The Gospel of John: Breakfast with Jesus, Part One.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. (John 12:4-8)

Seven of Jesus’ eleven disciples had decided to go fishing following Peter’s declaration to do the same (John 21:1-3). While debatable, it is possible the Peter had determined to return to the life and vocation he had known due to his three-fold denial of Jesus (John 18:24-27).

It is true that Jesus meets us where we are in our various stages of life. Whether during times of trouble or triumph, difficulties or despair, He meets us during our most heart-felt and needy times. He also reveals Himself through His Word when we return to the comfortable. The comfortable can refer to that which we know and are most familiar. The comfortable can be a place or feeling of contentment or well-being. The comfortable may occur when we have suffered a devastating loss.

The disciples in today’s text had been fishing all night (John 21:3). Dawn was beginning to break (John 21:4). Unaware of who was speaking to them, Jesus appeared and said, “Children, do you have any fish (John 21:5)?” The word “children” (Παιδία; paidia) may refer to a person of any age for whom there is a special relationship of endearment and association—my child, my dear friend, my dear man, my dear one.

The disciples responded that they had none (John 21:5). As He had early in His ministry following their unsuccessful night of fishing (Luke 5:1-11), Jesus commanded them to cast their nets into the sea once again (John 21:6). When the disciples did so, they caught so many that they were unable to draw their nets into the boat because of the multitude of fish.

It was at this moment that John said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Impetuous Peter, even though he was about 100 yards from shore, put on his outer garment and jumped into the sea in order to swim to shore. The other disciples came to shore in the boat dragging the net full of fish.

As we shall see when next we meet, the text reveals that Jesus was not unwilling to serve others. As one commentator explains, “Jesus provides another example of how believers are to care for one another (John 13:14-15; Philippians 2:5-7).

How and when have you sensed the Lord revealing Himself to you at various stages of your life? What portion(s) of Scripture resonated with you at those times? What circumstances precluded this moment with the Lord?

As we will continue to see in John 21, Jesus often reveals Himself to us when He is preparing us for another chapter of ministry opportunity. Is the Lord preparing you for such an opportunity? Listen as He speaks to you through His Word.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: I am going Fishing.

“After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.” (John 21:1-3)

There is not one believer who has never disappointed the Lord by either failing to do what was right or doing what the Lord declares is wrong. Peter is my favorite apostle. He always has been. I can identify with Peter on so many levels. Peter had a lot of rough edges of which the Lord Jesus sovereignly smoothed. Rough edges such as arrogance, self-assurance, and independence which ultimately were refined to become godly humility, assurance and dependence upon the Lord.

John 21 provides us with a wonderful scene of restoration and recommitment following Peter’s three-fold denial of the Lord Jesus (John 18:24-27). The gracious restoration comes from God. The resulting recommitment comes from us based upon God’s gracious restoration.

Today’s text begins with the Apostle John recounting a post-resurrection appearance by Jesus to some of the eleven disciples. It occurred at the Sea of Tiberias, otherwise known as the Sea of Galilee. The disciples involved include Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, the sons of Zebedee (James and John himself), and two others which John does not identify by name.

As usual, Peter announced what he is going to do and the rest followed. What Peter decided to do is revealed when he said, “I am going fishing.” What did Peter mean by this statement? Was he simply going to spend a leisurely afternoon with some of his buddies? Or was there something more significant by his words?

There are some who comment that Peter and the other disciples went to Galilee out of obedience to the Lord’s command to meet Him there (Matthew 28:16). Fishing, which was there former occupation, was a way in which to occupy their time while they waited for Jesus to appear.

However, when we look more closely at Peter’s words which John records, something more is contained. Peter said, “I am going fishing.” The phrase, “I am going” is one word in the Greek (Ὑπάγω; Hypago). It is a present active indicative verb. The meaning behind this statement is that whatever Peter intended to do, he was going to be doing it continually. What was it that occupied Peter’s thoughts?

He said that what he intended to do was to go fishing. The verb “fishing” (ἁλιεύειν; halieuein) is a present active infinitive verb. It expresses a declared purpose. Is it possible that what Peter now intended to do was to return to a life and livelihood of fishing? We cannot be sure. However, it would seem understandable for Peter to return to the occupation he had known, and in which he had been successful, in light of his recent failure as one of Jesus’ disciples wherein he denied the Lord Jesus three times.

What we do know is that the other previously mentioned disciples accompanied Peter. We also know that after a night of fishing, they caught nothing.

Puritan commentator Matthew Henry writes, “That night they caught nothing, though, it is probable, they toiled all night, as Luke 5:1-5. See the vanity of this world; the hand of the diligent often returns empty. Even good men may come short of desired success in their honest undertakings. We may be in the way of our duty, and yet not prosper. Providence so ordered it that all that night they should catch nothing, that the miraculous draught of fishes in the morning might be the more wonderful and the more acceptable. In those disappointments which to us are very grievous God has often designs that are very gracious. Man has indeed a dominion over the fish of the sea, but they are not always at his beck; God only knows the paths of the sea, and commands that which passeth through them.”

John Calvin writes, “God often tries believers, that He may lead them the more highly to value His blessing.”

How have you attempted to move on from when you disappointed the Lord? How has He chosen to restore you? Take heart, God has a way in which He mends broken vessels. Even fishermen.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

LORD’S DAY 11, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 11 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. The theme for the next several weeks concerns the subject of God the Son.

Q. Why is the Son of God called “Jesus,” meaning “savior”?

A. Because he saves us from our sins,and because salvation should not be sought
and cannot be found in anyone else.2

1 Matt. 1:21Heb. 7:25. 
2 Isa. 43:11John 15:5Acts 4:11-121 Tim. 2:5. 

Q. Do those who look for their salvation in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere. really believe in the only savior Jesus? 

