John 1:1-28 April 30th 2018

Focus questions:

  1. In your day to day life do you stop to consider that everything we have came from Jesus?
  2. Does the fact that Jesus was there at creation literally forming the world that He choose to come down to and be mistreated by in order to redeem us impact your daily life?
  3. Do you have a right perspective on yourself, or do you think of yourself more highly than you ought?
  4. Are you willing to be bold for Christ, even if that means leaving some comforts behind?
  5. Do you love the dark or the light? Another way of asking that is do you have a secret life that you would be ashamed if it came out, or are you an open book with nothing to hide?

 

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

God is three in one. He is one God but has three distinct persons. It can sometimes be tempting to think of things to simply and think God the Father was there from the beginning and created everything. Then Jesus showed up some 4,000 years later and walked the earth living the only perfect life and dying the death we deserve. Then sometime after Jesus ascends into heaven is when the Holy Spirit comes into play. At least that was the understanding I had from growing up in church. The truth of it hurts your head to try to understand. The truth is that God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were all present at creation. There was God the trinity and nothing and then God created everything through spoken word, that Word became flesh (Jesus) and dwelt amongst us. All things were made through Christ Jesus. In Jesus is the only place that we can truly have life. He is the light of the world and has come to shine in our dark world.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

I love John. This is not John the disciple that wrote this gospel we are reading, this is John the Baptist. John had an important role to play, he was the forerunner to Christ. The one who came before to make the way straight, yet he knows his place. He does not think of himself more highly than he ought, but he seems the reality of the situation. John knows he was hear to bear witness to the light. We are much the same, our lives are meant to bear witness to Christ. If that were not the case we would be saved and brought right into heaven. Our lives have meaning and purpose, especially once we know our creator. Our purpose at the core is to make Jesus known by our lives. That will play out different in each person’s life, but that is the basis of everyones calling.

9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

As many as receive Him He gives life to them. Jesus as come for the sake of all, but not all receive Him. He came to His own, meaning the Jews, but they received Him not. He came to the Jews first, but then He came to the entire world as well. Do you know Him? Have you received Him?

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Really sit in that for a moment. The Word, Jesus, who was there from the beginning, who formed and created everything, took off His majesty and put on flesh to  come and dwell among us. He left the splendor of heaven to come down here and dwell amongst us, all the while knowing the death that He would ultimately face in order to ransom our souls, so that we could one day have the hope of entering the glory of heaven and spend eternity with Him there. Sometimes we can quickly pass by verses like these, especially if we have grown up in church and it seems like the millionth time we have heard it. The reality of how awesome this fact is does not change, regardless of how many times we have heard it. As we grow in the Lord the reality of what this really means should deepen each time we hear it and we should be in awe of our God.

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” 16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

Jesus is one who was before John because He was there at the beginning of creation. But in a physically sense He came after John. From other gospels we know that elizabeth was about 6 months along with John when Mary visited knowing that she was with child, that she had just began to carry Jesus. Jesus though is preferred before John, He is the one that all of Israel had been longing to see revealed. He brings grace and truth into our lives. His grace is grace upon grace, it is grace in abundance. We never see the physical form of God the Father, but we do see God revealed physically in the form of Jesus.

19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”

They could tell that John had something different going on, but they could not quiet figure out what was going on. They knew that they were waiting for the Messiah and they also knew that Elijah was to come before the Messiah came. Os they set out to ask some questions. They have also spent four hundred years now in silence, no prophets. Elijah answers them all truthfully that he is none of them.  

22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord,”’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

John answers rightfully about himself. He is simply one crying in the wilderness to make straight the way of the Lord. He was literally in the wilderness. The wilderness can also be a dry and weary land, spiritually speaking. I think we can all agree that we live in that place of spiritual dryness. Are we a voice calling out pointing the way to Christ? Do we follow John’s example in that?

24 Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. 27 It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” 28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Baptism was something that was already being practiced. It was an offshoot of ceremonial cleanses and was mostly used for gentiles who were wanting to become Jews. Those who were questioning him wanted to know why he thought he had the authority to do such a thing. John then goes about explaining to them what his baptism is really all about. It was a simple and humble admittance of repentance and a heart that was wanting to prepare for the coming Messiah. Even in this answer John points to Jesus the Messiah as one who is greater than he who John recognizes he is not even worthy to do even the most degrading task of taking off someone’s shoe. Do we hold Jesus in such High esteem in our lives?

Luke 20:1-26 April 20th 2018

Focus Questions as you read through today’s study.

