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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > Trouble in the Temple

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Trouble in the Temple
John 2:13-22
Skip Heitzig

John 2 (NKJV™)
13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers doing business.
15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables.
16 And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!"
17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up."
18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?"
19 Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
20 Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?"
21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.

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

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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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!

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

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

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Outline

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  1. The Sign in the Temple--A Historical Building (vss. 13-20)
    1. His Passion for Reverence
    2. His Fulfillment of Prophecy
    3. His Action brought Negative Reaction from Enemies
  2. The Sign of the Temple--A Physical Body (vss. 19-22)
    1. His Power of Resurrection
    2. His Formulating of Prophecy
    3. His Action brought Positive Reaction from Friends
For Home Fellowships:
  1. What kind of “zeal” do you have for spiritual things? How do you respond when God is dishonored?
  2. Do you have a response for people who ask for a sign from God? What is it?
  3. Why did Jesus refer to His physical body as a temple?

Detailed Notes

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Five times in the text the word temple is used. 2 times the word house is used referring to the temple. So seven total times "temple" is referenced, but of these, two times Jesus is speaking of His body. While the Jews are thinking of construction, Jesus changes the conversation and is speaking of resurrection. Both are important signs, driving them out and the resurrection, and they are related. It's all about believing. What happened in the temple caused His disciples to believe in Him. Jesus single handedly drove out the group and their animals. The disciples may have thought  He is unpredictable. He has left the wedding at Cana where he brought joy, and now He is angry. It is his first public appearance on spiritual grounds and He doesn't read the Bible, He beats the merchandisers with a whip.

  1. The Sign in the Temple -- A historical Building Vss. 13-20
    1. His Passion for Reverence
      1. Passover - The greatest of Jewish feasts, commemorating their deliverance from Egypt.
        1. Jerusalem crowded
          1. All male Jews within 15 mile of the city were required to be there
          2. Lifelong dream of the Jews to be there
          3. Jesus came south 90 miles from Capernaum
          4. 256,000 lambs sacrificed according to Josephus (10:1 ratio people:lambs = 2.5 million)
        2. Huge event
          1. Residents were required to open their homes to visitors and forbidden to charge rent
          2. People would camp out around the temple
          3. 4 weeks prior to Passover the teaching in the Synagogue would lead up to Passover
          4. The women would prepare their homes
        3. 1 day festival on the 14 day of Nisan
        4. Followed by 7 day Festival of Unleavened Bread
      2. Corruption
        1. Those who sold - tous polountas the sellers, everyone knew them
          1. Money changers would charge exorbitant fees - 2 hours wage just to exchange money, and another 2 hours wage for each ½ shekel exchanged
          2. Inspectors would determine clean animals from unclean animals and require people to purchase new ones for sacrifice
        2. Worshipers with pure hearts were being charged to worship God
      3. Jesus drove them out
        1. Jesus is angry
        2. Jesus exercises his rightful authority as Messiah over the temple
        3. God's wrath
          1. According to Arthur W. Pink there are more references to God's wrath in the Bible than to His love
          2. Not gentle Jesus when it comes to religious hypocrisy (Mark 3, Revelation 6
    2. His Fulfillment of Prophecy - Psalm 69
      Zeal for your house has consumed Me
    3. His Action brought Negative Reaction from Enemies
      1. They asked Jesus for a sign - Jesus just interfered with their system
      2. They challenge His authority because He sidestepped their authority
      3. These leaders look back and remembered Malachi 3
      4. Jesus called in "My Father's house," claiming a unique relationship with God that the religious leaders did not have
  2. The Sign of the Temple - A Physical Body (vss. 19-22)
    1. His Power of Resurrection
      1. To the Jews the temple was the symbol of God's presence among them
      2. Jesus was the actual presence of God
      3. The disciples would understand that he was speaking of His body 3 years later when he rose from the dead.
    2. His Formulating of Prophecy
      1. Resurrection is an essential truth of Christianity
      2. If Jesus doesn't rise from the dead then He isn't credible
      3. Resurrection proves who He is
      4. He predicted it
      5. Proves our hope for a future resurrection
    3. Positive Reaction from Friends
      1. They remembered and believed
      2. God lets us grow at our own pace - Jesus said something they wouldn't understand for 3 years
      3. They believed in Jesus John 2:11
      4. They believed the Scripture and the Word which He had said John 2:22 -equated His words with Scripture
      5. The disciples began looking at life thru the lens of Scripture and formed a biblical Worldview
      6. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit 1 Corinthians 6
      7. Jesus can cleanse our temples too 2 Corinthians 6
      8. Jesus can resurrect us
Figures Referenced: Flavius Josephus, Arthur W. Pink, Charles Wesley
Cross References: Psalm 69, Malachi 3, Mark 3, John 2:11, 1 Corinthians 3, 2 Corinthians 6
Greek Terms: tous polountas (the sellers)

Topic: Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Keywords: temple, resurrection, money changers, anger, signs

Transcript

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Believe:879. How far will you go to find the truth? He is among us.

