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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > Death Under Control

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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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3/4/2012
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Death Under Control
John 19:31-37
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
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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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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

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

Visit Believe879.com for more information on this series.

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Outline

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  1. The Predicament of the Scene

    1. The Timing of the Cross

    2. The Request of the Jews


  2. The Placement of the Spear

    1. No Need to Hasten Death (Breaking the Legs)

    2. The Need to Prove Death (Piercing the Heart)

  3. The Fulfillment of the Scripture

    1. Predicted in Advance

    2. Presented in Anticipation

"Cross" Examination:
  1. If you had been watching the crucifixion, what emotions do you think you would have experienced? Why?

  2. How difficult is it for you to believe that Jesus died for your sins? Why?

  3. How do you feel about the prospect of your own death? About the death of a family member? What hope does Christ’s death give you?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. The Passover Plot by Hugh Schonfield
      1. Proposed Jesus planned His own death all along
        1. Knew Jews wouldn't allow bodies on the crosses at the Sabbath
        2. Pre-arranged a drink served that rendered Him unconscious, so He appeared dead
        3. Preplanned placement in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, who would raise Jesus back to health
        4. Appeared as though He died and resurrected
      2. Conceded Jesus' plan went awry
        1. Soldier lanced His side with a spear and killed Him
        2. A stand-in was used to depict the resurrection
          1. Appeared by the tomb
          2. On the road to Emmaus
          3. Appeared to the disciples
          4. Why many didn't recognize Jesus
      3. The premise is correct: the death of Jesus was a plot
        1. Not a human plot
        2. The plan of God
          1. Controlled the entire scene
          2. Known to Him from eternity past
          3. Told by the prophets
          4. 28 prophecies in the last 24 hours of Jesus' life
    2. Aspects of death
      1. Surprise element: shock
        1. Unfulfilled dreams
        2. Unspoken words
        3. Unfinished plans
      2. Jesus' death not a surprise
        1. He predicted His own death
        2. Told His disciples
          1. It was coming
          2. How He would die
          3. What would happen subsequent to His death
        3. "Bowing His head, He gave up His spirit" (John 19:30)
      3. Privilege of presence at a death
        1. Of a mother: the one who brought child into the world is exiting the world
        2. John: excruciatingly painful, but honored
          1. Recorded the details afterward
          2. Understanding of why things happened the way they happened
    3. Setting
      1. 2000 years ago
      2. In Jerusalem (7200 miles away)
      3. Among olive trees of Jerusalem
      4. Ancient stone walls and city structures nearby
      5. Noise and business of many gathered for the Passover
      6. Smell of lambs sacrificed and roasted
      7. Three crosses
        1. Jesus is dead
        2. Other two victims linger
        3. Soldiers break the other victims' legs so they will die sooner
      8. "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him" (John 1:11)
      9. Eleven loyal disciples: fearful and hiding behind locked doors
  2.  The Predicament of the Scene
    1. The Timing of the Cross
      1. Jesus died quickly
        1. Six hours on the cross: 9 am - 3 pm
        2. Most lasted 2-3 days before they died
      2. Problems
        1. Day of Preparation
          1. "Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover" (John 18:28)
          2. Jesus had already eaten Passover with His disciples
          3. Day before the Sabbath
          4. High Day: Sabbath and Passover closely related
          5. Preparing for the Passover and Sabbath
          6. According to Josephus and the Mishna, those in the north kept a different calendar than those in the south
            1. Galilee
              1. Reconciled days from sunrise to sunrise
              2. Perhaps because of Gentile influence
              3. Passover Thursday sunrise-Friday sunrise
              4. Already ate
            2. Judea
              1. Reconciled days from sunset to sunset
              2. Traditional Jewish reckoning "evening and morning"
              3. Passover Thursday sunset-Friday sunset
              4. Waiting to eat the Passover
            3. Lambs sacrificed on two days
          7. As Jesus died on the cross, lambs were being slaughtered in Jerusalem
          8. "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)
        2. Is Friday evening to Sunday morning three days?
          1. Jesus said three days and rise again (See John 2:19)
          2. Friday evening-Sunday morning
          3. We reckon time differently
            1. Three solid days
            2. Ancient world: a part of a day was a day
          4. According to Eleazar ben Azariah, "A day and a night make an onah: and a part of an onah is as the whole."
    2. The Request of the Jews: Take the bodies down before Passover
      1. Typically Romans allowed the bodies to rot on the cross
      2. "If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God"  (Deuteronomy 21:22-23)
      3. The height of hypocrisy: trying to satisfy the minutia of the Law, while killing the One who fulfills the Law
        1. Religion focuses on the outward
        2. People who do the outward feel they've earned their way
  3.  The Placement of the Spear
    1. No Need to Hasten Death (Breaking the Legs)
      1. Jesus died quickly
        1. They were astonished that He died quickly
        2. "Pilate marveled that He was already dead" (Mark 15:44)
      2. Breaking the legs an act of mercy
        1. Fatigue caused paralysis of the diaphragm
        2. Victims would push up on the spike through their feet to breath
        3. Hastened death by removing leverage: asphyxiation
    2. The Need to Prove Death (Piercing the Heart)
      1. The soldiers
        1. Experts in death
        2. Pierced His side to make sure He was dead
      2. All gospels record Jesus' death
        1. "Yielded up His spirit" (Matthew 27:50)
        2. "Breathed His last" (Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46)
        3. "Gave up His spirit" (John 19:30)
      3. Essential to believe Jesus died
        1. Without death there is no resurrection
        2. Without death there is only resuscitation
      4. Swoon theory
        1. Jesus did not die
        2. Jesus swooned from loss of blood
        3. Thought dead and placed in tomb
        4. Cold, damp tomb revived Him
      5. Six points of Evidence that Jesus was Dead
        1. At Gethsemane, He sweat great drops of blood
        2. Trials He went through
          1. Three religious
          2. Three civil
          3. Beaten
        3. Roman scourging with flagellum
        4. Crown of thorns: blood letting
        5. Carried the cross through Jerusalem
          1. 75 pound crossbeam: patibulum
          2. Needed assistance
        6. Crucified
      6. "Jesus of Nazareth certainly died on the cross"—Dr. William Edwards On the Physical Death of Jesus, Journal of the American Medical Association March 21, 1986, Vol 255, No. 11
      7. Blood and water evidence of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart muscle by the pericardium
  4.  The Fulfillment of the Scripture
    1. Predicted in Advance
      1. Not one bone was broken
        1. See Psalm 22:17; Psalm 34:20
        2. Symbolized in Passover lamb (see Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12)
        3. If bones were broken, what God said would happen didn't happen
        4. Perfect sacrifice
      2. Pierced
        1. See Zechariah 12:10
        2. Jesus died at the precise moment planned
        3. Scripture was fulfilled
    2. Presented in Anticipation
  5. Application
    1. God was in control of the minute details of Jesus' life
    2. We can entrust our lives to Him
    3. He is willing to manage the details of our lives
    4. Like Chief Crow Foot
      1. Carried a pass to ride the Canadian Pacific Railroad
      2. Never used it
      3. Let the promises of God be a part of life, don't just carry it

