about it, Ecclesiastes, where he writes over and over again…”vanity, vanity, all is vanity!”. Nothing on earth satisfies like Jesus! Third point, and I’ll close out this post with this, is that this bread will secure you. Jesus says three times in this text that we have been looking at in John that I will raise Him up on that last day. Why does He do that? To give the crowd, and us, an ironclad guarantee that if we take that step and sincerely and honestly come to Him in true repentance, that is turn from our sin, that we have a guarantee to be with Him forever! The bread of Jesus Christ…saves, satisfies, secures! Let’s pray…

Heavenly Father,

I have a very special prayer today for my Brothers and Sisters in Christ. I pray you bless them financially with stable jobs; I pray you protect and improve their health; I pray you protect their families from all harm. Build a wall about them and protect them. Help them to feel Your presence, love and forgiveness daily in their lives so they can serve You! Father thank you for bringing the Lord Jesus Christ, the true bread from heaven, into our lives and lastly Lord, if there is anyone who is not saved or needs to re-examine their life and put the focus more back on You, we pray that they come to You today! In the holy, precious and saving name of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray…Amen!

Happy New Year to all! Did you make your new year’s resolution(s)? Better yet, are you still keeping them if you made them? LOL! The new year brings in a lot of uncertainty considering where we are at as a nation and as a people here in America. One thing that is certain and unchanging though is the Word of God. The Bible is truth. Not my truth, God’s truth. If you don’t want the truth or don’t like the truth, then don’t read it or better yet, read only the parts that you’re comfortable with, the parts that “make you feel good”. That is the problem with America right now. Christians nitpick God’s Word and only want to read and hear what they want to and totally ignore the rest. If Christians would actually sit down and read it and apply it, then we would realize what needs to be done to bring this country back around to God. In Matthew, Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers” not “Blessed are the peacekeepers”! Enough said about that.We’re starting a new year and we are still in John’s Gospel and I can tell you right now that we will be in it for the entire year and probably will be next year as well unless the Lord comes back God willing!

Did you realize that it’s possible to do the right thing but do it the wrong way or with the wrong intentions? For example for most of my young adult life, I worked in telemarketing. Did it for over 30 years and was pretty good at it. Anyway, most of my years being a telemarketer, I spent doing fund raising for different organizations but mostly for police and fire organizations. Besides raising a lot of money for their causes, I in turn made a lot of money for myself. Yeah they do pay people to fund raise or at least they did back then, I wasn’t really concerned though about how much I was raising for the causes as much as I was concerned about how much was going into my pocket. I was doing the right thing, a good thing, but had the wrong intentions. Here’s an example of doing the right thing but the wrong way. A missionary was leaving the United States to board a plane to go to a foreign country to do mission work. They got arrested because they failed to have the right documentation. That’s what the officials said. They lacked proper documentation. Turns out the missionary was illegally in the United States, an illegal immigrant. Missionary work is very noble, honorable, and important work but you have to do it the right way. You have to pay attention and follow the immigration laws as a believer. A better example of doing the right thing the wrong way comes from The Bible in 2 Samuel. David decides to bring back the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem. The ark had been in Abinadab’s house after being sent away by the Philistines after they had captured it. The ark was to be carried only on poles and only by certain people but for reasons known, probably only to him, David decides to have the ark brought to Jerusalem on a cart accompanied by Uzzah and Ahio, Abinadab’s sons. As the cart heads to Jerusalem along the way, the ark begins to fall out of the cart and Uzzah grabs it to keep it from falling out and God strikes him dead right on the spot. It was forbidden for anyone, even the priests, to actually touch the ark and even though Uzzah was trying to prevent the ark from falling out of the cart, he is instantly struck dead for touching it. David was doing the right thing in having the ark brought to Jerusalem because it belonged there but had it moved the wrong way.

It is also possible to be following Jesus the wrong way or with the wrong intentions. In this passage that we will be examining in this post, we will look at a group of these kind of people and Jesus calling them out for it.  Another short passage so most of it I will be summarizing. As always, the text link and the audio for the entire chapter are included so you can follow along.

