His Word Today: A Time to Reflect!

It was one year ago to the day when His Word Today began. This daily blog was the result of a suggestion given to me by a colleague in ministry. I am forever grateful for my friend’s inspired encouragement for me to present biblical truths and insights God has given me in over 40 years of preaching and teaching.

The vision of hiswordtoday.org is simple. First, everything written will be about God: who He is and what He does. Second, we seek to faithfully examine what God has revealed to us in His Word, the Bible, about who He is and what He does. Third, we want to see how God in His Word practically impacts us each day we live because of who He is and what He does.

I am grateful to all of you who faithfully follow this blog. Your words of encouragement have been a blessing. Your comments have proved helpful. They have strengthened me to continue this daily discipline: not only for your edification but my own.

I am grateful to my family who proved pivotal in creating this site and who continue to help me maintain its vision for excellence.

Finally, I am grateful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without Him, I could do nothing. With Him I can do all things for which He has called me to do (Philippians 4:13).

As we enter a second year of Bible study, we will begin with an examination of the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Thereafter, we will continue to study the Gospel of John. I’m not sure what we will study after that, but your suggestions are most welcome. Are their questions your need answered? Are there biblical truths that need explaining? Is there a biblical book you would like for us to study? Let me know what you think and we will proceed from there.

Finally, let the words of I Corinthians 10:31 ring loud and true: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: Let Him Who is Without Sin.

“And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.” (John 8:7-9).

It should be noted at this time that John 7:53 – 8:11 is not found in the earliest manuscripts we possess of the Gospel of John. Dr. John MacArthur provides a very thoughtful explanation as to this portion of Scripture.

This section dealing with the adulteress most likely was not a part of the original contents of John. It has been incorporated into various manuscripts at different places in the Gospel (e.g., after vv. 36, 44, 52, or 21:25), while one manuscript places it after Luke 21:38. External manuscript evidence representing a great variety of textual traditions is decidedly against its inclusion, for the earliest and best manuscripts exclude it. Many manuscripts mark the passage to indicate doubt as to its inclusion. Significant early versions exclude it. No Greek Church father comments on the passage until the twelfth century. The vocabulary and style of the section also are different from the rest of the Gospel, and the section interrupts the sequence of John 7:52with 8:12ff. Many, however, do think that it has all the earmarks of historical veracity, perhaps being a piece of oral tradition that circulated in parts of the Western church, so that a few comments are in order. In spite of all these considerations of the likely unreliability of this section, it is possible to be wrong on the issue, and thus it is good to consider the meaning of this passage and leave it in the text, just as with Mark 16:9–20.”

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, We must note that whether John actually recorded this story is up for debate. Most biblical scholars do not believe this is a Johannine text because it is not found in many of the oldest New Testament manuscripts. Moreover, the manuscripts that do have the story do not all agree on where it should be placed. Some manuscripts have it in other places in John, while some even have it in the gospel of Luke. Nevertheless, it is an ancient story referenced in several of the earliest church fathers, and the church has long held that it records an authentic episode from the life of Christ. Thus, we agree with John Calvin that since the passage “contains nothing unworthy of an Apostolic Spirit, there is no reason why we should refuse to apply it to our advantage.”

All of that being said, the text records Jesus’ response to the continued badgering by the Sadducees and Pharisees regarding the woman. He finally responds by saying, ““Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

This is a direct reference to Deuteronomy 13:9 and 17:7. Both texts indicate that when an execution is about to begin, only those who were not guilty of the same crime or sin may participate in the execution.

Jesus once again bends down and writes on the ground. Perhaps this was a delaying tactic which gave the leaders time to think and consider their actions. However, after hearing Jesus’ words, one by one they began to leave the scene with eventually Jesus and the woman together while in the midst of the crowd at the temple.

John Calvin writes that, “Beginning from the eldest, even to the last, that according as each them surpassed the others in honorable rank, they were more quickly moved by His (Jesus’) condemnation. We ought also to observe how widely this conviction of sin, by which the scribes were affected, differs from true repentance. For we ought to be affected by the judgment of God in such a manner, that we shall not seek a place of concealment to avoid the presence of the Judge, but rather shall go direct to Him in order to implore His forgiveness.”

There is nothing better for any sinner to come to Christ in total surrender. If you need to be forgiven, and who doesn’t, flee to the forgiveness Christ provides for sinner and saint alike.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: Unjust Justice!