Publications referenced: The Passover Plot, by Hugh Schonfield; On the Physical Death of Jesus, by Dr. William Edwards , Journal of the American Medical Association March 21, 1986, Vol 255, No. 11
Figures referenced: Josephus
Cross references: Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Psalm 22:17; Psalm 34:20; Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; Mark 15:44; Luke 23:46; John 1:11; John 1:29; John 2:19; John 18:28; John 19:30

Transcript

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Would you pray with me?  Father, we do thank you that your love was such that you spared nothing and you gave your Son.  In fact, the prophet said it pleased the Lord to bruise Him and to make him an offering for sin.  We admit it's unfathomed of all for us.  We don't get our minds around that but we just humbly thank you, in Jesus' name, Amen.

Several years ago, a man by the name of Hugh Schonfield wrote a book called The Passover Plot.  As a non-believer, Schonfield was convinced that Jesus plotted, planned his own death.  And knowing that the Jews would not keep the bodies of crucified victims on the cross for the Sabbath, Jesus had prearranged a pseudo death.

According to Schonfield, Jesus got one of his supporters to get a drink given to him during the crucifixion laced with a drug that would render him unconscious but not dead.  So that he would appear to be dead, he would then be taken off the cross, placed in the tomb of another supporter, Joseph of Arimathea who would then nurse him back to health and appear to be a resurrected savior in the subsequent days.

But according to Schonfield, the plot went awry when one of the soldiers who was there at the cross placed the spear and jabbed it into the side of Jesus effectively killing him and destroying the plot.

