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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > Disciples on the Graveyard Shift

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Disciples on the Graveyard Shift
John 19:38-42
Skip Heitzig

John 19 (NKJV™)
38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.
39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.
40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.
41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.
42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews' Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.

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

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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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.

"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.

FREE - Download Entire Series (MP3) (Help) | Buy series

Outline

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  1. Discipleship is Unpredictable

  2. Discipleship is Gradual

  3. Discipleship is Practical

  4. Discipleship is Eventful

Some "Grave" Considerations:

  1. How much do these two men seem to care about Jesus? What risks do they take? Why didn't they show the same care before Jesus was crucified?

  2. How does your love for Jesus affect your fears? How do your fears affect your love for Jesus?

  3. What has been your biggest surprise in being a follower of Jesus Christ so far?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Two disciples handle the body of Jesus Christ
      1. Take His body from the cross, place in a tomb, post-mortem preparation for burial
      2. Prominent, wealthy leaders
      3. Members of the Sanhedrin (high court of the Jews)
      4. One is called a disciple
      5. By action, determined both placed in trust in Jesus
      6. On a spiritual journey: discipleship
    2. Discipleship
      1. Christian buzzword
      2. Great emphasis
      3. Often narrow parameters of what discipleship is
  2. Discipleship is Unpredictable
    1. Many common people follow Jesus
      1. "The common people heard Him gladly" (Mark 12:37)
      2. "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty"                    (1 Corinthians 1:26-27)
    2. There are exceptions
      1. Some wise, mighty
      2. Paul, the apostle
      3. Joseph of Arimathea
      4. Nicodemus
      5. Never write people off because they are well-off, well-known, prominent
      6. Billy Graham says true of any audience:
        1. People whose needs are not met by social improvement or affluence
        2. Essential emptiness in every life without Christ
        3. Lonely people
        4. People have a sense of guilt
        5. Universal fear of death
    3.  Joseph of Arimathea
      1. Mentioned in all four gospels; only in relationship to the burial of Jesus Christ
      2. Member of the Sanhedrin
      3. Rich man, disciple (see Matthew 27:57)
      4. Good and just man (see Luke 23:50)
        1. Good: inward condition
        2. Just: outward condition
      5. Waiting for the kingdom of God (see Luke 23:51)
        1. Scholar of the Old Testament
        2. Lived in anticipation of the Deliverer of the Jewish nation
      6. Secret disciple (v. 38)
    4. Nicodemus
      1. Mentioned only in the gospel of John
      2. Every time he is mentioned, notes he came to Jesus at night
        1. Maybe afraid
        2. Maybe practical
          1. Jesus surrounded by crowds
          2. Nicodemus busy
      3. Application
        1. Situations drive us to depend on Christ
        2. Don't wait until death to give what could have been given in life
  3. Discipleship is Gradual
    1. Not instantaneous perfection
      1. For self
      2. For others
    2. Both Joseph and Nicodemus secretive at first
      1. When John mentions secret disciples, not favorable
      2. "Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue" (John 12:42)
        1. ἀποσυνάγωγος; aposunagógos; excommunicated
        2. Effectively end social and professional life
        3. According to the Babylonian Talmud, 24 infractions punishable by excommunication
        4. Disobey the teaching of the council
      3. Love Jesus; believe in Him
      4. "For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:43)
        1. Want to be liked
        2. No one wants to be the odd man out
      5. "There can be no such thing as secret discipleship, for either the secrecy destroys the discipleship, or the discipleship destroys the secrecy"—William Barclay
      6. Ask the Lord to fill you with His Spirit and give you boldness
      7. Cultural climate
        1. People bold for a cause
        2. Politically correct: tolerate everyone and everything
    3. Progress
      1. Joseph and Nicodemus request the body
      2. Stood for Jesus
      3. Place self in danger
        1. With friends
        2. With Pilate: rival King
      4. "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"  (2 Peter 3:18)
      5. "Fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10)
  4. Discipleship is Practical
    1. Come (v. 38)
      1. They showed up
      2. Friend: someone who comes in when the rest of the world has gone out
      3. According to The Trial and Death of Jesus Christ by James Stalker, if Joseph and Nicodemus did not take Jesus' body, it would have been thrown into a ditch (that is how they buried crucified criminals)
    2. Spent their resources (v. 40)
      1. Joseph: tomb
      2. Nicodemus: spices for burial
        1. Typical amount given to kings who died
        2. No longer on the fence
        3. Like Mary of Bethany (see John 12:1-8)
        4. Myrrh
          1. Gummy, sweet-smelling resin
          2. Mixed with aloe, smelled like sandalwood
          3. Placed between folds of body
          4. Counteracted purification of decaying body
          5. Magi brought as gift to Jesus
      3. Giving generously in practical discipleship
      4. Give the best no matter the cost
      5. Having money is like electricity, the more juice the tighter the grip
      6. Give extravagantly for the Lord and His purposes
    3. Serve (v. 40)
      1. They took the body, wrapped it, missed and placed spices
      2. They did the work; not their servants
      3. Eve of Passover: touched a dead body, ceremonially unclean
      4. Jesus is greater than any festival or ritual
    4. Give
      1. Time
      2. Treasure
      3. Talents
      4. "There are three conversions a person needs to experience: the conversion of the head; the conversion of the heart; and the conversion of the pocketbook." –Martin Luther
  5. Discipleship is Eventful
    1. Occasional surprises move you along in the faith
    2. Preparation day
      1. They paid last respects
      2. Placed Jesus in the tomb
      3. Sad and confused; didn't expect the resurrection
      4. Not prepared
  6. Discipleship is Painful
    1. Answered prayer leads to bold testimony
    2. Bold testimony leads to persecution
    3. Scars should be your glory
    4. "Hast thou no scar?

