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John 1:30 – This is he of whom I said…

“This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.” John 1:30

“This is he of whom I said,”

It is the second day of John the Beloved’s ‘Creation Week’. Our meditation of John 1:29 focused on Jesus and John calling him the Lamb of God, what that means to us, and how lambs are pictured in Scripture. When John the Baptist spoke the words recorded in John 1:15 he had not met Christ yet. John the Baptist knew of the Messiah; he, himself, was born of a priestly line. The stories also told by his parents of the visitations of angels and the visit Elizabeth received – her cousin, Mary with child. Surely, the Baptist’s mother reminded him often how he leapt in the womb at the sight of sweet Mary carrying the Messiah within her! John knew that Jesus was six months younger than he in human age. However, John knew this was just the earthly tabernacle of He who is from ‘everlasting to everlasting’ and came well before him.

Recall on day one John’s interrogation by the Jewish leaders (John 1:25-27). Day two refers to this meeting. Those present witnessed the exchange on day one and are present when Jesus arrives on day two (John 1:29-30). Ever wonder how John the Baptist ‘just knew’ it was Jesus? He announced him (1:29) before he met him. John ‘saw Jesus coming’ and you have to know someone well to spot them afar off. There is one person that I can spot a mile away: my father. He has a distinct gait with the right foot falling hard on the outside of the heel, followed close by the left, also falling outside. He always holds his head high but his hands are often in his pockets jingling keys and change as he walks. I can ‘see him coming’.

A few years ago, I stopped to see my brother at work. We chatted at the car window before he turned to walk inside. I saw that right foot falling hard on the outside of the heel, followed close by the left, also falling outside. His hands were in his pockets and my heart said, “Daddy – just like Daddy.”

Like Father, Like Son…

As a hermit of the wilderness, John had an intimate relationship with God the Father. When John saw Christ coming toward the river; well, he would know ‘Him’ anywhere. I think John’s first impulse must have been, “Daddy – just like Daddy! It is Him. The Lamb of God. The Son of Man. The Messiah has come and he is God Almighty!”  The crowd heard, “This is him!  This is who I have been telling you about – He is Here!  Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

Have you ever known Christ that intimately? Would you like to know Him that way? Personally, I do not want to ask Christ to show his nail scarred hands to me as proof that He is the Holy One. I want to ‘see him coming’ just like John the Baptist did. I can only do that if I get to know God deeply, memorize his steps, and walk in them.

Will you ‘see Him coming’? I hope you do.

Be blessed!

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Bible studies

 

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Handout: Prophecies of the Coming Messiah

Note:  This is not exhaustive but should provide some references to prophecies of the Coming Messiah.

Luke 24:27 (After His Resurrection on the road to Emmaus)

“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them, in all the Scriptures, the things concerning Himself.”

Genesis 3:15, 9:26, 12:3, 49:10

Exodus 12:46 (see John 19:46)

Deuteronomy 18:15

II Samuel 7:16 (see Matthew 1:1 and 22:42)

Psalm 2; 16:8-11 (see Acts 2:25-31); 22:1-18; 41:9 (see John 13:8 and Acts 1:16); 69:9 (see John 2:17)

Psalm 69:21 (see Matthew 27:34); 110:1-4 (Acts 2:32-35);

Isaiah 7:14 (see Matthew 1:23); 9:6,7; 42:1-3,6-7 (see Matthew 12:17-21; Luke 2:32); 50:6 (see Matthew 26:67; 27:26);

Isaiah 52:13 to the end of Isaiah 53

Jeremiah 31:15 (see Matthew 2:17,18)

Micah 5:2 (se Matthew 2:6)

Zechariah 9:9 (see Matthew 21:5)

Zechariah 11:11-13 (see Matthew 26:15)

Jesus Christ fulfilled each of these prophecies literally.  When on the road to Emmaus, these MIGHT be some of the things that he discussed with the Disciples.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2014 in Bible studies

 

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John 1:29 – The Lamb of God

Scripture Meditation:

THE LAMB OF GOD (John 1:29)  lambs-mar28-2014-hair sheep
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

 

Raising sheep, the farmer learns there is no animal more innocent and without malice than a sheep or lamb. Lambs simply are. They feed. They love to play. They humbly go about their day and make great pets. Of course, one must possess a knowledge of sheep, plenty of pasture, and proper fencing to keep lambs. Those little sweethearts are far too innocent, tend to wander, and are easy prey.

