The Gospel of John: Who’s Your Father, Part One.

“I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father. They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.” (John 8:37-40)

Jesus’ opening statement in John 8:37 is an acknowledgment of what the Jewish religious leaders said in John 8:33. Jesus understands that the leaders are the physical descendants of the patriarch Abraham.

However, God is more interested in an individual’s spiritual relationship with Him. A good person’s godly ancestry doesn’t help a person if they are living in disobedience and sin (Ezekiel 18). Likewise, a person’s ungodly ancestry doesn’t hinder the Holy Spirit regenerating them and they coming to God-given faith in Christ (Romans 4:9-12; Galatians 3:29; 4:21-31).

Jesus subsequently identifies the spiritual condition of the religious leaders. This evaluation is not based on their ancestry but rather on their actions. They seek to kill Jesus. This is because God’s Word has no place in their souls, in spite of their outward religiosity.

Jesus concludes in this section that one’s true heritage and spiritual condition is identified not by credentials and one’s family tree, but rather by one’s behavior.

However, in spite of Jesus’ logic the religious leaders adamantly protest by again proclaiming their religious heritage “Abraham is our father.” Yet Jesus responds with factual evidence rather than trade with them argumentative statements.

He says “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.”

Jesus indicated that Abraham, even though he was a sinner, was obedient to God’s direction even when it was painful. This indicates the fundamental distinction between Abraham and the religious leaders of Jesus’ day or any day. As Dr. R. C. Sproul wisely observes, “True sonship is not defined by biology but by obedience.”

John Calvin writes, “He (Jesus) proves from the effect that they (the religious leaders) are not the children of God, as they boasted, because they oppose God. And, indeed, is there anything in Abraham that is more highly commended that the obedience of faith? This then is the mark of distinction, whenever we are required to distinguish between His children and strangers; for empty titles, whatever estimation they may procure from the world, are of no account with God. Christ concludes again, that they are the children of the devil, because they hate with deadly hatred true and sound doctrine.”

No matter how religious a person may seem outwardly, they are a child of the devil if they have rejected Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. While it may be easy to hate such a person, we are called and commanded to pray and plead with them to repent and receive Jesus Christ. May God find us faithful in doing so.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: From Slavery to Freedom!

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36).

Whenever words are repeated in the Bible we should take notice. The Holy Spirit has placed them there and repeated them for particular emphasis. He does not want us to miss the principle and biblical truth He has chosen to impart and/or reveal.

Therefore, when Jesus answers the religious leaders in John 8:34 and says, “truly, truly, I say to you…” He is emphasizing that what He is about to say is indeed a “true truth” that must not be ignored or rejected. The Greek word for truly is not unfamiliar to us. It is the word ἀμήν (amen). It means a strong affirmation for what has been declared, such as a prayer. Or in the case of today’s text, it is a strong affirmation for what will be declared.

Jesus says, “Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” The word “practices” is the Greek Word ποιέω (poieo) which means to perform, to do or to behave. In this text it is a present tense and active voice verb. Therefore, the word means to do continually do something.

What is that which is practiced? Jesus says “sin.” Sin (ἁμαρτία/ harmartia) means to engage in wrongdoing. It is wrong behavior or actions which violates the will or law of God. Jesus says that everyone who practices sin or continually engages in wrong behavior which violates the will or law of God is a slave to sin.

I want you to take notice of a small, seemingly insignificant word. It is the word “is.” It is a present active verb describing a person’s state of being or present condition. In this case, a person’s present condition in relation to sin. The person who continually practices sin “is” a slave to sin. The word “slave” means one who is subservient to and controlled by sin.

Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “The kind of slavery that Jesus had in mind was not physical slavery but slavery to sin (cf. Rom. 6:17–18). The idea of “commits sin” means to practice sin habitually (1 John 3:4, 8–9). The ultimate bondage is not political or economic enslavement but spiritual bondage to sin and rebellion against God. Thus, this also explains why Jesus would not let himself be reduced to merely a political Messiah (John 6:14–15).”

