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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > The Cross on the Billboard of Eternity

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The Cross on the Billboard of Eternity
John 19:23-24
Skip Heitzig

John 19 (NKJV™)
23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece.
24 They said therefore among themselves, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be," that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: "They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots." Therefore the soldiers did these things.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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.

"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. Jesus Predicted the Cross

  2. Jesus' Forerunner Predicted the Cross

  3. Visitors at His Birth Predicted the Cross

  4. The Prophets Predicted the Cross

  5. The Godhead Predicted the Cross


Try This:
  1. In light of the plan of the cross throughout the ages, now carefully read Ephesians 1:4. Use this as a springboard to thank God for His love for you that long preceded you very existence.

  2. This week rethink the definition of "the gospel." Use 1 Corinthians 15:1-10 as your seedbed for meditation. Ask God to help you to not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ because of its power to save (see Romans 1:16).

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. God's billboard: the cross
      1. Throughout time
      2. On the lips of prophets and preachers
      3. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
    2. The cross was not an unexpected event
      1. God anticipated it throughout history
      2. Psalm 22
      3. "No other religion has at its heart the humiliation of its God."—Unknown
        1. No other religion has anticipated the humiliation of its God
        2. No other religion has made that humiliation its focal point
    3. Soldiers divided Jesus' garments
      1. Roman custom and law
      2. Before the crucifixion, the prisoner was stripped naked
      3. Garments became the property of the soldiers
      4. Four soldiers: quaternion
      5. Five pieces of clothing
        1. Outer robe
        2. Tunic
        3. Belt
        4. Sandals
        5. Turban
      6. Each soldier got 1 piece, cast lots for the tunic
      7. Soldiers were hardened men
        1. Fought wars
        2. Quelled riots
        3. Killed many
        4. Crucify and gamble for victim's clothing at the foot of the cross
    4. Human hatred, human revulsion, divine anticipation
      1. When David wrote Psalm 22, crucifixion had not been invented
      2. Vivid details
        1. Exhaustion
        2. Physical torment
        3. Unusual position of the body
        4. Raging thirst
        5. Nails through hands and feet
      3. Only known in the mind of God, revealed to David
  2. Jesus Predicted the Cross
    1. Lived knowing exactly when and how He would die
    2. Jesus predicted His death in the gospels
      1. Matthew: six times
      2. Mark: three times
      3. Luke
      4. John
      5. "When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, 'Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?' So they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'  He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am? 'Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'  Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven….From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, 'Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!'  But He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men'" (Matthew 16:13-23).
      6. "Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, 'The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.' And they were exceedingly sorrowful" (Matthew 17:22).
    3. His hour
      1. "Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come" (John 7:30).
      2. "Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded" (John 13:1-5).
      3. "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You," (John 17:1).
      4. "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour" (John 12:27).
    4. Jesus regarded any suggestion to move Him away from the focus of the cross as satanic
    5. Jesus had heard the suggestion before: wilderness temptation
      1. Shown the kingdoms of the world in their glory
      2. "And he said to Him, 'All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me'" (Matthew 4:9).
      3. Tempted to not go the way of the cross
        1. Not suffer
        2. Not shed blood
      4. "Away with you, Satan!" (Matthew 4:10).
      5. Even the devil knew how important the cross was
  3. Jesus' Forerunner (John the Baptizer) Predicted the Cross
    1. At the Jordan, a singular message: "Repent!"
    2. Believed Jesus is Messiah
      1. Living Judge, not a dying Savior
      2. His beliefs like those of other Jews
        1. Messiah come in gloriously
        2. Overturn the Roman government
        3. Set up the kingdom
    3. Harmony of the gospels
      1. Jesus came to the Jordan to be baptized
      2. After His baptism, He went into the wilderness and was tempted 40 days
      3. Went back to the Jordan and saw John again
    4. "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, 'Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father." For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.'  Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?'  But Jesus answered and said to him, 'Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he allowed Him" (Matthew 3:7-15).
      1. Accurate for Jesus' second coming
      2. Jesus came to identify with sinners
    5. "When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him" (Matthew 3:16).
      1. As the son of a priest John recognized the dove as an animal of sacrifice
      2. The poorest of the poor brought doves for sacrifice
    6. "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29).
      1. John's perspective changed
      2. During the six-week temptation, perhaps he studied Isaiah 52-53
      3. Introduced Jesus rather than denouncing sinners
      4. Announced the sacrifice; predicted the death of Jesus
    7. Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
      1. Charles Spurgeon read twice a year
      2. Main character: Christian
      3. Plot: Christian left City of Destruction on the way to the Celestial City
      4. Allegory of the Christian life
      5. On Christian's back a burden: sin and the law combined
      6. "So I saw in my Dream, that just as Christian came up with the Cross, his Burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the Sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more."
  4. Visitors at His Birth Predicted the Cross
    1. Unusual birth
      1. Virgin birth
      2. Angelic visitors
      3. Stars in the sky
      4. Visit from the magi
    2. Angel to Joseph: "You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).
    3. Angels to shepherds: "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11).
    4. Gifts from the magi
      1. Gold: gift for a king
      2. Frankincense: priest
      3. Myrrh
        1. Beautiful scent only when crushed
        2. Embalming fluid
        3. Jesus' body was wrapped with myrrh to offset the smell of decay
        4. "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).
    5. Simeon at Jesus' dedication:
    6. The reason for Jesus' birth was His death
  5. The Prophets Predicted the Cross
    1. About 330 prophecies regarding the Messiah
      1. Birth
      2. Tribe
      3. Home
      4. What He would do
      5. Details of His death
    2. Jewish daily prayer: "I believe in the coming of the Messiah, and though He may tarry, still I await Him every day."
      1. A conquering Messiah
      2. Not a suffering Savior
    3. "But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. And He said to them, 'What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?' Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, 'Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?' And He said to them, 'What things?' So they said to Him, 'The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.' Then He said to them, 'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! ' Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?' And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:16-27).
      1. Abraham and Isaac (See Genesis 22)
      2. Moses lifted up the Serpent in the wilderness (see Numbers 21 and John 3:14)
      3. Isaiah 52-53: the suffering Servant
      4. Psalm 22
        1. Opens and closes with words of Jesus on the cross
        2. Soldiers gambling for His clothing; anticipated by God
  6. The Godhead Predicted the Cross
    1. Revelation 13
      1. About the antichrist who will come and be worshipped
      2. From before creation: "It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:7-8).
      3. Before Jesus left heaven, the triune Godhead agreed on the cross
    2. "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world," (1 Peter 1:19-20).
    3. C. H. Spurgeon summed up the Christian faith in four words: "He died for me!"
    4. "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love," (Ephesians 1:4)