      No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
      I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
      I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
      Hast thou no scar?

      Hast thou no wound?
      Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent,
      Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
      By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned:
      Hast thou no wound?

      No wound, no scar?
      Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
      And, pierced are the feet that follow Me;
      But thine are whole: can he have followed far
      Who has no wound nor scar?"—No Scar by Amy Carmichael

Greek terms: ἀποσυνάγωγος; aposunagógos; excommunicated
Publications referenced: The Trial and Death of Jesus Christ by James Stalker; No Scar by Amy Carmichael
Figures referenced: Billy Graham; William Barclay; Martin Luther
Cross references: Matthew 27:57; Mark 12:37; Luke 23:50; John 12:1-8; John 12:42; John 12:43; 1 Corinthians 1:26-27; Colossians 1:10; 2 Peter 3:18

Topic: Discipleship

Keywords: Discipleship, disciple, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus

Transcript

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All right.  Let's turn into our Bibles to the Gospel of John, Chapter 19.  While this frog prays, would you join him?  Lord, there's just something wonderful about coming before You and Your people in weakness.  Like Paul the Apostle said, "In weakness he is made strong," and that Your grace was sufficient even in his physical element.  So Lord I just lean upon You today and I pray for grace as those who listen Lord, with all of the limitations that this preacher brings.  I pray that Your spirit would be the one that speaks to us, in Jesus' name.  Amen.

If you have ever paused in the cemetery to read tombstones which I do frequently and not because I bury people a lot—though I do—but also, whenever I travel I like to visit cemeteries especially old cemeteries, because they like write books on tombstones.  They inscribe so many paragraphs and it's great to sort of get a listing of what that person was about and relatives and what was meaningful to them.  Sometimes you'll read tombstones and they'll be very sad ones.  There'll be others that are very hopeful ones.  Some that are very convicting and some that are just—well they're humorous and you wonder about them.

These are actual readings of registered graveyard tombstones from London, England 1767.  The woman who died her name was Ann Mann, M-A-N-N, "Here lies Ann Mann, who lived an old maid, but died an old Mann."  For a service God and I don't know why.  In Uniontown, Pennsylvania, acknowledging an auto accident, the tombstone reads, "Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake who stepped on the gas instead of the break."  I couldn't do that.  I couldn't write that.  That's just kind of cruel.  Here's one I actually like, this is from Thurmont, Maryland, "Here lies an Atheist, all dressed up but no place to go."  Doesn't he wish?  Here's one I actually read, Boothill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona, "Here lies Lester Moore, four slugs from a .44, no less no more."  I'm letting you catch up with that one, "Lester Moore, no less no more."

