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Only One risen Saviuor

Only One risen Saviuor
There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved - Jesus

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

John Days 51 to 70

John Day 51 - No Common Ground
5:16 "For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”
18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will."
Do you see how quickly an argument over a carried mat and Sabbath rules turned into a discussion about the identity of Jesus? Did you notice that when they first saw the man carrying his mat their main concern was "who did this?"?
Make no mistake that what we're reading about is a turf war. The Jewish leaders had control of the people through religion. The Sabbath was one of the main tools in their arsenal of control. The Jews had an expectation of a Messiah to come but their picture was of someone who would increase their power and position and solidify their control. Now Jesus has shown up and is doing things no man can do yet He does not consult with them or cooperate with them or even involve them in what He is doing.
However it is important to note that Jesus does not ignore them or war against them. What He did do was challenge the status quo while revealing to them His true identity. He had to challenge the status quo. It was evil. Simply put the religion that was supposed to reveal God to the world was a system of darkness and oppression. It was structured like any system of the world. Think about it. The original temple/sanctuary built by Moses according to God's specific instructions had no system of outer courts where people were valued and divided based on superficial external determinants like gender and nationality. The message this sick and twisted system at the temple in Jesus' day sent was that God's love for you and the value you had was determined by factors beyond your control. This meant God was painted as racist and sexist and arbitrary. Jesus couldn't cooperate with that. There was no common ground to work from. Instead He boldly and unapologetically turned the tables and sent the offenders packing.
It was the same with the Sabbath. Other than the technical correctness of the timing of the Sabbath there was no common ground. The day had been ruined and Jesus was here to reclaim it.
Notice how He began. He reached out to a completely helpless man that the Jews taught was forsaken by God and He healed him. This was a hammer blow to their theology that good people that God approves of are healthy and wealthy and the sick and poor are being punished by Him.
Now we did skip an interesting 2nd encounter between Jesus and the no longer crippled man. Jesus tells him to stop sinning or something worse may happen. It is true that sin is destructive and that often our problems are self-inflicted due to living lives out of harmony with God's perfect design. However this reality makes the healing of the crippled man all the more beautiful. This man brought trouble on himself. He sank so low in self-inflicted trouble that he was literally helpless. The picture of God that religion had painted would pass by that man and turn away with self-righteous pride. "He's getting what He deserves".
How does Jesus treat a man suffering from self-inflicted wounds? He goes after him, finds him, heals him, and then sends him out into the crowds around the temple carrying his mat on the Sabbath. Jesus turns him from a dying cripple condemned by his own actions into a flashing neon billboard advertising grace and mercy and a picture of God long buried under a pile of human laws and regulations. A pile of laws that have so twisted God's face that He is a taskmaster to be feared rather than a Father to run to.
Jesus is nothing more or less than a perfect reflection of His Father. That is the war. It's still being waged today. What is God really like?
See you tomorrow as the war continues...

John Day 52 - You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet
5:20 "For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him."
This is getting intense. As you may or may not know the Jewish faith was essentially divided into to factions we would call liberal and conservative. The liberal faction were the Sadducees. They were the majority by far and had a pretty loose view of Scripture. Religion for them was more about culture and controlling the masses than a living faith in a real God. The conservative faction was much smaller but louder - the Pharisees. They claimed to take the Scriptures very seriously but truthfully were much more dedicated to the many many rules etc... which had been added to the Scriptures by the rabbis over the centuries. The core of their view was that if they lived right God had to bless them. This lead to a totally self-obsessed behaviour based religion.
Then Jesus showed up. He couldn't be ignored. A lame man that everyone knew had been lame for decades was walking. When they tried to discredit Jesus as a Sabbath breaker Jesus declared boldly "I am God's son and if you reject Me you are rejecting God. I will do greater things than what has been done today - I will raise the dead to life just as my Father did".
What you may not know is that the Sadducees didn't even believe in life after death. They rejected the accounts in the Scriptures of people being raised from the dead. Like liberal theologians today all supernatural miracles were explained away. What happens to us when we have comfortably settled into a worldview and boldly argued and defended our position and then Someone comes along and turns the tables upside down?
Jesus said "He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent Him".
That is an all or nothing statement. Either we embrace Jesus fully or we reject God fully. There is no true religion apart from Him.
Nothing has changed in the 2000 years since. We either embrace all of Jesus or we are fully rejecting God.
See you tomorrow as the Son gets brighter and the darkness fades...

John Day 53 - Dead Men Walking
24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. 30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me."
It's too easy to read past this passage and move on while missing what is being said. When Jesus told Nicodemus he needed to be born again Nicodemus couldn't see beyond the literal birth process. When Jesus told the woman at the well that He could give her living water she couldn't see past H20. When Jesus asked the man by the pool if he wanted to be healthy again the man couldn't see past his own seemingly impossible circumstances. When we hear Jesus say the time is coming and now is when the dead will hear His voice we get confused. I mean the resurrection is yet future. What was He talking about? Why does He speak in riddles? Why are we so confused by His words?
Think about it: If birth wasn't literal birth and living water wasn't literal water and healing wasn't referring to jumping in the pool wouldn't it be logical that the death and life spoken of here isn't the literal kind we think of either? Being born again meant seeing the world through His eyes. Living water was the peace and assurance of His love and acceptance which would have freed her from the need to try and find it in the arms of men who were only using her. Healing was a gift offered, not a reward earned.
See we're all born and raised dead. We see the kingdom of this world rather than His kingdom. We see God as a man who needs to be appeased or bought off so we can get from Him what we want.
Jesus came to reveal something His church had buried. He came to flip the tables. He came to bring true Sabbath rest. He came to open the eyes of the blind. He came to give life to the dead. All those who hear Him and see Him for Who He is and believe automatically pass from blindness and being deaf and dead to life. We won't even face the judgment. Judgment is for those who are earning rewards. Olympians are judged on performance. Believers are not.
But it says those who have done good will be raised to life... yes it does. Soon we'll hear from Jesus Himself what "doing good" is.
See you tomorrow