A. No! Although they boast of being his, by their actions they deny the only savior, Jesus.1

Either Jesus is not a perfect savior, or those who in true faith accept this savior have in him all they need for their salvation.2

1 1 Cor. 1:12-13Gal. 5:4. 
2 Col. 1:19-202:101 John 1:7. 

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: The Post-Resurrection Appearances of Christ.

“After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way.” (John 21:1).

How many times did Jesus appear after His resurrection? The following is a chronological and biblical list of His many post-resurrection appearances.

  1. Mary Magdalene crying by the tomb Jerusalem. This was in the early morning on the first resurrection Sunday. Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18.
  2. The other women returning from the tomb. This was early morning on the first resurrection Sunday. Matthew 28:8-10.
  3. Cleopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus near Emmaus. This was on the afternoon on the first resurrection Sunday. Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-32.
  4. Peter in Jerusalem. This was late afternoon on the first resurrection Sunday Luke 24:33-35; 1 Corinthians 15:5a.
  5. To the ten disciples and others, without Thomas, in Jerusalem. This was the evening on the first resurrection Sunday. Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-25.
  6. To the eleven disciples, with Thomas, in Jerusalem. This occurred eight days after the first resurrection Sunday. Mark 16:14; John 20:26-29.
  7. To the seven disciples by the Sea of Galilee (Tiberias). A few weeks later? John 21:1-25.
  8. To the eleven disciples on a Mountain (Great Commission). This was near the end of the 40 days. Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18; 1 Corinthians 15:5b
  9. To 500 people at once. Perhaps this took place in Galilee. This was near the end of the 40 days. 1 Corinthians 15:6.
  10. To James. Perhaps this occurred in Jerusalem. This was near the end of the 40 days. 1 Corinthians 15:7a.
  11. To the eleven disciples at Jesus’ Ascension. Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-52; Acts 1:4-11; 1 Corinthians 15:7b.
  12. To Paul on the road to Damascus. Perhaps about two years after Jesus’ resurrection. Acts 9:3-5; 22:7-8; 26:14-16; 1 Corinthians 15:8.

Today’s text would recall the eighth appearance by Jesus following His resurrection. It occurred after an unspecified time after the first resurrection Sunday. The location was the Sea of Tiberius or Galilee.

We may conclude that Jesus’ many appearances following His crucifixion and burial attest to the validity of the resurrection. I Corinthians 15:1-8 says, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “This chapter (I Corinthians 15:1-8) is the most extensive treatment of resurrection in the Bible. Both the resurrection of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospels and the resurrection of believers as promised in the Gospels are here explained. The testimony of eyewitnesses, recorded in the NT, was added to support the reality of the resurrection. These included: 1) John and Peter together (John 20:19–20), but probably also separately before (Luke 24:34); 2) the Twelve (John 20:19–20Luke 24:36Acts 1:22); 3) the 500, only referred to here (see note on 2 Pet. 3:15–16), had all seen the risen Christ (cf. Matt. 28:9Mark 16:9, 12, 14Luke 24:31–39John 21:1–23); 4) James, either one of the two so-named apostles (son of Zebedee or son of Alphaeus; cf. Mark 3:17–18) or even James the half-brother of the Lord, the author of the epistle by that name and the key leader in the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:13–21); and 5) the apostles (John 20:19–29). Such unspecified appearances occurred over a 40-day period (Acts 1:3) to all the apostles. Paul was saved too late to be one of the 12 apostles. Christ had ascended before he was converted. But through a miraculous appearance (Acts 9:1–8; cf. 18:9–10; 23:112 Cor. 12:1–7), Christ revealed himself to Paul and, according to divine purpose, Paul was made an apostle. See note on 1 Cor. 1:1. He was “last of all” the apostles, and felt himself to be the “least” (15:9–101 Tim. 1:12–17).”

The many post-resurrection appearances by Jesus Christ is one of many ample proofs that He indeed bodily rose from the dead. Take comfort in knowing that our resurrection from the dead is assured because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!    

 

The Gospel of John: Believe that Jesus is the Christ.

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31).

Today’s text, as we noted at the beginning of our study of The Gospel of John, provides the purpose for John’s Gospel and its existence. That purpose is that people may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing they may have life in His name.

John recorded many signs and wonders which Jesus accomplished. There was the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6), the healing of the man born blind (John 9), and the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11). These three miracles, and many others contained in John’s Gospel and also those which were withheld, were written and recorded for the expressed purpose of sinners committing to, depending upon, trusting in and worshiping Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

This belief, or faith, in Jesus as the Christ, Son of God results in the believer possessing life in His name. This is eternal life. It means to possess an eternal, reconciled relationship with the One, True God of the universe. It means for God to declare the sinner righteous by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

John Calvin writes that, “He means the Christ, such as He had been promised in the Law and the Prophets, as the Mediator between God and men, the Father’s highest Ambassador, the only restorer of the world, and the Author of perfect happiness. Here John repeats the most important point of His doctrine, that we obtain eternal life by faith, because while we are out of Christ, we are dead and we are restored to life by His grace alone.”

Ephesians 2:1-5 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—.”

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Gospel of John: My Lord and my God.

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:24-29)

Today’s text is the familiar account of Doubting Thomas. Thomas had not been present with the other ten disciples when Jesus appeared the evening of His resurrection (John 20:19-23). We do not know why Thomas was absent.

When the other disciples met him, they told him that they had seen the Lord. Thomas was resolute in his disbelief of what they claimed to have experienced. He made the memorable statement, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Why was Thomas so resolute? Perhaps it was Thomas’ personality, which many describe as being faithful but pessimistic (John 11:1-16). This pessimism can be seen in Thomas’ statement: “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Thomas does not say, “When I see, then I will believe.” Rather, his tone and tenor is negative. “Unless I see, I will never believe.” I often wonder how many believers in Christ are like Thomas in this respect. Overly negative. Consistently cynical. Gloomy and glum.