Publications referenced: Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan; The Passion of the Christ (2004) Mel Gibson
Cross References: Genesis 22; Numbers 21; Psalm 22; Isaiah 52-53; Isaiah 53:5Matthew 1:21; Matthew 3:7-15; Matthew 3:16; Matthew 4:9; Matthew 4:10; Matthew 16:13-23; Matthew 17:22; Luke 2:11; Luke 24:16-27; John 1:29; John 3:14; John 3:16; John 7:30; John 12:27; John 13:1-5; John 17:1; Acts 2:23; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:19-20; Revelation 13:7-8

Topic: Cross

Keywords: prophecy, suffering Servant, predestination, foreknowledge, cross, ordained

Transcript

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Are you ready?  Then let's talk to God.  Lord, it's very comforting as we address You, realizing that You know everything that we would ever say, anything we would express to You.  You know even deeper than our words.  You know our thoughts, even deeper than our thoughts.  You know the true motives of our life.  And Lord, You will all know exactly what we need.  Because of that, we talk to You.  We pray to You.  We tell You that we're dependent upon You and that we need You and that we need You to revive us, to refresh the memory that in some cases has been lost, has calloused when we hear things about your Son's suffering and death.  For others of us, it's just new material.  And Father, I pray that You would use the study today to draw us closer in relationship to You, in appreciation of You and in respect for one another, because of You.  We're Your family, we have all been redeemed by the same sacrifice.  We've been cleansed by the same blood and makes none of us better than anyone else.  We all stand equal at the foot of this cross.  So help us Lord as we muse over the setting slowly, deliberately to be more mindful and grateful in Jesus' name.  Amen.