Okay, from Edinburgh, Scotland, the grave of a local dentist reads, "Stranger, tread this ground with gravity.  Dentist Brown is filling his last cavity."  Well come on, that's kind of cool.  From Ruidoso, New Mexico, "Here lies Johnny Yeast, pardon me for not rising."  That's awesome.  So if Jesus would've had an inscription outside of his tomb, what would it have read?  Perhaps, it would've read, "Relax, I'm just borrowing it for the weekend," or, "Here lies Jesus Christ.  Pardon me for rising, because within a few days of this burial setting, life will be different."

We come now to that scene, the graveyard scene, the cemetery scene where two—they're called disciples—step out of the shadows into the light and handle the body of Christ, take it off the cross and put it in a tomb.

It is post-mortem preparation for burial.  The two individuals that we are considering here were prominent individuals, wealthy individuals.  They were leaders among the Jews, both in the Jewish Sanhedrin, the high court of the Jews.  But one of them is called here a disciple and it would seem by the action of both that both of them have placed their trust in Jesus.  Both of them have acknowledged their need of Christ.  Both of them are on a journey, a spiritual journey called discipleship.

If ever there was a Christian buzzword, it's the word discipleship.  In the 1970s, that word became very popularized and you couldn't read a book or article without hearing or reading of discipleship, discipleship, discipleship.  It's a great emphasis to have.  But often, some of those articles and writings have very narrow parameters as to what discipleship is.

I want to give you four principles for discipleship that are usually not talked about or noticed.  Stuff that you are not going to find anywhere else but I think emerges from our text.  So we'll get a fresh rendering of discipleship from a different view.

We begin in Verse 38 this morning of Chapter 19.  It reads this, "After this, Joseph of Arimathea being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus and Pilate gave him permission.  So he came and took the body of Jesus.  And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds and they took the body of Jesus and bound it in strips of linen with the spices as the custom of the Jews is to bury.  Knowing the place where He was crucified there was a garden and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had been laid.  So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews' preparation day for the tomb was nearby."

First thing, I'd like you to notice about discipleship in this text is discipleship is unpredictable.  You don't always know who's going to join the ranks of the followers of Christ.  These two men were unexpected disciples. Now do you remember in reading the gospels?  It says, "The common people heard Jesus gladly."  That's a general statement the author gives, that if you were to look out over the crowd of followers, you would see just normal common everyday blue-collar workers, making inns, mid-type of people, that's who follow Jesus by enlarge.

Not a lot of scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees and kings and rulers.  It's just common people.  Then, it was Paul who will later on write these words, "You see you're calling brethren.  There are not many mighty, not many noble, not many wise after the flesh who are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise."

I remember when I first read that verse and I said, "I found my life verse."  The foolish things, not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble and I went, "Whew!  It's a good thing."  Common people, but every now and then you'll find somebody wise and mighty and noble.  There are exceptions to that rule.  Paul the Apostle was one, very astute, very erudite, very influential, very powerful, very mighty.  Here too, with these disciples, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, both of them wise and influential, notable, leaders, prominent and yet, they have some affinity for Jesus as disciples, it's called.

Here's my point, never ever write off people just because you think, "You know they're so well-off and so well-known and so prominent.  They don't need Jesus", or, "They don't see their need for Jesus."  You'd be surprised.  Some of the loneliest quotes I've ever read have been by the most prominent people.  I learned something years ago from Billy Graham, I wrote it down.  He said that, these are things that are true of any audience he ever speaks to and he reminds himself of that before he speaks.  Number one, "There are people in that audience whose need is not totally met by social improvement or affluence."  Number two, "There is an essential emptiness in every life without Christ."  Number three, "In every audience, there are lonely people."  Number four, "In every audience, there are people who have a sense of guilt," and number five, "Everyone shares a universal fear of death."

Anybody can come.  Everybody can come.  Though common people hear him gladly and most people like us are the ones that follow him every now and then.  You'll find an exception.  There are exceptions to that rule even among people in this body—wise, noble, prominent, influential, affluent—and these are disciples.  Who are they?  What's their story?  What's their journey like?

First of all, Joseph of Arimathea is mentioned.  Let's call him Joe, because Joseph of Arimathea is a long thing to say.  Joe is mentioned in all four gospels and only in regards to the burial of Jesus Christ.  He was a member of that 71 ruling elder Supreme Court among the Jews.

In the Gospel of Matthew, so that you don't have to turn to it, I'll tell you.  Matthew says Joe was a rich man and that he had become a disciple of Jesus Christ.  In Luke's Gospel, it tells us that Joe was a good and a just man.  Now the Bible doesn't just throw those words out unnecessarily.  Those two words, good and just—one describes an inward condition.  One describes an outward condition.