John Day 54 - Jesus as Judge
5:30 "I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." - Jesus
impartial
[im-pahr-shuh l]
adjective
1. not partial or biased; fair; just:
an impartial judge.
Here is another verse that could be quickly passed and a treasure missed. There is a lot of talk about judges and judgment in the Bible. There is a lot of talk about them today. We appoint people to be judges and task them with settling complicated issues. In many ways the judges who sit on the supreme court are the most powerful and influential people in a nation. When they render a decision it is final and not only final but it goes on record and will influence future related judgments through precedent.
Most recently the United States was forever changed by an historic decision regarding marriage.
The question is what makes a good judge. History has proven they aren't all good. Furthermore the gospel of John makes it plain that in the end there is only One Judge. Will He judge fairly? What goes into making a fair judgment?
Notice the core of what Jesus declares in the verse we're considering today: "My judgment is righteous (perfect) because I do not seek My own will..."
The nine supreme court judges in the United States are made up of 6 Roman Catholics and 3 Jews. Had they all made their decision based on their religious convictions the vote should have been 9-0 in favour of traditional marriage but judges can't do that. They can't allow personal issues like religion paint their judgments. Jesus said as much. He said my will can't be a factor in the judging process.
We've all been to school. We've all sat in a classroom where the teacher was a partial judge. Some parents are even partial among their own children. Partial is when you favour some over others for no fair or right reason. The Jews of Jesus day were partial. They favored their nation over all others. They favored adults over children and men over women. They favored Jews living in the south over Jews living in the north. They favored Jerusalem over all other places. Their whole culture was bathed in partiality and prejudice.
Then along comes Jesus. Had He followed the cultural norms He never would have spoken to Nicodemus as He did because Nicodemus belonged to a higher class. He wouldn't have even traveled through Samaria, much less talk to a half breed woman sinking in a life of immorality. However He didn't just talk to her, He offered her Living Water. If Jesus had been following the cultural norms He would have conformed to the Sabbath rules and He never ever ever would have dreamed of touching the tables in the Temple. Who is this Man who judges so differently? By what criteria is He judging? Can I trust this Judge?
He does not seek His own. If ever there was one criteria for a judge this is it. All consideration for self must be laid aside. When a good judge makes a decision it must have no connection to him/her or how it will affect him/her or those close to him or her. When you read the Gospels you discover the Samaritans were at times mean to Jesus. It never affected His treatment of them. The Jewish religious rulers were constantly trying to undermine Him and kill Him. He still answered all their questions and did everything He could to reach them. His own disciples in the end betrayed Him at the cross yet He came back to find them after His resurrection and encourage them. What kind of judge is this?
He is an impartial judge. No offense against Him by you will taint His judgments about you. He is not seeking to judge in a way that will vindicate His own person. What is He seeking?
"I did not come to condemn. I came to seek and save those who are lost" – Jesus

John Day 55 - How Much Proof Do We Need?
31 “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. 33 You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. 35 He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. 36 But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
41 “I do not receive honor from men.42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
Self-promotion is tacky. It's awkward and often comes across as boastful. Yesterday someone wrote me and suggested I write a book. I wrote back and told him I already had years ago. It's not something I talk about much. I have issues with self-promotion. The good news for me is that no one's life will be affected negatively because they didn't know I wrote a book.
Jesus has a much different scenario. People need to know Him. They need to fully understand Who He is and the true nature of this life and the life to come. Here's the rub: Making these truths known to the world is the job of the church. We are to tell the Good News that things won't always be this way and no matter how badly we struggle or have failed Jesus has our back. So what does Jesus do when He comes to earth to fulfill His mission in a world where His church is so messed up and so far off the mark that instead of making Him known as the Hero for all nations they are trying to kill Him?
Think about it. When your supporters are your greatest enemies what do you do?
The passage we're looking at today shows you what Jesus did. First He admits that if all He has to offer is self-promotion He doesn't have anything. Any nut can say he fell from heaven and is here to save the planet. So He appeals to others. He reminds them that John the Baptist who they respected identified Him as the Messiah. He reminds them that the miracles He performs are evidence that God is using Him. He reminds them that the Books they hold as sacred and have turned into a list of rigid rules and requirements are actually the story about Him. Finally He says Moses, your national hero, he wrote about Me too. Four undeniable witnesses. Four witnesses they were well familiar with. Four witnesses that needed no introduction.
Yet they wouldn't listen. No miracle was enough. No evidence was enough. Why?
Here is our condition in a nutshell: we only listen to witnesses and evidence that say what we want to hear. The more evidence we see that doesn't align with what we want the deeper we dig in and refuse to see or hear. Both old and new testaments and Jesus Himself describe us as "seeing you don't see and hearing you don't hear".
Pouring evidence into a person who won't listen is like pouring water onto a rock and hoping flowers will grow.
I have had people tell me they have had God answer their prayers but then turn to some bitter experiences they have had to justify why they don't believe in God any more. None of us are immune to trouble. Jesus said it would come. It will continue to come until we get Home.
Will we refuse to listen to the Man who tells the Truth and instead listen to liars who tell us what we want to hear?
Here's a promise for you to consider today:
"I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" - God
You can't fix your heart but He can.