When we look at the Lamb of God slain for our sin, the Bible presents to us the utmost in innocence and purity – covered in the sin of others – that we might live. This is the Messiah who died for you and me. This is our Savior, our Intercessor, Our Light that chases away all darkness, and Our Love that banishes hate from the realms of our hearts. A love for all Creation. He alone is worthy to be praised.

Notice this verse says that he takes away “the sin” of the world. The phrase is singular not plural. There is only one sin that separates us from God. It is our rejection of Him. This is the sin that He died to obliterate that we might live in eternity and reign forever with Him. He made a way! He forgave us! All we have to do is accept that forgiving hand and he will lift us up out of whatever situation right now! Let’s celebrate His forgiveness and love by extending it to others today. Live the Promise!

Be blessed!

Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in Bible studies

 

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John 1:19-28 – Day One – The Witness

As Jesus reveals God the Father to us and interprets Him for us, so does the witness of one human to another reveal Christ within us. Humans cannot begin to understand an infinite being with a finite mind. Apart from knowing Christ, it is impossible to know God fully.

John the Baptist was one of seven (7) witnesses in Scripture who testified (bore witness) that Jesus was indeed God made manifest (the Incarnate Word).

Other witnesses:

Nathaniel (John 1:49)
Peter (John 6:69)
The Blind Man (John 9:35-38)
Martha (John 11:27)
Thomas (John 20:28)

Jesus also bore witness, testified Himself, that He was God Incarnate (John 5:25; John 10:36).

The writer, John the Beloved, accounts for four days in the life of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the first disciples. Day one is given in John 1:19-28. Altogether, there are seven (7) witnesses. The sequence continues in John 2 and gives us, in a way, a “week” in the ‘New Creation’ drawing our attention back to the Creation Week in Genesis 1.

Meditate on this correlation this week: Genesis Creation and New Creation in Christ

When the Jewish leaders came to question John the Baptist they did so because others thought he may be the Messiah.  John did not perform miracles (10:41).  He preached and baptized Gentiles and…Jews.  This puzzled the leaders.  Being the guardians of the faith, they sought out this John the Baptist to inquire of him and his work.

To their surprise, this prophet denies being the Messiah and Elijah.  Yet, he was ‘Elijah in a sense’.  The Elijah of his time sent by God to prepare the way for the Messiah.  The Elijah promised for this period in history; but, he is just one voice (Isaiah 40:1-3).  In saying so, John informs the Jewish leaders that he is the fulfillment of prophecy but NOT the Messiah.

Remember that only Gentiles who adopted the Jewish faith participated in ‘proselyte baptism’ performed by Jewish leaders.  John the Baptist had no authority to baptize anyone into the Jewish faith according to the council.  John the Baptist received his authority from God not man (John 1:34).  Note that he is careful to say, “I baptize with water; but there standeth one among you whom ye know not; HE IT IS (emphasis mine) who coming after me is preferred before me whose shoes latchet I am unworthy to loose.”

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

  1. There are few witnesses today with the boldness of John the Baptist.  How many of us would be mistaken for Christ?  Would someone ask of you, “Are you the Messiah or Elias?”
  2. Meditate on the Creation “Week” in Genesis 1 and John 1-2.  Journal and discuss the importance of this correlation.
  3. John’s baptism of the Jewish and the Gentiles unto repentance is the first clue that a new Covenant is coming.  A covenant for all – not just national Israel.  Spiritual Israel or ‘the ekklesia‘ was forming.  How does this make you feel?
  4. Is John the Beloved’s use of the term “the Jews” in these verses evidence of a separation?  A separation that was taking place because of Christ?  Write down or discuss the ways that Christ’s coming changed the order of things or upset things already in place for generations.

Foot Washing

Next Lesson:  John 1:29-34, The Lamb of God

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2014 in Bible studies

 

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John 1:18 – The Begotten

No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. – John 1:18 KJV

In John 1:17 the bridge between the law and grace is explained.  Moses knew that grace and truth were part of God’s character (Exodus 34:6, Psalm 86:15).  The attributes of God in the Old Testament are manifest and fully disclosed in Christ Jesus, the Incarnate Word.  Yet, even Jesus said in John 5:46-47, “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.  But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”  Moses wrote about Christ?  Yes, He did.  This is so important for folks to see that Jesus is God.  He was not ‘God’s only begotten Son’ as some call Him.  He was ‘the begotten’ of God which is very different.  Begotten does not mean ‘born’ of God.  Christ was God.  The Father sent his very heart to us in a package of flesh.  F.F. Bruce said, “What God was, the Word was.”

