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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > How Do You Handle Jesus?

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How Do You Handle Jesus? - John 19:1-16

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Pontius Pilate was like every other person who has ever lived. The fundamental question of his life was, "What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" (Matthew 27:22). Everyone has to deal with Jesus, to decide about Him and His claims. In one setting, we can see how one man (Pilate) was influenced to deal with Jesus in three different ways. These three ways are how many people today still choose to deal with Jesus Christ.

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1/22/2012
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How Do You Handle Jesus?
John 19:1-16
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Pontius Pilate was like every other person who has ever lived. The fundamental question of his life was, "What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" (Matthew 27:22). Everyone has to deal with Jesus, to decide about Him and His claims. In one setting, we can see how one man (Pilate) was influenced to deal with Jesus in three different ways. These three ways are how many people today still choose to deal with Jesus Christ.
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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" John 20:31.

Believe:879 is an epic journey through the book of John led by Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary of Albuquerque. As we explore each of the 879 verses of this gospel, we'll grow in grace and in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. From His pre-incarnate existence, to His public ministry, through His death and His resurrection we'll traverse familiar territory and embark on new adventures of faith.

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Outline

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  1. He Can be Handled Passively (vv. 1-6)

    1. Recognition of Christ's Innocence

    2. Concession to the Crowd's Abhorrence

  2. He Can Be Handled Fearfully (vv. 7-12a)

    1. Jesus' Claim

    2. Jesus' Calm

  3. He Can be Handled Selfishly (vv. 12b-16)

    1. A Statement of Intimidation

    2. A Sentence of Capitulation

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Pontius Pilate judges Jesus
      1. Proud Roman: humble Galilean
      2. Man of earth: Man of heaven
      3. Man who pursues earthly power: God/Man gave up power to suffer for the sins of the world
    2. Jesus faced six trials
      1. Three religious
      2. Three civil
        1. Trial four before Pilate
        2. Trial five before Herod Antipas
        3. Trial six before Pilate
  2. He Can be Handled Passively (vv. 1-6)
    1.  Recognition of Christ's Innocence
      1. Let the people decide
        1. Custom to release a Jewish prisoner during Passover
        2. Offers to release Barabbas, guilty of insurrection
        3. People want Barabbas freed
      2. Pilate knows Jesus is innocent; attempting to free Him
        1. "'I find no fault in Him at all'" (John 18:38).
        2. "Pilate then went out again, and said to them, 'Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him'" (John 19:4).
        3. "Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him!' Pilate said to them, 'You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him'"(John 19:6).
      3. Let pity decide
        1. Beat Jesus up and parade Him around
        2. Scourge Him so the crowd would be moved
        3. Levels of scourging
          1. Fustigatio: less intense cases; beaten, verbally reprimanded, let go
          2. Flagellatio: brutal beating
          3. Verberatio: death before death; most intense, bent over pillar, beaten until lictors were exhausted, usually followed by crucifixion, many did not survive. According to Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, many martyrs flogged until the lower veins, arteries, entrails, and organs were exposed
        4. Jesus first experienced flagellation, followed by verberatio after sentenced to the cross
        5. Ecce Homo- Behold the Man! Pity this poor creature!
          1. We too, behold the Man
          2. "So His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men" (Isaiah 52:14).
    2. Concession to the Crowd's Abhorrence
      1. Pilate doesn't want to kill Jesus, but he doesn't want to believe in Him either
      2. Pilate wants to remain neutral
      3. "'He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad'" (Matthew 12:30).
  3.  He Can Be Handled Fearfully (vv. 7-12a)
    1. Jesus' Claim: He claims to be God
      1. Roman superstitions
        1. Believed gods could empower men with supernatural ability
        2. Believed gods could leave their realm and come to earth (e.g., Hercules)
        3. If Jesus was a son of the gods, Pilate would be in trouble
      2. Pilate's wife had warned him about her dream: "'Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him'" (Matthew 27:19).
    2. Jesus' Calm (Jesus remained silent)
      1. Fulfilled prophecy: "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth" (Isaiah 53:7).
        1. He had already spoken
        2. He reveals Himself incrementally
        3. No new revelation if you fail to take action on revealed truth
      2. Demonstration of patience
        1. "Our gods are short-tempered, but Jesus is a very patient God."
        2. Gives space to make a decision
  4. He Can be Handled Selfishly (vv. 12b-16)
    1. A Statement of Intimidation: "Not a friend of Caesar"
      1. Tiberius Caesar
        1. Paranoid recluse; suspicious of everyone
        2. Brutal consequences for unfaithfulness
      2. Pilate's mistakes as governor
        1. Banner with Caesar's emblem in Jerusalem, resulting in Jewish protest; Jews bared their necks when threatened
        2. Pilate raided the Jewish treasury to fund an aqueduct; soldiers ordered to butcher protestors
        3. Shield with Caesar's profile brought in; Jews appealed to Caesar, who threatened Pilate
    2. A Sentence of Capitulation 
      1. Pilate's history
        1. Born in Seville
        2. Joined the Roman army; became a legionnaire
        3. Moved to Rome
        4. Married Claudia, the granddaughter of Caesar Augustus
        5. Caesar appointed him governor of Judea
        6. Caesar amicus: friend of Caesar
      2. Being Caesar's friend was more important than doing right
        1. "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?" (James 4:4).
        2. "But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed" (Luke 23:23).
  5. Application
    1. Are you following the crowd? "'Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it'" (Matthew 7:13).
    2. How we ought to handle Jesus
      1. Humbly
      2. Sincerely
      3. Personally
      4. Repentantly

Publications referenced: Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius
Cross references: Isaiah 52:14; Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 7:13; Matthew 12:30; Matthew 27:19; Luke 23:23; John 18:38; John 19:4; John 19:6; James 4:4

Transcript

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Open your bibles please to John Chapter 19.  And before we consider the word of God, let's talk to the God of the word. 

Lord we believed that statement to be true that we are not holding merely a book written by a bunch of well-meaning guys over a long period of time but that you have super intended the writing of it so that the accounts that we read reflect truth, revealed truth that you being the creator are also able to sustain the documents that would lead to the making of the bible so when we read it, we can read it knowing that you are speaking your will and that the events really happened.

Lord, we pray that it would be your Holy Spirit that would teach us we're reading familiar truth to most, foreign to some but vital to all.  And we pray that what you have intended for us would not be taken away by any distraction by any focus on anything or anyone other than yourself as we examine this truth, in Jesus name.  Amen.

There are questions and answers that define a moment, in fact question and answers that define a person in a moment.  There was a young man who went to the Super Bowl.  Can you imagine how excited he was?  He got a Super Bowl ticket.  He was really excited when he got to the stadium.  He realized that his ticket was for a seat in the last row in the far corner of the stadium.  So, it wasn't a great seat but it was a free ticket and he was happy.

About halfway to the first quarter, he notices by looking that there is a seat on the field, I mean right on the edge of the field empty.  So he thinks, "I like to sit there."  So he goes over to that seat, next to the empty seat as an older gentleman.  And he says, "Is anybody sitting here." the guy says "Nope."  "Could I take the seat"?  He says "You certainly may."  So he finds his some comfort zone and then he says, "Man, I can't believe anybody would pass up this seat at the Super Bowl."  And the older gentleman said, "Well actually that's my wife's seat and she and I have been to Super Bowl since the year we wed but she has passed away."

"This is the first year that we haven't been to a Super Bowl together since we married in 1967."  The young man was saddened and he said "I am so sorry.  I am thankful but I am so sorry."  But then he said, "Now, couldn't you have found a relative or close friend to come with you to the game?"  And the older gentlemen said, "Oh, no they're all at the funeral."

(Laughter)

It's pretty gnarly isn't it?

(Laughter)

The question and that answer defined that man at that moment, right?  It revealed a man who was selfish.  It revealed a man who had his priorities all messed up.  He revealed the man who would honor a game more than he would honor the memory of his own dear wife who accompanied him every year. 

So, questions and answers to questions define a person in a moment.  There is another man with another question that we want to look at today.  Now the question is not asked for us in our text but it is ask by Pontius Pilate at the trial of Jesus as recorded in Matthew's account.  Here's the question.  Pontius Pilate looking at Jesus then looking at the crowd says, "What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?"  That question and the answer that he provides to the question will define Pontius Pilate forever.

Pontius Pilate comes to us as sort of a tragic figure in history.  He was a powerful figure 2000 years ago.  But because of his interfacing with Christ during this trial, he's come down to us as this tragic pathetic figure in history because of the way he handles Jesus.

He asked the question verbally.  He answers the question experientially by his own actions in John Chapter 19.

Now we want to look at how a person handles Jesus by looking at how Pilate handled them three different ways on this day.