John Day 56 - That Can't Be Done
6:1 "Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”"
Despite the murderous resistance of the religious leaders, the common people are being drawn to Jesus. No one had ever seen a man that could do the things He was doing. Some I'm sure followed out of curiosity, some hoping He really was the One they had been waiting for, and some because they hoped to benefit from His miracle working power. You can imagine how the increasing popularity of Jesus was affecting the religious leaders...
On this particular day Jesus lead the crowds out into the hills around the Sea of Galilee. As they were still arriving Jesus does an odd thing. He turns to Philip, one of His 12, and asks him where bread can be bought to feed the crowd. Philip is flabbergasted. Jesus has no job and they have all left their jobs to follow Him and now He wants to spend well over 6 months wages to feed a bite of food to this crowd?! Andrew hears the conversation and offers up a non-solution. He has located a boy who brought his own lunch.
Picture the scene. Philip looks at the crowd and then looks at the bank account and says "Are you crazy?" Andrew looks at the crowd and then looks at the single lunch bag and says "This won't do it". If you think you or I would have done differently in the same situation...
Now we skipped a critical bit of information in the story. Jesus initiated this dilemma. He created it... ON PURPOSE. He steered Philip and Andrew into a wall of impossibility on purpose. Let that reality sink in. Jesus is not interested in our comfort above all else. He is interested in our healing above all else and if our healing requires discomfort so be it.
Philip is stammering over the cost and Andrew is stuttering over the lack while Jesus is fully composed. He has their full attention. He has them completely aware of their insufficiency to meet the needs of the situation.
Think about it. When Jesus turned 150 gallons of water into 150 gallons of grape juice they were there. When Jesus walked up to a man crippled for 38 years and told him to get up and walk the man did. When Jesus sent the ruler home alone to his sick boy assuring him he was not sick any more they were there. The crowds were coming to see a man who had done so many things that Philip and Andrew had seen from the front row.
Despite all they had seen Jesus only had to create a single scenario and their attention was drawn away from Jesus to a problem they couldn't fix and they were rendered baffled and helpless. One saw an empty bank account and one saw a lunch that was completely inadequate.
When God brings you to a wall of impossibility what do you see? Where do you look? How do you react?
See you tomorrow.

John Day 57 - Lessons in Loaves
6:10 "Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten."
You will remember that Jesus is not about a big show. He tried on several occasions to keep His miracles quiet. However at other times He did the opposite. With the man by the pool He had him carry his mat because He wanted to confront the warped views of the Sabbath that were warping the picture of God. Here He seems to randomly decide to feed thousands of people with one lunch. There is no way this is going to remain quiet. Why did He do it? What was His purpose? The truth is He had many lessons in mind that day. Lessons about the benefits of simple food, lessons about His ability to provide when we have come to the end of our resources, lessons of seeking Him first as the crowds had done and that "all these things will be added to you because your Father knows you need them".
However there is a deeper lesson that struck me with force last night as I reread the story before going to sleep. Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is love. The little boy had a lunch. He was going home full no matter if he gave his lunch away or not. In reality by giving away his lunch he was taking a risk. What if he didn't get it back? What if even if Jesus could feed so many he got lost in the crowd and didn't get any?
Let's face it. We live with a mindset of self-preservation and the law of diminishing returns. To give means to have less. Giving is risk - dangerous even.
So yes they were physically hungry and yes Jesus gave them real food but think about it. Jesus is love and Jesus is the bread of life. The people didn't come seeking physical bread that day, they came seeking Him. The physical bread was a side benefit they did not expect.
Here is the lesson that struck me. Love is not like stuff. It doesn't decrease when you spend it. Rather it increases. The more love you give, the more love multiplies. It was Jesus' love for the hungry masses that moved Him to feed them. It was the love in the heart of the boy that moved him to help. There is a verse in the Old Testament that says "Cast your bread upon the waters and after many days you will find it again."
Growing up my dad was always helping people, often for free. He did it so much that at times I felt annoyed by it. We struggled to have enough while my dad gave away. Then when my mom was dying I was overwhelmed and blown away by the care of the people he knew. Indeed he had cast hid bread on the water and after many days it had returned.
Love only dies when it isn't shared but it multiplies endlessly when given away. This is the lesson of the loaves. Jesus was the bread that came down from heaven and He gave Himself away and that gift continues to multiply 2000 years later. Jesus also didn't just produce enough for those who came that day. He made extra. He gave enough so that those who received could also give to others.
If you want to see love grow and thrive and take over, give it away. Give it lavishly and regularly. Children give love without question or demand just like that boy gave his lunch.
"Unless you change and become as little children you will never enter the kingdom." - Jesus
Hiding and protecting your heart will only destroy it. Love must be given away in order to live and expand.