“They said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say? This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.” (John 8:4-6)

The Sadducees and Pharisees bring a woman to Jesus while He was sitting and teaching in the Temple. No information is given as to how these religious leaders happened to catch the woman in the very act of adultery? Did they set up the whole scenario? We do not know. Additionally, where is the man she was with? No mention is made of him, either by John, the religious leaders or Jesus.

The religious leaders immediately wanted to know what Jesus would say about this situation. They referenced the Law of Moses that such women were to be stoned. The Old Testament references may have been Leviticus 20:10 and or Deuteronomy 22:22-24.

Leviticus 20:10 says, “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”

Deuteronomy 22:22-24 says, “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel. “If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”

However, even the casual observer must note that in both Old Testament references, the law indicates that both parties engaged in adultery were to be put to death. In the case of the situation recorded in John 8, only the woman is brought before Jesus. Where was the man who committed adultery with her? His absence, and John’s editorial comment that this was all a test in order to arrest Jesus, reveals the utter hypocrisy of the Sadducees and Pharisees.

Pastor Burk Parsons comments that, “John 8:6 confirms that these leaders were not concerned with justice. They brought the woman to Jesus to test Him, asking whether they should execute her as the law demands. From a human perspective, this put Jesus in a predicament. If He were to deny that she deserved death, He could be accused of taking the law lightly and might lose much of His Jewish audience. If He were to call for her execution, the religious authorities could complain to the Roman government that controlled the Holy Land that Jesus was calling for the Jews to do something only the Romans could do in that day, namely, enforce capital punishment. Seeing their trap, Jesus crouched down and began writing in the dirt, making them wait for His answer (v. 6).

We do not know what Jesus wrote on the ground and it is unwise to speculate. John Calvin writes, “By this, Jesus stooping down and writing on the ground, He intended to show that He despised them. Those who conjecture that He wrote this or the other thing, in my opinion, do not understand this meaning. For Christ rather intended, by doing nothing, to show how unworthy they were of being heard; just as if any person, while another was speaking to him, were to draw lines on the wall, or to turn his back, or to show, by any other sign, that he was to attending to what was said.”

Calvin concludes by saying, “Thus in the present day, when Satan attempts, by various methods, to draw us aside from the right way of teaching, we ought disdainfully to pass by many things which he holds out to us.”

Pastor Burk Parson’s writes, “Deuteronomy 16:20 stresses that the judges in ancient Israel were to pursue justice and only justice. The religious authorities who brought the adulterous woman before Jesus didn’t care about justice, for they went after the woman only and not the man she was sleeping with as well. As God’s people, we must be concerned with justice, with making sure that the innocent are protected and the guilty held accountable.”

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: What a Contrast!

“Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst.” (John 8:2-3).

The contrast between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders continues to be John’s focus as the eighth chapter of John’s Gospel continues. Following a night of presumed prayer on the Mount of Olives, early the next morning Jesus comes once again to the temple. The people, like the sheep they symbolically were, flocked to Him. Jesus, like the Good Shepherd He is, sat down and taught them.

On the other hand, following a night of presumed plotting and renewed efforts to arrest Jesus, the Scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery and placed her in the midst of the crowd and Jesus. No information is given as to how they discovered this woman’s adultery or where the man was who committed adultery with her. The religious leader’s intention will become clearer as the text unfolds.

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “Right away, astute observers will notice that something is amiss. It takes two people to commit an act of physical adultery, and if the woman was caught in the act, a man would have been caught as well. Where is he? The text does not say, but the very fact that only the woman is charged shows that these religious leaders were not concerned with the law. Both the man and the woman were to be punished when they were guilty of adultery (Lev. 20:10), but the scribes and the Pharisees sought to condemn only the woman.”

While Jesus is sitting down to teach the people the Word of God, the religious leaders place a woman in their midst who they condemn as having broken the Word of God. Jesus is concerned with teaching, while the religious leaders are only interested in condemning: the woman and Jesus. While Jesus is the embodiment of justice, the Sadducees and Pharisees embody injustice.

Who do we most identify with? Of what people group from this text do we most compare ourselves? Do we identify ourselves with Jesus in seeking to be Christ-like in all we do? Or what about the people who listened to His teaching? Are we more like them?

Are we like the adulterous woman? Are we in need of God’s forgiveness and restoration? Or are we more like the religious leaders: condemning other people by our own self-righteousness while at the same time ignoring our own sinfulness?

Our personal answers to these questions will impact our understanding and application of this text. There is much more to come from the account of the Woman Caught in Adultery. I trust you will make every effort to continue to join me each day as we study His Word.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: False Shepherds.

“They went each to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.” (John 7:53-8:1).