As one other commentator says, “The very act of committing sin reveals that the one doing the act is under the power and authority of sin. Sin is personified as a cruel master. Paul used the same illustration (Rom. 6:15–23).”

Jesus continues by saying that one’s continual obedience to and practice of sin reveal a person’s true spiritual condition. While the Jewish leaders in this context, and the nation as a whole, believed they were free sons of Abraham they really were slaves to sin. They were not genuine sons of God and were in danger of facing a Christ-less eternity without God.

Jesus, on the other hand, is the true Son of God who sets spiritual slaves free from sin so that they in turn become free children of God. The word free (ἐλευθερόω/eleuthero) means a release from an association with a person or an institution on the basis that the earlier obligation or restriction is no longer relevant or in force. It also means liberty from the dominion of sin. It is those who Christ’s frees from spiritual bondage who are truly free.

Romans 8:1-2 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

The conclusion Jesus gives is, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” This is one of the many cause and effect statements contained in the Gospel of John. If one truth is true, then it stands to reason that another truth will be equally true because of the preceding truth of which it is connected.

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, Jesus is the true Son and seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16). He remains in the house and is over it (Heb. 3:6). People can become truly free by becoming sons of God by faith in Christ, the Son (Gal. 3:26).”

Are you truly free from the dominion of sin? Have you received the freedom and liberty to live a life glorifying to God which only Jesus Christ can truly give? If not, then respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, repent of your sin and receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: Denial!

They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’? Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8:33).

It is interesting to observe the lengths people will go to deny the reality which is right before them. Webster’s Dictionary defines denial as a refusal to admit the truth or reality of something (such as a statement or charge). It is also a refusal to acknowledge a person or a thing.

Denial is evidenced in John 8:33 on several levels. Let’s unpack this verse and see what these levels of denial are exactly.

First, we see the identity of the deniers. The word “they” refers to the Jewish religious leaders who Jesus has been talking with since John 7:14. They have steadfastly refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. This is in spite of the many evidences Jesus has given and the many people, including some the Pharisees (John 8:30-31), who have believed in Jesus.

Secondly, the religious leader’s denial extends to their own heritage. They identify themselves as Abraham’s offspring. However, those who belong to Abraham and are his offspring are those who possess true faith in the One, True God. They are ones who are circumcised of heart and not just of body (Romans 2:25-29). They are now known as Messianic Jews: followers of Jesus Christ.

Third, the religious leader’s denial extends to their political situation. The Jewish religious leaders denied they had ever been enslaved to anyone. However, biblical and secular historians confirm Israel’s enslavement by Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. Therefore, they must have been referring to spiritual bondage.

One commentator writes, “The pride of the Jewish nation, even now after centuries of humiliation, is the most striking feature of their character. “Talk of freedom to us? Pray when or to whom were we ever in bondage?” This bluster sounds almost ludicrous from such a nation. Had they forgotten their long and bitter bondage in Egypt? Their dreary captivity in Babylon? Their present bondage to the Roman yoke, and their restless eagerness to throw it off? But probably they saw that our Lord pointed to something else—freedom, perhaps, from the leaders of sects or parties—and were not willing to allow their subjection even to these. Our Lord, therefore, though He knew what slaves they were in this sense, drives the ploughshare somewhat deeper than this, to a bondage they little dreamt of.”

The fourth and final denial is the most striking. The religious leader’s denial of their need for freedom from their sin. It is a bondage Jesus immediately addresses in John 8:34 when He says, ““Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.”

Dr. John MacArthur explains, “The kind of slavery that Jesus had in mind was not physical slavery but slavery to sin (cf. Rom. 6:17–18). The idea of “commits sin” means to practice sin habitually (1 John 3:4, 8–9). The ultimate bondage is not political or economic enslavement but spiritual bondage to sin and rebellion against God. Thus, this also explains why Jesus would not let himself be reduced to merely a political Messiah (John 6:14–15).”