  1. When you inquire of the Lord is it because you want to know and want to see things His way or are you trying to find a loophole to get your way with something?
  2. When an answer is required of you by the Lord or His people are you manipulating what you say to be seen in a better light and not have your heart exposed?
  3. Do you diligently seek the Lord, or just read through the section of scripture and call it good? What is your motive for seeking the Lord on a specific issue, or in general?
  4. When we know the Holy Spirit is speaking to our hearts on a subject do we get hurt by it and huff away, or do we hear Him out and allow change to take place?

 

1 Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him 2 and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?”

Remember that it was just in yesterday’s reading that Jesus had cleansed the temple of those that were doing wicked in there. We  have already seen many things that the Lord has spoke against the religious leaders of the day. The religious leaders really did not like Jesus much at all and it seems that after He cleansed the temple they came became set on getting rid of Him. they were hoping to trip Jesus up. They are asking what His authority was, not because they suspected He might be God and wanted to worship Him, but because they wanted Him to claim deity so that they could get Him on blaspheming. As we move through this conversation you will see it more clearly.

3 But He answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me: 4 The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men?”

Jesus sees that their hearts are not wanting to know, but are instead planning wickedness. Therefore He poses a question back to them, one that instead gets them trapped in their words and in their thinking.

5 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it was from.

It was in and through that baptism that He spoke of Christ coming soon, and John even baptized Jesus. If they say that John was a prophet of God then they must accept what he has spoken and john pointed at Jesus and said behold the Lamb of God. If they say from God then they will also being saying that Jesus is the Christ. If they say of men then they can deny the Christ Jesus is Lord, but at the stake of the people rising against them. They all believed John to be a prophet and to speak against that would put hat person in a bad light in the midst of the whole community and could even be reason to be stoned.

8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Because they were not coming with right motives in their asking Jesus did not answer them. James 4:3 speaks to this truth. We can ask with wrong motives and we do not receive. God is gracious and our motives are not going to be 100% pure all the time, but when we are coming at it just to bring others down we can be assured that we will not find our answers. However, the Lord loves to answer us. When we search for Him diligently He will be found by us (Hebrews 11:6). And all who seek will wil find (Matthew 7:7-11). In the context of that verse it is seek and keep on seeking.

9 Then He began to tell the people this parable: “A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. 10 Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out. 13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.’ 14 But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them?

This parable is speaking directly against the religious leaders, both of that day and times past. This is speaking about what happened to some of the prophets that God sent out on His behalf. Jesus has come on the scene now and they are not listening to Him, in fact they are planning His end. God sent Jesus in hopes to gain the people, including the religious leaders of the day, back to Himself.  This is the way in which Jesus is going to die, outside the city at the hand of the religious leaders.

16 He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.”And when they heard it they said, “Certainly not!”

Interesting to note that the religious leaders knew this was spoken against them and were upset by it, but did not allow it to change their thinking and certainly not their actions. The truth is that all that deny Jesus will come to an end, and the vineyard is already in the hands of others, in us the gentiles who go and express God’s love for people.

17 Then He looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written:‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone’? 18 Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”

Jesus is the chief, He is head of all and the most important one around. The truth is when we truly come to Christ there is a brokenness that takes place, broken over our sins, broken away from our pride and self-focus. If we do not choose to fall on Jesus and break we are choosing to be crushed by His righteous judgement in the end.

19 And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people —for they knew He had spoken this parable against them.

They did not like what Jesus was saying here because it was speaking against their pride. They wanted to kill Jesus over the words that He spoke against them? Have you ever gotten that mad at someone over something? What was your heart like at the time? Where was your focus, all on you? Let’s be people that lay our hearts open before the Lord and allow Him to direct us. Our feelings and desires may differ from time to time from what God says. We need to lay those aside and follow God, our feelings and desires will eventually catch up to us.

20 So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor. 21 Then they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth: 22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

They switch tactics here some. Instead of going after Him according to their laws and get Him into their court systems they switch the focus to the Roman empire that is governing them. The thought was if He says no the the Roman government would be after Him and they would take care of it. If He answers yes then He will lose favor with the jewish community and they may even turn to see His life as well.

23 But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test Me? 24 Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” They answered and said, “Caesar’s.”25 And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Jesus sees right through this one as well and His answer is quick and sly, in a good way. Rather than just a simply yes or no answer He invites them to look at things a bit closer. The money has the Roman emperors image on it. It is therefore reasonable to pay the taxes to them since it was their money system. Those things which the Lord has blessed our live with should be given back to Him and those things from the government back to the government. With that answer He both appeases the people and the Roman government.

26 But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent.

They may keep silent, but their plans have not yet come to an end, they are determined to catch Jesus somehow. They are really sitting back waiting for the ideal situation to arise in which they can get Him.

Caitlin Rene’e