John 6

Let’s look at the passage we will be studying in this post…

(22) On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone— (23) however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks— (24) when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. (25) And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” (26) Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. (27) Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (28) Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” (29) Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” … John 6:22-29 NKJV

This takes place the very next day. It is the exact same crowd that were fed with the loaves and the fishes the day before. They are trying to find Jesus again but not to become true followers of Him. They are looking for Him because they are looking for another miracle. They want a show. Let’s look at these verses a bit closer now. …

vv 22-24 – (22) On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone— (23) however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks— (24) when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

It is now the day after the one in which the five thousand were fed. The multitude of people are still in the area northeast of the Sea of Galilee. They had watched the disciples get into the small boat the previous evening, and they knew that Jesus had not gone with them. Only one boat had been available at that time, and the disciples had taken it. So you have this huge crowd that goes to the shore looking for Jesus. They can’t find Him and they are wondering what happened to Him. Even though they knew that Jesus hadn’t gotten into the boat with the disciples, they are still trying to figure out where He had gone and how. They aren’t even thinking that He might have walked on the water. Would you? People can’t walk on the water…only God can do that and the crowd isn’t even considering that possibility. When they get to the shore, there are all sorts of boats there now which John makes a big deal emphasizing. Question…where did these boats come from? Probably from the storm. The storm was so fierce that it may have blown all of these boats ashore. So now there are a whole bunch of “water taxis” which the people pile into and begin setting out to find Jesus which they find Him in Capernaum. That’s a good thing right? People seeking Jesus? Not really as we read on…

vv 25-26 – (25) And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” (26) Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.

The people find Jesus at Capernaum and they are scratching their heads with curiosity and asking Him when He had gotten there. Notice that Jesus doesn’t answer their question directly. Jesus never responded to curiosity directly. He wanted to find out what was beneath that curiosity. Remember when Jesus confronts the rich young man in Matthew? Turning to Matthew 19…

(16) Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (17) So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” … Matthew 19:16-17 NKJV

Jesus asks the rich young man why he is calling Him good to find out if the young man believes Him to be God or just some good person. Jesus also wants to know if this is a true follower or just a follower. After telling the young man to sell what he has and follow Him, Jesus finds out that the young man doesn’t want to do that and therefore, isn’t a true follower. Same thing with this crowd. They should have recognized Jesus as God and the Messiah after the feeding on the mountain but they come seeking Jesus not to become true followers but because they want Jesus to perform another miracle and Jesus knows this and this is why He tells them…Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. In John 2, John points out…

(23) Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. (24) But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, (25) and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. … John 2:23-25 NKJV

Moving on now. …

v 27 – (27) Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

This is one of my favorite verses in John’s Gospel. It is full of deep and rich meaning. John’s Gospel doesn’t contain any parables but this verse comes very close to being one. When Jesus says do not labor for the food which perishes, He doesn’t mean don’t work at all (sorry Democratic socialists! LOL!). We all need to work to survive and God never intended for man not to. When God created Adam, He put him to work in the Garden of Eden. In fact, Paul even goes so far as to say in 2 Thessalonians…

(10) For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. … 2 Thessalonians 3:10 NKJV

What Jesus meant is not for working for a daily living to become an obsession. I would add this would not only include work but anything that becomes an obsession that doesn’t strengthen our mission as Christians to spread The Gospel and to strengthen the church. Those should be our obsessions. Everything else is meaningless! This would include sports watching, pursuit of material things, social media, etcetera etcetera. There is nothing wrong with having entertainment and buying things because we should enjoy the fruits of our labor but when these things become an obsession, it is unhealthy. We should, however, work tirelessly to know the Word of God. This is why Jesus says to the crowd to labor for the food which endures to everlasting life. Our bodies are more than physical. They are also spiritual. This is why without Christ in our lives, our lives will always feel empty because we will always feel we need something more. God instills this spiritual hunger in all of us. The Bible says that man does not live by bread alone but by every word of God. A few years back, there was a song. If you’re a fan of Christian contemporary music, you might have heard it. It was by a group called Plumb and the song was called “God Shaped Hole”. Part of the lyrics, from the chorus I believe, went…”There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us”. This is fact. There is a God-shaped hole in all of us and nothing outside of Christ can fill it. Not drugs, alcohol, sex, material things, money, power…nothing except Christ! God has set His seal on Him. When you set your seal on something or someone, it means that is true and can be trusted. God has approved Jesus Christ because He is God’s representative…God in human form. Let’s move on to the last part of this passage. …