He had the inward constitution that would lend itself to doing good things outwardly and it's because he had a good heart, a changed heart.  He was a disciple.  Luke also tells us that Joe—Joseph of Arimathea—that Joe was waiting for the Kingdom of God.  That is, he was a scholar who perused the Old Testament's scriptures and lived in anticipation of the deliverer who would come to the Jewish nation.  He had that hope.  John tells us and you just read it.  He was a secret disciple.  You see, Joe was like a lot of young Christians, afraid of the opinions of others.  A lot of us are like that.  We can relate to that.

Then we come to Nicodemus, right?  He's next in this little scenario.  Nick, we can call him Nick.  Since he came at night, I guess he's Nick at night, do you like that?  That was free.  Nicodemus is mentioned only in the Gospel of John and every time he is mentioned it says, "Nicodemus, he was the one that came to Jesus at night."  Every time you read about him, it tells you again he came at night.  So if you forgot from the last chapter, "Oh!  He came at night."  Now a lot of people wonder, "Why did he come at night?"  Here's the answer.  I don't know and you don't know, because the Bible didn't tell anybody.

Well, we can guess, maybe he was afraid.  He could've been scared.  He was notable.  He was wealthy.  He was prominent.  He could perhaps not have wanted to be noticed.  He was scared or perhaps, he was just practical.  Jesus always had crowds around him during the day.  Nicodemus was busy during the day.  Night time is the best time to have a one-on-one, face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball conversation with Jesus.

The issue wasn't that he came at night.  The issue is that he came at all.  You know, a lot of people will snub people who come to Christ for what they perceive is not the purist motivation.  I've heard it before, "Well they only came to Jesus because they got a divorce."  So?  "Well they only came to Jesus because they were in physical pain."  So?  "Well they only came to Jesus because --"  So what?

All of those situations merely get us in touch with our need to depend.  Whatever drives you to Christ is great.  So he came to Jesus at night for whatever reason.  But now, he steps out of the shadows.  Nick at night is now Nick during the day.  He comes with spices and aloes to bury the body of Jesus.  I will say that it's a little bit sad that Nicodemus couldn't have showed his love to Jesus while Jesus was alive, but he waits till Jesus is dead.

Now it's a good thing he's doing.  Don't get me wrong.  But what Nicodemus did is what a lot of people unfortunately do.  They don't give in life, but when the person dies that's when the flowers come.  Can I just say if you have any loose ends in any relationships in your life that you get those figured out as well as you can and send the flowers this week instead of waiting for them to croak and mourning over it.  Don't give in death what could've been given in life.

But back to our point, discipleship is unpredictable.  Here's a second thing I want you to notice.  Discipleship, following Christ is gradual.  It's not a light switch.  You don't turn it on and become instantaneously perfect.  If you ever had that expectation of other people or yourself, relax a little bit.  Back off a little bit.

Both of these men, it seems were secretive at first.  They were secretive at first.  Now I'm going to have you turn to a passage and scripture in John in just a moment and here's the deal.  John writes about secret disciples, but whenever he writes about them he doesn't speak too favorably about them.  I want you to see and I want you to think about who he might be speaking about.  Go back to John Chapter 12, just a few chapters, John 12.  Two verses and that's it.

Same author, same book, John 12:42.  "Nevertheless, even among the rulers,"—that is the Jewish rulers, the religious authorities—"Nevertheless, even among the rulers many believed in him.  But because of the Pharisees, they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:"

Who do you think he has in mind when he writes that?  It can't be sure but from my reading now of John 19, I suspect he's thinking of Joseph of Arimathea who is a part of that council and Nicodemus who is also a part of it.  What were they afraid of?  They were afraid of getting kicked out of the synagogue, "aposunagogos" is the Greek term.  It's an official term of being excommunicated which would effectively end a person's social life for good.  You can just write it off.  You will have no standing, no social life, no professional life in Israel—if you as this member of this group are aposunagogos, excommunicated.

The Babylonian Talmud list 24 infractions by which a person can get kicked out of the synagogue for—one, being, if you don't abide by the decision of the council.  In other words, if you disagree with us, we might just kick you out.  So, they're in the shadows.  They're behind the scenes.  They're not making it vocal.  They seemed to love this Jesus and be drawn to him and have anticipated him and believed in him, but they're afraid of the Jews.