So for the resurrection, the disciples had to use a stand-in, a person who is roughly the same built as Jesus to be there at the tomb, standing outside, posing as the gardener, showing up on the road to Emmaus talking to two disciples, showing up at the Sea of Galilee and that is one of the reason says Schonfield that the disciples did not recognize Jesus after the resurrection.

I certainly do not agree with Schonfield's story but I admit that I have to agree with his premise.  The death of Jesus Christ was a plot.  Not an earthly plot hatched by some wannabe messiah who configured certain events in advance so it would look to be a certain way, but rather a divine plan that came from the heart of God that was predicted by all of the prophets well in advance.  It's part of God's eternal plot if you will or a plan.

One of the most upsetting things about death is its suddenness.  It happens without warning.  It comes unexpectedly.  And when that happens, people are shocked.  If you have ever received the sudden news of the death of a loved one like I did when my brother died, it just sends you into a spin.  All of those plans unfinished, all of those words unspoken, all of those dreams unfulfilled shattered in a moment.

That was not the case with Jesus of Nazareth.  He predicted his own death in advance.  He told his disciples how it would happen, what would happen afterwards, all of the details.  In fact when Jesus died, the scripture says, he bowed his head and he dismissed his spirit.  He said, "Okay, you can go now.  Now it's time for me to leave."  His was death under control.

I had the privilege of being at the bedside of my mother when she died.  I held her hand and I was able to tell her God loves her and read the Psalm to her.  It was a privilege because it dawned on me this very woman who was there when I came into the world, I'm watching her exit this world.  That is such a holy moment.

I imagine that the apostle John felt some of that as he was there at the cross.  It was horrible to watch and it is something nobody could stand or stomach.  And it's difficult as it was for John to see and hear what he was experiencing at the same time the holy and high privilege of being there when his friend, his master, his lord though he didn't make sense of it at that moment, was being killed.

John would later on write about it and we have his writings here.  And as we read the writings of John, we understand that John was impressed by certain details that happened during that event.  Details he did not understand at the time but later on it's as if he could connect all of the dots and he had this epiphany that he writes about.

So let me take you back 2000 years to the scene.  Travel with me 7,200 miles from Albuquerque to Jerusalem.  Place yourself underneath olive trees.  See behind you the ancient stones of the city wall and the buildings.  Listen to the hubbub of the Passover traffic.  Smell the Passover lambs, the roasting waft in the air.  And then you feel the eerie silence as you discover that of those three figures on the cross before you, only two are still alive.  The central figure has already died.

And then you feel the nausea rise in your stomach as two soldiers circumnavigate the cross with iron mallets ready to perform their lugubrious task of smashing the legs of the victims so that they would die quickly.  John was there.  John writes about it.

Or perhaps the candles that we've arranged will help you be carried back at least a little bit.  Maybe the candles could represent the dwelling places of the Jews in that city who would light the lamps for the Passover or for the Sabbath that they were about to bring in.

We'll let the Menorah appear.  The seven branch candlestick represent for us Judaism, the very system and nation that Jesus came into.  As the scripture says, "He came unto his own things but His own ones would not welcome Him."

We'll then let the 11 other candles that are interspersed up here represent for us the 11 loyal disciples, those who remained true to Jesus but were at this moment very shocked and bewildered as to how this could happen.

They are in fear of the Jews.  They are behind locked doors.  And now let the passage that I read to you fall on fresh ears as if you've heard it for the first time.  "Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.  Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him.  But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.  But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.  And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.  For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, 'Not one of His bones shall be broken.'  And again, another scripture says, 'They shall look on him whom they pierced.'"  Allow me to take you through three lines of thought with that passage.  First, the predicament of the scene.  Second, the placement of the spear.  And third, the fulfillment of the scripture.

We begin with the predicament.  I call it a predicament because there are some things that we haven't wrestled with yet as to timing that are sometimes brought up often by skeptics and I want to reconcile those.

Here's the rundown.  We know that Jesus died very quickly for a crucified victim, six hours.  After six hours, he was gone.  He was placed on the cross at nine in the morning he died at three in the afternoon.  Most crucified victims lasted two to three days on the cross.

But our passage says it was preparation day.  You'll notice, "Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away."