Now for a moment before we jump in to our text and read it, just in your mind's eye.  Picked up on this scene, here you have two men facing each other, a proud Roman, a humble Galilean, a man of the earth, a man from heaven, a man who has put all of his mind on earthly things, earthly honor, earthly power and the God man who abdicated all of that to come and suffer on purpose for the sins of the world.  And they faced off with each other during this moment.

And so Pontius Pilate has to handle Jesus and he does so three different ways and so we begin in Verse 1 with the first way.  Jesus can be handled passively.  Verse 1, "So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him and the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on his head and they put on him a purple robe and then they said, 'Hail, king of the Jews!' and they struck him with their hands."

Pilate then went out again and said to them, "Behold I am bringing Him out to you that you may know that I find no fault in him."  Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns in the purple robe and Pilate said to them, "Behold, the man."  Therefore, when the chief priest and the officer saw him, they cried out saying "Crucify him, crucify him!"  Pilate said to him, "You take him and crucify him for I find no fault in him."

Just to jog your memory a little bit from the last time that we were together, I mentioned that there wasn't one trial but there were six different trials Jesus faced on this day.  Three were before the religious crowd those were done.  We've covered those three or before the civil courts.  We are at trial number four and trial number six.  I'll explain.  Trial number four was before Pontius Pilate.  Trial number five was before Herod Antipas.  Trial number six was again before Pontius Pilate.

We started reading through this and coming through all of the material of the trial and we discover Pontius Pilate is a guy who is pretty passive, noncommittal.  He doesn't really want to handle Jesus.  He doesn't want to make a decision, doesn't want to deal with him would rather other people decide for him.

So, in dealing with Jesus passively Pontius Pilate has a three fold strategy.  Number one, he thinks, "I'll let the politician decides what should happen with Jesus."  You see, Pontius Pilate realizes that Jesus is not from Jerusalem not from Judea but he is a Galilean therefore the one who has jurisdiction over Galilee is the great politician, Herod Antipas.

So he goes -- "I don't have to handle Jesus.  I'll ship him up to Herod.  Herod will make the decision."  Herod is all excited.  He meets with Jesus.  Herod is hoping Jesus to do some tricks, some miracle.  Jesus says, absolutely nothing to Herod at all, not a word.  No miracle.  So Herod mocks Jesus for awhile puts a purple robe on him and ships him back to Pontius Pilate.  Now Pilate has to deal with him again.  So his first strategy in dealing with him passively, let the politician decide backfires on him.

Strategy number two in dealing with Jesus passively, "I'll let the people decide.  If the politician won't decide, the people will."  So in a brilliant strategy really, he remembers there is a custom we have worked out with the Jewish nation that during Passover we release to them one of their own that's a criminal, somebody in prison.  So he thinks that the worst possible insurrectionist in jail, Barabas thinking this crowd isn't going to want Barabas.  They going to want Jesus released.  He is innocent.  Barabas is guilty he's a known insurrectionist.  He's a known rebel.

So in letting the people decide, he is blown away when the people actually say release Barabas and kill Jesus.  Now understand something the entire time of the trial, Pontius Pilate knows Jesus is an innocent man and this is a rigged trial.

And he is attempting to let him go three times we read that in our text.  Go back to Chapter 18 and look at the 38th verse.

It says that he went out again to the Jews and said to them, "I find no fault in him at all."  Case closed he thinks.

Verse four of Chapter 19, ""Behold, I am bringing Him out to you that you may know that I find no fault in Him."  Again in Verse 6, "You take him and crucify him, for I find no fault in Him."  He knows Jesus is innocent but he's trying to escape the responsibility so he thinks "I'll let the politician decide."  That doesn't work.  "I'll let the people decide."  That doesn't work.

Here's his third strategy in dealing passively with Jesus.  "Perhaps if I let pity decide."  So he thinks "I'll beat Jesus up a little bit.  Parade him before this blood thirsty crowd kind of bloodied and beat up and they're going to take one look at him and say enough is enough and then release him."  That's where Verse one and two is all about.  And Pilate took Jesus and he scourged him.  You're wondering well if the Pilate knows that Jesus is innocent, why would he get him beat up?  Just so that the crowd would pity him and he wouldn't have to personally deal with it.

Now, a word about scourging.  Scourging was a brutal punishment that the Romans enacted in their criminal justice system.  A scourge was made up of wooden handle, six inches long a wooden handle.  Attached to it were leather thongs and embedded -- tied into the leather thongs where bits of the lead, glass, bone designed to grip the skin and shred the skin.

Now there were three levels of scourging, level number one was the "fustigatio".  This is for less intense criminal cases.  If the guy was like a hoodlum, the Romans would take them, beat them a little bit but give them a verbal reprimand and then let them go.

Number two, level number two was called the "flagilatio" that is where he would be brutally beaten because the case, the crime was more intense than just being a hoodlum.

Level number three was known as the death before the death and the Latin's called it the "verberatio."  It was the most intense.  The prisoner was led with his hands bound to a courtyard.  A low lying pillar was in the middle and the prisoner was forced to hunch it over the pillars so that his back was exposed and taut hard like a drum.

There were two lictors, men would whips, soldiers, one on either side who would administer diagonal blows on the back of the prisoner usually tell the soldiers we're exhausted or the commanding officer said enough is enough at least keep them alive to get him crucified.  Usually that last third tear, that verberatio was reserved for those who would be crucified.  They're going to die anyway, let's give it to them in increments.

Historians tells us that many of these prisoners never survived that flogging because it was designed to shred the skin, lacerate the muscles and even eviscerate the subcutaneous tissues of the victim.

Eusebius, the Church historian writes in his book Ecclesiastical History that many martyrs who were flogged that people in the crowd could actually see down into the lower veins and arteries and that the entrails and organs were exposed to sight.  It is believed that Jesus faced the second kind of flogging at first.  And then once the gavel went down and Pilate said, "Okay, take him to the cross." that he received that third type.

So Jesus is pretty mangled by now, pretty beat up.  Besides that, they mock him and they put a crown of thorns on him, a mocking and they slap him around.  And finally in Verse 5, he is paraded on the balcony out in front of the people.  And you'll notice Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.  And Pilate said to them as if to incur their pity "Behold, the man."  In his Latin tongue, "Ecce Homo" as if to say "pity this poor creature.  Look at this bruised and bloodied man having you had enough.  This is the one that you say is the big threat and is going to overturn the nation.  Look at him now, he poses not threat."  Now he's hoping they're going to say "You're right.  Let him go."

But like sharks who have gotten the smell of blood in the water, they're circling.  They want nothing more than and nothing less than the death of Jesus Christ.

Now as you yourself this morning in this message, in your minds eye are beholding the man.  There's a scripture that is brought to mind, a prediction made by the prophet Isaiah.  Isaiah Chapter 52 in predicting this scene hundreds of years before it happened Isaiah said, "And many were appalled at him because his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form was marred than human likeness."  I'm sure that when people saw Jesus at least a portion of the crowd just gasp like "Oh, my."

This is Pilate not wanting to make a choice, acting, dealing, passively with Jesus, getting the politician to decide, the people to decide, pity to decide but nobody has decided it.  So here's Pilate he believes in the innocence of Jesus but he concedes to the operants of the crowd dealing passively.  He didn't really want to kill Jesus but he didn't want him to believe in him either.  He's not going to follow him.  Jesus has talked about truth in another kingdom from heaven and Pilate is not interested in that.

There are a lot of people who tried to handle Jesus passively like Pontius Pilate.  They'll say, "Well, I'm not like anti-Jesus.  I'm not against Jesus but I'm not like pro-Jesus either.  I'm sorry he got beat up and this is a horrible travesty of justice but at the same time, I really don't want to deal with Jesus.  I'm neutral concerning Jesus."  And they try to lived their lives sort of, "That didn't really matter.  I just don't want to deal with them.  I'm neutral.  I'm a no vote.  I abstain."

Now Jesus himself said "You can't do that."  He said "You are either for me or you are what?"  Against me.  Now think about that.  You don't' have to be opposed to Jesus to be against him.  "If you're not for me, you're against me.  If you don't help me gather, you actually help me scatter." he said.  I know people will say "Yeah, but there's always two sides in every issue, always two sides to every question.  You're right."  But that's like telling a fly there's always two sides to that fly paper.  You're right.  But it makes a big difference which side he decides to land on.

Let's look at the next way Pilate handled Jesus.  Jesus can be handled fearfully.  Look at Verse 7.  The Jews answered him, "We have a law.  And according to our law, He ought to die because He made Himself the Son Of God.  Therefore when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid and he went again into the praetorium and said to Jesus, 'Where are from?'  But Jesus gave him no answer.  And Pilate said to him, 'Are you not speaking to me?'"  Can you hear the pride in that?  "Do you not know that I have power to crucify you and power to release you?"

Now in hearing that Jesus has something to say and he says it in Verse 11, "Jesus answered, 'You could have no power at all against me unless that it have been given you from above.  Therefore, the one who delivered me to you has the greater sin.'  From then on Pilate sought to release Him."  Stop there. 