As indicated yesterday, the Feast of the Tabernacles came to its conclusion. So too, for the time being anyway, did the Sadducees and Pharisees conclude their efforts to arrest Jesus. Today’s text refers to the religious leaders going back to their respective homes. You get the impression that they went to their homes thinking that tomorrow was another day in which to plot and plan anew their intent to arrest and kill Jesus. As we will witness in John 8:1-11, it would not take them long.

Jesus, however, went to the Mount of Olives. We may observe a contrast concerning Jesus and the religious leaders.

First, they went to their respective homes. Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. He had no physical home or house in which to spend the night.

Second, it can be speculated that the religious leaders spent the night plotting their next effort to trap Jesus in order to arrest Him. John 8:2-11 will support this conclusion. In contrast, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives presumably to pray. Luke 21:37-38 indicates that this was His common practice.

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “It might have been the Lord’s ordinary custom from the beginning to leave the brilliant misery of the city every night, that so He might compose His sorrowful and interceding heart, and collect His energies for new labors of love; preferring for His resting-place Bethany, and the Mount of Olives, the scene thus consecrated by many preparatory prayers for His final humiliation and exaltation.”

Today’s text may also be a contrast between the false shepherds of Israel, the Sadducees and Pharisees, and the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Why were people who were so religious at the same so intent on destroying the very One who was the fulfillment of their religion? The Prophet Ezekiel shares the possible answer in Ezekiel 34:1-11.

The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.”

The LORD’s stinging rebuke of Israel’s kings through the prophet may also be applied to Israel’s religious leaders during Jesus’ days of ministry. The Sadducees and Pharisees true identity as false shepherds is in contrast to Jesus’ true identity as the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-16). Their desire to kill Him is in contrast with Jesus’ desire to die on behalf of sinners like them.

Jesus gave His own warning against false shepherds. In Matthew 7:15-20. He said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

What was true in Ezekiel’s and Jesus’ day remains so in our own. There are many so-called spiritual leaders who are in reality false shepherds. They are only interested in preying upon believers in Christ, instead of praying for them. They are only interested in feeding themselves instead of feeding the flock of God’s people. Jesus said we will know them by their fruits.

Pray for and encourage pastors and religious leaders who are truly doing the work God has called them to do.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: A Pastor’s Perspective on the Sovereignty of God in Salvation.

“They went each to his own house,” (John 7:53).

As the Feast of the Tabernacles came to its conclusion, so too, for the time being anyway, did the Sadducees and Pharisees plot to arrest Jesus. Today’s text refers to the religious leaders going back to their respective homes. You get the impression that they went to their homes thinking that tomorrow was another day in which to plot and plan anew their intent to arrest and kill Jesus. As we will witness in John 8:1-11, it would not take them long.

Why were people who were so religious at the same so intent on destroying the very One who was the fulfillment of their religion? Jesus will answer this directly in John 8. His answer may surprise you.

For the time being though, let’s ponder the words of pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards. His sermon, God’s Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men, is based upon Romans 9:18 which says, “Therefore He has mercy on whom He has mercy, and who He will he hardens.”

Pastor Edwards, in addressing the particular theological point that God exercises His sovereignty in the eternal salvation of men, writes that God’ sovereignty is “His absolute, independent right of disposing on all creatures according to His own pleasure.” This pleasure is in opposition to any constraint, is not under the will of another, and is not under any other obligation.

What God’s sovereignty implies, Edward’s stated, is that “God can, without any prejudice to the honor of any of His attributes, bestow salvation on any of the children of men, or refuse it.”  The implication of such a bestowing is that God may give salvation to the meek and lowly and deny it to the wise and great.

I Corinthians 1:26-28 says, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,”

Edwards explained that God will sometimes bless weak means in producing astonishing effects when more excellent means are not utilized. Edwards writes, “Sometimes some, who have eminent means of grace, are rejected, and left to perish, and others, under far less advantages, are saved. Thus the scribes and Pharisees, who had so much light and knowledge of the Scriptures, were mostly rejected, and the poor ignorant publicans saved. The greater part of those, among whom, Christ was much conversant, and who heard Him preach, and saw Him work miracles from day to day, were left; and the woman of Samaria was taken, and many other Samaritans at the same time, who only heard Christ preach, as He occasionally passed through their city. So the Jews, who had seen and heard Christ, and saw His miracles, and with whom the apostles labored so much, were not saved. But the Gentiles, many of them, as it were, but transiently heard the glad tidings of salvation, embraced them and were converted.”

The reason people who were so religious but also at the same so intent on destroying the very One who was the fulfillment of their religion were so because their religion was of the devil and not of God. This is what we will see in John 8.

