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John1:29-34

November 24th, 2016
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We now have the book of John describing John’s response to Jesus before all the people.

John1:29-30

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

That’s an amazing statement. In so many ways it sets Jesus up against the Temple in Jerusalem. It makes it redundant in its purpose. Not something that would have been overlooked by those in charge of the Temple.

No ordinary human being can be “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”

John has already told us that he is preparing the way for Yahweh, Elohim of Isaiah 40.

And because of all this, this Jesus can be “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” The highpoint of John’s testimony.

30 This is the one I meant when I said, “A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.”

He was before as the Word. Now the Word has become flesh. In other words, Jesus was able to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world because he was the God-man.

What does it mean to take away the sin of the world?

As we have seen in the series on Atonement, this involves a lot more than dying for us

And how did Christ save us?

Christians usually think that we were saved by Jesus’ death on the cross. That is an important part of the picture, but it is only part of the picture.

Lets quickly recap  the fullness of this atonement:

  • The first step in our salvation was when Jesus was made a flesh-and-blood human being. He took our nature as his own. That is when he became the second Adam, the new leader of all humanity.
  • The next step in our salvation is that Jesus had to live. He had to live a righteous life, without any sin – because if he sinned, then he would simply be like one of us, needing to be saved. He would not even be able to save himself, and certainly not anyone else.  But since he is our Creator and he lived without sin (he had a perfect relationship with the Father and the Spirit and, as much as could be done from his side, with all humans), we are allowed to share in his righteousness.
  • Third, Jesus had to die for us. The wages of sin is death, the Bible says. Death is the result we would expect, if we try to live independent from the creator and sustainer of the universe. In him was life. To turn from him is to turn from life.  Jesus, as a mortal human being, experienced death, the result of our sins. As our Creator, he was able to accept responsibility and the consequences for all of our sins, and to die for the sins of all humanity.
  • Fourth, Jesus had to be resurrected. Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” Paul also says that we are “saved by his life.”  Jesus is able to save us from death because he himself has overcome death. He has been there, done that, and now he can do it for us, too.
  • Last, Jesus had to ascend into heaven as one of us, fully human, and be restored to complete fellowship with the Father and Spirit.   The Bible says he ascended bodily into heaven, as a glorified human being, and he is now at the Father’s right hand, which is a figure of speech meaning the most honored position.  His is eternally, even now, our mediator, our intercessor, praying for us, and transforming us to become more like he is. By the Spirit he is sharing with us his regenerated and perfected humanity.

 Thus sin has been fully taken care of in him. It no longer has power over our future. And it is universal: for the whole world.

He is the future of the world.

John goes on to explain the reason for his ministry of baptizing.

John1:31-33

31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptising with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.’

John is Not the Christ. Not the prophet. Not Elijah reincarnate. Not even the great knower of Jesus. Just a voice saying, Get ready to meet the God of Isaiah 40 in human form.
And John is just a baptizer in mere water so that he can get some people ready to receive Jesus. when he is revealed.

32 Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.

Why a dove? The dove was one of the clean animals that you could sacrifice if you were too poor to afford a lamb. So it stood for purity and lowliness or humility. But there is more.

Read more…

Message for the Day

John1:19-28

November 21st, 2016
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John the Baptist appears at the beginning of John’s Gospel (and the other Gospels) and then falls to the background because he is a link or a bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

We want to look at how he is presented in the first chapter of John

It starts with John1:15
(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, ‘This is the one I spoke about when I said, “He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.”’)

He is prominent at the beginning of the Gospel because he is part of the roots of the Gospel. But he is to be surpassed.

John 1:19–23

19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was.

The word Jew in the book of John has this temple leadership context.

It is really a question of authority. They had the central control. So no one could be doing anything without their approval.

This is major issue in most religious divisions: who has the authority.

Later we will see this was at the basis of the hatred between Samaritans and Jews.

It was the main concern of Jesus’ enemies as Jesus himself came closer to Jerusalem.

20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Messiah.’

No attempt to confuse anyone by claiming to be the Messiah.

As we proceed this story is not about John. He has no personal agenda.

21 They asked him, ‘Then who are you? Are you Elijah?’
He said, ‘I am not.’

He is not again claiming to be the expected return or reincarnated great prophet Elijah. Ironically it is Jesus himself in the other gospel accounts who identifies him as the Elijah to come- coming in the Spirit of Elijah.

But that is not what John claims for himself. Unlike others today who claim they are Elijah.

‘Are you the Prophet?’

This is the reference to another Moses.

Deuteronomy18:15

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.

He answered, ‘No.

Again no attempt to promote himself.

22 Finally they said, ‘Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’
23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Make straight the way for the Lord.”’

He is just a servant : a lowly messenger preparing for the one who matters.

Over and over we will see in this Gospel that John the writer explains Jesus in terms of the Old Testament. Jesus doesn’t appear on the scene of history without historical preparation.

The quote he makes has a context:

Isaiah 40:3

A voice of one calling:
‘In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God

Clear a way for Yahweh.

Make a straight highway in the wilderness for our Elohim.

John’s reply leaves no doubt who is coming! And where the attention should be.

John is not our Saviour.

From John we can learn something very important in preparing to follow Jesus: It is not about us. It is about Jesus’ ministry.