vv 28-29 – (28) Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” (29) Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

This question asked by the crowd wasn’t a question posed to Jesus seeking knowledge on how to follow Him. It was hypocritical. They had no intentions of following Jesus and, outside of the miracles, wanted nothing to do with Him. Many Christians are like this today. They profess to love and follow Christ but looking at how they live their every day lives and what they are interested in, tells a much different story. There was nothing wrong though with the fascination that this crowd had for Jesus. Different things motivate us to seek Jesus. I’ve told the story many times about the Korean woman who basically led me Christ. It’s part of my testimony. I left out a part of the story though…my first motivation. It was to try to get closer to her not to get closer to the Lord. It was the reason why I finally agreed to go to the church that she belonged to albeit a different congregation which at that time, I didn’t know. I figured we would go and I would sit with her maybe even hold hands. Imagine my surprise when she told me that she wasn’t coming in with me! LOL! Oooops! LOL! Then I figured well at least I’ll see her when she picks me up to take me back home after the service is over. That didn’t happen either. In fact, I never saw her again. I am convinced to this day that she was an angel because I never saw her again after that day, her phone was disconnected, and no one in her congregation knew who I was talking about. The point that I’m trying to make here is that my initial motivation for seeking Jesus was to seek a girlfriend but it didn’t end there. The more I attended church and read God’s Word, the more I became fascinated with who Jesus was and my motivation changed to actually following or trying to follow Jesus and not just play acting. This is what this crowd was doing…play acting. 

There is this overwhelming belief that in order for God to love us and to be saved and go to heaven, that we have to work for it in some way. That is what religion teaches. In order to please God, you have to do certain things and say certain prayers or whatever. It’s all about what you have to do and not what about what He has done already. That’s what true Christianity is about. It’s about what Christ has done and not what we have done. It’s a relationship and not a religion. Salvation comes first and then the works follow as proof of that salvation. Salvation comes by first accepting and believing who Jesus Christ is, His finished work by dying on the cross for all of us and then becoming a true follower of Him. In Ephesians, Paul says…

(8) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast. … Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV

In closing, the takeaway from this passage that we have been looking at is it doesn’t matter if your motivation(s) coming to Christ aren’t exactly sincere at the time. People come to Christ for all sorts of different reasons. What matters is where your motivation takes you afterwards. Do you grow in your faith and become a true follower of Jesus or do you just play act following Jesus like this crowd was doing? As we start this new year, make your new year’s resolution to follow Jesus more or if you don’t follow Him at all, start following Him today! Let’s pray…

Father,

Thank You for Your Word and the truths found in it. Father as we embark on a new year, may we learn to grow more in our faith and become more and more like Your Son Jesus Christ. Lord we pray for our nation, our families, our friends, our neighbors. We pray for a true revival in America and not just lip service. Give us the knowledge and the power through Your Word to become peacemakers and not just peacekeepers. Lord, we have no idea what this new year will bring but we know that You do. Your hands are on the controls and we rest in the comfort of that. Father we pray that if there are people who are reading this study who don’t know Your Son Jesus Christ, that don’t have a personal, meaningful relationship with Him. that they would come to Him today and start the new year with a fresh new life in the saving name of Jesus Christ we pray…Amen!