Now the preparation day was the day that the Jews prepared for the next day which was the Sabbath day.  Because that was a Friday and the next day would be Saturday the Sabbath, because that Sabbath was during Passover week, it was called a high day.  It was the high and holy Sabbath of the year because it was during the Passover week.

Now here's the problem we have.  If it's a Friday and we believe it is because the scripture would indicate that it is, the problem is the timing of the Passover itself and when it was eaten.  Let me explain that to you.

A chapter back, at the beginning of the trial of Jesus in Chapter 18 Verse 28 it says, "Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning but they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled but that they might eat the Passover."  You say, "I don't understand the problem."

Well, if it's Friday morning and they are anticipating the eating of the Passover, we have a problem because Jesus and his disciples have already eaten the Passover the night before.  So if they as Jews ate the Passover the night before which was Thursday, and then we read here that they're waiting that they might eat the Passover the Jews in Jerusalem, how do we reconcile that fact?

Well, that's where the writings of the historian Josephus help us as well as the writings of the mission of the codified oral law of the Jews.  In both of those sources, we are told that the Jews in the north including the Galileans had a different calendar than those down south in Judea, around Jerusalem.

Those in the north reckoned the days of the week from sunrise to sunrise whereas down south, they recognize the days from sunset to sunset which is the typical traditional Jewish way of reckoning days from sunset to sunset.  That's because in Genesis it says, "An evening and morning were the first day."

If those two sources are accurate, then it solves the problem.  It would mean if you're from Galilee like Jesus was and his disciples, that for them Passover, the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan began Thursday morning at sunrise and ended Friday morning at sunrise.  Whereas if you're from Jerusalem, Judea, the Holy City.  Passover began Thursday evening and lasted until Friday evening.  So, you would have the Galileans eating the Passover Thursday evening whereas the Judeans would be eating at Friday evening because of the reckoning of their time.

It would also solve a logistical problem how on earth are they going to kill that many lambs and give them to people to have a meal that evening when there were millions of people that they were servicing sometimes for the Passover.  Well, it would help if you could do it in shifts so let's let the Galileans kind of keep their schedule.

And those from the north, we can service on Thursday and those from the south on Friday so you could do the Passover in shifts killing lambs and having a meal on Thursday and another one on Friday which would mean that when Jesus hung on the cross and was dying, at that very moment they were killing lambs in the temple for those in Jerusalem.  While lambs were being slaughtered, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world was being slaughtered on the cross.

There's also another predicament that we have and this is a pretty typical one.  I get this question asked a lot, I bet you do too.  If Jesus died on Friday and he rose on Sunday, how do you get three days?  It sounds to me like a couple of days at the max.  And that is because here on the west for some reason, we have to have three 24-hour periods to make a day.  That's how we think.  We have to have the total of that or it's just not going to work.

But again in ancient Judaism, they did not think that way.  They would count a part of a day as a day so that because there is Friday involved and Saturday involved and early Sunday morning, it's three days.  It spans the allotment of a three-day period.

I know that because I'm quoting to you a passage written by Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, an ancient rabbinical source and he says, "A day and a night make an 'onah."  An 'onah was a cycle of a day and a night.  "A day and a night make an 'onah.  And part of an 'onah is as the whole."  That's how they saw it.  So if he dies on Friday, he's in the tomb on Saturday.  He rises early Sunday in their minds it has three days.  That's what Jesus predicted and that problem is solved.

But the predicament for the Jews at that moment is it is preparation day.  It's the Sabbath that is coming.  "We want to go home and celebrate the Passover with our families and light the candles to welcome in the Shabbat." and there's bodies hanging on the cross.  "We'd like those bodies removed so we can go home and have a nice meal."

Now typically, the Romans left the victims of crucifixion on the cross to rot frankly, for days.  The sun would rot their corpses.  The birds, the scavenger birds would pick away their flesh.  And if there were dogs that can reach that far up, the Romans would let it happen.  But the Jews don't want it to happen.  They want the bodies removed.  And here's why.

They want the bodies removed because of a passage in the Law of Moses.  This is Deuteronomy Chapter 21.  "If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you will surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God."  That's the reason.  "Get those bodies off the crosses so our land isn't defiled so we can go home and have Passover and welcome in the Sabbath."

Talk about the pinnacle of hypocrisy.  They're so concerned about the minute details of the law while they're killing the one who fulfilled their law.  That's what religion will do.  That's what legalistic religion does.  It focuses on the outward precepts that a person keeps so that person can go home and feel smug about the outward precepts that he has kept and not about the heart of the law.  So that is the predicament of the same.