Everything we will see in John’s teaching is away from himself and about who Jesus is.

We must be prepared to decrease and he increase in our lives.This becomes very evident in

John 3:22-31

22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized.
23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.)
25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing.
26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”)
27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.
28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’
29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.
30 He must become greater; I must become less.”
31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.

It is always about what God is doing. It is God’s plan of salvation in history. And this centred on Jesus, the Son of God. Not any man or any organization.

We can only work where God wants us to. It is not our vision but his.

Lets return to

John1:24-28

24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, ‘Why then do you baptise if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’

So why are you stirring up the place requiring Jews to be like Gentiles and get baptized. Why are you treating Israelites as if they don’t belong already?

26 ‘I baptise with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’

I am not worthy to be the lowest slave and unstrap his smelly sandals.

Why?

The man coming after John is more than anyone ever dreamed. He is the God of the Old Testament. Yahweh, Jehovah, the God who is the Creator and Ruler of the world, and the Covenant God of Israel —only now he is man as well as God.

John’s baptizing isn’t about John. It’s about Jesus, and he is infinitely superior to John.

28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

Message for the Day ,

John1:14-18

November 15th, 2016
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Last time we saw how Jesus’ character reflected the perfections of the I AM of the OT. He was the living Word witnessed in the written word. He is the fulfilment of grace and truth.

We pick up where we left off in

John1:14

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Word—who was revealed as God in verse 1—became flesh, that is, became human. So God dwelt or tabernacled among us for about 33 years as the God-man, Jesus Christ.

The language implies that Jesus is the fulfillment of the sheckinah glory of the Tabernacle. All that was with Israel is reaching its fullness in him. He is where we meet God.

We now come to the completion of John’s prologue.

I want to now focus on the word “to see”.

Verse 14(b): “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

This is the great issue for all of humankind. Will they see the glory of the Son of God?

This Gospel of John is explicitly designed by God to reveal the glory of Christ and awaken people to see him and have eternal life.

Because here in this Gospel we read the deeds and words of the Son of God and how he died and rose again. And in this story the glory of the only Son from the Father shines off the life of Jesus.

The Word of God became flesh to be gracious to us. This will not be a wishy-washy, unprincipled, sentimental grace. It will be amazing in how it changes sinners.

This grace will be a righteous, God-exalting, costly grace. It will lead straight to Jesus’ death on the cross. In fact, this is why he became flesh. He had to have flesh in order to die. He had to be human in order to die as a God-man in our place.

The Word also became flesh so that the Jesus would unite us to his resurrection, ascension and life with God. He had to be the pioneer or firstfruits of the new creation.

It is a glorious sharing grace.

But how do we see?

John 3:3

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”

Without grace filling us with God’s life and becoming a child of God—we will never see the glory of God’s kingdom.

Jesus also prayed for us.

John17:24

“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

The ultimate goal of his prayer for us is that we see the fullness of his glory after he returns to his Father. This will always make him central and will make us supremely happy.

Why?

Because Jesus shares with us his oneness with the Father and the life of God imparted by the Holy Spirit.

So to see is a process that we only begin today. John Newton described it as if I had any light then it was the first streaks of light in the dawn.

Jesus prayer tells us that there will always be more of his glory to see until one day we will fully see.

Now for this to even begin in our lives, two obstacles have to be overcome. Two kinds of darkness have to be removed.

There is a darkness in the world, and there is a darkness in us. Both have to be overcome.

The glory of the Son of God has to be revealed in the world for us to see, and the blindness and darkness of our own hearts has to be removed.

Otherwise, we cannot see the glory of the Son of God.

It is helpful to distinguish three basic types of sight which include :

(1) physical sight;
(2) rational sight, that is, perception through rational thought and inference; and
(3) spiritual sight with the “eyes of the heart” (Ephesians 1:18), as mediated by the Spirit to those who are willing to do the will of God .

When Scripture says it is not possible to see God, it is referring to vision in the physical sense, since God is not a physical object.

The second and third types do not necessarily involve visual perceptions

It is possible to see him with the second form of sight (that is, sight in the sense of intellectual perception) for Scripture says truth about God can indeed be inferred from the natural order.

The third form of sight occurs in the context of covenant relationship and love. This involves a deeper knowing of God as God himself makes it possible to be in friendship with him. We talked about that at Ulladulla a couple of years ago.

But for the disciples they had even a physical sight of his glory. Jesus claimed “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

The birth of Jesus has brought a new way to know God. Jesus in his flesh made himself accessible to his disciples limited way of knowing.

John described this way:

1John 1:1-4

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.

3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

They were claiming to be eyewitnesses of this Word of life.

But to see, touch, hear Jesus is still a very limited knowledge of God.

Remember the opponents saw Jesus but did not recognize his deity, so the other two forms of sight are also required .

And also remember, John is writing his Gospel for people who never saw the earthly Jesus—people like us.

You don’t have to see him physically.

Jesus said in John20:29(b)

Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed.
You meet him in the Gospel of John and the other writings of the Bible. And when you meet him, through these inspired stories of his words and deeds, his glory shines through—the self-authenticating beauty of that matchless mixture of grace and truth.

Read more…

Message for the Day