Some people often exist in a state of denial. It may be a denial regarding failing health, one’s financial stability, substance abuse, or the political mood of the country. Some even deny that the United States has enemies. Since 2001, September 11 is a reminder that there are those who hate Americans and will do whatever it takes to destroy our representative republic.

Even greater is a denial that one is a sinner and in need of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. I encourage you today to repent of your sins and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord today. May He begin to be your Master by He having set you free from the law of sin and death.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: Abide In His Word.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Genuine salvation and true discipleship is proven by abiding in the Word of God. It’s that simple and at the same time, that complex.

What does it mean to abide? The New Testament word for abide is μένω (meno) meaning to stay, remain and to continue. Within the context of today’s text, what those who believe in Jesus are to “abide in” is the Word of God. If we believers do this, we demonstrate that we truly are Jesus’ disciples. This then is a pivotal passage for believers to understand genuine salvation and true discipleship.

The result of abiding in the Word of God is that the true disciple of Jesus will know or understand the truth of God’s Word. We will have an understanding of reality or the way things really are. This is where abiding in the truth of God’s Word may become complex or difficult. For you see, there are truth’s contained in the Scriptures which we may not initially like or understand: election and predestination, for example. These are hard truths given to us by a holy God. He will not compromise His truth, and neither should His disciples.

When we seek to understand and receive God’s Word, that exposure to truth will bring us a liberty, or a freedom, to do what we ought to do before God and other people. This freedom is a growing and developing liberty which is not stagnant but vibrant and alive because of our relationship to Christ as Savior and Lord.

It is a freedom which prompts the husband to truly sacrificially love his wife. It is a freedom which prompts a wife to truly submit to her husband. It is a freedom which prompts a child to truly obey their parents and for parents to not frustrate their children. It is a freedom which prompts the employee, and employer, to dedicate their work to God and His glory and not for their own advancement whoever it may hurt. It is a freedom which prompts the citizen to be responsible in obeying the law, to be praying for their leaders and to be living as good neighbors within their community.

Are you truly free in Christ? May we live lives of liberty which is grounded in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: Don’t Give Up!

So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him.” (John 8:28-30)

In today’s text Jesus demonstrates His omniscience, or His attribute of all-knowledge. As God, this should not surprise us. When He says, ““When you have lifted up the Son of Man,” He not only indicates how He will die, crucifixion corresponds to the phrase “when you have lifted up”, but who will be responsible for His death: the religious leaders.

Dr. R. c. Sproul writes, “This lifting up refers to the Savior’s death by crucifixion, which in John’s gospel is part of our Lord’s exaltation. On the cross, Jesus is seen for who He is, the God-man who suffered as a man for the sins of His people and to whom we owe all glory and honor.”

It will only be after the scribes, chief priests and Pharisees accomplish this God ordained act that they will ultimately realize what they have done. They will be brought to the terrifying understanding and realization that the One who they crucified is the One they should have worshiped.

For many of the religious leaders to whom Jesus spoke, they would die without Christ. However, today’s text reveals that when Jesus concluded speaking, “many believed in Him.” While a broad interpretation could mean that the “many” included all types of people, the narrow view would regard the “many” as many of the religious leaders. I tend to view the latter possibility as the most accurate to the text. One commentator writes, “Many Jews believed on Christ after his death and ascension, realizing that the One whom they rejected was truly the Messiah (Acts 2:36, 37, 41).

The application to us is that we should never give up our attempts to share the Gospel with people who have rejected our previous efforts. It is easy to become frustrated and to simply give up on those who have spurned Jesus in the past. Instead, rest in the sovereign grace of God who knows those who are His. He may use your and my efforts to bring about the salvation of souls for His glory.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: Who are You?

“I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father.” (John 8:25-27)

As we continue to examine the dialogue in John 8 between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders of His day, the incapability of fallen people to inherently understand the Gospel is glaringly apparent. In spite of their religious status, these leaders were unable to comprehend what Jesus was saying. As we saw yesterday, it was because they did not belong to the Kingdom of God but rather the Kingdom of the Devil.