This is what we witness in our own day and age. As the writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Take time today to thank God for saving your soul and resolve to live in gratitude to Him for His extravagant gift.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: May it be Said of Us.

Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” (John 7:50-52).

Psalm 1119:1 says, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!”

Proverbs 2:6-8 says, “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.”

Proverbs 10:9 says, Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.”

You have to respect Nicodemas. He was a man of integrity. He followed the evidence where it took him. He witnessed the works of Jesus and concluded that He must be from God (John 3:1-8). He witnessed the behavior of his fellow Pharisees and concluded they were violating the law. The law they so strictly enforced upon others, they themselves were ignoring.

The Sadducees and Pharisees already had Jesus tried, judged and convicted. They wanted Him dead (John 5:18). However, Nicodemas pointed out a technical point to the rule of law: Jesus had not yet been heard in the court of Jewish law. Jesus must testify before He is judged before the law as either guilty or innocent of a crime. Additionally, Jesus had not been charged with a crime.

The religious leaders did not directly respond to Nicodemas’ convicting point of law, but remarked, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” Rather than consider what Nicodemas had to say, they also arrogantly dismissed him. They concluded the Jesus could not be, for example, a prophet of God because no prophet came from Galilee.

Once again, the religious leaders ignorance of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:1-7; John 7:40-44) was apparent. So also was their understanding of the Old Testament. Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “The real ignorance lay with the arrogant Pharisees who did not carefully search out the facts as to where Jesus was actually born. While they accused the crowds of ignorance, they too were really as ignorant (v. 42). Furthermore, the prophet Jonah and Nahum did come from Galilee.”

Sometimes people make confident assertions about the Bible and what it teaches without ever having read what they so confidently assert. We are to walk humbly before God and other people. Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

May it be said of us.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: No One Ever Spoke Like Jesus.

The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” (John 7:45-49)

The officers mentioned in today’s text were first mentioned in John 7:32. “The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him.” The Sadducees and Pharisees did not want Jesus’ influence upon the people to increase. Therefore, they sent the Temple guards to arrest Jesus.

When the guards returned to the religious leaders they did not have Jesus in their custody. They had not arrested Him. The chief priests (Sadducees) and Pharisees wanted to know why. They said, “Why did you not bring him?” We can sense from the tone of their question that these religious leaders were not happy at the failure of the Temple police to carry out their orders.

What was the officers’ response? The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” With an emphatic statement, the officers stated that Jesus was unique. When they confronted His person and powerful preaching, they were cut to their hearts. They were convicted and presumably convinced that Jesus spoke the truth.

The religious leaders were incredulous. They responded, ““Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” They not only mocked the officers but also the crowd who had begun to believe in Jesus (John 7:31).

As Pastor Burk Parsons explains, “It is doubtful that the officers had true faith in Jesus, at least at the time John 7 describes. More likely, they realized that it would not go well for them if they took into custody One with such evident authority (see Matt. 7:28–29). But the authorities who sent the officers to arrest Jesus did not share their fear. Today’s passage tells us that upon hearing of the officers’ failure, the Pharisees said Jesus had bewitched them (John 7:47). Most of the religious authorities who interacted with Jesus considered Him a fraud (see, for example, Matt. 12:22–32), and they thought He had tricked the officers.”

Pastor Parsons continues by stating, “The Pharisees, in particular, viewed themselves alone as those who truly knew the law of God. That explains their question in John 7:48. If these leaders had not believed in Jesus, surely He could not be the Christ. Moreover, we see in verse 49 their disdain for the common people. First-century rabbis tended to have a low view of anyone who was not educated in the law and the oral traditions, and the leaders we read about in today’s passage saw the crowd’s acceptance of Jesus as flowing from their ignorance and resulting in a curse on them. Yet, the common people actually knew the law better than the Pharisees did, for they followed the One to whom the law points (5:46–47).”

Augustine of Hippo also points out the irony in the Pharisees’ accusation in a sermon on today’s passage: He explains that, “The Pharisees, the teachers of the law, were made blind, and the people that knew not the law, and yet believed on the author of the law, were enlightened.” This same irony will also be evidenced in the account of Jesus’ healing of the man born blind in John 9.

I Corinthians 8:1-3 says, Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”

Much like many of today’s politicians, these first century Jewish religious leaders were arrogant of their knowledge and position. They were convinced that they knew all the answers and that others were woefully ignorant. Consequently, they proved that they truly did not know God. They lacked one thing a true believer possesses: love. This is love for God and love for other people. Those who love God are not only ones who know God, but they are the ones God knows as His own.