We all know what billboards are.  You go by them when you drive on the freeway.  Those are those outdoor structures that are meant to advertise a product or a statement.  I saw four that stick out on my mind as I was on my way to church here.  One billboard was of a musician who's coming to town.  The other billboard was of a lawyer who is already in town.  The third was a casino not far out of town and the fourth that sticks in my mind was a billboard to buy a watch that they think you need to buy and wear.

Sometimes and I'll show you examples on the video boards here, but sometimes advertisements can be clever like this one.  That's clever to put a guy who needs to lose a little weight on the end of a billboard and slanted like that.  Other billboards are -- well look at this one, they're political.  You drive by that and you'd get the point pretty quickly.  Other billboards are spiritual billboards.  I don't know if you can read that, but can you read that?  It says, "Well, you did ask for a sign, signed God."  So you have a sign.  Other billboards are not so subtle, that's sobering as you drive by.  It says, "Hell is real."

And finally, there are billboards that when they're up you wonder, "What on earth were they thinking to even put that up?"  It's upside down.  It says, "If you can read this, you've just had an accident."  I don't think that's very cool, do you?  There's a billboard that God has displayed throughout the centuries on the pages of the scripture, it's called the cross.  It's that one message He has been advertising throughout the corridors of time.  He's announced it on the lips of His prophets and His preachers, the message, the billboard of God throughout all of eternity is that God loves the world.

For God so loved the world that He gave His own Son.  We are introduced to this thought as the banner billboard truth of God throughout the ages in two verses in John Chapter 19.  So turn with me to John 19 and look at Verse 23 and 24 and yes, those are the only two verses we will cover.  That's because there are certain scenes that we dare not move through to quickly and this is one of them.  "Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments, and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic: now, the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece."

They said therefore among themselves, "Let us not tear it, but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled which says, they divided My garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots, therefore the soldiers did this things.'"  Immediately in these two verses were introduced to a thought that the cross was in anew, unexpected event, but that God had anticipated it throughout history, because it was quoted in a Psalm, the event itself.  Somebody once said and I remember the saying, "No other religion has at its heart the humiliation of its God."  I would only add to that and say that no other religion has anticipated in advance the humiliation of its God and made that the very focal point of all that it is about.

We're introduced to that thought here.  I saw a painting many years ago, I still recall it.  It's a painting of Jesus standing in the carpentry shop at Nazareth.  He's an adult by this time.  He has laid down His tools in the shop.  He is facing a window through which the sunlight, the afternoon evening sunlight is filtering through.  In the picture, Jesus is looking up toward heaven with His hands raised.  The sunlight is coming through, hitting Him and casting a shadow on the back wall of the carpentry shop.  And if you look at the shadow, it looks like the perfect form of a cross and a man on it.

The point of the painting as you study it is that, the shadow of the cross was cast throughout the very life of Christ.  The question is how far back does that shadow go?  How deep and how long does that shadow run?  I want to explore that with you today.  Now, we look at these two verses and we discover the soldiers divided Jesus' garments.  Why did they do that and why is it written?  That was a Roman custom and a Roman law that before a man was executed by way of crucifixion that he was stripped completely bare, it was the ultimate and final humiliation and that the garments of the prisoner would become the property of the soldiers.  That was a Roman law.

The executioners would own any belongings that that victim had.  They would divide them.  The executioners, the soldiers regarded the clothing or the possessions of Christ as their spoil, their keep, their earn and so they took them.  Now, how many soldiers were they?  Do you remember we told you last week and the week before, there were four.  And that was given the name, quaternion.  A quaternion was a squad of four soldiers.  But, the average Jewish male wore five pieces of clothing, an outer robe, below that a tunic, a belt, sandals and a turbine or a head cover.