I can certainly relate to this. For you see, I was raised in a religious home. We went to church every Sunday. My parents made this a priority. They made sure my sister and I were in church, Sunday school, confirmation classes, etc. It was a part of the weekly schedule of our lives.

During my rebellious teenage years, I acquired a job at Burger King which required me to work on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I drifted away from, what had been for sixteen years, my weekly routine. My parents didn’t mind because getting a job was an understandable reason for missing church.

When a co-worker invited me to their church, for a Sunday evening service of all things, I accepted. Mind you, this was not because I was interested in spiritual things or biblical truth, but rather because I was interested in the girl.

During the service, I noticed something different about the people who were participating. I observed a true, or real conviction, to what they were singing and saying. Yet, at the same time I did not understand it. These people possessed a joy and happiness which I did not have, in spite of all my religious upbringing.

It was when, a little over 18 months later, that God converted me by His sovereign grace and I became a follower of Jesus Christ. It was only then that I “could” understand the Gospel because of the Holy Spirit’s regenerating work (John 3:1-8).

Such was the case with these who Jesus spoke to in John 8. In spite of many witnesses to Jesus’, which John records in the early chapters of his gospel, these religious leaders could not believe. They embodied the truth of John 6:35-66.

To those in your life who have yet to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, earnestly pray for them that the Holy Spirit would regenerate their souls and they would become followers of Jesus. I am grateful for those I know, and those I don’t, who prayed for that to occur in my own life. Thank you Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: A Study in Contrasts.

So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.”  So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” (John 8:21-24)

My wife and I recently had a conversation with some close friends. In the course of the discussion, which addressed such issues as work, politics and God’s existence, we shared the Gospel. It was not the first time we have done so with this couple. Hopefully it will not be the last time because you see, these two people do not know the Lord as their Savior. Consequently, the Bible says that if and when they die without Christ, they will die in their sins and therefore be condemned to a Christ-less eternity in Hell.

Do you ever find yourselves frustrated when you share the Gospel to the same people and they continue to reject? Do you wonder if you said something different, or if you shared the same message in a different way, that your acquaintances would be more receptive? I wonder?

In today’s passage, we witness Jesus sharing the same message of salvation in Him to the same people, the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus’ audience remained steadfast in their rejection of Him and refused to receive Him as Messiah. An undisclosed amount of time has passed between Jesus’ proclamation of Himself as the light of the world (John 8:12–20) and the dialogue between our Lord and the Pharisees contained in today’s passage.

He instructed the chief priests and the Pharisees again of His impending death, resurrection and ascension to the Father. It was the same announcement to the same people the Apostle John records Jesus proclaiming in John 7:33-34.

Once again, initially like Nicodemas (John 3) and the Woman at the Well (John 4), the religious leaders thought in literal terms. They thought Jesus was saying that He was going to kill Himself. They did not, and could not, understand what His words truly meant (I Corinthians 2:14).  That same can be said of my friends.

Why? The answer is because my friends and I, along with Jesus and the religious leaders of His day, belong to two different realms of authority. Two different kingdoms, if you will.

One kingdom Jesus said is “from below.” It is a kingdom “of this world.” Those who belong to this kingdom will “die in their sins.” The religious leaders, and my friends, belong to this kingdom.

The other kingdom is “from above.” It is a kingdom “not of this world.” Those who belong to this kingdom will be saved from the penalty, power and presence of their sins. This is the kingdom of God. It is a kingdom whose entrance is by grace alone, through faith alone, and in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The contrast here is between the realm of God and that of the fallen, sinful world (i.e., “from below”). The world in this context is the invisible spiritual system of evil dominated by Satan and all that it offers in opposition to God, his word, and his people (see notes on 1:91 John 5:19). Jesus declared that his opponents’ true kinship was with Satan and his realm. By this domination, they were spiritually blinded (see 2 Cor. 4:4Eph. 2:1–3).”