Finally, finally, we hear the true motivation in Verse 7 of the crowd that is bringing Jesus before Pilate.  See, up to now they sort of count to.  They said, "Well this guy is a real bad guy.  He's an insurrectionist, he's the tax evader and he's trying to cause an uprising."  But now they finally admit the real charge, the real beef they have against Jesus is, he claims to be God.  He claims to be deity.  He says He is the Son of God.  That's real beef they have.  That's the real reason they want this crucifixion.

Now when Pilate hears this, he is terrified.  He's the more afraid.  Why does that frightened Pilate?  Well let me help you understand the world view of Pontius Pilate really of all the Romans and Pilate included.

The Romans including Pontius Pilate, they were superstitious people.

That is they believed not only in the world of humanity but they believed in the realm of the Gods and they believed that from time to time, the gods could empower human beings with supernatural abilities or in some cases the gods could lead the realm of the gods and actually come to the earth like Hercules, the Greek legend that was passed down to the Romans.  They believed that that could happen.

So he hears that Jesus claims to be the Son of God and Pilate gets terrified.  Why?  Because the Pilate just had him beat up.  And if this guy has supernatural power or is indeed a son of one of the gods, I'm dead meat.  I'm in trouble.  And so he is terrified.

Now probably right about now, I'm guessing that saying of his wife, who warned him earlier that day, comes to his mind.  His wife had told him, "I have nothing to do with this righteous man, Jesus.  I have suffered many things in a dream because of him."  That comes to his mind and he's going, "Oh, no."

So, he goes to Jesus again and he asked him this question, "Where are you from?"  No, he's not asking his address.  He knows he's a Galilean.  He knows he's from Galilee not from Judea.  And saying, "Where are you from?" he's saying, "Do you come from the realm of the gods because that's what I just heard that you claim to be the Son of God?"  So the claim of Jesus and the calm of Jesus, unnerved him.  Jesus says nothing to him.  He didn't say anything to him.  Pilate asked him a question, Jesus answered sort of this way.  Pilate gets really unnerved.  "You're not going to answer me?  Don't you know that I have power over you?"  Here's a question.  Why didn't Jesus talk to him?  Why didn't he answer him?  Why did Jesus remain silent before Pilate?

Let me give you three explanations.  Explanation number one, to fulfill prophecy, Isaiah Chapter 53 anticipating this said, "He was oppressed, and He was afflicted.  He opened not His mouth.  He was led as a lamb to the slaughter as the sheep before that shears to silent, so he opened not his mouth."

Reason number two, and really perhaps the reason is because Jesus had already spoken to Pilate.  Jesus had already told Pontius Pilate, "I'm a King.  I come from above.  I came from another realm to bear witness of the truth."  And Pilate walked out on him saying, "What is the truth?"

So Pilate has already heard the testimony by Jesus.  Jesus has nothing more to say to him.  Jesus knows Pilate isn't interested.  But there's a truth there.  I've discovered that when God reveals something to a person and that person doesn't act on that truth, God has really nothing more to say.  It's just -- all you proved is you really don't want to hear from God.  What else do you got for me?  So he reveals himself incrementally to those who are open by showing their obedience to what he has revealed.  Jesus has nothing at all to say to Pilate any longer.  So, silent.

But perhaps, let me turn the coin.  Perhaps there's a third reason.  Perhaps Jesus is silent just to demonstrate how patient he will be in his being with Pontius Pilate.  To just sort of let it sink in, "Where are you from?"  No answer as if to say, "Now Pilate just in quietude, think about the events of this day that you have seen and heard because you have to make a decision."

I read a letter.  I worked with an organization in India and I read a letter about a group that went to a village in Andhra Pradesh, one of the provinces of India and showed the Jesus film to 1,200 people who showed up to watch this movie.  And at the end of it, 36 people came forward to receive Christ all of them from non-Christian background.

The next day, one of the film crew guys was taking a morning walk and he overheard two boys talking in that village and one boy said to the other boy, "We should believe in the Christian God.  He's a good God."  And the second boy said, "Why should we believe in the Christian God?"  And the first boy said, "Because our gods are short-tempered but Jesus is a very patient God as we saw in the film yesterday."  It could be that Jesus is simply lingering to give Pilate the ability, the thinking space to make the decision.  Pilate is afraid.  Pilate has been handling Jesus passively but now fearfully.  He's unnerved.

I found a lot of people who deal with Jesus fearfully.  They're afraid, they're afraid of the future.  And if they're not Christians, if they don't trust in Christ for their salvation, they ought to be, morbidly afraid of the future.  But that's where they stop.  They're afraid and so they want to mitigate against the fear and they think, "If I just say that cute little prayer then it'll keep me out of hell?"  They deal in fear not in faith.  They're not dealing faithfully but fearfully.  They don't place their faith in Jesus, they're just afraid of Jesus.  It's fear of repercussion not faith in Christ's forgiveness.

Let's look at the third way that Pilate handled Jesus.  He can be handled selfishly.  Go back to Verse 12.  We cut off right in the middle of it.  "From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out saying, 'If you let this man go, you are not Caesar's friend.'"  Mark that well.  I'll get back to it.  "Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar."  When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment's seat in a place that is called the Pavement." but in Hebrew Gabbatha.

Now it was the preparation day of the Passover and about the sixth hour.  And he said to the Jews, "Behold your King."  And they cried out away with him, away with him.  "Crucify him."  Pilate said, "Shall I crucify your King?"  The chief priest answered, "We have no King but Caesar."  Listen to the hypocrisy.  They hated Caesar.  They wanted nothing to do with Caesar.  They chased under Caesar's rule but now they sound so patriotic.  "Man we're like totally into Caesar man.  We're stoked on him."  Then he delivered him to them to be crucified so they took Jesus and they led him away.

What was the saying that Pilate heard that moved him to get Jesus crucified?  It's when they said, "If you let this guy go, you are not a friend of Caesar."  And here's why.

Tiberius Caesar, the headhunter(ph) in Rome at this point in history was a paranoid recluse living on the island of Capri, very suspicious of everyone.  And if he had any hint of unfaithfulness by any of his underlings or incompetence, there would be brutal consequences.  Pilate knew that.  Pilate had been the governor for five years but Pontius Pilate had several flaws in his leadership up to this point and this was the tipping point in what he heard.

Now I got to explain this to you.  It'll make sense.  If this were baseball, Pilate already struck out.  There were three strikes against him.  Strike one is when Pontius Pilate brought banners into Jerusalem with the emblem of Caesar on it.  Now if you know anything about Judaism, you know that Jews hate images of any kind and they protested against Pontius Pilate saying, "You remove those incense out of Jerusalem.  We don't want images in our town."  Pilate said to his soldiers, "Take out your swords and threaten them."

So they took out their swords to kill them.  The Jews laid down on the dirt floor of the amphitheatre in Caesarea and bear their necks as if to say, "Go ahead, kill us.  Cut our necks.  We're not backing down."  And this shook Pilate saying, "Who am I dealing with?"  They were ready to die for this." so he backed off and they removed the incense.  That was one.

Number two is a few years later when he, Pilate, raided the treasury in the temple of Jerusalem, stole the Jews money to build an aqueduct to Jerusalem to carry water in for himself and the soldiers.  Again, the Jewish crowd protested against Pontius Pilate.  At that time Pontius Pilate ordered his soldiers to dress up like civilians carrying clubs and daggers and upon his signal butcher the crowd which he did.

Strike three came a little bit later when once again Pontius Pilate ordered shields to be made with the inscription and the face of the side profile of Tiberius Caesar for his soldiers at the Antonia Fortress in Jerusalem.  The Jews this time appealed directly to Caesar, Caesar himself ordered Pontius Pilate to remove the shields and threatened Pontius Pilate.  He's at three strikes.  Pilate is tittering on the edge.  So when they say to him, "You let this man go and you are not Caesar's friend."

That was threat.  It was an intimidating threat.  It's like we're going to nark on you to Caesar and you're out of the job.

So Pilate being a good politician -- somebody said a good politician is somebody who doesn't throw his head in the ring fully discovers which way the wind is blowing.  Pilate feels the wind blowing against him so he is ready even though he knows Jesus is innocent to get him crucified.  So he handles Jesus selfishly because he wants to hang on to his job.  He'll have a death grip, "I want this position.  I want this status." and so he handles Jesus selfishly.

Now for just a moment, I want you to think of what it would've been like to be Pontius Pilate growing up.  There's little Pontius running around the yard with his friends.  And that little Pontius kid, he wants to be something great.  He wants to be successful.  He wants to make a difference to be that kind of a person.