John Day 58 - Expectations
6:14 "After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself."
Dealing with people can be tricky. Jesus had the near impossible task of revealing who He was to the people while trying to recalibrate their expectations. Expectations are powerful. When we have them and they aren't met it can really throw us for a loop. In the book of Kings Elijah had an expectation that after the drought and the display of God's power at Mt Carmel the nation would stop their idol worshipping and come back to God. When that didn't happen he literally became suicidal.
The Jewish nation, the Samaritans and other nations as well had been expecting the Messiah for generations. The problem was that as the generations past the expectations about who He would be and what He would do kept building. However they were built not on fact or Scripture but on a combination of desires and wishful thinking.
You see, ever since the days of King Solomon the Jewish nation desired to return to their glory days. The kingdom had been so successful that other nations came from far to see how amazing it was. It was during the reign of Solomon that the temple was rebuilt on a scale of beauty that was never matched again. Since that time the kingdom had split and trouble upon trouble had come upon them. Eventually they were taken captive by the Babylonians and the nation was destroyed. They eventually returned and rebuilt but it was never the same. Now in the days of Jesus and for many years before that they were under Roman control. It's easy to see why they desperately longed for a hero and why those expectations centered around national deliverance and national prosperity.
This is all well and good but what does it have to do with Jesus making oodles of bread and fish from one small lunch?
Jerusalem and any town of any size had walls built around them. These walls served as military defense. When enemies attacked everyone fled to the city and the gates were shut. Determined attackers came prepared with tents and supplies and camped outside the city. They did this to prevent any new supplies of food etc... from entering the city. They literally starved them out. Now you can see why one mountainside miracle of multiplying a single lunch into food for thousands had the expectations of the people kicked into overdrive. With a Messiah like Jesus they would never lose a war again!
Jesus knew what they were thinking and He fled the scene.
What about our expectations? Is it possible that our expectations and Jesus are often travelling in opposite directions? Could it be that we too are obsessed with changing our fortunes and circumstances while Jesus is working to change our hearts? Are we trying to use Jesus for our own agendas instead of seeking to understand what He is trying to teach us?
Maybe we're more Jewish than we realized.
See you tomorrow...

John Day 59 - Have You Arrived?
6:16 "When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading."
Let's not forget the context. Jesus had just fed 5000 men plus women and children with one boys lunch and everyone, including the disciples, understood the massive implications of this miracle. With plans to make Him king dancing in their heads Jesus disappeared. This left the disciples in the awkward position of dealing with a frenzied crowd who couldn't find Jesus and neither could they. As it got dark they decided to get out of Dodge and jumped in a boat and headed for Capernaum. Keep in mind the day ended badly, they have lost Jesus, and now they are headed away without Him. From the southern tip of the sea of Galilee where all this took place to the northern edge where Capernaum is located is about 10 miles or 16 km.
John says they were about 3 or 4 miles along battling rough seas when a man appears walking toward them on the water. It frightened them. It would have frightened me too. Jesus speaks to them to let them know it is Him and they bring Him into the boat.
Before we hit the punchline consider the emotional roller coaster the disciples have been on. A normal day became uncomfortable when they were challenged to feed thousands with no resources. Then it got exciting as they watched one lunch become thousands of lunches right before their eyes. It got even more exciting when they and the crowd began to realize the implications of what Jesus had done. Excitement turned to disappointment, confusion, and anger when Jesus disappeared. We can only imagine the sullen mood as they got in the boat. Some were probably even against the idea of leaving without knowing where Jesus went. Some were perhaps wondering if they were missing out on whatever Jesus was up to now and some were flat out mad He had left them holding the bag. The weather soon matched their turbulent emotions only adding to their frustration. In the midst of all this a man appears on the water 3 or 4 miles (5-7 km) from shore!
Thankfully it turns out to be Jesus. They bring Him into the boat and look what it says next: "and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading."
Really. A 10 mile journey becomes a 3 to 4 mile journey by having Jesus on board?
I don't believe for one second that John's statement has anything to do with distance or time. It is simply this: With Jesus on board you have arrived because He is the destination. See that was the whole problem. It was the reason why Jesus chose to disappear and did not return until He had the cover of darkness. The people were not excited because they had found Jesus. They were not excited because they had found the Healer of hearts. They were excited because they had found a meal ticket. Jesus was a winning lottery ticket to them. He had to get out of there because that reason for following Him would only bring disaster.
However ever since He had disappeared the disciples desire to find Him became greater than their desire to crown Him. They were falling in love with Jesus and when they were reunited they had arrived. The 3 or 4 miles stormy miles that seemed to take forever were replaced by 6 miles that went by in a flash.
Is your life stormy? Do you seem to row endlessly and get nowhere? Are your emotions all over the place? Is there an emptiness that nothing can fill?
Invite Jesus into your journey. When you have Him you have arrived. Jesus is the destination.

John Day 60 - What Must I Do?
6:22 "The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”"
You know the saying "It takes 2 to tango". Bad religion is one and the hungry masses are the other. We keep bad religion alive. They sell their wares and we buy them. As much as we like to blame bad religion we feed it.
Jesus steps into the heart of bad religion and turns the tables. He offers for free what was always for sale and remains for sale today. Make no mistake. Religion is big business and we are the consumers. Never in the history of America has religion been as lucrative as it is right now. I won't bore you with the stats but think Creflo Dollar, T. D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, etc... Here's a link to the 10 richest pastors in the world: http://www.naij.com/302279-meet-the-top-10-richest-pastors-…
Jesus owned almost nothing. He walked or took a fishing boat everywhere He went. However because of His magnetic personality and the miracles He performed His popularity was skyrocketing. As we read in the passage today people were travelling long distances trying to find Him.
Interestingly when they do find Him, He corrects them. He tells them they are looking for bread when they should be looking for true blessings or to put it more bluntly they are looking for crap when they should be seeking character. To put it in Bible terms they are looking for stuff when they should be seeking sanctification.
See the pattern? "Nicodemus you are confused because you can't even see what My kingdom is about. Lady you are insatiably thirsty because you are going to the wrong wells. Sir if you want to get well why are you hanging on to hopeless hope? Crowds if you want to be full why do you keep chasing the things that always leave you empty?"
So the first addiction we have that feeds the machine of bad religion is that we're looking for all the wrong things. The second problem we have is that when we find what we think is good we want to buy it or earn it.
Jesus offers them true bread that does not spoil (Himself) and their immediate reaction is "What do we have to do?"
Jesus' response needs to be burned into your brain. It is for me one of the top 5 verses in the Bible yet it gets very little attention.
6:29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
Believe Me. That's it. Because what you believe fuels what you do and if you would believe Me you could instantly escape the tail chasing cycles of futility that have you running in circles and always empty. If you would believe Me the power of bad religion would be instantly broken. They can't sell a product you are not buying anymore. Heaven is not for sale. Heart transplants are a gift. No one can replace hate with love, darkness with light, cruelty with kindness and addictions with freedom. Stop looking for cheap quick fixes that don't work. Your work is to believe Me and the price is more than you can afford so I'm covering the costs. Just believe Me...