Verse 24 is an especially critical one to understand. Jesus once again identifies Himself as the One, True God when He says “for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” His use of the phrase “I AM” is once again a reference to the most personal name for God. It means to be the self-existent One. (John 4:26).

Dr. MacArthur explains that, “The reference may be to both Exodus 3:14 where the Lord declared his name as “I AM” and to Isaiah 40–55 where the phrase “I am” occurs repeatedly (especially Isaiah 43:10, 13, 25; 46:4; 48:12). In this, Jesus referred to himself as the God (Yahweh—the Lord) of the OT, and directly claimed full deity for himself, prompting the Jews’ question of John 8:25.”

What is the pivotal, or crucial truth, separating these two people groups and kingdoms? It is their relationship of faith to Jesus Christ. To have faith in Christ alone as Savior and Lord is to become a citizen of the kingdom of God. Otherwise, failure to believe in Jesus as God in the flesh is to remain condemned in trespasses and sin.

Which kingdom do you belong? Remember, it is a matter of life and death. If there is even a hint of doubt as to which kingdom you are a part of, repent of your sins and receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (John 1:12-13).

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: Knowing the Father!

They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also. These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.” (John 8:19-20).

Jesus instructed the religious leaders that His personal testimony regarding His identity was true. It was supported by three facts: Fist, Jesus knew his origin and destiny while the Jews were ignorant even of basic spiritual truths, making their judgment limited and superficial (vv. 14–15). Second, Jesus’ intimate union with the Father guaranteed the truth of the Son’s witness (v. 16). Third, the Father and Son testified together regarding the identity of the Son (vv. 17–18).

How ironic that the religious leader’s testimony of their own status with God the Father is glaringly apparent. Rather than being those who occupy the highest level of righteousness with God, they reveal their ignorance of Him and their lack of salvation from Him. When they asked Jesus, “Where is your Father?”, apparently in response to Jesus’ previous statement in John 8:16-18, they were once again thinking only on human terms (e.g., 3:4; 4:11; 6:52).

Jesus said, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” To know (οἶδα; oida) means more than just to possess information about someone. It also means to understand the one you claim to know. In other words, you don’t really know someone until you understand how they think and act. The religious leaders, in spite of their claims and religious position, did not know God and did not know Christ.

John Calvin writes that Jesus, “does not deign to give them a direct reply, but in a few words reproaches them with the ignorance in which they flatter themselves. They inquired about the Father, and yet when they had the Son before their eyes, seeing, they did not see (Matthew 13:13).”

Calvin continues by saying, “Let us know that the same thing is spoken to us all; whoever aspires to know God, and does not begin with Christ, must wander – as it were – in a labyrinth.”

John inserts a commentary that this dialogue occurred in the temple, at a part known as the treasury. This was where the sacred offerings were taken. Many people came to part of the temple. Therefore, we may infer that there was a large crowd of people in attendance. Yet no one arrested Him because it was not God the Father’s timing for this to occur.

How do we truly know that we know God? I John 2:3-6 says, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

Are you revealing your intimate knowledge of God today by how you live? Remember, people are watching.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: A Valid Testimony.

“So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true. Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” (John 8:13)

John 8 showcases an extensive dialogue between Jesus and the religious leaders who He encountered at the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:45). As the final day of the feast featured a festival of lights, so Jesus used this occasion to preach and teach that He was the fulfillment of the feast by being the light of the world (John 8:12). The Jewish religious leaders, specifically the chief priests and the Pharisees, were not accepting Jesus’ testimony.

The Pharisees could not, and would not, accept Jesus’ testimony about Himself. They told Him that His witness was not legal under Mosaic Law and therefore was not true or acceptable. Their reasoning was based on the principle that at least two witnesses were needed in a legal setting to accept a claim or testimony (see Deuteronomy 19:15).