There are four soldiers, five pieces of clothing.  Each soldier got one piece, the fifth piece the tunic, they decided to throw dice(ph) for, cast lots for it and they would decide who would get it.  These soldiers were hardened men.  They had to be.  They fought wars.  They quelled riots.  They have killed many people like they were killing Jesus at this point.  You got to be a pretty hardened individual, to not only take a dying man's possessions, but before he's dead, they gamble for them at the foot of where he can watch the whole event at the foot of the cross.

But the point of including these two verses isn't just to speak of human hatred and human revulsion, but rather divine anticipation.  That is why John says, "All of this was done that the scripture, Psalm 22 might be fulfilled."  What John is showing you is that this cross casts a long shadow all the way back to David who wrote about it.  Psalm 22, an amazing piece of literature.  When David penned some Psalm 22, he knew nothing about crucifixion hadn't been invented yet.  But in vivid detail, in Psalm 22, David writes about the exhaustion, the physical torment of crucifixion, the unnatural position of the body during crucifixion, the raging thirst that ensues, nails that go through the hands and through the feet several incredible details that could've only been known in the mind of God and then revealed to David.  And that's why John makes mention of it.

So today, I want to take a journey with you based on these two verses.  Let's see how far back that shadow goes.  And I'm going to walk back with you from the cross backward through time.  First off, it was Jesus himself who predicted His own death.  I just want you to imagine what that would be like.  To live knowing exactly when you were going to die and exactly how you were going to die.  Imagine what that would be like to live with that knowledge.  On six different occasions in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus predicted His death.  Three more times in the Gospel of Mark, then you have Luke and John.  It's all recorded.

I'm going to take you back, if you have a Bible and you care to turn them.  I'm going to take you to a few places today, the 16th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew if you don't have a Bible or you forgot yours or you simply don't want to turn, no problem.  I understand.  I've cheated.  I pre-marked my Bible.  Matthew 16, it's a famous setting.  Jesus asks His disciples two questions.  Peter gets the A on the test.  The questions are, who the man say that I am?  The second is.  Who do you say that I am?  Peter gets it right when he says, "You're Christ, the Son of the living God."

Now, I think Peter feels the freedom to speak up, because he got an A on the test.  It doesn't go so well for him in the second round.  In Verse 21 of Matthew 16, "From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.  Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You."  Again, I think Peter felt in bold and in power to speak up and say, "Lord we've got this one covered.  We're going to protect You, not going to happen You."

He did not expect what He's about to hear.  Verse 23, "But He turned, He, Jesus turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan!  You are an offence to me.  You are not mindful of the things of God, but of the things of men."  Oops!  Ouch!  There were more times if you just turn the page to Chapter 17 of Matthew if you're there, different place this time.  Verse 22, "Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, 'The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.'  And they were exceedingly sorrowful.'"

Death was Jesus' constant companion.  He knew how, He knew when, He knew where, He told them.  He predicted His own death.  The shadow of the cross fell upon His path every single day.  And just try to imagine what that is like.  If you knew when and where you would die and how, you would live differently.  You would live a very focused life, a very intentional life and that's important to realize, because there's a lot of scriptures that won't make sense unless you realize that.  For example, in John Chapter 7, it says, "They, the rulers sought to take Jesus, but His hour had not yet come."  So they didn't take Him.

In John Chapter 13, John begins, "And Jesus knowing that the hour had come for Him to depart from this world and go to the Father, girded Himself with a towel and started washing His disciples' feet."  Or John Chapter 17, "As Christ prays, 'Father, the hour has come.  Glorify Your Son, that Your son may now glorify You.'"  Or John Chapter 12, "As Jesus tells His own men, He says, 'And now My soul is troubled; and what shall I say, Father, save me from this hour?  No: for this very cause I have come to this hour.'"  So, we're dealing with somebody who predicted his own death, knew exactly where, knew exactly when and lived with that constant knowledge.  That was his focus.