Well, as we know the text continues to say that “Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” The setting is similar to the prior week. The disciples were inside their locked room, perhaps for the same reason as before: for fear of the Jews. Were they worshipping? Praying? The text does not say. The text does say that this time, Thomas was with them.

Even though the doors were locked Jesus suddenly appeared in the midst of them. He again greeted them all, including Thomas, by saying, “Peace be with you.” It was then that Jesus specifically spoke to Thomas and said, Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Jesus commanded Thomas to no longer disbelieve but rather to believe. The language Jesus used indicates a very strong contrast.

When Jesus said to Thomas to believe, He meant for Thomas, and all disciples of Jesus, to trust in, commit to, depend upon and worship Him as the resurrected Lord and Savior of sinners. Once again, what was true for Thomas is true for believers today.

Thomas’ response was a wonderful confession for the deity of Jesus Christ. Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!” Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “With these words, Thomas declared his firm belief in the resurrection and, therefore, the deity of Jesus the Messiah and Son of God (Titus 2:13). This is the greatest confession a person can make. Thomas’s confession functions as the fitting capstone of John’s purpose in writing (John 20:30–31).”

However, Jesus foreknew a time when believers in Christ would not have the physical evidence from which Thomas benefited. Therefore, Jesus replied, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

While there is ample evidence to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we have examined the evidence here on this website, our commitment, trust, dependence and worship of Jesus is solely be faith and not by sight at this time. Since Jesus ascension, all believers are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Therefore, Jesus pronounced a special blessing on those who believe without seeing.

I Peter 1:8-9 says, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

I John 4:20 says, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

Romans 1:16-17 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

All people are persons of faith. The only question is, “faith in what object?” The only object of faith which delivers the sinner from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin and its guilt is Jesus Christ. This is the core message of the Gospel.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Gospel of John: So Send I You.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:21-23)

For the second time in this first appearance to His original disciples, Jesus says to them, “Peace be with you.” Jesus announced to them that their lives may be well and prosperous. This statement was made in conjunction, or in union with, what Jesus would say next. “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

This was a divine commission from Jesus to the disciples who would become apostles. It is comparable to what Jesus prayed to God the Father in John 17:18: “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” This means that the disciples became “sent ones” by the authority of Jesus Christ. As God the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus was sending out the disciples as apostles. He gave them the authority to preach, teach and do miraculous signs (Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 24:47-49).

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit.” Evangelical scholars understand that this receiving of the Holy Spirit was a partial and limited gift of the Holy Spirit providing understanding up to the Day of Pentecost 50 days later (Acts 2).

Jesus then said, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” What did Jesus mean by this statement?

Jesus was announcing to the apostles that He was giving them the commission of preaching the Gospel. The proclamation of the truths that (1) God exists; (2) Sin exists; (3) One Savior exists; and (4) Salvation exists by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone would be the only message by which God could, and would, forgive sinners of the penalty, power and presence of their sin.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “This verse does not give authority to Christians to forgive sins. Jesus was saying that the believer can boldly declare the certainty of a sinner’s forgiveness by the Father because of the work of his Son if that sinner has repented and believed the gospel. The believer with certainty can also tell those who do not respond to the message of God’s forgiveness through faith in Christ that their sins, as a result, are not forgiven.”

John Calvin writes, “While Christ enjoins the Apostles to forgive sins, He does not convey to them what is peculiar to Himself. It belongs to Him to forgive sins. This honor, so far as it belongs peculiarly to Himself, He does not surrender to the Apostles, but enjoins them, in His name, to proclaim the forgiveness of sins, that through their agency He may reconcile men to God. In short, properly speaking, it is He alone who forgives sins through His apostles and ministers.”

The believer’s responsibility to the felicity of the Gospel must remain ever strong. We must never compromise the Gospel because in it alone rests the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16-17).

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!   

The Gospel of John: Peace be with You.

“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” (John 20:19-20)

Jesus’ appearance to the disciples in the place where they were staying would be the third appearance Jesus made on that first Easter Sunday. We have already seen that His first appearance was to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18). His second was to the two men known as the Emmaus Disciples (Luke 24:13-35). When Jesus visited His disciples, it was evening of that very eventful day.

The text does not tell us where the ten disciples were staying. Perhaps it was the same upper room where Jesus conducted His Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17). We can’t be sure. However, we do know that of the original twelve disciples, only ten were in attendance. This is because Thomas was not in attendance (John 20:24) and Judas Iscariot was dead (Matthew 27:3-10).

Wherever they were, the ten were fearful for their own lives. The doors of where they were being locked. John gives us the reason for such security: the disciples were afraid of being executed by the same Jewish leaders who were responsible for Jesus’ death.

Jesus, being aware of their fearful state, gently comes into the disciple’s presence. This occurred in spite of locked doors. We do not know how Jesus suddenly appeared, only that He stood in the midst of His followers. John Calvin writes, “Let us be satisfied with knowing that Christ intended, by a remarkable miracle, to confirm His disciples in their belief in the resurrection.”

Jesus then said, “Peace be with you.” The familiar phrase means “may you be well and prosperous.” Jesus wanted the disciples to no longer fear the Jews but rather to be at peace in Him.

Jesus then showed the men His hands and side. These wounds confirmed the belief in a bodily resurrection. This was He who bore their sins on the cross. This was He who was dead and buried. This was He who rose from the dead for their justification. The disciple’s grief turned into gladness. Their sorrow turned into joy. These are they who would become courageous preachers of the Gospel of Christ but only after the Day of Pentecost and the indwelling by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2).