The Jews mockingly brought up Jesus’ own words from John 5:31. How does He meet this statement by His opponents? Jesus does not dismiss the human proverb that “self-praise is no praise,” but He affirms that He was an exception to the rule, or rather, that it did not apply to Him.  Remember also that Jesus insisted that John the Baptist gave witness to the validity of Jesus’ testimony (John 5:32-35 along with Jesus’ own works (5:36), God the Father (5:37-38) and the Scriptures (5:39-47).

In John 8:14-18 Jesus gives three reasons that His testimony about Himself was true. First, Jesus knew his origin and destiny while the Jews were ignorant even of basic spiritual truths, making their judgment limited and superficial (vv. 14–15). Second, the intimate union of the Son with the Father guaranteed the truth of the Son’s witness (v. 16). Third, the Father and Son witnessed together regarding the identity of the Son (vv. 17–18).

Puritan Matthew Henry writes, Did not Moses and all the prophets bear witness of themselves when they avouched themselves to be God’s messengers? Did not the Pharisees ask John Baptist, What sayest thou of thyself? They overlooked the testimony of all the other witnesses, which corroborated the testimony he (Jesus) bore of himself. Had he only borne record of himself, his testimony had indeed been suspicious, and the belief of it might have been suspended; but his doctrine was attested by more than two or three credible witnesses, enough to establish every word of it.”

The credibility of Jesus’ testimony as to His identity is also aligned with the credible witness of His resurrection. I Corinthians 15:1-7 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.”

The testimony of Jesus identity and ministry is overwhelming. We have a trustworthy Savior Who is Who He says He is and Who has done what the Bible says He has done.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: I Am the Light of the World, Part 2.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Jesus said “I am the light of the world.” This is the second of Jesus’ seven metaphorical “I AM” statements contained in the Gospel of John.  The first was “I Am the Bread of Life” (John 6:20). The phrase “I Am” is from the Greek words ego eimi. This particular phrase is found 23  times in the Gospel of John (John 4:26; 6:20, 35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12, 18, 24, 28, 58; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 13:19; 14:6; 15:1, 5; 18:5, 6, 8). It refers the reader back to Exodus 3:14 and is an explicit statement by Jesus that He is God. It is also here, as in John 6, that Jesus will join His “I Am” statement with a metaphor, or a comparison, which expresses His redeeming relationship to the fallen world.

It is important not to forget the immediate grammatical context in which we find John 8:12. We have noted that John 7:53–8:11 was more than likely not originally found in the location where it appears in most of our English translations of the Gospel of John. That additionally means that John 8:12–20 occurs right after John 7:52.

The importance of this observation is that Jesus’ “light of the world” discourse would have occurred at the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. During the seven day festival, except for the last day, the great candelabras in the temple were lit, resulting in much rejoicing under their light. By announcing that He Himself the light of the world, Jesus was pronouncing that He fulfills the Feast of Booths. He is the light under whom people can truly rejoice. He is the presence of God who guided the people of Israel in the wilderness, the journey that the festival commemorated (Ex. 13:21; Lev. 23:33–43).

The result of this declaration is a promise Jesus gives. “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” We see here a preceding causal statement (“Whoever follows me”), followed by two effects (“will not walk in darkness” and “but will have the light of life.”

The word follow, “ἀκολουθέω; akoloutheo, means to be a committed and exclusive follower to the one followed. The word contains the idea of a complete commitment and not a half-hearted one (Matthew 8:18-22; 10:38-39). It is to be a present and active act on the part of the disciple.

The first effect, or promise, is that such a follower of Christ “will not walk in darkness.” To walk (περιπατέω; peripateo) means to live. Darkness (σκοτία; scotia) represents the evil and fallen world. Therefore, to walk in darkness means to continually live a life patterned by sin and rebellion to God. Those who follow Christ and possess His light of salvation, will live a life consistent with the light.

