Wednesday, August 31, 2016

John 21

The disciples had just witnessed the crucifixion and death of our Lord Jesus.  They had also heard about the resurrection appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene, and the Lord Jesus had appeared twice to the disciples themselves.  The disciples were now together at the Sea of Galilee or also known as the Sea of Tiberias.  The disciples perhaps did not fully comprehend what had happened in the last few days.  Peter impulsively said in John 21:3, "I'm going out to fish."  The other disciples decided to join Peter.  Peter was not only forgetting his call to follow Jesus and be a fisher of men, but he was also causing the other disciples to forget their spiritual calling also.

The disciples eagerly cast their nets, but they did not catch even one fish that night.  Early the next morning Jesus was standing on the shore.  Jesus called out to the disciples in John 21:5, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"  Jesus Christ is God Himself, and He knows all things.  He knew that they hadn't caught any fish the night before.  Jesus was asking them this question to point out their own insufficiency.  Their efforts at fishing had not been directed by the Lord.  Lack of success and disappointment had followed their self-willed and self-directed efforts.

Then the Lord said in John 21:6, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat."  When the disciples followed the Lord's direction in obedience, John 21:6b tells us that "they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish."  Obedience brought blessing for the disciples.  Obedience to the Lord will bring  us blessings also.  These blessings may not necessarily be physical blessings, but when we obey we will always experience the blessing of the Lord in our lives.  When we try to live our lives in our own strength we will fail.  When we allow our lives to be directed by the Lord we experience God's best for our lives, and our lives will only then be productive for God's Kingdom.

After the disciples landed on shore, the disciples saw that the Lord Jesus already had a fire going with some fish cooking.  Jesus said to His disciples in John 21:12, "Come and have breakfast."  Jesus was providing for the disciples' physical needs.  The Lord had also provided for their spiritual needs by dying on the cross for their sins.  The Lord would further provide for them spiritually by sending His Holy Spirit into their hearts and lives, so that they could live abundant and productive lives for the Lord.

The Lord Jesus also daily provides for our physical needs.  What is more important the Lord also provides for our spiritual needs.  We must continue to feed our souls with the spiritual food of His Holy Word.  We must continue to nourish our personal love relationship with the Lord.  The Lord wants us to be diligent about nourishing our spiritual lives as well as our physical lives.  The Lord wants us to grow and flourish spiritually.

After finishing their meal which Jesus had prepared for them Jesus said to Peter in John 21:15, "Simon, son of John, do you truly love Me more than these?"  Jesus was asking Peter whether he loved the Lord more than anyone or anything else in his life.  The Lord asks the same of us today.  Does our love and passion for the Lord eclipse our love for earthly things, earthly security, and earthly relationships?  Does our love and passion for Christ eclipse our own lives?  Our love and passion for Christ must involve our whole being.  Peter would not go back to his old life.  Peter's new life now centered in Christ and in service to Him.  So we too must live radically changed lives in service to the Lord.  The Lord died for us and purchased our salvation.  How can we do anything less than live our lives in service and gratitude to Him?  How can we do anything less than passionately offer our "bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God." (Romans 12:1)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

John 20

"But these are written 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 20:31

Jesus is alive!  We serve a risen Savior!  Jesus conquered sin and death for us!  When Peter and John ran to the empty tomb on that wonderful resurrection day they found undeniable physical evidence that Jesus had indeed risen from the grave!  John said about Himself in John 20:8, "He saw and believed."  As a result John's life was changed forever.  The apostle John then went on to write the Gospel of John; the Epistles of I John, II John, and III John; and the book of Revelation.  As we also truly behold the Lord Jesus in all of His glory and in all of His mercy and love, we too are changed forever.

Because of Jesus Christ's resurrection and death our hopelessness is removed.  When Mary Magdalene was standing in the garden she was crying tears of hopelessness.  Mary thought that Jesus was still dead and that someone had stolen His body.  Jesus appeared to Mary and said in John 20:15, "Why are you crying?"  Mary's hopeless crying was needless.  The Lord was and is alive!  Those who do not know or accept the Lord in their lives have no hope or true purpose in their lives.  As children of God, however, Hebrews 6:19 tells us that we have Jesus Christ's hope and peace in our lives "as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." 