This truth is duly important because it corresponds to the parable of the rich man in Luke 12.  As the rich man was in torment, Lazarus was ‘in the bosom’ of Abraham (the friend of God).  When he requests that Abraham send someone to warn his brothers, what did Abraham say?  “They have Moses and the prophets.  Let them hear them.”  John the Beloved is diligent in proving that from the writings of Moses to the end of the prophetic age, Christ was written about well before His coming.  If those who were seeking did not believe Moses or his writings, how could they, or would they believe God himself?

In verse 18, the Christ reveals the Father to us.  No man has seen God.  Even Moses had not seen God face-to-face.  Rather, he was allowed to see the afterglow of His glory.  A sight so awesome that Moses was changed from that moment.  The impact of this vision reflected in his physical appearance that others would also know Moses had an experience (Exodus 32:22, 33:20, 34:10, Numbers 12:8).  The glory that was too awesome for Moses to behold came and walked among men and women.

The term used here is monogenës theos that translates ‘God only begotten’ or ‘the only begotten’  —> God alone.

Verse 18 is a repeat of the truth found in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word.  And the Word was with God and the Word was God.”  His very logos, the essence of all that God is, came and dwelt among men.  The begotten exists in the Father’s bosom:  the heart of the Father.  Only one who knows God fully can make him fully known.

No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. – (Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22).

Exëgeomai – to tell or to narrate (the root of the word ‘exegesis’)

In John 1:18 this word is used to describe Christ and the same language is used in Luke’s writings (Luke 24:35; Acts 10:8; 15:12,14; 21:19).  Jesus is the exegete of  Father-God.  He declares Him, which is why he is called the “Ultimate Prophet”.  The Old Testament prophets declared the Lord and served as the messengers or ‘mouth piece’ of God.  Jesus WAS God.  He ends the prophetic era by coming in the flesh and declaring HIS words directly to humankind.  The same that was declared by prophets of old is confirmed by the words of Christ.

For thousands of years, people have attempted to distort these truths.  Just a few weeks ago, a Muslim group in Columbus, Ohio purchased a billboard advertisement stating, “Jesus is Muslim.”  This is false on two fronts:  historically and scripturally.  Islam did not form as a religion until 600-700 A.D.  Christ’s life, death, and resurrection predates the Islamic faith by hundreds of years.  False advertising is nothing new.  People do it all the time.  The unfortunate part is that many who do not research may drive by this billboard and believe it.  Perhaps they were never interested in history itself?  They have no desire to read about the ancients.  For this reason, they are easily deceived.

(Note:  As of April 7, 2014, those billboards were taken down in Columbus after a demonstration by Christians.  Link:  http://www.westernjournalism.com/jesus-muslim-billboard-taken/)

This advertising just before the Easter holiday is at cross purposes for the Islamic push to end Easter Egg hunts in communities and forbid their children to participate in celebrations of Jesus.  One Muslim man told his stepson that Easter was ‘devil worship’ and they would not observe this holiday in their home.  How will they explain this billboard when they attempt to end Easter celebrations?  Is anyone researching?  No one may pick up on this piece of false advertising because folks do not stay informed enough to know.  Thankfully, the billboards were removed.  How many read them and believed before it was taken down?

The same is true of Christians who fail to study and cannot give a reason for the hope that they have in Christ.  Without studying, it is easy to be deceived.  John the Beloved took the time to explain the Christ to us.  His prologue (vv. 1-18) contains sufficient information that you could read these 18 verses and come away with enough evidence for someone to make a decision about Christ.  John did his homework.  He gave good reasons for his hope in Christ.  In modern terms, these verses might read like this.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I hereby present to you, the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, the begotten of God.  His very Logos and Incarnate Word is all powerful, made all things, and came in the flesh to dwell among us.  He declares the Creator-God to us; in that, when He speaks God speaks.  He speaks Life.  Grace and truth come by Him and through Him.  Know this and rejoice, dear reader.  Your Messiah has come!  Look to Moses and remember His writings.  Look at the life and ministry of this man called Jesus of Nazareth.  He is the branch!  Salvation has come to us.  And, He did not send a substitute or a prophet.  He came in the flesh!