And because that was His focus, Jesus regarded as any suggestion to move Him away from that focus as being satanic.  That's why he said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan.  You're not thinking like God thinks, you're thinking like men think."  Actually, when Jesus heard Peter say, "Lord, Lord, this is never going to happen to You."

It was as if Jesus was thinking, "I've heard that voice before.  I know where that voice is coming from.  That's coming from Satan."  Because it was Satan, who suggested the same thing while Christ was being tempted 40 days and 40 nights out on the wilderness.  The Bible says, "Satan appeared to Him and showed Him all the kingdoms of this world then their glory."  And Satan said, "All of this, I will give to You if You'll just bow down and worship me.  Just give me a momentary pleasure, indulged me just worship me for a second.  I know why You have come, I know what you came for.  You came to buy this world back, redeem this world.  I'll give it to You.  You don't have to go the way of the cross.  You don't have to suffer.  You don't have to shed Your blood.  Just worship me and I'll give it to You."

Jesus said, "Away with you, Satan."  And now when Peter is suggesting, "This isn't going to happen to You."  Jesus goes, "I recognize that voice.  Get behind me, Satan."  He regarded anything that would keep Him away from the focus of the sacrifice of the cross as being Satanic.  Now, that interest me that the devil, even the devil knew how important the cross was.  It was a ladder to heaven, Jesus knew it.  Satan knew it.

So, we're considering how far back the shadow goes.  Jesus predicted His own death.  Now, let's go back a little bit further in time.  Not only did Jesus predict his death.  Jesus' forerunner predicted his death.  The prophet who announce His coming, who is that?  I call him John the Baptizer.  He really wasn't of any denomination including Baptist at that time.  It was just John the Baptizer. It's probably a better term.  I've always loved John the Baptist, because he reminds me of a lot of my old friends.  I have friends who dress weird and ate weird things.  They were hippies and John just sort of reminds me of them.  He is sort of that strange guy down by the Jordan River.

He had a singular, denunciatory message, "Repent." It was his first message, "Repent."  He got people's attention, a very powerful individual.  John the Baptist believed that Jesus was the Messiah.  But, John the Baptist only saw Jesus as a living judge, not as a dying savior.  John the Baptist, like most Jewish people anticipated the Messiah will come in gloriously and overturn the Roman government and setup shop, setup the kingdom.  He did not expect a death at first.

Now I want you to follow me in my thinking.  If you were to take the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and what we call harmonize them or give a chronological blow-by-blow rendition of all of the Gospel records, this is how it comes down.  Jesus comes to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.  After He's baptized, He goes into the wilderness for about six weeks, forty days.  After that temptation, He comes back to the Jordan River and sees John again, second time.

So, here's John, he's down at the Jordan River.  He's saying, "Repent."  And listen to his message.  He quotes Isaiah Chapter 4, "Woe unto you, you brute of slimy snakes.  Who has warned you to flee from the wrath that is to come?"  And speaking of the Messiah, he said, "He's winnowing fan is in his hand and he will thoroughly purge the threshing floor.  He will gather the grain into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."  It's a fiery preacher, that's hell fire in brimstone.  And all of that would be accurate at Jesus' second coming, but not His first.

So here's John bringing a very denunciatory message, but then three things happen.  Number one, Jesus comes to the Jordan River to be baptized.  Remember John's reaction?  He goes, "Lord, Lord this is wrong.  I shouldn't baptize You.  You should baptize me.  You have nothing to be baptized for."  But now, he realizes in Jesus' baptism that Jesus has come not to yell at sinners, but to identify with them.  So he gets baptized, blows John's mind.  Second thing that happens is as he is baptizing Jesus, the heavens open and the spirit of God comes like a, what?  A dove, ever wonder why a dove?  You say, "Sure, that's all churches in the next 2000 years are going to have doves in the front of their church."  No, that's not why.

To John the Baptist, who was the son of a Jewish priest, he would immediately recognize the dove as an animal of sacrifice.