John Day 61 - More Proof or More Bread?
6:28 "Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe."
Did you catch that? Jesus crossed the sea from the southern end to Capernaum in the north and they tracked Him down. They tracked Him down because of the amazing miracle the day before when He fed thousands with one lunch. They were going to put Him on a throne and make Him king the day before. Now when He tells them they only thing they need to do to fulfill God's requirements is believe Him they respond with a question. "What sign will you do that we may believe you?"
Notice what they say next. "Our ancestors ate manna in the wilderness..."
Are you connecting the dots? They had one free lunch. Now they are essentially saying "keep feeding us and we'll keep believing".
Bad religion is fueled by us. We love the buy and sell programs. Politicians use it to get into office all the time. "Believe in me, vote for me and I'll do _______ for you."
Jesus has a simple response. "I Am the bread of life. Anyone who comes to me with never be hungry or thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen Me but you do no believe Me."
The problem was they weren't coming to Him. They were coming to the show. They were coming to the bread baskets. They were coming for stuff, for personal gain. We are a sick people. We even look for someone to marry that we perceive will advance our own cause. Openly or silently we're always asking the question "What's in it for me?"
Jesus was not a person to them. He was a meal ticket. He was a scratch ticket. He was an opportunity to get ahead. Jesus identified the problem: "Whoever comes to Me..."
We go the Bible, we go to church, we even go to prayer but do we go to Jesus? Jesus the Person? Can we see past our search for a formula, a get ahead scheme, to find His heart? The woman at the well saw Him. She realized He really truly loved her and suddenly her need for validation and her endless bottomless quest for worth was over. He loved her as she was and it ended her hungering and thirsting on the spot.
We can either keep spinning our wheels trying to get ahead through acquiring material stuff or we can go to Him and find true substance. Jesus is the destination. Believe... Him.

John Day 62 - Driven...
6:37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
What a strange thing to say: "Whoever comes to me I will never drive away."
It isn't the first time John has used the word meaning "to drive out". He used it way back in chapter 2 when Jesus made a whip of cords and drove the animals from the temple and turned over the tables of the money changers. Then in chapter 3 He told Nicodemus that He did not come to condemn but to save. In chapter 4 He went into the heart of a people that the Jews had already condemned and driven out of their care and concern. He went there to let them know heaven had not driven them out. In chapter 5 He drove disease from a crippled man's body and error from their view of the Sabbath.
Now in chapter 6 as Jesus more boldly reveals Who He is, He again makes it known that He isn't here to drive away people. The Jews wanted a national hero who would drive out the Romans and drive out anyone and everyone who didn't fit their picture of "God's chosen ones". Jesus said plainly "I will not drive away anyone who comes to me. Red, yellow, black, white, Jew, Samaritan, crippled man, nobleman, Roman, I will not drive anyone away. I did not come to condemn but to save. I did not come to drive away people. I came to drive away the lies that have ruined the picture of My Father. I came to drive back the traditions and rules that have twisted the beauty of all He has given to humanity. I came to drive out the prevailing view that heaven is for sale and My Father can be bought off. I came to drive away the belief that happiness is found in self-indulgence, self-advancement and self-obsession. I came to drive away all that garbage with every fiber of My being but I didn't come to drive away people. Not one of you that comes to Me will ever experience rejection. None of you."
Hmmm. I guess it wasn't such a strange thing to say after all. See you tomorrow.

John Day 63 - Self Defense?
6:38 "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life."
Have you ever been falsely accused? I have. My reaction was to think of ways to defend myself and to expose the accusations for the lies they were. As humans we are so obsessed with protecting ourselves that it is even legal to kill if it is considered self defense. Jesus was constantly being falsely accused and misrepresented. The temptation to defend Himself must have been strong but He never gave in. His reason was simple.
In today's passage it gets real personal. "We know Jesus is a nobody because we know His nobody parents - Joseph and Mary."
The only temptation harder to resist than defending myself is defending those I love. That's a line you just don't cross. Yet Jesus didn't bite. He didn't get consumed with protecting His name or His parents honour. He just kept explaining to them what they needed to know. Why? How? Again His reason is simple. Jesus did not come to do His own will but the will of His Father. Simple. His life was a mission and the mission was not about Him. Defending Himself or His family was not part of the mission. He recognized that going down that road was not an act of honour or love, but a pride based demonic distraction.
It's amazing how things that seem so good and right can distract us from doing what is best.
I recently sat in a class where the presenter asked "When is a good decision a bad decision?" Everyone was confused. The answer: "A good decision is a bad decision when your other choices were better and best". Defending your name or your parents honour is not evil but it's a bad decision when it's not your mission or purpose. Ecclesiastes 3 says there is a time for everything. A time to plant and a time to harvest etc... Jesus' name will be vindicated before the universe but that day was not the time. He had a mission. He knew the only way to ultimately honour Joseph and Mary was to be constantly surrendered to the will of His Father.
We talk a lot about following Jesus in the Christian world. I'm not sure we always understand what we're saying. The world presents lots of good causes in front of us. However if they are not God’s will for us they are just demonic distractions. Find His will for you and follow... the rest He will take care of.