Rejoice in the work John has done in explaining the Logos of God to us.  And, make a commitment today to study the Bible more.  Be able to spot false advertising about Jesus when you see it.

Be blessed!

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2014 in Bible studies

 

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Bridge Over Troubled Water

In my distress, I cried unto the Lord and he heard me.” – Psalm 120:1 KJV 

 

Richard usually does morning chores alone before he wakes me and Jimmy arrives.  A severe weather alert woke me a few days ago.  Heavy winds and rain brings debris with it.  Debris that clogs our bridge and takes the water over the road.  Richard and I have cleaned the bridge works out before.  I tip-toed out of bed, showered, dressed, made coffee for two, and woke Richard.

Everything about that morning was backward!  He always bring ME coffee.  The animals come first so the bridge would be the final task of the morning.  Crossing the sodden earth to the tobacco barn, we both heard the cries of a lamb in trouble.  Its mother was calling for it to return and once round the side, we saw why.  The lamb wiggled its way out of the run-in shed and into the adjoining paddock.  It was foxy enough to sneak out but clueless about getting back to the warmth and safety of its mother.

Lambs are skittish around people unless you have bottle fed them.  They are not trusting and frighten easily.  Richard went into the paddock with the lamb and asked that I walk gingerly along the fence line.  My steps should urge it toward the gate and to safety.  The wee one went a few steps then froze, bleeting at the sight of her mother.  Her cries grew desperate with the mother’s urging.  Just a few more steps to safety and she – stopped.  Her cry for salvation sprang the mother into action.  She bolted through the gate passed Richard to her lamb who immediately began to feed.  A few moments later, we were able to get them back with the flock.

Throughout Scripture, God’s children are referred to as sheep.  And when I looked at that frightened lamb, I saw me.  I was so scared at times that it blinded me to opportunity, to salvation.  Frozen by confusion, paralyzed with fear, we march in place when we should run to our Savior.

Like the little lamb, we are unable to save ourselves.  Our weakened state only complicates things.  The hunger taxes our limbs.  Any movement is a chore.  The Savior hears our cry and bolts through the gate with wild eyes brimming with love and mercy to aid the lost lamb.  When we cannot come to Him, He comes to us as a mother spurred by the cries of her hungry babe.  He fords the golf that separates the soul from salvation and bears the soul over FOR us.  Grafting us to the tree of Life, He lifts our burdens, and fills our souls with nourishment.

Are you feeling locked out of the fold?  Have you wandered and long to be back safe in the arms of love?  Cry out to Him.  He will bolt through the gates and meet you where you are.

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p style=”color:#333333;”>Be blessed.

 

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Bible studies

 

John 1:17 – Level Ground at the Foot of the Cross

WHY IS THE GROUND LEVEL AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS?
John 1:17

“For the law was given by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ”

This verse is straightforward but deep.

LESSON

Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant. God kept His promises and established a New Covenant with humankind: the covenant of grace. Gone are the Old Testament set of laws, which were impossible to keep. No longer is blood sacrifice required to atone for sin; the Lamb of God shed His blood for me. Jesus paid it all and took my place. Now, I walk in the love of Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). No one comes to God except through Christ Jesus. Romans 3:9-20 states by the deeds of the Law (good works) no man is or can be just in the sight of God. Our best efforts are not good enough in the presence of a thrice holy Father (Isaiah 64:6).

For believers, this is the gist of the passage here. Is there more to discuss than these simple and very comforting words?

Yes, and I would like to discuss them because naysayers abound in the world. These are the folks who in their attempt to discredit God and the Bible will throw an Old Testament law at you and say, “Oh, well the Bible says to do this too but I don’t see you doing this or that. You eat things that the Bible says are unclean and do everything the book says that you should not. Yet, you tell me that you believe God’s Word and you don’t even do what it says.”

Man has trouble enough maintaining or keeping the norms set by them to judge others (Romans 2:1-3). How can one then keep the law set forth by a divine being whose ways and thoughts are higher than those of humans?

Before Christ became the ultimate substitute the people of Israel lived by the letter of the law (given by Moses) but when Truth came by Jesus Christ, His sacrifice allowed us live by grace through faith in the SPIRIT of the Law. Christ never abolished the law; he established the Law and added to it the Covenant of Grace.