We may tend to fear from time to time. When that happens, remember the words of Jesus: “Peace be with you.”

May God’s truth reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: Jesus’ First Post-Resurrection Appearance.

“But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.” (John 20:11-18)

John 20:11-18 records Mary Magdalene’s second visit to the empty tomb of Jesus. She is a woman in the midst of deep grief. The text says “she wept.” The verb κλαίουσα (klaiousa) is in the present active form and it means to lament, to cry and to wail. Mary was in a continual state of grief. She was inconsolable. The Lord she loved, and whose dead body she wanted to further anoint for burial as a sign of her love and devotion, was gone from the tomb. In her mind, there were no thoughts of a victorious resurrection but rather the ignominy of thieves who had stolen the body of her Lord.

It was at that exact moment that Mary “stooped to look into the tomb.” What she discovered was amazing. Instead of an empty tomb she “saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.” The angels appeared after Peter and John’s arrival and departure from the tomb.

One commentator explains that, “Mary saw two angels sitting in the empty tomb, one where the head of Jesus had lain and the other where His feet had been (vv. 11–12). Luke 24:4 also reports the presence of two angels at the tomb, while Matthew 28:1–2 and Mark 16:5 tell us that one angel was there. Some skeptics have made much of this difference, but there is no warrant for believing that the Gospels contradict one another. If there were two angels there, then there was certainly one angel there. Matthew and Mark simply choose not to tell us about more than one of the messengers God sent to the tomb of our Lord.”

More important that the number of angels in the tomb was the question they asked Mary. “They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him’.” The angels question may have been a mild rebuke to her. In instead of weeping she should be rejoicing. Jesus is no longer in the tomb: not because someone stole His body but rather because He is alive.

It was this precise moment that John records one of the most stirring recognitions scene in all of Scripture. “Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).”

It is significant that Jesus’ first appearance following His resurrection was not to Caiaphas, Annas or even Pontius Pilate. Neither did Jesus first appear to Peter, James and John. Rather, He appeared to Mary. Why is this so important? Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “The fact that He appeared to Mary rather than to Pilate or Caiaphas or to one of His disciples is significant. That a woman would be the first to see Him is an evidence of Jesus’ electing love as well as a mark of the narrative’s historicity. No Jewish author in the ancient world would have invented a story with a woman as the first witness to this most important event. Furthermore, Jesus may have introduced Himself to Mary first because she had so earnestly sought Him. She was at the cross while He was dying (John 19:25), and she went to His tomb early on Sunday morning (20:1).”

Why didn’t Mary immediately recognize Jesus? Jesus’ disciples did not recognize that He rose from the dead perhaps because there was some kind of change in His physical appearance after the resurrection. While we do not  exactly know what this change was, but both Mary Magdalene and the Emmaus Disciples did not realize they had seen Jesus face-to-face after His resurrection until He revealed Himself to them (Luke 24:13–35John 20:14).

Teacher Robert Rothwell writes that, “Although the same body of Jesus that died was raised, something about His glorified body was different from His body before His death. His resurrected body is a spiritual body, not in that it is nonphysical but in that it is suffused by and transformed into incorruptible flesh by the Holy Spirit. We will be changed in like manner when our bodies are resurrected (1 Cor. 15:35–49).”

The text goes on to say that, “Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’

There have been many interpretations about what Jesus meant when He said to Mary “Do not cling to me.” I submit that Dr. R. C. Sproul’s interpretation to be the simplest and the best. “Jesus was telling Mary that He was not yet leaving to return to heaven. She was holding on to Him as if she would never see Him again, but she would see Him again before His departure. It was not yet time to say goodbye.” That would occur in 40 days (Acts 1:1-11).

What is also important for us to note is that Mary did not keep this good news to herself. ”Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.” She could not keep such good news to herself. Neither should we.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: He’s Alive!

“So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.” (John 20:3-10)

From today’s text, we concentrate our attention on the actions and behavior of both Peter and John. Both were fishermen. Both became disciples of Jesus. Both became Apostles of Jesus and leaders within the early church. Both were men God used to compose New Testament Scripture. Finally, both men came to the empty tomb following the announcement by Mary Magdalene (John 20:1-2). However, in spite of their similarities, they were also different from each other, as today’s text reveals.

To begin with, and this may seem silly, John was a faster runner than Peter. The text says that they were running together, but then John outran Peter and arrived at the tomb first. Why is this fact so significant? Because it indicates that even though the two men arrived separately at the tomb, they both arrived at the “same” tomb. They both knew were Jesus’ tomb was located. They did not arrive at the wrong tomb, but rather the actual tomb where Jesus had been. This is one evidence for the reality of the resurrection.

Second, John appears to be more timid than Peter. John looked into the tomb and saw the linen cloths Joseph of Arimathea had wrapped Jesus in for burial (John 19:38-40) but he did not go into the tomb. The text does not say why. However, when Peter arrived, true to Peter’s bold and impetuous personality, he immediately went right into the empty tomb.

Once into the tomb, the text says about Peter that, “He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.” The orderly condition of the Jesus’ grave clothes are an indication that His body was not stolen (Matthew 28:11-15). Thieves would not take the time to fold the burial linen and place them separately in an orderly fashion.

As commentator Robert Rothwell explains, “The presence of the grave clothes makes grave robbery impossible. Grave robbers would hardly have spent time disrobing the body of Jesus in the tomb but would have absconded with the body immediately lest they be caught and punished, for grave robbery was a serious crime. Furthermore, linen and spices were expensive in the first century. They would have been the only things of monetary value in the tomb of our Lord, so grave robbers would not have left the layered linen and spices behind. Add to this that grave robbers would have to have gotten past the Roman guard posted at Jesus’ tomb (Matt. 27:62–66), and the idea that the tomb was empty because someone took the body of Jesus becomes wholly implausible. The only explanation is that something supernatural happened.”