John Day 64 - Vampires?
6:48 "I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven,which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent meand I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you — they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” "
Long passage today because the entire context was important. First of all it's important to understand two things about the Jews. One is that they had strict dietary laws that included no blood. Meat was specially prepared to ensure the blood was removed and it was cooked thoroughly to "kill" any blood that remained because "the life is in the blood". The second thing we need to understand is that they think very literally. Just as Nicodemus couldn't figure out how he would re-enter his mother's womb and be born a second time, the crowd assumed Jesus was speaking of cannibalism. This of course was silly. How could the entire nation eat from one man's body? Perhaps they thought He would multiply like the loaves and fishes. Even the disciples were wondering if Jesus was losing His mind. Not only was He claiming to be the Son of God and that He came from heaven, but now He was requiring cannibalism and claimed He ate His Father in order to have life.
It's interesting to note that the people were arguing over what He was saying. This means at least some of them understood the meaning was deeper than blood sucking vampirism.
Finally Jesus has pity on their "locked in a box" thinking and explains that His words are Spirit and life. They are not to be taken literally.
When someone is deeply in love they might make a dramatic statement like "I couldn't live without you!" This is not a literal statement. It simply means they don't want to even think about what life would be like apart from that person.
Jesus is to be our life. We can have a pumping heart and oxygen flow without any relationship with Him but we can't be truly alive. The less we know Him the more "dead" we are - dead meaning less like Him. The people of His day are a perfect example of what humanity is like when they aren't "eating His body and drinking His blood". Marriages were failing miserably, racism and prejudice abounded, hatred was commonplace, religion was a cold empty form centered around rules etc... In a word society was loveless.
Religion does not bring life and love but neither does secular humanism or any other human philosophy. The human heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. We are incapable of generating genuine love on our own. As our culture moves further away from God we are also moving further away from love. Racism still abounds and is increasing despite how advanced and civilized and open minded we like to think we are. Divorce rates continue to climb. Morality continues to decline. Extremist hate based religion is on the rise. The anger in society is higher than it's ever been. As more praying grandpas and grandmas go to their rest and genuine faith declines it will only get worse.
We need Jesus. Arrogant religionists like Nicodemus need Him. Alienated moral failures like the woman at the well need Him. Those crippled by past sins like the man by the pool need Him. I need Him.
"I believe Lord, help my unbelief."

John Day 65 - No One Can Come Unless...
"For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)"
There are two things going on in this passage. On the one hand the crowd was made up of some who believed in Him and some who did not. On the other hand even within His 12 disciples one did not believe.
The real point Jesus is making in both cases is that the unbelief began with the Father before Jesus ever showed up. He said earlier "If you had known the Father, you would have known Me." He had talked about 4 witnesses to who He was: John the Baptist, the Scriptures, Moses, and His Father. Step by step they had rejected God as He tried to communicate with them through each of these witnesses. By the time Jesus came in person their hearts were so hard that they refused to believe Him.
Jesus makes a startling statement. He said "no one can come to Me unless the Father has enabled him."
Believing is heart work, not surface work. We naturally do not believe. We are not capable of believing. We think if we find more evidence or if Jesus proves Himself more belief will come. This is a delusion. Think about what has just happened. Jesus fed 5000+ people with one lunch and the very next day the same crowd says: "Give us a sign that we might believe in You."
Proof does not create belief. Belief is a gift from God given when we respond to Him. It is a gift He wants to give every person. Do you remember how people were seeking Jesus and traveling far distances to find Him? They were doing this in response to the Voice. Not the voice of Jesus, the Voice of God. Belief begins by listening and responding to that Voice. That's why the Bible says: "Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts..."
Belief starts in the heart with the Voice of God.
So what about Judas? Why was he made one of the 12 and why does it seem he was set up to fail?
See you tomorrow...

John Day 65 Part 2 - Judas
6:67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)"
Judas. He is not a unique case. He represents a whole segment of humanity. However before we get lost on a rabbit trail it's important to be true to the context. Jesus is speaking. He is explaining that there are many who refuse to believe and there is even one among the 12. He has a deeper point too. His knowledge of this was revealed to him by His Father. Jesus became one of us. He said in another place "of my own self I can do nothing". He relied on His Father for everything. His knowledge of the personal life of the woman at the well was knowledge given to Him by God. His knowledge that the man by the pool (who had been crippled longer than Jesus was alive on earth) had caused his own injury through sin was also revealed to Him by His Father.
Remember the context always. The battle is over the true identity of Jesus.
Some believe He is the Son of God while others see the same evidence and refuse to believe. Everything Jesus is doing and saying is carefully woven to inspire belief in those who are not yet sure and deepen belief in those who already believe. He does this by both doing things no human can do and by knowing things no human can know. To generally say "Some don't believe Me and never will" doesn't really prove anything. To specifically say "One of My twelve is on the devil's side" is another matter altogether. We often forget when we're reading that "the rest of the story" is yet future for both the crowd and the 12 disciples. For them to hear that one of them is on the devil's side would have been sobering to say the least. Jesus was prepared by His Father for the betrayal that was to come and now He is preparing them while at the same time demonstrating that He knows the unknowable through His connection to His Father.
Was Judas set up? Absolutely not. All his choices were freely made. We will see as the full course of events unfolds just how much Jesus tried to win Judas. And that is the point. Some can't be won. They are determined to not believe. Even more they are opposed to the very nature of Jesus and His kingdom. They want a kingdom of hierarchies, a kingdom where the strong rule the weak and might determines right.
Who is who only God knows. Some seem to be on the devil's side their whole life and then in the end they change direction completely and believe. Others appear to be on God's side yet when the crunch comes they sell out and prove to be traitors. This has always been and will always be. That's not the point here. The point is Jesus knew because He is the Son of God. I'm not even certain Judas knew at that point where his choices were leading but God did and God told Jesus and Jesus told the Twelve so that when it was all said and done they would all know that He knew all along.
God is still seeking to create belief in us by revealing the unknowable before it happens so that when it does happen we'll know He knew all along. That's really what the last book of the Bible - the revealing (revelation) is all about.
Judas didn't have to be a Judas, he chose to be a Judas and God revealed it ahead of time. What will we choose?