Pastor Parsons concludes by saying, “Gaining knowledge is a wonderful thing, provided that we do not allow it to make us proud, that we do not puff ourselves up with our education (1 Cor. 8:1). The opponents of Jesus were highly educated men, but because they did not put their knowledge to use in serving God, they did not recognize Jesus for who He was. As we seek to increase our knowledge, especially with respect to the things of God, we must do so with the intent to serve Him.”

God calls us to serve, rather than to be served. Let us always remember this.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: So Close, and Yet So Far.

“When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So there was a division among the people over him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him” (John 7:40-44).

“So close and yet so far.” When I was growing up, my best friend and I would exchange this quote with each other as an evaluation between the two of us about something we had observed or heard. It could refer to a baseball game, some other sports activity, or something we had seen on a recent episode of our favorite television program at the time: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The statement’s meaning was that the participants involved in a behavior, action or competition had come close to achieving their goal, but fell short. However, in falling short of their goal, what the people involved did not realize was truly how far they actually were in succeeding.

I believe this applies to many people regarding the subject of God in general and the person and work of Jesus Christ in particular. People may comment that they believe in God and also believe that Jesus was a good person and teacher. However, what they are revealing is how truly far they are from understanding the subject of which they confidently comment.

Such was the case with the people who encountered Jesus at the Feast of the Tabernacles. They were all over the place with respect to who they thought Jesus was. Yet, they weren’t that far from having a correct understanding.

Some thought Jesus was the Prophet mentioned by Moses in Deuteronomy 18. Others thought Jesus was the Christ. While the people were correct in both assessments, their acknowledgment of these two truths did not lead either of them to an assent to these two truths or a commitment to Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Then there was the statement made by others. “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” Much like the chief priests and scribes of the people who failed to travel the short distance from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to see if who the Magi were searching for was indeed the Christ (Matthew 2:1-12), the people in today’s text did not investigate to discover if Jesus was indeed of the family of David (2 Samuel 7:1-17), which He was, or that He had been born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), which He had.

All the people groups disagreed with each other about Jesus. Some even wanted to arrest Him. However, no one seized Him to either make Him king, or to arrest Him as a criminal. One commentator writes, “People were divided over whether Jesus was the Prophet, the Messiah, or someone else. Some found His words so disturbing that they wanted to arrest Him (John 7:43–44). But the temple officers could not bring themselves to do so. They saw His evident authority and were afraid to take Him into custody (vv. 45–46).”

Pastor Burk Parsons explains, “When confronted with the words and deeds of Jesus, no one can finally remain neutral. One will believe Him or reject Him; there is no middle ground. When we proclaim Jesus and His gospel accurately, there will be division. Some will believe and some will refuse to confess Him as Savior. We dare not remake Jesus in our image for the sake of encouraging people to accept Him. They must have Him as He reveals Himself or they will not have Him at all.”

All of these people groups in today’s text, like many in our own day, are close to the truth of who Jesus is, but also so very far from actually knowing and trusting Him for eternal life. What about you? Are you, “so close but yet so far?” Think about it!

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: The Spirit of Living Water.

“Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39).

Jesus’ statement in John 7:39 is a continuing referral of the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John. Let us recall two other texts which say much the same thing.

John 3:1-8 says, “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 6:61-63 says, “But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

When Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit in John 7:39, He was restating what He had previously said. It is the Holy Spirit who sovereignly and specifically regenerates each sinful soul who comes to Christ.

One commentator states regarding the Holy Spirit that it is He, who, by His direct personal agency, opens up this spring of living waters in the human spirit (John 3:6), and by His indwelling in the renewed soul ensures their unfailing flow.”

However, Jesus was also speaking of the events which would occur 50 days following His resurrection from the dead. He was referring the birth of the church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “Jesus is referring to the blessing of Pentecost. Of course, the Holy Spirit was present during the Old Testament (OT) period, but at Pentecost He entered into a more intimate relationship with believers (John 14:17; I Corinthians 6:1-9) and distributed His gifts for service more widely (I Corinthians 12:4-13) and more fully. This is the Messiah’s gift to His people He baptizes with His Spirit (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16), but this blessing in its full measure and glory will have to await the ascension of Christ, who, having returned to the Father, pours out the Spirit from heaven upon His people (John 16:1-7; Acts 2:33; Ephesians 4:8). The “Spirit” here is identified with the “living water” that comes from the temple.”

Rejoice and thank God that His Spirit is within you and that you are joined to Christ.

Soli deo Gloria!