 

Let’s pray before we get started…

Father,

Thank You for this time again in Your Word. As we look at this story of this sudden storm that comes upon the disciples, may it bring comfort and some type of explanation to those of us that may be suffering hardship.  Lord we know that You and You alone are in control and that we know that everything works out according to Your purpose. Bless this time in Your Word, make it fruitful by opening up our hearts to what You want to reveal to us through it. Father, we put aside all distractions and our hearts and minds are open to hear what You have to say to us. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening! In the saving name of Jesus Christ we pray…Amen!

When I was a kid, I was terrified of storms, thunderstorms mainly. This fear carried into my teen years. We had moved into a three story house and my room was on, you guessed it, the third floor! LOL! We didn’t exactly live in a tornado prone area but one could hit, they can hit anywhere given the right kind of conditions, but thunderstorms during tornado watches made my hair stand on end…especially late at night when I was in my third floor bedroom! LOL! I pictured myself being carried away to the land of Oz like Dorothy! LOL! It didn’t help any that my mom was absolutely terrified of storms and I think she helped solidify that fear in all of us kids in a way. I decided to begin studying storms and tornadoes, what causes them, and to make a long story short, overcame my fear.

The “storms” in our lives are the same way. They are frightening and we can’t wait for them to end but when you come to learn who is in ultimate control of them, Jesus, it helps us get through those hard times in life. No matter how hot the fire that we are thrown into, Jesus has His hand on the thermostat. I believe this to be true for not only believers but also for unbelievers as well. As the famous saying goes…this too shall pass.

What we have here in Chapter 6 is an actual storm that the disciples have to deal with but there is also some life application and a truth that might make some of you a little uncomfortable. Besides this passage in John, we will also be looking at a similar passage in Chapter 6 in Mark and also looking briefly at the Book of Job so put bookmarks there. Unlike the last couple of posts where we looked at large passages, this passage is short only 6 verses but there is a wealth of information in them so let’s get started. As always, the text link and the audio for the entire chapter are included so you can follow along.

John 6

Let’s look at the passage that we will be studying for this post…

(16) Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,  (17)  got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them.  (18)  Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.  (19)  So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.  (20)  But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”  (21)  Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going. … John 6:16-21 NKJV

This story is told in all four of the Gospels. What John doesn’t talk about in his version, is covered in the other versions. The only other one that we will be looking at in detail is found in Mark 6 so we will be flipping back and forth between the two and we will also be looking at a small part of Matthew’s version along with parts of the Book of Job. Let’s look at the passage more closely now…

vv 16-17 – (16) Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,  (17)  got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them.

This takes place right after Jesus feeds the thousands of people on the mountain. We know this because of what Mark writes about in his version…

(45) Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. … Mark 6:45 NKJV

The people were following Jesus but for the wrong reasons. They wanted to make Him a king to free them from the Romans going back to John and verse 15…

(15) Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone. … John 6:15 NKJV

Before you say, “Aha there’s a contradiction here!”, there is no contradiction. It’s just a different interpretation or perception of the facts. By what Mark writes, he is trying to make a point which I’ll get to in a minute. When the disciples get into the boat and sail off, it is dark and Jesus had not come to them. Where was He? He was up on the mountain praying. We know this from what Mark writes in verse 46…

(46) And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. … Mark 6:46 NKJV

This passage in John that we are looking at is the picture of the Christian life and in a way, life in general for us all not just believers but unbelievers as well. The darkness represents what it is like on the stormy sea of life. The darkness in a believers life is the turmoil that we go through when we experience trouble in our lives and we think that Jesus is not with us. However, I believe that the darkness can also represent the absence of Christ in an unbeliever’s life. Either way, I believe that Jesus prays for us all not just believers but also unbelievers as well. Jesus may not be physically on the scene but He knows what is going on in our lives and He is praying for us or interceding for us. In Luke, Jesus tells Peter…

(31) And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. (32) But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” … Luke 22:31-32 NKJV

In Hebrews it says…

(25) Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. … Hebrews 7:25 NKJV

So no matter what we are faced with in life, Jesus is praying for us moving on now…

vv 18-19 – (18) Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. (19) So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.