So, he grows up.  The problem is, he's not born in Rome.  He's born in Sibyl on the Iberian Peninsula way out in the boondocks.  But he joins the Roman army when he can.  He becomes a legionnaire and he gets promoted.  But that's not enough for Pontius.  He wants more.  He wants to be successful so he moves to Rome.  This is all historical.

He moves to Rome.  He's excited about Rome.  The forum, the coliseum, the Roman arches, the architecture, wows him.  "It's amazing.  I'm here."  But that's not enough for Pontius Pilate.  He wants more.

And so he marries into the family of Caesar.  Marrying the granddaughter of Caesar Augustus, Claudia is her name, that's Pilate's wife.  And because of that marriage, the emperor, Caesar gives him the governorship of Judea.  Now, he's arrived.  Now he is successful.  Now he has status.

And when he hears this, "You're not going to be Caesar's friend," that was Roman catchword, "amicus Caesaris." he goes -- I'm going to loose my status, my position.  Let's get Jesus killed so he handles him selfishly.  To Pontius Pilate, being Caesar's friend is more important than doing what is right.

Now there's a scripture.  I'm going to quote the first part of it, you're going to give me the second part of it because you know it, James Chapter 4.  James writes, "Whoever would be a friend of this world will become the enemy of God."  That's the choice that Pilate had.  "Do I want to go with the crowd or I want to be a friend of Caesar and the friend of the crowd or do I want to do what's right because I know this man should go free?" but he handles Jesus selfishly.

One of the most tragic verses of scripture found that happened at this trial is -- Luke's account of this, Luke 23.  It says, "And the voices of these men and of the Chief Priest prevailed."  I'll let that just settle in on you a moment.  The voices of these men and of the Chief Priest prevailed.

Pilate was willing to turn off all the other voices, turn off the voice of Jesus speaking to him about another kingdom, the voice of his wife saying "I have nothing to do with this righteous man."  Let's turn off that voice.  The voice of his own conscience said, "This is an innocent man."  Let's turn off that voice.  The voices the people and of the Chief Priest prevailed.  Here's a man who wants to go along with the rest of the crowd to save his own status.

Let me just tell you this.  In handling Jesus Christ, if you're thinking, "Well I want to go the way that everybody else is going in the world."  Just ask where that path is going to end up.  Where are they going to?  Where are they marching toward?  You see, that question "What will I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?" will define you for eternity, not just Pilate.  Where that's crowd going?  Jesus said it this way, "Enter into the narrow gate because wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many enter therein."  It could be translated most enter therein.  Most people go to destruction.  Very few people make the smart choice that defines them with eternal life.

Once upon a time there was a spider who built a magnificent web in an old castle -- shiny, brilliant, bright and he always tidied and kept it clean because whenever he got a fly trapped in there, he would clean up quickly and make it look new again, so that other flies wouldn't suspect anything.  And he wanted more patrons.

One day a fairly intelligent fly was flying around that spider web and the spider cried out and said, "Come on in man.  Sit a while."  And the fairly intelligent fly said, "Not me.  I'm not stupid.  I don't see anybody else in there.  I'm not going in alone."  And just then the fly noticed on the ground there were a whole bunch of flies dancing on a piece of brown paper.  And he thinks, "That's were the crowd is."  And so he goes down to join them.  Just before he lands a bee buzzes by and says, "Don't land there stupid, that's fly paper."  And the fairly intelligent fly says, "Oh, don't be silly.  They're dancing.  There's a big crowd.  Everybody is doing it.  That many flies can't be wrong."  Famous last words, he landed on the fly paper.

As you look out at the world and what people have done with Jesus, dealing with him passively or fearfully, or selfishly, are you thinking "That many people can't be wrong?"  Uh-huh, oh yeah, all the time.

So, let me give you in closing a fourth option.  Don't deal with him passively.  Don't deal with him fearfully.  Don't deal with him selfishly.  Handle Jesus humbly, sincerely, personally, repentantly where you handle him by making him the exalted Lord that you worship and the one that you submit to.  Let's pray.