Now listen to John's comment, Verse 43, "For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."  Here's the problem.  These, whoever they are—let's believe that he is writing about Joseph and Nicodemus—both of these are trying to do something that is impossible to do for any length of time and that is, be a secret disciple, a secret follower.  "I'm a secret agent Christian and I've never blown my cover."  You can't carry that on very long.

Listen to William Barclay.  He writes these words, "Christianity is something which is meant to be seen."  There can be no such thing as secret discipleship, for either the secrecy destroys the discipleship or the discipleship destroys the secrecy.  A man's Christianity should be perfectly visible to all men.  But they're afraid and they're afraid because they love the praise of men more than the praise of God.  Now, think about that.  What does that mean—to love the praise of men more than the praise of God?  We all know exactly what that means.  Here's the deal, all of us want to be liked, is that right?  We want to be loved by people.  Nobody likes to be the odd man out.  "Sure, please, go ahead and hate me and persecute me.  I'll be the person."  Nobody likes that.

Everybody likes to be loved and accepted in a peer group.  That's where discipleship is dangerous, because not everybody in the peer group will agree with you about your stance for Christianity.  So the temptation is for you to compromise that a bit and eventually, perhaps, possibly, like these two guys lived two different lives.  The life you live at church and the life you live at home and in the world.  It can't be done for very long.  Love the praise of God or the praise of men more than the praise of God.

At the same time, I don't want to press too hard with this because I'll admit to you there have been times I get scared of situations and people that I'm confronting or are confronting me in the world.  There's an intimidation factor.  So let me just make it easy, do yourself a favor and starting today ask the Lord for boldness.  Ask the Lord to fill you with His spirit and give you a measure of boldness that you haven't had before.

In fact, even think of it this way.  We live in a day and age where everybody seems to be getting bold about their cause.  We live in a politically correct environment.  You're told to tolerate anyone and everything, every aberrant sexual behavior.  They're even told to come out of the closet, be proud of who they are, make it vocal.  So I'm saying, "Okay, fair enough.  Let's even the playing field."  There's a lot of Christians who are still in the closet.  Come out of the closet Christians.  Don't be afraid of saying, "I'm a believer.  This is what I love."  Ask the Lord for that measure of boldness.

Now, let's get back to our story.  I see progress with these two guys.  Yeah sure, they're in the shadows.  Sure they're afraid.  Okay, they love the praise of men more than the praise of God who doesn't at some point in their life.  Yet, now at least here they're stepping out into the light and making themselves known, making a request to Pilate.  Do you know what this would do for Nicodemus and Joseph to come to Pilate and make this request and bring the spices?  It would automatically mark them with their peers.  Oh, that's why in Chapter 7 of John they would think Nicodemus stood up for Jesus.  Oh, they're really disciples of Jesus all along, so they're placing themselves in danger.  Also, it's dangerous to go to Pontius Pilate as a Jewish leader.

I think Pontius Pilate has had enough of Jewish leaders at this point.  They're asking for the body of what Pilate would consider a rival king, so they're exposing themselves to danger.  But here's my point, yeah, these guys aren't perfect, but they're making progress.  Discipleship is gradual.  That's all God asked for, just to make progress.  He's not asking for perfection because guess what?  You'll never make it, but make progress.  2 Peter 3:18, "Grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."  Colossians 1, "Being fruitful in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God."  That's all God is asking for, not perfection, just progress, just grow, just increase, baby steps.  Discipleship is unpredictable.  Discipleship is gradual.  Let's move to the third.  Discipleship is practical.

Back in our text, you will notice that Joe and Nick do three practical things.  First of all, they come in Verse 38.  Second, they spend their resources in Verse 40 and third, they served also in Verse 40.  Consider those with me for a minute.  First of all, they just came.  They showed up.  In fact, it seems like they're the only guys that showed up.  Do I read about Peter in this text being there?  Do I read about John?  Do I read about any of the other apostles?  No, I only read about these guys who have the guts to step out of the shadow and make this request and get it done.