Gospel of John, chapter two. We continue with Believe:879. Eight hundred-seventy-nine verses in the gospel of John with the central theme of belief.

Have you ever had a conversation with somebody where you're speaking one thing but they're hearing something entirely different? Now my wife and I do this all the time and one of the worst examples of that is the time when Nathan was just a little guy and it was the Fall Festival and he was dressed up in his biblical costume and we were to meet at Dion's before coming to the church. So I heard---I heard her say, "Dion's Pizza." And I even asked her which one, because in this town there are several of them. And I was certain I heard the right one, but I went to Dion's Pizza and she wasn't there, she went to a different outlet and I wasn't there. So the whole time she's there with Nathan thinking about me, "How insensitive this guy is! He won't even show up to see his own son in his costume." And then I'm at the other Dion's going, "I can't believe how insensitive she is. She called me and told me to meet her; I've ordered the pizza. Nobody's here!" The words "Dion's Pizza" in our minds meant two different locations.

One of the most humorous examples of this was an English girl who wanted to go to school at a Swiss Christian school. She visited the place, she decided she would relocate to Switzerland from England, but she wrote the schoolmaster asking for some more information. In her letter, she said, "When I was on your grounds I did not see the restroom." Of course, in England, the restroom goes by the initials "WC" which means water closet---that's restroom. So she asked for the WC. "I noticed there wasn't a WC in the dorms or nearby." Well, in Switzerland, it doesn't mean the same thing. WC in this Swiss schoolmaster's mind, he couldn't figure out what it meant. And his English wasn't very proficient so he showed her letter to the school chaplain and the only thing they could come up with was that WC must be a reference to the famous West Side Chapel which wasn't far from their grounds. So he writes a letter back to this young lady looking for the restroom with this letter, "My dear madam I take great pleasure in informing you that the WC is situated nine miles from the house in the center of a beautiful grove of pine trees surrounded by lovely grounds. It's capable of holding 229 people. It's open on Sundays and Thursdays only. As there are a great number of people expected during the summer months, I suggest that you come early, although there is usually plenty of standing room. It may be of some interest for you to know that my daughter was married in the WC and it was there that she met her husband. I can remember the rush there was for seats. There were ten people to every seat usually occupied by one. It was wonderful to see the expressions on their faces. You will be glad to hear that a good number of people bring their lunch and make a day of it while those who cannot afford to go by car arrive just on time. I would especially recommend that you go on Thursday when there is a piano accompaniment. The acoustics are excellent and even the most delicate sounds are heard everywhere. The newest addition is a bell donated by a wealthy resident of the district; it rings every time a person enters." I can't go on. That's the gist of the letter.

Well, she meant something very different than what he heard. Same initials; two different meanings. We have some of that same situation going on in John chapter two over a word that is mentioned five times. It's the word temple. Five times in our paragraph, the temple is spoken about. Two more times the word house, which refers to the physical, historical building. When Jesus said, "My Father's house," that is mentioned twice. So seven times altogether there's a reference to the temple, but two of those times when Jesus uses the term, He's not speaking of the physical, historical building, He's speaking of His physical body which will rise from the dead. So we have two things going on here. And you'll see where it breaks up. We have a sign that Jesus does in the temple of Jerusalem, but He speaks about the ultimate sign of His temple, His body resurrected from the grave.

Let's look in verse twelve and we'll pick up our story: "After this He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, and His brothers, and His disciples; and He did not stay many days there. Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" Then His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up." So the Jews answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, will You raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered and they believed---what He had said to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said."