Father, it's our prayer that those who have not yet submitted to the lordship and the rulership of the Lord Jesus, the one who claimed to be a King, the one who proved that the kingship by what he did in changing people's lives while he was on the earth and the lives that he has changed since he has been on the earth, and the one who fulfilled hundreds of predictive prophecies, I pray that everyone in the hearing of this voice and thinking "What will I do with Jesus?" would say "The best thing to do is to crown Him, Lord of my heart, King of my life, Master of my being."  I pray for that in Jesus name.  Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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10/25/2009
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Believe:879
John 20:30-31
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Is your faith in need of bolstering? Do you find yourself saying "Help my unbelief?" The book of John presents a unique, up close and personal look at the life of Christ, focusing on Jesus as God Incarnate. As we dive into a thorough study of each of John's 879 verses, we'll walk with disciples who were eyewitnesses of His ministry, His death, and His resurrection, and we'll experience abundant life in His name.
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11/1/2009
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The World's Most Important Word
John 1:1-5
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It may be difficult to say what the most important word is in any language, but not for the Apostle John. He begins his gospel with the identification of Jesus as, "The Word." Starting with the very beginning of beginnings, John shows us the fundamental truths about the Jesus that he writes about in the rest of this book. The language is simple and unmistakable and yet the truths presented are deep and extremely profound. Let's see how John presents Jesus and Who Jesus is according to one who was closest to Him.
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11/15/2009
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Step Into Son-Light
John 1:6-13
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I love early mornings when sunlight first comes up over the eastern sky. But if you’ve ever had the experience of the sun suddenly shining into your eyes (like when you turn westward while the sun is going down), it's not so pleasant. Most people wince when light is shined in their eyes. Jesus is presented here as being "the light of men" and "shining in darkness". But the world cries out, "Turn off that light!" How can Jesus enlighten your life and how will you respond to Him?
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11/22/2009
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One of a Kind!
John 1:14-18
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It is a mistake to think of Jesus as "one among many" options in the pantheon of deities. He is unique, matchless, unrivaled, singular, and incomparable. From His birth to His Resurrection, there is no one who even comes close to the majestic Christ. Jesus was One-Of-A-Kind! Let’s consider four distinct ways that Jesus was unique and what these mean to us today.
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12/6/2009
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The Greatest Man Meets the Greatest Lamb
John 1:19-34
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Everyone is good at something, maybe even great at something. Maybe you're a great artist or a great mom or even a great leader. Jesus said that John the Baptizer was the greatest man who had ever lived (Matt. 11:11). But John knew Jesus to be the greatest One ever—past, present and future - the Sacrificial Lamb sent to remove sin. Today we discover from John the Baptist how to witness for Christ and we look at the identity and the activity of this most unusual man.
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12/13/2009
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Are You a Follower-Really?
John 1:35-42
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You can't make it through much of the Bible without coming to the word Disciple. Just the four Gospels alone use this term 228 times. Basically a disciple is the follower of a teacher: one who observes, learns, and practices what the teacher shares. We now come to the first time John uses this term in his book. So today we assess ourselves by asking, "Are YOU a follower?" Lets look at five characteristics of the first disciples of Jesus and see if they’re reflected in our lives.
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1/3/2010
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Finding the God Who Found You
John 1:43-51
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When the first disciples encountered Jesus, they chose to follow Him--only to discover that they had already been chosen by Him! Without getting drowned in that theological tide pool, let's consider and marvel at how both of these realities work together. The Bible teaches that God sovereignly elects people for salvation while at the same time teaches our responsibility to believe in Christ. Let’s see how both Philip and Nathanael encountered Jesus for the first time.
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1/10/2010
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The Wedding Guest
John 2:1-12
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How cool (and also potentially scary) would it be to have Jesus as a guest at your own wedding! The unnamed couple at the village wedding of Cana had that privilege. Jesus was the wedding guest who brought the best gift. His first miraculous sign was performed while celebrating that marriage. But far more than just attending a nuptial party, Jesus demonstrated who He was in relation to four entities: His mother, the moment, a miracle, and His men.
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1/17/2010
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Trouble in the Temple
John 2:13-22
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A hymn by Charles Wesley begins, "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon a little child..." It’s a beautiful song with a beautiful thought. However, Jesus is anything but gentle and mild in John chapter two. Here in the temple at Jerusalem, He displays His righteous anger as He overturns tables and beats the religious businesspeople with whips! But Jesus was using this trouble in the temple to predict a greater sign—the triumph of His own physical temple—His bodily resurrection!
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1/24/2010
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Uncommitted!
John 2:23-25
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These three verses are some of the most unusual in the New Testament. They describe a scene in the life of Jesus that explains His popularity and fame. The response of people to the miracles of Jesus is understandable. What is not readily understandable is Jesus' response to the interested and excited crowd. Though they believed in Him, He was not too energized over their kind of faith. Understanding this will help us to understand Jesus and His mission.
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1/31/2010
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Nick at Nite!
John 3:1-8
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The meeting of Jesus and Nicodemus at night is one of the most famous and compelling stories in Scripture. This man's inner curiosity and spiritual thirst drove him to want to know more. What he heard puzzled and astonished him, but he heard from Jesus' own lips the only way to be saved. Jesus' words here divide all of humanity into two groups: those who are born again and those who are not.
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2/7/2010
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Extreme Makeover: Soul Edition!
John 3:9-21
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For years ABC has aired two different versions of a show called Extreme Makeover. One is a total body makeover designed to enhance the physical beauty of a selected individual. The other is a Home Edition that rebuilds or adds to a struggling family's residence. But only Jesus can give the soul a makeover; only Jesus can ready a person for eternity. Here Jesus answers Nicodemus' question of how a person can have the New Life that comes from the New Birth.
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2/14/2010
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God's Valentine
John 3:16
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Today we take a look at the Bible's most famous verse and probe its depth while preparing to take the Lord's Supper together. Though most everyone knows this verse, John 3:16 is much more than just a slogan; it is a summary statement of God's love through Jesus Christ. This single verse of scripture gives us the salient truths of God's plan of salvation in abridged form. Let's consider God's great plan for us as we unpack it phrase by phrase.
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2/21/2010
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To Grow Up, You Must Grow Down!
John 3:22-30
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"They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves cannot be proud!" That's what British Puritan John Flavel once said. And that’s how John the Baptist once lived! John the Baptist and his followers provide some great applicational fodder for how Christians should get along and humble themselves before one another and God. For any Christian believer who wants to spiritually grow up and grow strong, he must first grow down.
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2/28/2010
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The Nail Everything Hangs On
John 3:31-36
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Imagine if everything you valued was in a sack, hanging on the wall from one nail. It surely must be a strong nail, or you're lost! If life could all be boiled down to one thing or one word or one most important principle, what would it be? What is the irreducible minimum for everything and everyone? John answers that here, saying that Jesus Christ is the nail that everything hangs on. He determined what has been and what will be. Thus our knowledge of Him and relationship to Him is paramount above everything else.
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3/7/2010
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Refreshment!
John 4:1-14
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You know the feeling of swallowing ice-cold water on a hot day or after a savory meal—it's refreshing! That cool, invigorating sip revitalizes you from the inside out and makes you say, "Ahh!" Well, that experience is not limited to the physical realm, but is even more satisfying in the spiritual realm when dealing with Living Water. Jesus came to give thirst-quenching spiritual life to every parched soul on the planet. When was the last time you drank deeply?
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3/14/2010
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How to Lead People to Water
John 4:10-30
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The world is thirsty and doesn't even know it, or won't admit it, or will look to be satisfied by everything else but Jesus Christ. So your job and mine is to lead them to water (living water, that is). Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman illustrates perhaps the best approach for personal evangelism to be found anywhere. Leading someone to the place of spiritual satisfaction is a process that rests upon two pillars—the pillar of attitude and the pillar of approach:
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3/21/2010
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What God Really Wants
John 4:20-24
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Worship conferences, worship seminars and worship experiences abound within the landscape of the American church, but in all these there's something that seems to be always lacking—worship is confined to the activity of singing songs. When the subject is brought up in this chapter, Jesus talks plainly and openly about true worship: what it is and what it isn't. Let's explore these few verses to discover what God is seeking after and how to be part of fulfilling that.
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3/28/2010
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Spiritual Farming 101
John 4:28-42
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Farmers live for the harvest season--a time when their crops are taken in and profits are made. But crops don’t grow on their own. Seeds must be sown and plants must be garnered by a whole group of active farm workers. God is the head Farmer and we are His farmhands, all working together to produce a bumper-crop of people who believe that Jesus is the Savior--Are you in?
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4/18/2010
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Everyone Needs a Faith-Lift!
John 4:43-54
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Like any muscle in our physical body, our faith too must be exercised in order for it to develop. Faith is developed in virtually every circumstance in life, but especially in hard times. Peter put it best, "These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold" (1 Peter 1:7). Let's look at a real-life story of one who came to Jesus in his trial and had his faith lifted to a higher dimension.
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4/25/2010
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Healing Misery with Mercy
John 5:1-16
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One of Jesus' most distinguishing characteristics in His earthly ministry was His mercy toward people who were hurting. This is not astonishing, for the prophet Micah announced that "God delights in mercy" (Micah 7:18). Jesus standing among the squalid misery of sickness and hopelessness while at a feast in Jerusalem is a perfect setting to show how Christians can show mercy to a world in misery. But be warned: not everyone will be sympathetic to your cause!
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5/23/2010
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Like Father, Like Son
John 5:16-24
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The most important question you could ever ask is not, "Who am I?" but rather, "Who is Christ?" That was the supreme question Jesus presented to His disciples when He said, "Who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15). Jesus made the most astonishing claim ever when He confronted the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem here in John 5. What do these claims have to do with us today? Absolutely everything!
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5/30/2010
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Everyone Lives Forever
John 5:25-29
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My mom used to wake me up early every morning with her sweet voice saying, "Rise and Shine!" It took a few times but I eventually got up out of bed. As Jesus declares that He will be in charge of the future judgment, He too will usher the call to everyone who has died to "Rise up!" But not everyone will rise up to shine; some will rise up to suffer. Let’s consider three inevitable and unalterable truths about the future for all of us: We will all die, we will all be judged, and we will all rise again to live forever... but where?