John 20:19b says that when Jesus appeared to His disciples He said to them, "peace be with you!"  Jesus then showed His disciples His hands with their nail prints and His side which had been pierced.  John 20:20b tells us, "The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."  Jesus Christ, our resurrected Lord, is also our source of joy and peace!

Because of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection doubt and fear are removed.  The apostle Thomas was not present the first time that Jesus appeared to the disciples, and he did not believe the other disciples' reports of Jesus Christ's resurrection.  Thomas said in John 20:25b, "Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it."  Because of Jesus Christ's love for Thomas He revealed Himself to Thomas about a week later.  When Thomas saw Jesus face to face all doubt was removed.  At that moment John 20:28b tells us that Thomas said to the Lord Jesus, "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus Christ removes our doubt and fears also.  Jesus said in John 20:29b, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."  We have not physically touched or seen the Lord Jesus.  We are blessed and joyful, however, because we have believed in Him.  The Lord has removed our doubt, and He has blessed us with His joyful presence in our lives.  We know with absolute certainty that He will lead us through this life into eternity! 

Because of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection God's children have His life in them.  All the wonderful things recorded in the Gospels about our Lord and Savior were written down for a purpose.  The apostle John says in John 20:31, "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name."  Jesus Christ is our certainty for eternal life.  Jesus Christ is our only purpose for living.  He is our joy, hope, and peace.  He removes our fears and doubts; and He is our sure foundation.  The Lord Jesus changes our lives for time and eternity!  Praise His holy and awesome name!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

John 18-19 Isaiah 53

Jesus said, "'It is finished.'  With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit"  John 19:30b

"But He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed."  Isaiah 53:5

In John 19:30 Jesus said, "It is finished."  Jesus has completed your and my redemption!  Your and my sins are so horrendous in God's sight that they deserve the the punishment of God's eternal wrath. Instead Jesus Christ willingly suffered the consequences of our sins on the cross! Jesus Christ suffered the horrors of hell on the cross for us!

Jesus Christ voluntarily left the glories and perfection of heaven and the presence of God the Father. Jesus voluntarily came to this world of sin and trouble.  He did this willingly for us, His chosen children!  Jesus Christ then lived a perfect life for us which we are unable to live.

Jesus Christ also voluntarily accepted the rejection of others.  Isaiah 53:3 says, "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering."  Jesus Christ accepted and experienced betrayal and denial from His own disciples.  He was beaten unmercifully by the soldiers. Isaiah 52:14b tells us "His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness."  Finally, Jesus Christ voluntarily laid down His life for our sins. John 19:30b tells us "Jesus said, 'It is finished.'  With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit."  Death did not conquer our Lord Jesus Christ, but Christ voluntarily "gave up His spirit!"

It was necessary for Christ to die on the cross for His children.  Without Christ's death on the cross we have no joy, no peace, and no comfort.  Without Christ's blood being shed we have no pardon from sin, no purposeful life, and no hope.  It was OUR sins that put our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.  Isaiah 53:6 tells us, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."  So often we like to rationalize our sins or compare ourselves with others, but our sins were so abominable in the sight of God that they could only be atoned for by Jesus Christ's precious blood on the cross.  Isaiah 53:5 says, "But He was pierced for out transgressions.  He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon  Him, and by His wounds we are healed."

Praise God for His great gift of salvation!  Praise God that Christ's work on the cross is accomplished. Praise God that His children are now in right standing before Him!  We are sinners, but the Lord Jesus saved us and made us children of God!  The Lord saved us for a purpose, however.  That purpose was to bring glory and honor to the Lord.  Ephesians 1:12 tells us that He saved us and made us His children "in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory."  May our hearts be filled with thanks for Jesus Christ's salvation. May that thankfulness to our Lord be shown in our lives and actions.  May it be our consuming passion to live our lives in gratitude "as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God." (Romans 12:1)