The text continues to say, “Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;” Upon seeing the evidence, John’s verdict or conclusion was that Jesus was alive. He believed!

However, “for as yet they did not understand the Scripture that he must rise from the dead.”  While both Peter and John believed that Jesus was alive, they still did not understand the full weight and significance of this event. They were still ignorant of all the Old Testament had to say about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (Luke 24:13-27). It was this moment that Peter and John went back to their homes.  

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “When Peter … arrived he rushed in and saw (theōrei, “beheld attentively”) the grave clothes and the separate burial cloth. He must have remained inside puzzled at what he saw. After a period of time John went in and saw (eiden, “perceived”—the third Gr. word for “see” in these verses) the significance of the grave clothes and believed. Peter must have been thinking, “Why would a grave robber have left the clothes in this order? Why take the body of Jesus?” But John perceived that the missing body and the position of the grave clothes was not due to a robbery. He realized that Jesus had risen from the dead and had gone through the grave clothes. The tomb was open not to let Jesus’ body out but to let the disciples and the world see that He rose.”

The tomb was not open to allow Jesus’ body out, but rather to allow the disciples and the world in. The sinner’s only hope for the removal of guilt, the forgiveness of sins and life after death is solely in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Romans 10:9-10 says, “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

By God’s grace alone, through faith alone, may you receive Jesus Christ alone as your Lord and Savior and thereby be justified.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Sol deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: The Visitors to an Empty Tomb.

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” (John 20:1-2)

It is wise to not only examine John’s Gospel account of the resurrection of Jesus but also to study the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) also. Rather than discovering contradictions, we find a complete understanding of what occurred on the first resurrection Sunday.

To begin with, the resurrection took place on the first day of the week. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning. The text indicates that she arrived at the tomb while it was still dark. She did so, according to Luke 24:1. In order to finish anointing Jesus’ body. She would have be unable to do so the previous day because it was the Sabbath.

Matthew 28:1 states that, “Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.” This Mary was the mother of James the Less and Joses (Matthew 27:56). Even though John does not specifically mention the second Mary, John 20:2 indicates that Mary Magdalene said to Simon and John after finding the empty tomb, ““They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Mary uses the personal pronoun “we” instead of “I.” This indicates that Mary was not alone when she came to the tomb, as Matthew’s Gospel verifies.

The Gospel of Mark provides even more information. Mark 16:1-2 says, “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.” Mark mentions a third woman, Salome, accompanied Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James the Less. Salome was the wife of Zebedee and the mother of James and John (Matthew 27:56).

John Calvin writes that, “Although John says nothing about her (Mary Magdalene’s) companions, yet the other Evangelists, who relate that there were many along with her, say nothing that is contradicted by John’s narrative.”

While it should be noted that John’s account of Jesus’ burial does not mention a stone being rolled in front of the tomb, he does refer to it when the women came to the tomb that first resurrection morning. Today’s text, which mentions the removal of the stone, clearly indicates that the tomb was sealed with a heavy stone (John 19:38–20:1; Mark 15:42–46).

As Dr. R.C. Sproul explains, “Why were Mary and the other women at the tomb? Luke 24:1 says that they went there with the spices that they “had prepared.” Jesus had been buried respectfully but in haste because He was put in the tomb just before the Sabbath began, on the Day of Preparation (John 19:42). Perhaps Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were unable to finish applying the burial spices to the body of Jesus, and the women went back to finish the job. But when they arrived at the tomb, the stone was rolled away, and Mary Magdalene’s first suspicion was that the body of the Lord had been stolen (John 20:1–2). But it would soon be clear that something far more amazing had occurred.”

AS we continue to delve more deeply into the differing accounts of the resurrection of Jesus, we do not discover inaccuracies or even contradictions. Rather, we discover four different viewpoints of the same event. Taken as a whole, they neither contradict each other of the truth of the empty tomb.

May God’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: Secret Disciples, Public Ministry.

“After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.” (John 19:38-41)

Intense circumstances often prompt people to take responsibility and be leaders. Such was the case with two men who took charge of Jesus’ burial: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemas.

This is the first occasion in which Joseph of Arimathea is mentioned by the Apostle John. What do we know about Joseph?

To begin with, Joseph was a Jew of Arimethea. Arimethea is identified by some historians as also being the town of Ramathaim-Zophim, which was a town in Ephraim, the birthplace of Samuel, where David came to him (1 Samuel 1:1, 19). It is also noted that Arimethea was located approximately 20 miles northwest of Jerusalem.

The Gospel of Luke identifies Joseph as ‘a good and righteous man, … and he was looking for the kingdom of God’ (Luke 23:50–51). Luke also records that Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin but did not consent to the decision and deed to crucify Jesus (Luke 23:50-51). The Gospel of Mark mentions that Joseph was a prominent member of the council (Mark 15:43).

The Gospel of Matthew mentions that Joseph was a rich man who had become a disciple of Jesus (Matthew 27:57). It was Joseph who specifically went to Pontius Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus (Matthew 27:58; Luke 23:52). Matthew and Luke also mention that it was Joseph who took down Jesus’ body from the cross,  wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb which had never been used (Matthew 27:60; Luke 23:53).

John’s Gospel states that Joseph was ‘a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews’ (John. 19:38).  However, Mark mentions that Joseph took courage to ask for Jesus’ body (Mark 15:43). When it really counted, Joseph was strong and courageous (Joshua 1:1-9).

Joseph’s actions were partnered with those of Nicodemas. This was the same Nicodemas who came to Jesus by night (John 3:1-10; 19:39). Nicodemas came with approximately 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes to anoint Jesus’ body (John 19:39.

Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “An inaccurate understanding of the term used in the original, this mixture of spices weighed closer to 65 pounds. Myrrh was a very fragrant, gummy resin that the Jews turned into a powdered form and mixed with aloes, a powder from the aromatic sandalwood. The Jews did not embalm but did this procedure to suppress the odor of decay.”

The text then says that Joseph and Nicodemas took Jesus’ body, bound it in strips of linen (I.e. swaddling clothes) with the spices as was the Jewish custom (John 19:40). The text continues to say that the new tomb was located in a garden (John 19:41). They laid Jesus’ body into the tomb because it was the Preparation Day and the tomb was nearby (John 19:42). This was a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:9.

One commentator explains that,” Normally, the Jews would bury criminals in a common grave outside the city gates, but the body of Jesus got a different treatment. Some commentators believe that Pilate’s willingness to give the body to Joseph (and Nicodemus; v. 39) is a further indication that Pilate believed Jesus was innocent, since he allowed Jesus not to be buried with other criminals.”

The practical application of today’s lesson is that when it truly counted, Joseph and Nicodemas served the Lord with great boldness in spite of their prior fear and trepidation. Have there been occasions when you feared serving the Lord? I’m sure we all have felt intimidation at some time or another. The solution is to repent of fear and resolve to serve Jesus with strength, courage and boldness.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: The Lamb Who was Slain!

“Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” (John 19:31-37)

Was Jesus actually crucified on a Friday? Interestingly enough, there has been much debate among Christians as to whether or not this is so? I have personally encountered several people who have wanted to vigorously argue about this subject. However, the first words from John 19:31 clearly indicate that whatever we may know about Jesus’ crucifixion, it did occur on a Friday.

The words “day of Preparation” (παρασκευὴ; paraskeue) is literally one word in the Greek language and it clearly means Friday. In the Jewish context, it would be the day before the Sabbath. In today’s text, this term takes on an even greater significance because the “Sabbath was a high day.”  This was because the beginning of Sabbath was also the beginning of the Passover Feast.

This gave greater weight to the importance of not having any crucified bodies hanging on that particular Saturday or Sabbath Day. Therefore, the Jews asked that Pilate have the legs of the three crucified men, including Jesus, be broken.

Dr. John MacArthur comments that “Though the Romans had no problem leaving crucified victims hanging on crosses long after they died (allowing their corpses to rot or be eaten by birds), the Jewish leaders insisted that Jesus’ body be taken down. The Mosaic Law stipulated that a person hanged on a tree should not remain there overnight (Deut. 21:22–23). They would have been especially wary of this in light of the Passover celebration. In order to hasten death for certain reasons, soldiers would break the legs of the victim with an iron mallet. Doing so inhibited the dying man’s ability to push up with his legs in order to breathe. Death by asphyxiation soon followed.”

Having no reason to not comply with the Jews’ request, Pilate gave the order for the men’s legs to be broken. The test says, “So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him.” This indicates that both criminals were still alive following Jesus’ death. It also shows that the soldiers had no reticence or restraint in inflicting further pain and suffering upon the condemned.

However, the text goes on to say “But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.” The behavior of the soldiers towards Jesus was not born of any compassion they may have had for Him. They were practical men. They saw no reason to break the legs of a man already dead. It was unnecessary. This text proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus did indeed die on the cross, belying or contradicting those who would contend otherwise.

Again, the soldiers were practical men. To ensure that Jesus was indeed dead, they confirmed it by their following behavior. “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” The soldier’s stabbing of Jesus’ side was one of significant penetration. The flow of blood and water was because the spear pierced Jesus’ heart or the chest cavity was pierced at the bottom. Either way, the Apostle John mentioned the outflow of “blood and water” to emphasize that Jesus was unquestionably dead.

As with the many other events leading up and including His crucifixion, even Jesus’ bones not being broken as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. John 19:36-37 says, “For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

The Scriptures to which the Apostle John refers are respectively Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12 and Psalm 34:20 regarding the Passover Lamb’s bones are not to be broken when offered before the Lord and Psalm 22:16-17, Zechariah 12:10 and 13:6 which refer to the Messiah’s body being pierced.

Dr. MacArthur explains that, “John quoted from either Ex. 12:46 or Num. 9:12, since both stipulate that the bones of the Passover lamb must not be broken. Since the NT portrays Jesus as the Passover Lamb that takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29; cf. 1 Cor. 5:71 Pet. 1:19), these verses have special typologically prophetic significance for him. The quote in John 19:37 comes from Zech. 12:10. The anguish and contrition of the Jews in the Zechariah passage, because of their wounding of God’s Shepherd, is typologically prophetic of the time of the coming of the Son of God, Messiah, when at his return, Israel shall mourn for the rejection and killing of their King (cf. Rev. 1:7).”

Dr. R. C. Sproul concludes today’s devotional by writing, “In his first letter to the church at Corinth, the (Apostle) Paul made an astonishing statement about the importance of the cross to the entirety of the Christian faith: ‘And I brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’ Paul was a man who had the equivalent of two Ph.D.’s in theology by the time he was 21 years of age, a man who wrote with great insight on the whole scope of theology. Nevertheless, he said that the focal point of his teaching, preaching, and ministry among the Corinthians was simply Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

If you have never trusted in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, may the Lord enable you to do so today.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: Final Words, Final Act!

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:28-30)

Jesus’ fourth of seven sayings from the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” is not recorded by John (cf. Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). However, John does record Jesus’ fifth statement: “I thirst.” It is evident from the today’s text that Jesus was fully conscious during His execution, even up to and including the moment of His death.