I’ve never been out on the water in a storm but I’ve seen enough films and footage of boats caught in storms to know that it can’t be pleasant. It’s been said that when you get caught in a storm on a boat, you can become very disoriented. The text says that the sea arose. Notice the word arose. The Greek word for it is diegeirō. The word means to suddenly arouse like waking someone up who has been sleeping. In other words, the sea went from from a dead calm to a raging sea with huge waves at the snap of a finger. Apparently, the Sea of Galilee gets these sudden storms where the winds will sweep down from the mountains and whip up the waves. The disciples had rowed about three or four miles from shore and, from a human standpoint, were in grave danger. Looking at verse 47 of Mark Chapter 6…

(47) Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. … Mark 6:47 NKJV

Here’s an interesting question…did Jesus know there would be a storm? The answer is yes He did! He not only knew that there would be a storm but, going back to verse 45 of Mark 6, the text says…

(45) Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. … Mark 6:45 NKJV

See that? Jesus made them get into the boat! The King Jimmie version uses the word constrained. It is the Greek word anagkazō. It means to compel or to force. He commanded them to get into the boat knowing full well what was in store for them. When Jesus goes back up the mountain and begins praying, He is praying for the disciples safety and He is also praying for the strengthening of their faith. The disciples were facing a literal storm but there is life application here as well. When we come to Christ, there is an overwhelming belief that there are no more troubles and that our lives become smooth sailing. In fact, there is a belief that if you do have any kind of adversity whatsoever, it is because your faith is not strong enough or you lack it completely. News flash…that is a bunch of bologna! A life that is full of nothing but blessings and good times is not much of a life at all! Hard times in our lives build character and the Lord knows this too. Like it or not, sometimes the Lord will throw adversity our way to do just that…build character. Job is a good example. Remember him? Job was the richest man. In one day, he lost all of his livestock, his help, his house, and even his offspring and eventually, his health. Who caused all of this? It was actually God. Turn to Chapter 1 in the Book of Job and down to verse 6…

(6) Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.  (7)  And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”  (8)  Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”  (9)  So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing?  (10)  Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.  (11)  But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”  (12)  And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. … Job 1:6-12 NKJV

Over to Chapter 2 and we see the same thing again…

Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. (2) And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” (3) Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (4) So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. (5) But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” (6) And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.” … Job 2:1-6 NKJV

I covered this in the study of Job. Satan may have caused these misfortunes but God allows it and notice that God has full control over the situation at all times. In both of these instances, Satan was on a leash and not allowed to go any further than God allowed him to. Why did God allow this to happen to Job? Because a faith that is not tested is not worth anything. Adversity not only tests faith but it also builds perseverance and character. After Job quits complaining to his friends, and his friends insult him by saying it’s all his fault that he has this misfortune (great friends huh?!), Job comes to realize this…

(23) But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. … Job 23:10 NKJV

So here’s the takeaway before we move on…be careful of the attitude you have when faced with hardship. This is when you become the most vulnerable to walk away from Christ. I know this firsthand having did the same myself when I was younger. In Hebrews, it says…

(5) And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “MY SON, DO NOT DESPISE THE CHASTENING OF THE LORD, NOR BE DISCOURAGED WHEN YOU ARE REBUKED BY HIM; (6) FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS, AND SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” … Hebrews 12:5-6 NKJV

Any parent that does not discipline their child is not a good parent and we see the results of the lack of discipline of children in our nation today. We have nothing but a bunch of whining. spoiled adults who think they should have anything they want! God is a loving parent and He disciplines us and tests us. He loves us too much to leave us the way we are! It’s hard to have this attitude when we are going through hardship but we must have faith and ask ourselves what we can learn from the adversity and not so much looking for a way out of it and always remember that the Lord has His hand on that thermostat and comes to us in His timing. Going back to verse 19 of John Chapter 6, it says that the disciples saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat. Jesus did not come to them immediately when the storm hit. He waited. In Mark 6, Mark says….