The lamb was the animal of sacrifice but if you couldn't even afford a lamb, if you were the poorest of the poor, you bring a dove.  So, first Jesus gets baptized, identifies with sinners.  Second, a dove shows up.  It tips Him off that a sacrifice is somehow involved.  The third thing is that Jesus goes away for six weeks, comes back.  And the second time when John sees Him coming to him, he says something very different.  He says, "Behold, the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world."  What has happened between flee from the wrath that is to come and behold the Lamb of God?

Well, six weeks have happened and I believe that during those six weeks, John went again back to the scrolls of Isaiah from which he had taken his cues.  He had been quoting Isaiah throughout his early ministry.  And he started reading some of the other passages in Isaiah like, Isaiah 52, Isaiah 53, which says that, "The Messiah he was led as a lamb to the slaughter as a sheep before a cheers of silent."  So he opened out his mouth and it clicked.  He connected the dots.  So as Jesus comes back instead of a denunciation, it's an introduction.  And he says, "Look!  Behold, the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world!"  In that statement, he is announcing a sacrifice is coming.  He is predicting the death, the cross of Jesus.  He is the Lamb of God, the animal of sacrifice whose blood will take away the sin of the world.

Now, John the Baptist is discovering that this Jesus will do more than all of the proclamations and denunciations of the Law of Moses.  If you have never read Programs Progress, the book Programs Progress, please read it at least ones before you die.  It is worth the read.  Charles Spurgeon read it twice a year.  It's an old story written by John Bunyan.  The main character of the story is Christian.  He has left his hometown called the City of Destruction.  He's on his way to the Celestial City.  You'd get the picture.  It's an analogy of the Christian life.

As Christian starts off, he's got a backpack on.  And it burdens him and weighs him down.  And the story relates the backpack as his sin and added to the sin is the law telling him he's a sinner.  You're bad.  You're a sinner.  You're wrong.  You're this and that.  And so, the law mixed with his sins is the burden on his back.  So listen to how John Bunyan puts it.  And I saw in my dream that as Christian came up to the cross, the burden loosed from his shoulders and fell from his back and began to tumble until it reach the mouth of the sepulchre where it fell in and I saw it no more.

It's a picture of coming to the cross of Calvary, the burden of sin, the denunciation of the law falls off, rolls down into the tomb of Christ risen from the dead and I saw it no more.  John is waking up, John the Baptist to that realization.  So Jesus predicted the cross.  The forerunner of Jesus predicted the cross.  Let's go back a little bit further.  Let's see how far back the shadow goes before that.  At the birth of Jesus Christ, His visitors at the birth also predicted the cross.  Now, would you agree that Jesus had a very unusual birth?  Not just a fact he was virgin born but the things that were happening around him at that time.  I don't know but you but when I was born, nothing remarkable happened.

Well my mom says, "Well, you are born.  That's remarkable."  But really nothing great in the world, I did a little digging to find out what happened when I was born.  Only two things really stand out, number one, the President of the United States and Dwight Eisenhower.  Some of you are going "Who?"  [Laughter].  So far back it was.  Dwight Eisenhower signed into law on the date of my birth that the minimum wage in America should be raised to $1.  [Laughter].  Epic huh?

Also, the day I was born a world series was going on.  And on my birthday, the Brooklyn Dodgers beat in the World Series the New York Yankees.  You're clapping for them?  [Laughter].  You go to the birth of Jesus.  It's a whole different scene.  There are angelic visitors.  The sky has been lit up to allow the magi from the east to find the birthplace or the house where Jesus resides.  But, the language of these visitors is all predictive of a sacrifice.

For example, what did the angel say to Joseph after he found that Mary was pregnant?  He said, "You will call His name Jesus because He will save His people from their sin.  He will save His people from their sin."  When the angels announced to the Bethlehem shepherds that as Jesus was born he said, "From into you this day in the City of David, a savior is born who is Christ the Lord."  All of that language is predictive of somebody who would come as a sacrifice, a savior and pay for sin.  Then, those three gifts that were given by the magi to the child Jesus, remember what they were, gold, a gift befitting a king, frankincense, reminiscent of the priest.  That's what they use in their sacrifices.  The third is a little bit strange myrrh.  Myrrh was a gummy substance that hardened and it only gave off a beautiful scent when it was crushed.