Now let's look at the placement of the spear in Verse 33, "But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.  But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out."

The Roman soldiers, though typically they would leave their bodies up on the crosses, there was from time to time a procedure known as the crurifragium, which was the breaking of the legs.  It was done not for torture but for mercy.  I know that sounds wacky to some because you're thinking, "Breaking the legs of a crucified victim, I mean that is like adding insult to injury.  That is horrible."  But let me explain.

When a person is crucified as we mentioned before in that erect position, his ribcage is affixed.  There is really no movement of that ribcage.  The only thing that can bring in air is a single muscle of the diaphragm.  But over a period of time, the diaphragm is fatigued and becomes paralyzed.  There's a paralysis that sets in.

So knowing that, the Romans would take the feet and pin the feet to the cross not letting the victim just hang by that wrist but also by the feet to provide a fulcrum so they could push up on it and bring in air.  So as long as that person was pinned to the cross in that position as excruciatingly painful as it sounds, he could surge and slump, surge and plunge, up and down, up and down, surge and plunge for two to three days.  Horrible, horrible, long death.

When the legs were broken and they were smashed in several places, shattered really, it removed the leverage that the nail of the feet was providing so that it was just a matter of time they would die very quickly of asphyxiation, respiratory failure.

The soldiers got the one on the outside, the criminal on the other side but they noticed that Jesus was already dead.  Now these were Roman soldiers.

They've done this before.  They are experts at this.  They know when a person is dead.  But to make sure that this criminal in the middle is dead, one just took a spear and trusted in Jesus' side and out came blood and water.  Now, all of these details are important.  Why?  Because the author wants you to know that when Jesus went into the tomb, he went in as a dead man.  He was dead.  There was no life in him physically because if you don't believe that, then you don't have a resurrection.  You only have resuscitation.  For there to be a resurrection, there has to be the end of life, and so Matthew makes that clear when He writes, "He yielded up His spirit".  Mark and Luke say, "He breathed His last."  John records, Jesus saying, "It is finished," and bowing his head and he gave up his spirit.  And now, a soldier notices he's dead.  So Jesus died. 

I'm underlining that because there is a theory that Jesus never really died, he just swooned on the cross.  He fainted essentially.  He lost blood, he'd lost a lot of energy, he was totally exhausted and so he just kind of slumped over and he was swooning nearly dead but still there was life in him so they took him off the cross.  And here's the funniest part of the theory, the damp cold tomb revived Him.  How lame is that?  That's like saying, "Yeah, I drove down the street, accidentally hit a guy, left him by the side of the road so he'd get better."  It's not going to happen; it's not going to happen.  It's not going to happen for several reasons.

Reason number one, when Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane, he was sweating great drops of blood.  We told you that as a medical condition, known as hematidrosis.  The rare it does happen, it is recorded.  Number two, Jesus face not one trial but six trials, three religious and three civil.  At those trials, he was beaten and pummeled.  Number three, he went through scourging.  We believe not one but two Roman scourgings, the flagellum across the back, lacerating the skin and the muscles on the back.  Number four, a crown of thorns placed on his brow which would also increase the bloodletting.  Number five, Jesus carried at least part of His cross, the patibulum weighing about 75 pounds out of the city.  They didn't even make it to the place of crucifixion.  He was so exhausted.

And then the crucifixion itself for six hours in that position with spikes through his hands, his wrists and his feet.  And then Jesus was placed in the tomb.  But before that, the soldier thrust in his spear and out came blood and water which is post-mortem evidence that this man died of heart failure, the constriction of the heart by the pericardium, the fluid around the heart as well as shock and here's the proof, He is dead.  Now, these are details that John notices and he writes about them and we're left with the question and we want to answer it before we take the Lord's Supper.  Why?  Why is that?  And we have the fulfillment of scripture.

At Verse 35, "And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe."  For these things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled.  Now, one of his bones should be broken.  And again, another scripture says, "They shall look on him whom they pierced."  So here's John writing saying, "I get it now.  I'm connecting all the dots.  What I saw, what I heard, what I experienced, this wasn't just coincidence.  This was providence."  If God had written about these things in advance by the prophets and they're being fulfilled right before my eyes.  The first prediction is that not a bone of His would be broken, according to Psalm 34, Psalm 22, Exodus 12, Leviticus 9, the Passover lambs, none of their bones to be inappropriate sacrifice could be broken.