I John 1:5-7 says, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

The second effect, or promise, is that such a follower of Christ “will have the light of life.”  Possessing salvation and blessing from God (i.e. light) is not the result of not walking in darkness but rather the cause of such. As such, there is a growing light of holiness which occurs in the soul of the believer.

The Apostle John explains it this way in I John 2:7-8: “Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.”

The passing darkness and the shining light is not only in the world, but also within the soul of each believer who is fully committed in following the Lord and living for Him and for His glory. As each of us increasingly seeks to honor and live for Christ, the darkness within us, and by extension within the world, recedes a little bit more. Additionally, it only takes a little bit of light to cause darkness to flee.

John Calvin explains, “For when we learn that all who allow themselves to be governed by Christ are out of danger of going astray, we ought to be excited to follow Him, and indeed, by stretching out His hand, as it were, He draws us to Him. We ought also to be powerfully affected by so large and magnificent a promise, that they who shall direct their eyes to Christ are certain that, even in the midst of darkness, they will be preserved from going astray; and that not only for a short period, but until they have finished their course.”

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Live boldly for Christ today, beloved. Glorify Him by the light He has given you. Become an agent of light in a world of darkness.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: I Am the Light of the World.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Jesus said “I am the light of the world.” This is the second of Jesus’ seven metaphorical “I AM” statements contained in the Gospel of John.  The first was “I Am the Bread of Life” (John 6:20). The phrase “I Am” is from the Greek words ego eimi. This particular phrase is found 23  times in the Gospel of John (John 4:26; 6:20, 35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12, 18, 24, 28, 58; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 13:19; 14:6; 15:1, 5; 18:5, 6, 8). It refers the reader back to Exodus 3:14 and is an explicit statement by Jesus that He is God. It is also here, as in John 6, that Jesus will join His “I Am” statement with a metaphor, or a comparison, which expresses His redeeming relationship to the fallen world.

It is important not to forget the immediate grammatical context in which we find John 8:12. We have noted that John 7:53–8:11 was more than likely not originally found in the location where it appears in most of our English translations of the Gospel of John. That additionally means that John 8:12–20 may occur right after John 7:52.

The importance of this observation is that Jesus’ “light of the world” discourse would have occurred at the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. During the seven day festival, except for the last day, the great candelabras in the temple were lit, resulting in much rejoicing under their light.

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that this information, “gives us additional background for today’s passage, which records words that Jesus would have spoken on either the last day of the Feast of Booths or shortly thereafter. By proclaiming Himself the light of the world, Jesus was announcing that He fulfills the Feast of Booths. He is the light under whom people can rejoice truly, the presence of God who guided the people of Israel in the wilderness, the journey that the festival commemorated (Ex. 13:21; Lev. 23:33–43).

What does the word “light” biblically mean? The word “light” appears in the Old Testament as representing several different things. It is a metaphor for the salvation that the Lord provides to His people (Psalm 27:1). It also symbolizes the guidance the law of God offers (Psalm 119:105). Isaiah 42:5–9 uses light as a representation of Israel and, preeminently, the Servant of Israel, who are given to the nations for the sake of blessing.

All of these Old Testament usages for the word “light” are fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, as the light of the world, Jesus Christ is the only source of salvation, the only true guidance for His covenant people, and the only source of blessing to the fallen world.

John Calvin comments that, “It is a beautiful commendation of Christ, when He is called the light of the world; for since we are all blind by nature, a remedy is offered by which we may be freed and rescued from darkness and made partakers of the true light. Nor is it only to one person or to another that this benefit is offered, for Christ declares that He is the light of the whole world; for by this universal statement He intended to remove the distinction, not only between Jews and Gentiles, but between the learned and ignorant, between persons of distinction and the common people.”

I’m sure you remember these familiar words. Reflect on their truths, especially your former blindness and your need for the light which only Jesus brings.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,                                                                                         that saved a wretch like me.                                                                                                                I once was lost, but now am found.                                                                                              Was blind, but now I see.

Soli deo Gloria!