Remember that definition of a friend I suggested a few weeks ago?  Well maybe months ago.  A friend is somebody who comes in when the rest of the world has gone out.  Nobody's there.  They're there.  They showed up.  A scholar named James Stalker who wrote a book called, "The Trial and Death of Jesus Christ" said, "Had not Joseph and Nick showed up, Jesus' body would've been thrown in some ditch in Jerusalem," because that's how they bury criminals who are crucified.  But they came and in coming, they were able to fulfill a scripture, right?  Isaiah 53:9 that says, "When Jesus died, He would die with criminals but be buried among the rich."  So they came.

Second thing you should notice is that they spent.  They spent resources and Joe gave Jesus a plot of land, a grave, a rich man's tomb.  Nick, he brought the spices.  He had to spend the money to get the very extravagant, expensive spices for Jesus' burial.

Now here's something I found out.  I never knew this before this week.  The amount listed of myrrh and aloes was the typical amount given only to kings who died.  It's a zip.  Nicodemus says, "I'm going to give him a royal burial, because he truly is my royal king and I haven't been living for him and I've been living in the shadows, but I'm not going to live on the fence any longer.  I'm going to treat Him like a king."

It's extravagant.  Jesus didn't need that to rise.  It was very costly, but he spent his money, his resources in practical discipleship for the Lord.  It's beautiful, really.  It reminds me of Mary of Bethany.  Remember she was the gal who brought that very expensive of oil of spikenard and broke it and poured it on Jesus' feet.  Judas got all upset so he, "I can't believe this church would do this you know.  This could've been spent for the poor."  Jesus rebuked that hypocrite and said, "She is doing it for my burial leave her alone."

So for Jesus burial, Nicodemus brings these spices.  What was myrrh?  It was a gummy, sweet smelling resin made into a powder that when mixed with sandalwood get this—no, mix with aloes smells like sandalwood—that's what I want to say.  When you mixed it with aloes—if you've ever smelled sandalwood, I love that smell—and it was placed between the folds of the buried body when it was wrapped simply to counteract the putrefaction of the human body upon death, just to offset the smell.  It's like a guy put on a way too much cologne, you know the type.  But it would give that smell off and it would just sort of hold back the stench because of human decay later on.

When you hear the word myrrh, your minds should go back to after Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Magi brought three gifts—gold, frankincense and myrrh.  We know myrrh was an embalming fluid, we see it right here.  It was use for the dead, typically.  How odd to give a new born mother embalming fluid.  "Hey, I brought something for your son."  "Gold, wow!  That's awesome.  Frankincense, oh that's beautiful and embalming fluid."  Talk about the gift that balms and embalms, this is it.  But that was prophetic of what's going on now, this is Jesus death.  He is being buried with myrrh.

The point to be made is simple.  Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea are giving generously in their practical discipleship of Christ.  They don't care what it cost.  Give him the best treatment that was their attitude as part of discipleship.  Martin Luther made an interesting statement.  He said, "There are three convergence necessary of every disciple—the conversion of the heart, the conversation of the mind and the conversation of the wallet."  He said the third one is always the hardest to convert.

There was a man who had made it really with his wealth.  He came to a pastor and he said, "Pastor, when I have $50,000 and that's all, I was happy.  Now I have $500,000 and I'm miserable."  The pastor said, "The solution is easy, give away $450,000."  The man said, "Pastor, you don't understand, having money is like electricity.  So like holding an electrical wire, the more the juice the tighter the grip."  But here's the deal, what disciples learn the more they—our disciples and they follow Jesus, they learn to grip this world and the things they own or think they own—they're really not owning them, they're stewards of it—they learn to grip loosely not tightly.  They learn to let go of it.  They learn to give extravagantly for the Lord and his purposes.

Third, what did they do?  They served.  They were the ones that took the body.  They were the ones that wrapped it up.  They were the ones that brought and mixed the spices and placed it in between the folds of cloth, that's what we're told.  Yeah, they were wealthy.  They were prominent.  They could've used their servants, but they didn't say they did so as they did it.  Now you know what that means?  For Jewish males on the eve of Passover, the eve of Sabbath to be touching a dead body, you know what that means?  They're ceremonially defiled for the whole feast.  They can't celebrate the Passover if they do that.

So somehow, I think they didn't care.  They just discovered the Lamb of God who takes a way the sin of the world, that's much greater than any festival or ritual.  They served.  They gave their time, their talent, their treasure.  When you come that's part of your worship and discipleship, when you give that's part of your discipleship.  When you serve and engage that's part of your discipleship.  Finally let's finish it off, here's the fourth mark of a disciple in discipleship.  Discipleship is eventful, so what does that mean?