Incidentally, myrrh was used in the ancient world to embalm the dead.  It was embalming fluid.  I'm so sure that if you were a new mom and you just had a baby and somebody gave you a gift for the baby of embalming fluid, you wouldn't be too excited, but all of that was predictive.  Why myrrh?  When Jesus died, He was wrapped with myrrh, the Bible says.  And myrrh was the substance that was placed around the dead person because of the smell of decay and the myrrh would offset that.  But as I mentioned to you, they only gave off a scent when it was crushed.  What did Isaiah say?  Concerning Jesus, he said, "He was bruised for our transgressions, he was crushed for our inequities: The chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed."

All of that was predictive.  After Jesus is born, Mary and Joseph were taken to a temple, the temple in Jerusalem to be dedicated to God.  As they are there, there's an old man named Simeon, who lifts up his head to heaven and goes, "I can die a happy man.  My eyes have seen Your salvation."  And then he says to Joseph and Mary, "This child would be assigned that would be spoken against in Israel."  And then Simeon pointed to Mary and said, "And a sword is going to pierce your own soul."

We'll read more next week as Mary stands at the foot of the cross.  Her heart is broken because her son is giving his life.  Jesus predicted His cross.  His forerunner predicted His cross.  The visitors of Jesus' birth predicted the cross.  I don't know what plans you have for your kids but every parent has some plans.  Maybe my son will grow up to this or my daughter will grow up to that.  But whatever plans you have, your ultimate plan is that they live.  Live long.  Understand that the whole reason for Jesus' birth was His death.  He knew that.  The father knew that.  Joseph and Mary would come to that recognition as time would go on.

Now, let's step back even a bit further in time from Jesus to the forerunner, to the visitors at His birth, all the way to the prophetic scriptures of the Old Testament.  The prophets, the Old Testament writers also predicted the cross.  I don't know if you know this but there are about 330 prophesies in the Old Testament predicting what the Messiah would do and be like in the New Testament, 330, where he would be born, what tribe he would be from, where he would grow up et cetera, et cetera, what he would do details about his death, amazing.

The Jewish people had always anticipated there would be a coming Messiah.  One of their daily prayers was, "I believe in the coming of Messiah."  And even though he said, "Yeah, I will wait every coming day."  But what they were waiting for like John the Baptist and like the disciples was a conquering Messiah, not a dying Messiah, not a dying savior.  However, the Old Testament scriptures predicted the suffering and death of a Messiah.  Now without going back to all, I might just want to take you to one little place.

If you're in John, go back one book to the Gospel of Luke Chapter 24.  I want you to take a look at this, at Luke 24.  This is after the death of Christ and after His resurrection.  He's alive again.  He's walking from Jerusalem to a little town called Emmaus, because two disciples of His are also walking on that road.  Verse 16 of Luke 24, "But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.  And He said to them, "What kind of conversation is that, do you have with one another, as you walk, and are sad?"  Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem?"  Imagine asking Jesus that question.  "And have you not known the things which happened there in these days?"  Can you imagine asking Jesus that question?  They're referring to the things that happened to Him.  But look at what Jesus says.  He said to them, "What things?"  [Laughter].  You know why He does that?  He knows what things.  He wants to hear them say "What things?"  So they talk.

The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.  And now the chief priest said, "Our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see."

Now listen to Christ.  And then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?"  And now, here's the verse that and my spirit drool over.  And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.  If ever there were a conversation, I wish it would have been recorded.  It is the one alluded to in verse 27.  Beginning at Moses and all the prophets and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.  The first Bible study Jesus gave after He rose from the dead was an expositional prophetic Bible study.

I imagine he took them back to Genesis 22, talk about Abraham and Isaac like we mentioned last week.  I imagine he took them the numbers 21, where the snakes were biting all the people and Moses lifted up a serpent on a pole and God said, "Look at that bronze serpent and you will live."  And Jesus had said as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, "The Sone of Man must also be lifted up."