John Day 66 - A Time and Place
7 "After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him."
I didn't have to read very far today before a profound truth was revealed. Sometimes we're given the impression we need to love and treat everyone equally. In a sense that is true but in very practical ways it is not.
Yesterday in Edmonton the police released a photo and a warning. A violent sex offender has served his sentence and is being released. They suspect he will offend again.
What would Jesus do? Well in the verses above it says He avoided the entire region of Judea because they were looking for an opportunity to kill. Instead of going there He traveled around Galilee where He was still welcome. Avoiding bad people is perfectly in harmony with following Jesus. There may be times He calls us to not avoid them but that is why it is so critical to be constantly in connection with Him so we know who to approach when.
This principle runs far deeper than the extremes of sex offenders and those trying to kill us. Jesus told His disciples when He sent them out to do ministry that if any town did not receive them to keep on going.
Where we spend our time and who we spend it with is a matter of Godly wisdom. It is not love to force our views on others who are not ready to hear them. It is not love or wisdom to spend our time or influence on those who are resistant.
In a garden you weed everything but you only pick what is ripe and ready. Acts of kindness are like weeding. We can do them everywhere but working one on one can only be done with those who are ready.
In the realm of sexuality it is called rape to force yourself on someone else. Arguing and forcing our views or even our presence on people who don't want us is spiritual abuse.
Jesus chose His times and places wisely. So should we if we are His followers.

John Day 67 - Consider Jesus' Personal Life
7 "After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him."
It is our nature to want to be liked, to please and impress people. It is also true that it hurts us the most when those closest to us don't support us.
We don't often consider the human side of Jesus. We don't think about His personal life. We don't realize how much the deck was stacked against Him. He was born outside of wedlock in a culture where that was completely unacceptable and shameful. The identity of His father was unknown. To onlookers it was scandal. His family was poor. We know this because the offering they brought to the temple at His birth was two doves, the least offering possible. He was from Nazareth, considered then to be the wrong side of the tracks. As His disciple Nathanael had asked "Can anything good come from Nazareth?".
Jesus grew up with all those strikes against Him. We can also imagine He would have been teased as a "nerd, teacher's pet, or goody goody". Although we don't have many details we know Jesus had several siblings. We can only guess if they were half siblings through Joseph from a previous marriage or younger siblings born from Mary. Perhaps there was some of both. What we do know is that they weren't happy with Him.
Nazareth is in the region of Galilee so in this passage Jesus is home. You can be sure the religious and political tension surrounding Jesus is affecting the family. The biggest question mark hanging over them is "Why doesn't Jesus declare Himself the king and get on with it?" His constant pattern of disappearing and running away and refusing the political spotlight is wearing thin.
Finally His brothers essentially tell Him to go away and go to Jerusalem and make Himself known. "Become the hero you claim to be".
It's almost a mixture of jealous taunting and hopeful pushing. Jesus has become a mysterious enigma. He is neither normal nor heroic. He can't be written off as nobody yet He refuses to be the somebody everyone wants and expects Him to be.
Imagine the awkward embarrassed for the family when religious leaders and political leaders and media come to the house asking what Jesus plans to do and what He is all about. The family is as confused as the public. They have no answers either...
Sometimes as followers we are equally confused. Why does Jesus answer some prayers and not others? Why is He so heroic some days and so silent on others? What am I supposed to say when skeptics and scoffers ask me to explain this enigma?
Here's what I say: "Wait for the rest of the story. If you really want to understand Him, follow Him right to the end. Unless you're willing to follow and to learn to see the story through His eyes it will all remain a confusing mystery."
See you tomorrow when Jesus responds to His skeptical brothers.

John Day 68 - Tense Times
7:6 "Therefore Jesus told them (his brothers), “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival (with you), because my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.
10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”
12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”
Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders."
The man hunt is on.
The Feast of Tabernacles was a huge annual celebration of the Israelites escape from Egypt. Everyone went to Jerusalem. Jesus' brothers are about to leave Galilee and make the long journey south. They want Him to come with them. They want Him to do what deep down they know He will never do. Like everyone else they want Jesus to be the national hero. They want Him to shower the nation with peace and plenty while freeing them from Roman occupation and establishing Judah as the greatest nation on earth. This great dream of course is rooted in nothing other than pure selfishness and selfishness can never produce anything of lasting good or value.
Jesus' response to them is revealing. He essentially tells them it is perfectly safe for them to go because they are just like the leaders there. Ouch. In fact Jesus' words parallel the plight of Abel in Genesis 4. He was hated by Cain simply for doing what was right. Jesus lived as God desires all people to live. He sought no power or position. He did not use His gifts to exploit others while advancing Himself. He did not subscribe to the prejudicial hierarchy of the culture. He was fair. He has kind to all. He shunned racism. He shunned sexism. He shunned divisions and preferential treatment of all kinds. He refused attention and glory. In short He was the opposite of human nature in every way and they hated Him for it. His very presence irritated them. His character was a threat to them, and His very existence needed to be snuffed out.
The man hunt was on.
So tense was war over Jesus that the common people were afraid to mention Him in the hearing of the leaders.
In America we have lived in a time where we could say anything we wanted about anything we wanted with no fear of consequences. We call it free speech. Yet even in our era of free speech we hesitate to discuss politics or religion. Jesus' existence was a constant religious and political statement that the leaders didn't want to hear.
In America freedom of speech is eroding. There are certain topics we can't discuss without fireworks and this will only intensify. We are moving back to a culture that is more like the one Jesus lived in. We haven't arrived yet but it will come. When it does, anyone who represents the values of Jesus will be a target. Cultural tension is rising and it will continue to do so...
See you tomorrow.