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6/6/2010
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Why Should You Believe?
John 5:30-47
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The theme of John's gospel is "believe." The whole reason he wrote this book is so that people who read it will believe in Jesus (see John 20:31). But why should they believe? And even more applicable, why should we believe? After all, the events of the New Testament are over 2,000 years removed from us today. Jesus' confrontation with the religious leaders in John 5 tells us why we should believe. Like a skilled lawyer, Jesus calls upon four witnesses to testify to His claims and these four give the reasons for our believing in Jesus Christ.
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6/13/2010
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Lessons From a Picnic
John 6:1-14
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This story ranks in the "top ten" of the most famous miracles of Jesus Christ. In fact this is the most famous of all His miracles as it alone is recorded by all four gospel accounts. But this is far more than a Sunday school tale. This extraordinary picnic was not just a free meal for five thousand folks; it provided lessons for both ancient and modern disciples. Here are four profound truths that emerge from this lakeside lunch.
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6/20/2010
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What Storm Goers Need to Know
John 6:15-21
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Have you ever been on the ocean in a raging storm? If so, you know that a well-trained crew follows an immediate protocol until the storm is over. Their knowledge and experience about violent weather are invaluable for those who want to survive. Using the story of Jesus walking on the waves to His disciples, let’s discover a few things about the stormy trials of life.
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7/4/2010
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The Right Thing, The Wrong Way
John 6:22-29
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Our text reads that crowds of people came "seeking Jesus." That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? And yet Jesus challenges them as to their motive because they were seeking Him (the right thing) in order to satisfy themselves only (the wrong motive). Let’s consider three monumental truths about how people interact with spiritual things in general and Jesus Christ in particular. Let’s also reconsider the starting point for anyone who wants anything to do with Christ.
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7/11/2010
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Wonder Bread!
John 6:30-50
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The Hostess Company has for years advertised that its Wonder bread "helps build strong bodies 12 ways" and that just two slices has the calcium of eight ounces of milk and the fiber of 100% whole wheat. Wow! The crowd that Jesus was speaking to would have loved that! But our Lord presents something to them far greater than what they were wanting. He knew what they needed.
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7/18/2010
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Plain Truths About the Bread of Life
John 6:51-71
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Mark Twain once remarked that "A lie can travel halfway around the world while truth is still lacing up its boots!" This section of John's Gospel has generated much confusion and misunderstanding. Even Jesus' original audience had trouble understanding His meaning, and when they did, they found the truth was difficult to bear. These "hard truths," however, are "the words of eternal life" (v. 68). Let's look at these four realities today.
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8/1/2010
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Seeing Jesus Through the Fog
John 7:1-13
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There was always a fog surrounding Jesus! It was a fog of uncertainty, of unbelief, and of conflicting opinion. He was misunderstood about both His mission and His message. His friends, His family, and His foes were often bewildered about who He was and what He was doing. That remains true even today. But in this passage our view becomes clearer. Jesus had clearly defined objectives that He reveals here and they are extremely practical for us today.
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8/8/2010
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Follow Jesus But Don't Be Religious
John 7:14-24
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Jesus clashed with religious leaders more than any other group of people. He went against their spiritual grain and challenged their legalistic ideas. Christ made it clear that He hadn’t come to establish a new religion but rather to show the way to God His Father. He didn’t give people another “system of beliefs and practices”; instead He said that He Himself was the way, truth, and life. In this public confrontation, we learn how to follow Christ in truth and not be religious.
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8/15/2010
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Standing by a Waterfall (Dying of Thirst)
John 7:25-53
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All the diverse and assorted experiences offered by this world can never satisfy the deepest longing of the human soul. What we really want isn't what we really need. The rest of John chapter 7 illustrates this truth. In the midst of a crowd of people clamoring for deep spiritual satisfaction stands the only One who can provide it. He offers them the drink that really satisfies and all but a few refuse it, preferring rather to die of thirst. How painfully ironic!
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8/22/2010
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Scribbling on the Ground
John 8:1-11
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Can you imagine what a surviving copy of Jesus' autograph would be worth today? Or what about a letter to His disciples? The fact is, there is no existing document or copy of anything Jesus ever wrote. We only have this story of Him scribbling something in transient dust on the Temple stones. Though John doesn't tell what Jesus wrote that day, his account does reveal a lot about Jesus Himself and how He interacted with three different kinds of folks.
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8/29/2010
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Blinded by the Light
John 8:12-20
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When the sun shines right in your eyes, your immediate inclination is to squint, turn away, or put sunglasses on. Light can be blinding! Though light penetrates our world, providing illumination and energy for our very existence, big doses of it can be difficult to handle. That's true spiritually as well. Jesus, by His teaching and work, illuminated this world darkened by sin. Some rejoiced in that light, able to see where they were going. But others, who'd been so accustomed to spiritual darkness, could only wince when Jesus was around.
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9/5/2010
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The Worst Way & Best Way to Die
John 8:21-30
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One person put it this way, "Death is the big flaw. Sometimes we can postpone it, lessen its physical pains, deny its existence—but we can't escape it!" Since that is universally true, why don't people take death seriously enough to plan for it? While we are alive in this world, everyone should be thinking more about the next. But what's the best (and worst) way to die?
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9/19/2010
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The Best Way & Worst Way to Live
John 8:31-36
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Everyone has an opinion on what "The Good Life" is. For some, it's financial independence. For others, it’s autonomy from government control. For still others, it’s the ability to do whatever you want whenever you feel like it. Jesus offers a different kind of freedom and a better brand of life. Here Jesus tells us what the best way to live really is: It’s the freedom to be a genuine disciple. And He tells us what the worst way to live really is: It’s the slavery of a sinful lifestyle. Today consider how free you really are and what areas of life you may still be in bondage to.
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9/26/2010
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The Devil's DNA
John 8:37-47
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Your body has 100 trillion cells. Inside each one is a nucleus and in each nucleus are DNA molecules. DNA is like an instruction manual for life with densely coded information telling each cell what to do. A simple paternity test would prove that my father was really my father. Here Jesus gives His audience a spiritual paternity test that reveals their spiritual father to be the devil himself. No matter what your physical ancestry, you can always tell one's spiritual heritage.
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10/3/2010
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Who IS This Guy?
John 8:48-59
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Jesus had friends and He had enemies. But besides those, He also had some "frenemies" (enemies who pretended to be friends). To this crowd who at first pretended to believe (v. 31) Jesus is both confrontational and controversial. This paragraph highlights three possible identities of Jesus: two of them were his enemies' accusations and one was Jesus' own claim.
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10/10/2010
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Life Hurts! Where's God?
John 9:1-12
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"Why is there so much pain in the world?" is the most frequently asked question ever! We hate it when we, or those we love, are in pain. Today we see Jesus confront a hurting world. As we do, consider these words by Elizabeth Elliot (whose husband was murdered): "If God is in charge and loves us, then whatever is given is subject to His control and is meant ultimately for our joy."
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10/17/2010
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The Truth About Your Neighbors
John 9:13-34
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Those of us who are Christians live in a sea of unbelievers who work with us, live next to us, shop where we shop, and send their kids to the same schools. Some have a mild case of unbelief disguised by religious practices. Others are more demonstrable in their agnosticism or atheism. Let's watch a local Jerusalem neighborhood struggle against faith in spite of clear evidence.
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10/24/2010
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Got Any Blind Spots?
John 9:35-41
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When you drive, you encounter "blind spots"—it could be part of your own car or it could be a tree that hides traffic on the other side. Those blind spots hinder both progress and ultimately, safety. When Jesus healed a blind man in Jerusalem, the same man was also healed of his spiritual blindness. But others who thought their spiritual perception was keen were as blind as a bat! As we consider this story, can you think of any blind spots in your spiritual journey?
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10/31/2010
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The Good Shepherd (and a bunch of happy sheep!)
John 10:1-10
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This is one of the most beloved passages to be found anywhere in Scripture. But it's not a stand-alone passage: The healing of the blind man in chapter 9 was more than a miracle. It was part of the process of Jesus forming His flock. The leadership had cast the healed man out of the synagogue. Jesus found him, accepted him, saved him, and placed him in His own fold.
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11/21/2010
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What's So Great About the Good Shepherd?
John 10:11-21
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"What's so great about being a Christian?" some people ask. The answer lies in the kind of care, provision, and protection we get from Jesus Christ, our Shepherd. Have you ever stopped to make a list of the benefits that are yours as a follower of Christ? Consider this short list of advantages that you, as a child of God, have. When was the last time you thanked Him for being your Shepherd? This would be a great week to do that!
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12/5/2010
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To BElieve or Not to BElieve...
John 10:22-42
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"In all unbelief there are two things: a good opinion of one's self and a bad opinion about God."— Horatius Bonar. It's true, isn't it? Humanism is man-centered and rejects God's existence or His relevance. But Jesus appealed to two things: the plain evidence of His supernatural works and the testimony of those who witnessed them. Jesus here asserts His deity, and the reaction is predictable—some believed while others did not believe. Which camp do you fall into?
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1/9/2011
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The Great Physician's Patient Dies
John 11:1-16
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When a doctor loses a patient on the operating table, there is a deep sense of remorse and sadness in the surgical theater. Doctors are trained to save lives but sometimes even the best trained physicians are unable to control complications that lead to death. But here we discover that Christ, the Great Physician, not only knows that His patient is sick--He allows him to die! Here are three principles about Divine Medicine that we can all learn.
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1/16/2011
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A Tale of Two Sisters
John 11:17-32
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In 1859 Charles Dickens wrote his famous work, A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The story before us is set in Bethany near Jerusalem and highlights the personal relationship that two sisters had with Jesus Christ. Their broken hearts provide an excellent platform to consider how Christ deals with people in grief and loss. Let's actively probe not only their responses but ours to the incredible promise Jesus makes.
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1/23/2011
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The Strangest Funeral Ever
John 11:33-44