The second scripture is the piercing of the side with a spear as horrible as that was.  Zechariah predicted in Chapter 12, "They will look upon me," God said.  "They will look upon me whom they have pierced."  If Jesus wouldn't have died at the exact moment, He died.  His legs would have been broken.

If his legs were broken, then his side would not have been pierced with that spear.  And if his legs were broken and his side wasn't pierced with that spear, you can take your Bible and throw it away.  You could throw it away.  It is not true but it is true because everything God predicted in advance with intricate detail because of his four knowledge that came to path.  John says, "I'm writing this because I now get it and I want you to get it, I want you to believe."  That's the theme of the book as we have discovered.  Believe:879, 879 verses in the Gospel of John, you know a lot of them now after two years and three months.  But the theme, the major theme has been believe, believe, 98 times he uses that word.

Here's the epiphany of John, let it be yours this morning.  John is realizing, "I am dealing with a God who knows all of the intricate details of history, time and even the details of the death of his Son and has written them into the fabric of scripture so that I can look at it and I can say, "I'll trust this God, this God who knows so much and predicts it in advance, why I'd be a fool not to entrust my life to him."  So that's the question I asked you this morning.  Are you afraid to trust your life to the one who can manage all of the intricate details like this?  And the follow up question is, will you entrust your life to one who is willing to manage the details of your life? 

As you take communion, you are saying, "I trust Him.  I trust His promises, I trust His word and I will entrust my life to Him."  Years ago, when the Canadian Pacific Railroad wanted to build a railroad line from Medicine Hat to Calgary in Alberta, Canada, they knew they had to go through Indian land.  The Blackfoot tribe managed the lands so they went to Crowfoot who was the chief of the Blackfoot tribe and they got permission.  He gave them the permission.  In exchange for the permission to build the railroad, the Canadian Pacific guys gave to Chief Crowfoot a lifetime railroad path.  At anytime, the chief could get on board from one destination to another all day long, everyday if you want it to for a lifetime. 

The chief was so thankful.  He took the path.  It is said to put it in the little leather pouch with a leather strap around it and wore it around his neck proudly his entire life and never used it once.  And I read that and I said, "Boy, does that sound like lots of us Christians?  We have all of God's promises in our nice little leather pouch.  Here it is.  Here's my leather bible.  All these neat promises, "Boy, what a cool bible I have.  Man, it's so supple and soft, it reads easy and it smells so good when it's new.  I like that."  But that's where they stay.  The real sacred of the Christian life is when we take the promises out of the pouch and we walk in them.  We take them to the bank and we trust them and entrust our future to him. 

As I pray, may I ask the Communion Board to come forward and we'll pass these elements out.  Our Father in heaven, we want to be those who dare to not let the promises of God simply stay as black and white ink on a white page in a leather pouch but to become living words.  In that like John, we can have our own epiphany and say, "I have seen it.  I see how the plant comes together and I've tried these promises, and they worked.  And they are now a part of my life."  In taking these elements, we're saying we have received the promises of God for ourselves.  In fact, we have received the promise maker ourselves.  As we pass these elements out to you, if you're not a believer this morning, we ask you to let the elements pass by you.  Don't take them.  The Bible says, "That's not a good thing for a nonbeliever to do to take the elements because all you're doing is advertising your own damnation."  It would be to make a mockery of it.

So to avoid that, just simply courteously let them pass by.  But we'd always like to give plan B to that.  That's presupposing that your heart is remaining hard to God.  The best plan to do is with a soft heart, a tender heart, an honest and contrite heart give the Lord your life right now.  Say to Him right now in these intervening moments, I receive you as my savior and as my Lord.  I believe that you died on the cross for me and I entrust my life to you in a personal way.  And then you take these elements for the first time by faith that you're a new creation by God.  You do that as we pass these elements out to you if you haven't done it.