John Day 69 - Cut the Tension With a Knife
7:12 And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.” 13 However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.
14 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught.15 And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?”
16 Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. 19 Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?”
The tension continues to build. As with every topic or question or controversy the people are divided. Some see in Jesus an amazing teacher while others see Him as a deceiver and a threat to national peace.
Half way through the Feast (which lasted for days) Jesus went to the temple and began to teach. We are not told what He talked about but whatever it was it, it amazed the Jews. They knew Jesus had not gone to school for formal education and they couldn't understand how someone without education could be so brilliant.
Jesus' response to this is worthy of consideration. He says to them "My doctrine (teaching) is not My own but His who sent Me..." In other words "I am not uneducated. I am not making up these teachings. I am teaching you what My Father has taught Me." Then He goes a step further and says "Anyone who wants to do His will, will know these teachings and will be able to tell if they come from God or not."
Deep stuff. Simply put Jesus is saying "If you are in sync with God you will get what I'm saying and will automatically understand and recognize that it is from God."
Then He exposes the false religious teachers. He exposes the fact that they teach to bring attention to themselves. Their motive for standing before the people is to bring attention to themselves. Some false teachers do this by constantly tearing down others and exposing their "errors". Others do this by always trying to come up with something new to wow people. No matter the strategy employed the goal is always to puff themselves up. They used the Scriptures as a springboard from which to launch themselves into positions as authorities and experts.
Jesus then says "You received the law from Moses yet you refuse to follow it and now you're seeking to kill Me".
At this moment you could have heard a pin drop. Jesus, rather than avoiding the topic of their murderous intentions, puts it right out in front of everyone. Remember some of the crowd believes Him, some don't, but all are afraid to discuss Him because of the religious leaders. Now Jesus looks those leaders in the eye right in the temple in front of the people and says "You plan to kill Me".
The Truth is literally a matter of life and death.
See you tomorrow.

John Day 70 - More Sabbath Confrontation
20 The people answered and said, “You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?”
21 Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. 22 Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? 24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
We left off yesterday with Jesus announcing in front of everyone that they are looking to kill Him. The response is denial. In fact it's more than denial, it's denial plus attack. They tell Him He is possessed by a devil to be thinking anyone is trying to kill Him.
In response Jesus jogs their memory. The last time He was in Jerusalem was on a Sabbath. He had left the Temple and gone to the pool where He met the lame man. He healed him and sent him home carrying his mat. When the religious leaders saw it they were doubly angry. First the man was carrying his mat on the Sabbath and secondly the healing had taken place on the Sabbath. When they found Jesus they first confronted Him and then wanted to kill Him but He left Jerusalem completely and went back north to Galilee.
Now for the first time since that day He is back. You'll notice He doesn't go into the detail I did about that day He had to leave town. He doesn't have to. They know what happened. People have been talking about it ever since.
He uses that event to agitate the Sabbath traditions and laws again. He points to the Jewish custom of circumcision. It was to be done 8 days after the birth of a male baby. That means every boy born on a Friday was scheduled for circumcision the following Sabbath 8 days later. Circumcision is of course "work" but because the law demanded it they made the exception and circumcisions occurred regularly on the Sabbath.
Jesus is saying "Think about it. You'll circumcise a man on Sabbath but you freaked out when I made a man completely well on the Sabbath."
He then ends with this statement: "Do not judge according to appearance but judge with righteous judgment."
In other words "Use your head! Think!"
If there is one thing religion tends to do, it is to circumvent the thinking process. Again religion wouldn't have the control it does if we didn't let it. People seem to like the security of almost mindlessly following a system with the promise of a payout at the end. When a person locked into a mindless system is questioned as to why they do or don't do certain things they usually have no answer. They often get defensive and/or angry - like the old preacher's notes that said in the margin 'weak point here, speak louder'.
We substitute passion to compensate for a lack of truth...
Often thinking people see the nonsense side of religion and throw it all away including God. This is equally mindless. All or nothing thinking is deadly because it really involves little thinking at all. One guy accepts a religion with the true and the error, the good and the bad, the sensible and the nonsense. Another guy sees this and throws it all away, the good and the bad etc...
Jesus stands in the middle of these two extremes and says "look deeper than the surface - think!"
In our culture I see the gulf widening between these two extreme views of religion and God. It is common to hear anyone who believes in God being dismissed as superstitious and basically unintelligent. They fail to recognize that there were and continue to be brilliant minds who also believe in God. It is very possible to both be a thinker and a believer. In fact it is really not possible to be a thinker and not believe that Someone is out there far more brilliant and powerful than us.
Jesus doesn't just say thinking is ok. He encourages it. He pretty much demands it as necessary. "Look past the surface. Use your reasoning abilities that I created in you. Turn your brain back on. Think for yourself."
"Come now and let us reason together" says the LORD. "Though your sins be as scarlet they will be white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, They will be as wool."
Thinking can be scary. One of my favourite authors says we have 'many things to learn and many, many to unlearn.'

Think about this: Are we really going to become more like Jesus and remain the same?

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