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According to one source, there are approximately 2 million funerals in America per year, which means that about 5,479 funerals take place every single day! Most of those funerals are pretty typical: a formal service followed by an interment. But the funeral service we're looking at was really different--and not just because of a resurrection. Here Jesus does three things that are pretty normal for most people at a funeral, but strikingly odd for Jesus.
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1/30/2011
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What to Do with Jesus?
John 11:45-57
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Any lawyer can tell you that whenever the star witness is a resurrected corpse, you have a pretty good case! But Lazarus being alive from the dead doesn’t seem to persuade everyone. And so the big issue becomes what shall we do with Jesus? The decisions made here set the clock in motion for an impending hate crime—the crucifixion of Christ. But from heaven’s vantage point, this is all part of God’s plan for redemption. Let’s see the responses and how we can make a difference.
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2/6/2011
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A Meal to Reveal the Heart
John 12:1-11
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If you were to step into the home of Simon at Bethany (Mark 14:3) on that night, you would've seen Jesus and His disciples along with Lazarus and His two sisters reclining at a low table for a meal in honor of Christ. But if you were to step into the hearts of those people, you would discover they were all very different from each other. Those inside the house and outside represent the gamut of feelings about Jesus—from adoring love to intense hatred. What a complicated meal!
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2/13/2011
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A Day, a Donkey, a Deliverer, and a Decision
John 12:12-19
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2000 years ago, on the final Sunday of Jesus’ earthly life before His crucifixion, He did the most unusual thing—He sat on a donkey and was carried into the city of Jerusalem in parade fashion. This formal presentation of Him as Deliverer was both profound and predicted. What’s the significance of such an act as this? What overarching principles emerge for us today? We’ll dig in and discover them, but today you’ve got to write them down yourself:
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2/20/2011
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Living the Right Life
John 12:20-26
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If this sermon was a book and I wanted to sell lots of copies, the title would cause it to fail. Now if it were entitled "Living the High Life" or "Living the Successful Life," then I may have a winner. But many have lived with both success and riches who didn't live right! So what is the right life? Or to frame it with a better question: What kind of life is most pleasing to God? Through a series of paradoxes, John gives us the answer—it wasn't the answer most people are looking for!
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2/27/2011
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Cross-Culture
John 12:27-36
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The term cross-culture emerges from the social sciences and typically refers to interaction of one culture or language with another. But that's not how I'm using it today. I'm thinking of it in the biblical sense, the salvation sense. Jesus' whole life was immersed in the culture of the cross and He referred to His impending death on the cross as "His hour." Let's consider today the culture of the cross of Christ: what it meant to Jesus personally and the world ultimately.
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3/6/2011
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Believe It or Not!
John 12:37-50
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Most of you reading this are believers. Some are not. Both are dangerous positions to take but for different reasons—vastly different reasons! This paragraph in John's Gospel is the summary of all that has been written, from chapters 1 through 13. It reviews the two different responses people have to Jesus and then gives us Jesus' own synopsis on faith and unbelief. Today you will be able to understand the real differences and consequences of faith and unbelief.
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3/13/2011
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A Night Unforgettable
John 13:1-5
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Some days are frozen in time because of the magnitude of an event. You will always remember September 11, 2001 and where you were when the towers fell. The night America bombed Baghdad or the night John Lennon was murdered may be permanent memories captured in your mind. This was the final night Jesus spent with His own disciples and it would be unforgettable. Let’s discover how what seem like ordinary moments can be extraordinary appointments.
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3/20/2011
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Basin Theology 101
John 13:6-17
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At the final Passover meal that Jesus shared with His closest friends, He gave new meaning to the bread and wine, using them to point to His upcoming sacrificial death on the cross. Today we share Communion as a church family and reflect on that meal, as well as the lessons Jesus was teaching His first followers. After dinner Jesus took a basin of water and began to wash the feet of his students and taught them life principles about stooping, cleansing and serving.
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3/27/2011
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Betrayed!
John 13:18-30
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Relationships can withstand an enormous amount of pressure, but betrayal is sure to end most. The old English word means to hand over or to deliver. Think of it: while Jesus was about to deliver the world from sin and its destruction, Judas was about to deliver the Savior over to His enemies. If you've ever felt betrayed by someone, this study will have special application to you.
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4/10/2011
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A Brand New Way of Life!
John 13:31-35
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To follow Jesus is to have a brand new way of life. When these twelve men sitting around the dinner table started hanging around Jesus, they had no idea just how new and different their lives would become. At this final meal on that last night, they were still learning just how new their lives should be. (Jesus can still teach old dogs new tricks!) As present-day followers of Christ, let’s consider three aspects of life that become new once we become His disciples.
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4/17/2011
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F.A.Q.
John 13:36-38
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An old Persian Proverb reads, "It's harder to ask a sensible question than to supply a sensible answer." Many times our questions to God are reactive—based on a sort of knee-jerk reaction to painful circumstances. Peter asked Jesus two questions of this sort. But whenever we ask God questions we must hang around to get the supplied answers. The questions Peter asked are similar to ones we frequently ask. Let's consider and apply Jesus' outstanding answer
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5/1/2011
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A Theology for Messy Lives
John 14:1-6
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Life can be pretty messy sometimes: plans fail, people leave, money diminishes, and taxes rise. There are plenty of reasons to be troubled these days but there are better reasons not to be! Life was about to get real messy for those disciples around that Jerusalem dinner table. At times like that, there are some basic instructions we need to fall back on so our hearts inside us won't be swallowed up by the mess around us.
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5/8/2011
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How Can I Know God?
John 14:7-11
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What a thought—that a mere human can know God! The agnostic asserts this is impossible. The atheist insists that the very idea is an arrogant and purely metaphysical pursuit. But one of the reasons Jesus came was to reveal God's character and nature clearly and perfectly! Let's consider two roadblocks to knowing God and four resources that help us know Him better.
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5/29/2011
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Privileges of God's Employees
John 14:12-14
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Most companies have benefits for employees: things like overtime pay, health insurance, and sick pay. In 2 Corinthians 6:1, Paul calls us "workers together with Him" (NLT renders it "God's partners"). We have been called to a high and lofty task—to be His representatives here on earth. You might say we're part of the "family business." So what has God called us to do? And how has He provided for us in terms of resources? In short, what are the benefits of being God's employees?
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6/5/2011
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Four Part Harmony
John 14:15-18
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Some of the best moments on American Idol aren't the solo performances, but when all the singers join together and blend their voices in harmony. There's nothing sweeter than well-trained voices blended together in first, thirds, and fifths. Spiritual harmony is much the same—when believers blend with the triune Godhead there is an alignment that results in a deep sense of fulfillment. And what is the note we are to sing in this spiritual song? It is the note of loving obedience!
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6/12/2011
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Promises, Promises!
John 14:19-26
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Someone once mused, "Promises may get friends, but it's performance that keeps them." No wonder God has so many friends! He makes promises and keeps them. On this final night that Jesus spent with His friends, as both sorrow and confusion assailed them, Jesus made several promises that would sustain them in the days, months, and years ahead. What about you? Will you dare to trust the promises of God? It's the only way to see if they really work.
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6/26/2011
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Peace Where You Least Expect It
John 14:27-31
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On countless American gravestones this epitaph could be written: Hurried, Worried, Buried. What a sad way to live! Fear, anxiety, and distress have literally become part of our national culture. Odd, isn't it? Though we have such abundance in this country, most don't experience abundant life—especially as Jesus described it. Sure, everyone has his or her share of trouble and anxieties, but let's consider one of the greatest gifts Jesus gives to followers—the gift of peace!
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7/3/2011
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Life-Lessons from Grape-Growers - Part 1
John 15:1-7
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My parents grew grapes on their little plot of land in Southern California. There weren't many, but enough for me to know that getting fruit at harvest depended on three things: the solid connection of branch to vine, the vigilant care of the workers, and the consistency of those things over time. Jesus, walking with the disciples toward the Garden of Gethsemane, gives life lessons to His men using the familiar example of growing grapes. With that analogy in mind, let's consider the three ways our relationship to God is described by Jesus.
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7/10/2011
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Life-Lessons From Grape-Growers - Part 2
John 15:8-11
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As we grow older, we mature. In our spiritual lives we should become spiritually mature. The Bible calls it being fruitful. Spiritual fruit is the indication that we're truly connected to Christ. But there are others, as we'll see today. Last week we examined how the relationship with Christ is described (Connected to Christ, Cared for by the Father, and Consistent Over Time). Today let's consider how this relationship is demonstrated. When we're rightly connected to God we'll be:
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7/17/2011
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What a Friend We Have in Jesus
John 15:12-17
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We can get through almost anything in life with friends to share our sorrow and divide our grief. A Chinese word for friend is peng-yu and it has a much fuller meaning than in English. It means "one who brings completion and sums up beauty." The ancient Hebrews saw true friendship as an ideal to pursue and a blessing to enjoy. In these final moments with His followers, Jesus uses a most tender term for their relationship—they were friends! What does that friendship look like?
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7/24/2011
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Why Does Everyone Hate Me?
John 15:18-25
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There is a flipside to being a friend of Jesus. That's true of any friendship. Whenever you ally yourself and make friends with someone, you will incur some enemies because of it. Likewise, some who don't like Jesus won't like us either—and we discover there are quite a few who don't! Let's find out why, and how we can raise our heads high and prevail.
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7/31/2011
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Two Thirds Is Not Enough
John 15:26-16:15
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We love God the Father who created us and God the Son who redeemed us, but what about the Holy Spirit? We hear His name a lot, but who is He? What exactly does He do? What does He want from us? The Holy Spirit is the "quiet One," active in the life of believers but sometimes not acknowledged as being vital. Oswald Chambers noted, "The Holy Spirit cannot be located as a guest in a house. He invades everything!" Today, we consider Him and His role in our lives.
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8/7/2011
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The Holy Hound of Heaven
John 16:5-11
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Having understood Who the Holy Spirit is (Person not just power; Deity not just dignitary) we now find out what He does in the world of unbelieving people. Since the greatest gift God ever gave to the world was His only Son (John 3:16) it stands to reason that the greatest sin one can commit is to reject the Son (John 16:9). How does the Holy Spirit both sentence the world as prosecutor and lead people away from judgment? And what role do we play in all of this?