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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2/5/2012
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The Cross on the Billboard of Eternity
John 19:23-24
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Did you know that the cross of Christ was always God's plan from the very beginning? It wasn't a reaction to mankind's rejection of His Son, nor was it an accommodation to a Roman and Jewish miscarriage of justice. It was according to "the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). Today we will take a journey back and connect the dots of God's unfolding plan of the cross throughout the ages.
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2/12/2012
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How to Love Your Mother
John 19:25-27
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A mother's love for her children is distinctive and irreplaceable. To watch a child suffer is crushing and almost intolerable for any mom. In this touching scene revealed in three verses, we not only see Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the foot of her Son's cross, we also learn how Jesus cared for His mother. Even from His place of extreme suffering, Jesus was thinking of others and His love for Mary is noteworthy for us.
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2/19/2012
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iThirst
John 19:28-29
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The world is filled with Apple's i-technology, which delivers on its promise to make connectivity and information readily accessible. But there is a deeper need within everyone, a thirst to be right with God, that no app or gadget can fulfill. How ironic that Jesus, the great Thirst-Quencher, would Himself be thirsty. It was part of the great exchange—His temporary thirst enabled yours to be quenched eternally!
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2/26/2012
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It's Done!
John 19:30
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While Jesus was doing His greatest work, He uttered His greatest words! Through the excruciating pain of a tormenting death, Jesus gave the most meaningful statements worthy of careful consideration. John records three of Jesus' seven statements uttered while on the cross. The sixth—and perhaps the most hopeful—is the one we consider today.
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3/11/2012
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Disciples on the Graveyard Shift
John 19:38-42
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You can find an unending supply of books, pamphlets, and articles on discipleship in Christian churches and bookstores. Many of them will be predictably regimented and conventional, giving solid biblical references and calling Christians to ardently follow Christ—all great stuff. But not everyone's spiritual journey is identical. Some disciples are unexpected, and so is their story. Here are two disciples of Jesus who've been in the background and now step forward to care for the body of Christ after His death. Let's allow their story to inspire us.
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3/18/2012
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A Not-Quite-Empty Tomb
John 20:1-10
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There was a lot of confusion happening on the first Easter morning. The resurrection had happened but it was neither expected nor accepted by all at first. Mary Magdalene ran to tell the disciples what she saw, and they ran to check out her report. What they saw was compelling evidence of a resurrection, but only one of them really connected all the dots. Let's see why.
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3/25/2012
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Hope Rekindled
John 20:11-18
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When people grieve, they usually run the gamut of the emotional spectrum, from denial to bargaining to despair to anger to eventually hope. Mary Magdalene was in hopeless despair as she stood weeping by the grave of Jesus. The resurrected Christ deals tenderly with this woman as he reveals Himself to her and conveys hope for her future. Let's glean some principles for dealing with brokenhearted people.
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4/1/2012
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From Closed Doors to the Open Road
John 20:19-23
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Our relationship with Jesus isn't a secret to be hoarded; it is a story to be heralded! The disciples were seated behind closed doors (sounds like a lot of churches). Jesus wanted them out, giving away what they had been given. Let's see how these early followers went from panic to peace, from perplexity to purpose, and from protection to power. It's a great journey. Are you up for it?
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4/8/2012
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Rise Up!
John 20:24-31
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The apostle Thomas has been noted for his skeptical attitude. In fact, we refer to a skeptic as a "doubting Thomas." In this message from John 20, we consider four ways Thomas was able to rise up from doubt and become a joyful follower of Jesus.
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4/15/2012
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Gone Fishing! (Relating to a Risen & Returning Lord)
John 21:1-14
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I am not a great fisherman. I don't do it often and when I catch something, it's pure luck! My dad was the opposite—he loved it and was great at it. At least seven of Jesus' disciples were fishermen and here we see them plying their trade after the resurrection. Some beautiful lessons can be discovered about how to live while we wait for Jesus to come back for us.
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4/22/2012
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I Failed! Now What?
John 21:15-19
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One of life's harshest realities is failure. The very sound of the word seems harsh to our sensibilities. We even harbor the age-old axiom, "Failure is not an option!" But failure is an option; in fact, it's a certainty. But discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to victory. In a post-resurrection interview, Jesus restores Peter with a fresh commission. If you have failed in your spiritual experience (and who hasn't), these principles will inspire.
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4/29/2012
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Final Instructions
John 21:20-25
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As John closes off his singular testimony of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he features some closing words of Jesus and Peter about himself (John). These final sentences provide some instructions for us as we await Christ's return. How should we live in light of who Jesus is, what Jesus did, and when Jesus will return?
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There are 95 additional messages in this series.