Why was it so important for John to document Jesus’ physical thirst? One commentator writes, “The wording in John 19:28 indicates that Jesus was fully conscious and was aware of fulfilling the details of prophecies (Psalm. 42:1–2; 63:1). The paradox of the One who is the Water of life (John 4:14; 7:38–39) dying of thirst is striking. Giving Him wine vinegar, a sour wine, fulfilled Psalm 69:21. Putting the vinegar-soaked sponge on the end of a hyssop plant stalk seems odd. Perhaps this detail points to Jesus dying as the true Lamb at Passover, for hyssop was used in the Passover ceremonies (cf. Exodus 12:22).”

After Jesus received the sour wine, He spoke His sixth statement from the cross: “It is finished!” This statement is one word in the Greek (Τετέλεσται; Tetelestai). It means that something is completed or accomplished. It also means “paid in full.”

Dr. John MacArthur explains, “The verb here carries the idea of fulfilling one’s task and, in religious contexts, has the idea of fulfilling one’s religious obligations (see 17:4). The entire work of redemption had been brought to completion. The single Greek word here (translated “It is finished”) has been found in the papyri being placed on receipts for taxes meaning “paid in full” (see Col. 3:13–14).”

Then, the moment of physical death arrived. When Jesus gave up His spirit, it was a conscious act of His will. No one took His life. He willingly gave it up (John 10:17-18).

John Calvin states, “It is finished. Now this word, which Christ employs, well deserves our attention; for it shows that the whole accomplishment of our salvation, and all the parts of it, are contained in His death. But Christ only intends to keep our faith fixed on Himself alone, and not to allow it to turn aside in any direction whatever. The meaning, therefore is, that everything which contributes to the salvation of men is to be found in Christ, and ought not to be sought anywhere else. The perfection of salvation is contained in Him.”

Thank you Lord for taking my place on the cross and being my substitute. May my life be one lived in gratitude to all which you have accomplished.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: Witnesses of the Crucifixion.

“…but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” (John 19:25-27)

The Apostle John provides us an insight into the scene of the crucifixion of Jesus. Unlike executions carried out today in the United States, executions in ancient Israel were pubic and were intended to be a deterrent to would be criminals.

Public crucifixions also allowed loved ones to witness the execution of their beloved. Such was the case with Jesus as testified by John 19:25-26. Matthew, Mark, and Luke also mention the presence of several women, including some details about the women not found in John’s gospel (Matt. 27:55–56Mark 15:40–41Luke 23:49).

Dr. John MacArthur notes that, “Although the exact number of women mentioned here is questioned, John probably refers to four women rather than three, i.e., two by name and two without naming them: 1) “his mother” (Mary); 2) “his mother’s sister” (probably Salome [Mark 15:40],  the sister of Mary and mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee [Matt. 27:56–57Mark 15:40]); 3) “Mary the wife of Clopas” (the mother of James the younger and Joses—Matt. 27:56); and 4) Mary Magdalene (“Magdalene” signifies “Magdala” a village on the west shore of Galilee, 2 or 3 miles north of Tiberias). Mary Magdalene figures prominently in the resurrection account (see John 20:1–18; cf. Luke 8:2–3 where Jesus healed her from demon possession).”

The IVP Background New Testament Commentary explains that, “The evidence is disputed as to whether relatives and close friends were allowed near crucifixions; they probably were. In either case, the soldiers supervising the execution would have looked the other way in practice if they had no reason to forbid it; the prerogatives of motherhood were highly respected in the ancient world. Because Jesus may not be elevated far above the ground, Jesus’ mother and disciple can hear him without being extremely close to the cross.”

It is during this period of time that John records Jesus giving him the responsibility of taking care of Mary, Jesus’ birth mother. John does not specifically name himself but rather uses the title “the disciple whom He (Jesus) loved.”

I find it curious that Jesus did not entrust the care of His mother to His earthly brothers (see Matthew 13:54-58; Mark 6:1-6). We can only speculate as to why? Perhaps it was because Jesus earthly brothers were not sympathetic or supportive of His ministry. Maybe it was because they were in Capernaum and not in Jerusalem. Yet, it was the Passover and it seems unlikely that all His brothers and sisters would have been absent from the feast. Perhaps, it was because John was the only disciple in attendance.

Dr. John Walvoord states, “In stark contrast with the cruelty and indifference of the soldiers, a group of four women watched with love and grief. The anguish of Jesus’ mother fulfilled a prophecy of Simeon: “A sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:35). Seeing her sorrow Jesus honored His mother by consigning her into the care of John, the beloved disciple. His brothers and sisters being in Galilee, were not in a position to care for or comfort her. The words of Jesus to Mary and the beloved disciple were His third saying from the cross (the first one recorded by John). In the other Gospels Jesus had already given a respite to the Roman executioners (Luke 23:34) and a pardon to one thief (Luke 23:42–43).”

At the hour of Mary’s deepest grief, Jesus did not fail her. He made sure she would be taken care of. At the moment of our deepest grief, Jesus will not fail us either. He can and will meet our needs.

What are your specific needs? Have you spoken of these needs to the Lord? If not,   do so today.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

LORD’S DAY 9, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 9 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. The theme for the next two Lord’s Days will concern the subject of God the Father.

Q. What do you believe when you say, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth”?

A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them,1 who still upholds and rules them by his eternal counsel and providence,2 is my God and Father because of Christ the Son.3 I trust God so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul,4 and will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends upon me in this sad world.5 God is able to do this because he is almighty God6 and desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.7

1 Gen. 1-2Ex. 20:11Ps. 33:6Isa. 44:24Acts 4:2414:15.
2 Ps. 104Matt. 6:3010:29Eph. 1:11.
3 John 1:12-13Rom. 8:15-16Gal. 4:4-7Eph. 1:5.
4 Ps. 55:22Matt. 6:25-26Luke 12:22-31.
5 Rom. 8:28.
6 Gen. 18:14Rom. 8:31-39.
7 Matt. 7:9-11.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Gospel of John: The Robe!