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8/14/2011
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When Sorrow Turns to Joy
John 16:16-22
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The flamboyant baseball-legend-turned-preacher Billy Sunday stated, "If you have no joy in your religion, there's a leak in your Christianity somewhere!" That's not to say that life is all laughs. Hardly! Jesus anticipated His followers' deep sorrow. He predicted it. But He also assured them that their experience of sadness would be eclipsed by a greater experience of lasting joy.
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8/21/2011
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How to Send Knee-Mail
John 16:23-28
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Today you can be anywhere in the world and send or receive messages digitally via email. Sending email has eclipsed traditional mail for years now. Sending knee-mail is similar (you can be anywhere)—but with better results! You don't need wifi or a modem; you don't need an electronic device or a computer. Before Jesus left His disciples, He wanted them to get "online" with the Father and stay connected through the simple yet powerful means of prayer.
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9/4/2011
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I've Fallen, but I CAN Get Up!
John 16:29-33
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I would rather fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail! So said President Woodrow Wilson. Our Lord knows us better than we know ourselves and is not surprised by our weaknesses. We all fall and fail, even though we may commit to standing strong. What can we learn about ourselves and our God in such valleys? Even more, what kind of restoration can we hope for after our bout with failure?
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9/18/2011
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Holy Eavesdropping
John 17:1
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Imagine if you could sit and listen to Jesus talking to His Father—what would Jesus say to Him? In this prayer (which comprises all of John 17) we step onto holy ground. His instruction to His followers is now over. His preparation of them is done. He now turns His attention heavenward to talk directly to His Father about Himself, about His disciples, and about His future church. This prayer is unique for four reasons:
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9/25/2011
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The Gifts That Keep On Giving
John 17:1-5
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It's possible to give without loving but it's impossible to love without giving— Richard Braunstein. Part of God's nature is that He shows His love by His generous gifts. "For God so loved the world that He gave..." (John 3: 16). Here, in the opening lines of Jesus' prayer to His Father, He requests a gift from His Father and acknowledges three other gifts—two given to the Son by the Father, and one given by the Son to us. These are the gifts that keep on giving!
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10/2/2011
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How Followers Are Formed
John 17:6-10
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Okay, so which is it? Did I choose God or did God choose me? Perspective is everything! If you look at it from the divine viewpoint, you'll say God chose. If you're looking at it from a human viewpoint, you'll say we do the choosing. But why can't both be true? I suppose you can sit around, scratch your head, and try to ponder such imponderables, or you can sigh happily and say with a grateful heart, "I'm elated that He chose me!" But you should also ask yourself another question while you're at it—What am I going to do about it now?
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10/9/2011
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Missionaries or Monasteries?
John 17:11-19
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How can you leave your mark on the world? Most everyone wants to be remembered for some contribution made to society. Well, Jesus wants us to do that, too. In fact, He prays for that. God wants you to make an imprint on life's road so people will say, "Hey look! God's kids were here!" We can't do that by isolating ourselves. We have marching orders!
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10/23/2011
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Listen Up! Jesus is Praying—for YOU!
John 17:20-26
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What's God's general will for you? Look no further than this text! Now as we listen to Jesus pray for us, we also find what our priorities in life are to be. These words are the "Last Will and Testament" of Jesus Christ. So pay close attention and you'll get it right from the heart of Jesus Himself.
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10/30/2011
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I've Got It Under Control
John 18:1-11
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Sometimes life appears to be spinning out of control. Events happen we didn't plan for, people do things we didn't expect, we find ourselves in places we never thought we'd be in. But though you can't always control what happens to you, you are responsible for what happens in you (attitudes and responses). What do we really believe about God's authority and power in our lives? Is there ever a time when God can't say, "I've got it under control"?
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11/20/2011
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The Darkest Night!
John 18:12-27
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On a dark spring night in Jerusalem, it seemed everyone was against Jesus Christ. The religious system had long been opposed to and jealous of His burgeoning ministry. The mock trial designed to get rid of Jesus was only going through the technical motions to achieve their end. And Peter, Jesus' closest friend, was in a downward process of disassociating himself from Him. But in the midst of the darkest night, the sunrise of God's grace was beginning to shine!
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1/8/2012
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A King, a Kingdom, and a Courtroom
John 18:28-40
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What kind of a King is Jesus, and what is the nature of His Kingdom? And what does it mean to pray, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done"? These are the questions faced in the text before us. As Jesus nears the cross, a nation denies His reign over them, while a Roman ruler questions Him and then cynically admits his own confusion and despair.
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1/29/2012
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Execution of a King
John 19:17-22
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Regicide is the official word used for the execution of a king. Most countries reserve the stiffest of punishments for subjects or assassins who would kill their royalty. John records the execution of the King of kings on a Roman cross outside the city of Jerusalem. But the rest of Scripture reveals that it was more than an execution; it was sacrifice that brought salvation. The next few weeks, we will consider the cross in depth and what it means for the world and for us.
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2/5/2012
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The Cross on the Billboard of Eternity
John 19:23-24
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Did you know that the cross of Christ was always God's plan from the very beginning? It wasn't a reaction to mankind's rejection of His Son, nor was it an accommodation to a Roman and Jewish miscarriage of justice. It was according to "the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). Today we will take a journey back and connect the dots of God's unfolding plan of the cross throughout the ages.
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2/12/2012
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How to Love Your Mother
John 19:25-27
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A mother's love for her children is distinctive and irreplaceable. To watch a child suffer is crushing and almost intolerable for any mom. In this touching scene revealed in three verses, we not only see Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the foot of her Son's cross, we also learn how Jesus cared for His mother. Even from His place of extreme suffering, Jesus was thinking of others and His love for Mary is noteworthy for us.
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2/19/2012
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iThirst
John 19:28-29
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The world is filled with Apple's i-technology, which delivers on its promise to make connectivity and information readily accessible. But there is a deeper need within everyone, a thirst to be right with God, that no app or gadget can fulfill. How ironic that Jesus, the great Thirst-Quencher, would Himself be thirsty. It was part of the great exchange—His temporary thirst enabled yours to be quenched eternally!
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2/26/2012
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It's Done!
John 19:30
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While Jesus was doing His greatest work, He uttered His greatest words! Through the excruciating pain of a tormenting death, Jesus gave the most meaningful statements worthy of careful consideration. John records three of Jesus' seven statements uttered while on the cross. The sixth—and perhaps the most hopeful—is the one we consider today.
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3/4/2012
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Death Under Control
John 19:31-37
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Watching someone you love die is always a heart-wrenching experience, especially when the victim experiences great suffering. For the apostle John, the death of Jesus was likewise difficult-but he saw a glimmer of hope, a silver lining in the dark clouds of death. This death was long ago anticipated and was being carefully monitored from the control center of heaven. Today we see why that's important.
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3/11/2012
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Disciples on the Graveyard Shift
John 19:38-42
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You can find an unending supply of books, pamphlets, and articles on discipleship in Christian churches and bookstores. Many of them will be predictably regimented and conventional, giving solid biblical references and calling Christians to ardently follow Christ—all great stuff. But not everyone's spiritual journey is identical. Some disciples are unexpected, and so is their story. Here are two disciples of Jesus who've been in the background and now step forward to care for the body of Christ after His death. Let's allow their story to inspire us.
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3/18/2012
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A Not-Quite-Empty Tomb
John 20:1-10
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There was a lot of confusion happening on the first Easter morning. The resurrection had happened but it was neither expected nor accepted by all at first. Mary Magdalene ran to tell the disciples what she saw, and they ran to check out her report. What they saw was compelling evidence of a resurrection, but only one of them really connected all the dots. Let's see why.
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3/25/2012
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Hope Rekindled
John 20:11-18
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When people grieve, they usually run the gamut of the emotional spectrum, from denial to bargaining to despair to anger to eventually hope. Mary Magdalene was in hopeless despair as she stood weeping by the grave of Jesus. The resurrected Christ deals tenderly with this woman as he reveals Himself to her and conveys hope for her future. Let's glean some principles for dealing with brokenhearted people.
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4/1/2012
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From Closed Doors to the Open Road
John 20:19-23
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Our relationship with Jesus isn't a secret to be hoarded; it is a story to be heralded! The disciples were seated behind closed doors (sounds like a lot of churches). Jesus wanted them out, giving away what they had been given. Let's see how these early followers went from panic to peace, from perplexity to purpose, and from protection to power. It's a great journey. Are you up for it?
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4/8/2012
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Rise Up!
John 20:24-31
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The apostle Thomas has been noted for his skeptical attitude. In fact, we refer to a skeptic as a "doubting Thomas." In this message from John 20, we consider four ways Thomas was able to rise up from doubt and become a joyful follower of Jesus.
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4/15/2012
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Gone Fishing! (Relating to a Risen & Returning Lord)
John 21:1-14
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I am not a great fisherman. I don't do it often and when I catch something, it's pure luck! My dad was the opposite—he loved it and was great at it. At least seven of Jesus' disciples were fishermen and here we see them plying their trade after the resurrection. Some beautiful lessons can be discovered about how to live while we wait for Jesus to come back for us.
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4/22/2012
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I Failed! Now What?
John 21:15-19
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One of life's harshest realities is failure. The very sound of the word seems harsh to our sensibilities. We even harbor the age-old axiom, "Failure is not an option!" But failure is an option; in fact, it's a certainty. But discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to victory. In a post-resurrection interview, Jesus restores Peter with a fresh commission. If you have failed in your spiritual experience (and who hasn't), these principles will inspire.
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4/29/2012
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Final Instructions
John 21:20-25
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As John closes off his singular testimony of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he features some closing words of Jesus and Peter about himself (John). These final sentences provide some instructions for us as we await Christ's return. How should we live in light of who Jesus is, what Jesus did, and when Jesus will return?
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There are 95 additional messages in this series.