I'm sure he took them to Isaiah, Chapter 52 and 53.  The suffering servant passage is so clear of the suffering of the Messiah that would come.  And I'm sure he took them to Psalm 22, the very Psalm we started with in our reading.  Because Psalm 22 begins and opened and closes with two sayings that Jesus uttered while He was on the cross, including, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?"  And their eyes started getting open and go, "I get it, I get it, I get it."  So here's the deal, those soldiers who were throwing the dice and gambling for Jesus' clothes as hardened as they were a self serving as they were.  What's important to understand is that God had anticipated all of that and inspired David to write in detail about it in the 22nd Psalm.  That's how far the shadow goes back.  Jesus predicted it.  His forerunner predicted it.  The visitors at his birth predicted it.  The prophets predicted it.  I'm going to take you to one final place, take you all the way back to see how far that shadow goes and where it started.

So turn with me to Revelation Chapter 13.  You go to Revelation.  Shouldn't be the other direction, no it shouldn't and you'll see why in a minute.  Revelation Chapter 13, now I warn you the 13th Chapter of Revelation is about a guy we call the antichrist not Jesus Christ.  But Jesus Christ is mentioned here.  You're dealing with an antichrist who will come in the future on the world, saying the world will worship him because he's going to solve all the problems.  They're going to give all of their love to all of their allegiance to.

This antichrist is only a temporary ruler as oppose to the eternal ruler Jesus Christ and so they are compared.  But I want you to see something very important.  Because, if we ask the question how long is the shadow of the cross, that it start with the prophet Daniel, in Daniel 9 when he first predicted that.  That goes all the way back to Abraham and Isaac in Mount Mariah in that whole scene.  It goes back further than the birth of Christ.  It goes Pre-Bethlehem.  It goes pre-profit, pre patriarch.  It goes pre-creation.  The cross was in the mind of God before the creation happened.  Verse 7, Revelation 13, "It was granted to him, him being the antichrist to make war with the saints and to overcome them.  And authority was given to him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.

"All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the book of life of the Lamb."  Listen carefully or watch carefully, "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."

Before Jesus ever left heaven to come to this earth to take on a body of flesh, communing with the Father and the sprit to try you God had agreed, this is how it's going to come down.  It's not like Jesus is about to live heaven and go into the womb of a Virgin and God the Father said, "Oh, oh before you go one final thing I neglected to tell you.  You're going to a cross to finish this whole thing off."  There wasn't sprung on him.  It was known before the foundation of the world.  One of the apostles, Peter wrote in his book First Peter, "We were not redeemed with corruptible things, but by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, a Lamb without spot or blemish indeed He was for ordained before the foundation of the world."  That's what Peter said.

So the shadow of the cross, the long shadow who was on the mind and heart of the God head who shared that in part with Abraham and the patriarchs and the visitors at the birth of Jesus and John the Baptist.  And Jesus predicted it himself and here we read in John 19, just as David predicted and the other prophets, it happened.  Think about it.

The same God who said, "Let us make man in our image, knew that that image would become marred by sin and would require redemption and would have to send his Son to fix that."  That's why Charles had Spurgeon.  You here me quote him a lot.  He said, "I could sum up my entire theology in four words."  "He died for me."  "He died for me."  Always a part of God's plan.

I've got to tie one more bow on this package.  Do you know when God picked you to be a son or daughter?  If you think, "Yeah, the day I was saved."  No.  Ephesians Chapter 1 Verse 4, "You were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world."  At the same point when God said, "I'm going to send my Son to redeem people, He knew that you would be born and chose you to be one of the redeemed ones."  I sure hope the shadow of the cross is falling upon your life that you have basked under its dark shadow to find life.  And if not, that today you will realize that God loves you and you will realize in time and in space something that had been chosen by God years ago.  As you cooperate with that choice and give your heart and life to Christ.

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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1/22/2012
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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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1/29/2012
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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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2/12/2012
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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
Skip Heitzig
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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.