It means that your life sort of goes on, plots(ph) along.  You get up in the morning.  You go to work.  You do your thing.  You come home.  You get up in the morning.  You do your thing.  You just plot(ph) along but every now and then, God throws in a surprise that boost your faith, turbo charges your faith and moves you along in discipleship in that one instance more than anything.  So we read in Verse 42, "There they laid Jesus because of the Jews preparation day for the tomb was nearby."

I like the fact that John three times says it's the preparation day.  Oh, and did you know it's a preparation day and oh, by the way just incase you forgot it's the preparation day.  So on the preparation day, they put his body in the tomb.  They were not prepared for what was going to happen.  It was going to be an event that would rock their world, it's called the resurrection.  Everything would change and they would be so bold and turbo charged in their faith.  All of the disciples went around Jerusalem and were very vocal and confident and bold in the Gospel.

Okay, when Joseph and Nicodemus wrapped his body and paid their last respects and laid it in place and were leaving the tomb, they were sad.  They were confused.  They thought this was the messiah, I don't get this.  What is this all about?  Did they expect the resurrection?  Of course they didn't.  If they expect the resurrection they would make the fuss over the body so thoroughly as they did and make sure it was all okay.  So they didn't expect the resurrection.  So the event of the resurrection is what would bolster their faith and change these and other disciples around Jesus.

So discipleship can be eventful and I should have a fifth, because of that.  Because when God ever gives you an event or he surprises you—what I mean by that?  Sometimes you'll have—you pray for something, you will have like an answer to it.  It's so immediate or something happens in your life as a gift from the Lord you go, "Wow!  Man it's just so increased my faith."  Whenever that happens you tend to be vocal about it and if you're vocal to people who don't agree with you, well then you get more persecuted.  So I should add a fifth thing besides all the other false that are listed, discipleship can be painful.

As you follow the one who died on the cross and had his body scarred you're going to become scarred disciple, that's part of following him.  Because you're going to be more bold and more out fronting, people are going to whisper about you and talk about you or say it to your face, or kick you out of their group, or fire you from the job or divorce or, or, or.  You're going to end this life with a whole litany of scars that should be not your shame but your glory.  "Oh yeah, I remember that scar.  I've got that one when I opened my mouth at work and they fired me.  Oh that scar, yeah, I remember that when all my friends—and they put me.  I was the odd man out."

So allow me to close with the words of Amy Carmichael.  Do you know that name?  She was a missionary to India.  She gave her life on that subcontinent and she was very compassionate and she was very bold.  But she wrote this little poem, I'm going to tell it to you as if Jesus was speaking it or asking you this question.  Listen up.  "Hast thou no scar?  No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?  I hear thee sung as mighty in the land.  I hear them hail your bright ascendant star.  Has found no scar?  Has found no wound?  Yet I was wounded by the archers spent.  Lean me against a tree to die and rent by ravenous wolves that encompassed me, I swooned.  Has found no wound?  No wound?  No scar?  Yet, as the master shall the servants be and pierced be the feet that follow me.  But thine are whole, he cannot have followed far who has no wound or scar?"

You and I are disciples of the scarred one, the rejected one.  He was despised and rejected by men.  A man of sorrows acquainted with grief.  Don't think you're going to get off easy.  But it's our glory not our shame.

So Father we conclude by thinking of those thoughts.  I pray that You'd help us to never consider someone beyond the need of Christ, never writing off someone because they're so well known, so prominent, so wealthy so, so, so.  There's a deep and abiding need we all have as seen by these two men.  Also Lord would You help us to be easy on young growing Christians who are gradual in their discipleship and not to be so pharisaical or judgmental, but to be patient.  You have been so patient with us.  We have fallen.  You were there to dust us off and pick us up and get us going again.

Lord I pray that in our spirituality there would be a practicality as we come, as we give, as we serve, demonstrating overtly that we are followers of Christ.  Then always anticipating that there maybe some surprise on this day or just around the corner that might bolster our faith and take it to a new level.  All of this Lord as wonderful as it is the world around us will not agree and we will come under their fire, so help us to be unashamed, to come out off the closet and to help people who are blind.  That's why they say those things, that's why they do those things, they're in darkness and in blindness.  Help us to be ambassadors to see their eyes open so that they may also become your disciples, in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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