“When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things,” (John 19:23-24)

The Robe is a 1942 historical novel about the  Crucifixion of Jesus, written by Lloyd C. Douglas. The book was one of the best-selling titles of the 1940s. It entered the New York Times Best Seller list in October 1942, four weeks later rose to No. 1, and held the position for nearly a year. The Robe remained on the list for another two years, returning several other times over the next several years including when the film adaptation  (featuring actor Richard Burton in an early role) was released in 1953.

According to Newsweek Magazine, Lloyd C. Douglas began his literary career after leaving the ministry at the age of 52. All of his novels, essays, and short stories relied on his spiritual background for thematic and creative inspiration. At the height of his popularity, Douglas was receiving on average 100 letters a week from fans.

One of those letters provided the inspiration for The Robe. Hazel McCann, a department store clerk from Ohio, wrote to Douglas asking what he thought had happened to Christ’s garments after the crucifixion. Douglas immediately began working on a novel based on this concept, sending each chapter to McCann as he finished it. Douglas and McCann finally met in 1941, and it was to her that Douglas dedicated the book.

I recall as a child that the movie version of Douglas’ book would be annually shown on network television, usually on or near Easter Sunday. My impression from the film was that the depiction of Jesus’ robe was that it contained an almost spiritual or mystical quality to it affecting each one who even touched it.

Today’s text refers to Jesus robe and a tunic. While John 19:23 refers to several garments which belonged to Jesus, and for which the soldiers divided among themselves, His tunic is given special attention by the Apostle John.

The IVP Background New Testament Commentary explains that, “Roman law as later codified in their legal Digests granted the soldiers the right to the clothes the executed man was wearing; it was customary to execute the condemned man naked. The basic unit of the Roman army was the contubernium, composed of eight soldiers who shared a tent; half-units of four soldiers each were sometimes assigned to special tasks, such as execution quads.”

Another commentator states that, “All the Synoptists (Matthew, Mark and Luke) relate the parting of the garments. The four pieces to be divided would be, the head-gear, the sandals, the girdle, and the tallith or square outer garment with fringes. Delitzsch thus describes the dress of our Lord: “On His head He wore a white sudar, fastened under the chin and hanging down from the shoulders behind. Over the tunic which covered the body to the hands and feet, a blue tallith with the blue and white fringes on the four ends, so thrown over and gathered together that the gray, red-striped undergarment was scarcely noticeable, except when the sandalshod feet came into view.”

Jesus’ tunic (χιτών; chiton) was an undergarment which was worn next to the skin. Clothes then were handmade and comparatively expensive to today’s manufactured clothing. The tunic became something the soldiers gambled for in order to not damage or ruin it.

However, as with everything which happens in life there was more to be seen than meets the eye. To begin with, when Jesus’ clothing was being divided among the soldiers and gambled for, it prompts the question as to exactly what garment Jesus was wearing while on the cross. The answer is that Jesus was naked while He hung on the cross. This was a further example of His humiliation on the sinner’s behalf.

Additionally, the dividing of Jesus’ garments, and the casting of lots for one soldier to win ownership of Jesus’ tunic, was a fulfillment of Scripture. While the soldiers were certainly not aware of this specific prophecy, those familiar with the Scriptures, then and now, should have been and should be. The prophecy occurs in Psalm 22:18.

Dr. John MacArthur explains, “In the psalm, David, beset by physical distress and mockery by his opponents, used the symbolism of the common practice in an execution scene in which the executioner divided the victim’s clothes to portray the depth of his trouble. It is notable that David precisely described a form of execution that he had never seen. The passage was typologically prophetic of Jesus, David’s heir to the messianic throne (see Matt. 27:46Mark 15:34).”

John Calvin comments, “Let us also learn that Christ was stripped of His garments that He might clothe us with righteousness; that His naked body was exposed to the insults of men that we may appear in glory before the judgment seat of God.”

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

LORD’S DAY 8, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 8 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. The theme for the next several Lord’s Days will be deliverance.

Q. How are these articles divided?

A. Into three parts: God the Father and our creation; God the Son and our deliverance;
and God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification.

Q. Since there is only one divine being,1 why do you speak of three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

A. Because that is how God has revealed himself in his Word:2 these three distinct persons are one, true, eternal God.

1 Deuteronomy 6:41 Corinthians 8:4, 6.
Matthew 3:16-1728:18-19Luke 4:18 (Isaiah 61:1); John 14:2615:262 Corinthians 13:14Galatians 4:6Titus 3:5-6.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

LORD’S DAY 10, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 10 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. The theme for today concerns the subject of God the Father.

Q. What do you understand by the providence of God?

A. The almighty and ever present power of God1 by which God upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, 2 and so rules them that leaf and blade,
rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness,
prosperity and poverty—3 all things, in fact, come to us not by chance4 but by his fatherly hand.5

1 Jer. 23:23-24Acts 17:24-28.
2 Heb. 1:3.
3 Jer. 5:24Acts 14:15-17/a>; John 9:3Prov. 22:2.
4 Prov. 16:33.
5 Matt. 10:29.

Q. How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?

A. We can be patient when things go against us, 1 thankful when things go well, 2
and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father
that nothing in creation will separate us from his love.3 For all creatures are so completely in God’s hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved.4

1 Job 1:21-22James 1:3.
2 Deut. 8:101 Thess. 5:18.
3 Ps. 55:22Rom. 5:3-58:38-39.
4 Job 1:122:6Prov. 21:1Acts 17:24-28.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!