Moral good works and religious good works are filthy rags before God. Salvation is by grace through faith (Acts 16:30-33; Galatians 2:16) and nothing can we do to earn what Christ died to give us freely. And, if it is free then why does man strive so to earn what does not require labor but love (Ephesians 2:8,9)? In Romans 3:24 the word ‘freely’ means “gratis” – there is no cost to us.

Some will tell you to ignore these folks. It is not always wise to ignore them. Most are begging for an informed answer. They heard someone else use the slur and thought it was clever. While the nonbeliever sits there thinking that he has the Christian by the tail, it’s the opposite. The Christian is looking at this person in pity because they aren’t knowledgeable enough to know they’ve been misled by the ‘clever sayings’ of other unknowledgeable people.

As Christians, we should be ready to give ‘a reason for the hope that we have’ in Christ. Unsatisfied with a simple explanation of what God has done for us, seekers inquire about when, who, where, and how. Let’s talk about ‘how’ this is significant.

DIGGING DEEPER

Christ is the Ultimate Prophet and John the Beloved draws upon the writings of Moses from John 1:1-18. HOW is Christ the ultimate prophet? From the time of Moses, God puts His Words on the tongue of a messenger. When Christ came, He was the Word Incarnate – the ultimate and almighty voice of God.

“In the beginning was the Word” letting the reader know that the Word is God, the Word was God, and all things are made by him. By Him, all things consist. John affirms the Deity of Jesus, draws upon Old Testament prophecies and draws us into the attributes of Christ proving He was God. Moses was the first prophet, messenger of God, and the first to record the promise of a Messiah (Genesis 3:15; Deuteronomy 18:15; John 5:46-47).

Moses is revered as the father of prophecy, the father of the Law. The writer reinforces Jesus is the Christ by reminding Jewish people of the blood atonement required for sin and the promise of a Messiah. It is impossible to keep the Law. The Law was never intended as a substitute for the Messiah; rather, the Law reminds us that we need a Messiah, a substitutionary atonement (Galatians 3:24).

WHY IS THE GROUND LEVEL AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS?

It represents a timeline from the beginning to the end. The mediator/median is Jesus Christ and His substitutionary atonement. All those who followed the Lord and sought righteousness prior to Christ’s Coming were redeemed looking to the Coming of the Messiah (Romans 4:9-11). Those saved during and after Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection are saved looking back on the finished work of Christ.

John 1-17-pic

 

Behind and before, the mediator is Christ. In Him, lies the key to everything past, present, and future. Without him, man unknowingly reduces him or herself to a jumbled ball of nervous impulses and base responses. Why would humankind degrade themselves to such an extent? To what lengths will a man go to justify his sin? Yes, he will even tear off his own face to avoid a holy God whereby He must answer. It does not have to be this way. He came in love.

Do not let your stubborn heart rob you of the greatest gift ever given to us.
Why is it level at the foot of the Cross? It is ground zero for the soul. Anyone can reach this destination. Grace is never beneath or below, never out of reach, but always at hand. It is designed to reach the uttermost and the guttermost but when we stand there, we are all equals in His Love. That is just what is so amazing about grace.

The Christian glories in what we do not deserve, and cannot earn, but in Him, we gain because He loved us and gave Himself for us!

Why is the ground level at the foot of the Cross? It is the ONLY WAY by which we can be saved from eternal damnation. It is the ONLY path. There is no hill to climb or valley to forge. There is no slippery slope with caverns full of goblins whereby we must pass to enter the Celestial City. It is a level and straight road to the grace of God. A road that anyone can find and travel down to meet your Messiah (John 8:24; John 14:6).

This is a walk of faith in Christ or it is nothing at all. He promises to not drive anyone away (John 6:37). It is a free gift and we receive it by faith.

Faith is duly significant here.
1. Faith is the vehicle whereby we believe God’s promises.
2. Faith is the empty hand that accepts the gift without trying to add humanistic morality or religious good works or self-made piety to it.

By GRACE THROUGH FAITH means that we accept the gift as it given not as we think it ought to be.

Meditate on His love and grace right now.. Take off any self-righteous or judging garments worn by your soul. Accept what he offers and do not add anything to it. His gift is ALREADY perfect. It’s the easiest recipe in the world: just add FAITH.

Question:

Is National Israel different from Spiritual Israel? See Romans 9:6 and Romans 9:30-33

Meditate on Romans 3:21-26 this week

 

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2014 in Bible studies

 

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