(48) Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. … Mark 6:48 NKJV

The night was divided into four watches. Watch number one was from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Watch number two, 9:00 pm to midnight. Watch number three is from midnight to 3:00 am and finally watch number four is from 3:00 am until 6:00 am. So Jesus probably put the disciples into the boat around sunset and they got hit by the storm probably around 9:00 pm when they were three or four miles away from shore and too late and too far to turn back so the disciples were stuck out there for hours before Jesus comes to them. The text says He (Jesus) saw them straining at rowing. It is humanly impossible for anyone to see anything or anyone three or four miles away even if you are standing on top of a mountain without some type of magnifying device such as binoculars or a telescope. Let’s not forget, there is a raging storm going on as well which cuts down the visibility even more. Ever been driving during a heavy windblown downpour of rain? You can’t even see the car in front of you let alone three or four miles away. You can see quite clearly that far away though if you are God and this proves again that Jesus was and is indeed God! Further proof that Jesus is God, He came to the disciples walking on the sea. All four of the Gospel accounts of this record this fact. Jesus comes to the disciples at the last possible moment when they are exhausted and can’t row anymore. This is much like it is when we are faced with some kind of trial or tribulation. When we think that we are at the end of our rope and can’t take anymore, Jesus comes and “rescues” us but His aid is conditional. Let’s look at the rest of this passage in John. …

vv 20-21 – (20)  But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”  (21)  Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

Notice what the disciples do when they know that it is Jesus…they willingly received Him into the boat. It was like “Thank you Jesus! Welcome aboard!”. The best thing that you can do when faced with storms in life is to welcome Jesus into your life and keep your eyes focused on Him! There’s a little detail that John omits from his account of this event which involves Peter. Turn to Matthew 8 and down to verse 25…

(25) Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. (26) And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. (27) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” (28) And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (29) So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. (30) But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” (31) And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (32) And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. (33) Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” … Matthew 14:25-33 NKJV

I found it rather odd that John omits this considering throughout his Gospel, when you read it, you get the idea there was a friendly rivalry between John and Peter and John takes “jabs” at Peter throughout it but for some reason, he left this out. The point is that Peter was fine as long as he kept his eyes on the Lord. When he took his eyes off of Him and paid more attention to the storm, that’s when he began sinking into the water. When we begin to focus more on the situation that we are in rather than fixing our focus on Jesus, we too will “sink”! Notice that Jesus immediately solves the problem when He shows up. John says at the end of verse immediately the boat was at the land where they were going. Not only was the storm gone but it would seem like Jesus whisked them away and onto dry land. 

So in closing, here’s the takeaways from this passage. Life is full of adversity whether we cause it or not, whether we are believers or not. Life is unpredictable. We can make plans in life and it’s good to make plans but just remember that God has editing rights. There’s this bumper sticker that many people have. I’m sure you have heard of this saying before. The sticker says…”God is my co-pilot”. With all due respect if you have one, you might want to get rid of it. God is not your co-pilot…He is the pilot! Honestly, you are not even in the cockpit! You are back in coach! LOL! The disciples went on a boat ride that they weren’t expecting put there by Jesus who knew exactly what would be happening. As the disciples were sailing along, a sudden storm arose. As we are sailing along in life, sudden “storms” are going to come our way too. The important thing is when those “storms” do arise, that we do the most important thing…get Jesus into the boat! Is He in yours? Let’s pray…

Father,

Thank You for all the blessings that you bestow on us and our families. We thank You even for the trials and tribulations, those sudden “storms”, that make us better and stronger individuals. Father, we pray not for lesser storms but for stronger sails to weather the storms that come our way. Give us wisdom to learn from adversity and Father we pray for those who haven’t welcomed Your Son Jesus Christ into the boat, that they would welcome Him into the boat today! For it’s in His name we pray…Amen!

Please note that I will be taking a brief hiatus from this study during the Christmas season and will be posting the next post for this study around the end of January.

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