The Jews are thinking purely of construction. Jesus changes the conversation to speak of resurrection. Now both of these signs, the sign that He performs in the temple of driving them out, and the sign that He predicts of the temple, His resurrection, are both very important signs. And they are related to each other. It's really all about believing, believing, believing. John includes this story because he wants to show us how what happened in the temple caused His disciples to have even more belief in Him. Now I don't know how you have pictured Jesus in the past, that is physically, but if you were to go by the western portrayals and the little cards that portray Jesus in the last 100 years, you might get the idea that He was some kind of thin, scrawny, puny, effeminate, little man. Until you read this story and you see one human being with a whip driving a whole group out singlehandedly, including their animals. And you think, "This guy is a man. He is a man's man." And He is angry. I'm sure that at this point His disciples were thinking, they'd just started following Him, "This guy is unpredictable. You never know what's going to happen when He's around." They go from the marriage supper at Cana where He brings joy and He sits around the table joyfully, to now anger where He's overturning the tables in Jerusalem.

I find it interesting, really, because this is the first public appearance on spiritual grounds. He was at a wedding supper in Cana but now He's in the temple of Jerusalem where everybody's watching. And the first thing He does is not teach them the Bible, or give them nice words about love and grace and mercy, the first thing He does in a public launch is to beat with a whip those who are merchandising in the temple of Jerusalem. It's a very intriguing story. Let's begin with verses 13 and 14 and just think about the passion that Jesus has for God's holiness and reverence. Now He's speaking about the temple in Jerusalem, the historical temple: "Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. "

Passover was the greatest of all of the Jewish feasts. It commemorated them being delivered out of Egypt. If you were male and you were Jewish and you lived within fifteen miles of Jerusalem, you were required to be there every single Passover at that temple. That's a requirement. But beyond the requirement, if you were Jewish at all, it would be your lifelong dream, even if you lived in the far corners of the world, to go at least once and celebrate Passover in the great city of Jerusalem. That is why even to this day, at the end of the Passover meal, the seder feast, the glass is raised and everyone says, "Next year---in Jerusalem!" That's their hope, to celebrate in Jerusalem. And what it means is pilgrims from everywhere were streaming into that city. So Jesus leaves Capernaum and starts the ninety-mile walk south with His disciples to Jerusalem. The roads would have been crowded and the closer He got to Jerusalem, they would be congested. Because people from everywhere came to that one city. Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us that during one Passover season alone during this time, they slaughtered 256,000 lambs in the temple. And the going rate of people to lambs was ten people to one lamb, typically, so there could have been 2.5 million people in Jerusalem during this feast.

Now space was limited and what that meant is, if you owned a home in Jerusalem, you would open it up to visitors and it was forbidden for you to charge rent. So you'd always have visitors in the home if you lived in Jerusalem. Jesus often stayed with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, just on the other side of the Mount of Olives. But if you got to Jerusalem early enough, a lot of people would camp around the temple like the tribes of Israel did around the tabernacle---just to do it. If you were to walk through the streets of the city, you'd hear songs being sung, stories being told, riddles and word games being played. If you were to go into a synagogue four weeks before the Passover, on week four, three, two, and one, they would always be talking about the significance of the Passover season just to bolster their faith and get people ready. If you were to walk into a Jewish home during that time, the women were busy cleaning the pots and the pans and sewing the clothes and getting rid of the leaven that would be in the house. Passover lasted one day; it was on the fourteenth day of Nisan, the Jewish calendar. But it was followed by another feast kept for seven days called the Festival of Unleavened Bread. So it was an eight-day feast and I'm sharing all of that with you because I want you to know this was a huge deal and there were lots of people watching this event happen.

More people meant more profit. The businesses in Jerusalem would flourish during this week and even those who have a business in the temple, verse 14 highlights that: Jesus "found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business." Now that little phrase "those who sold" in the Greek language has a definite article and it's literally tous pōlountas: "the sellers". And it speaks of an identifiable group of people that were well-known in Jerusalem. Everybody knew about these guys. This is how it would work. Let's say you came from a couple hundred miles away, it's taken you a long time to get there. Well, you're not going to drag animals with you the whole way. You're just going to buy one there to sacrifice. So they were ready for you; you'd come in the temple and they'd say, "We have an app for that. You need a lamb? We got the app---we got one right here. You can't afford the lamb, you need a dove? We got an app for that." And then you had to exchange your money because foreign money was not accepted in the temple. You had to have the half-shekel, the temple shekel, or the Galilean, called the tirian shekel because of the weight of silver. So you had to take your money and exchange it.

Well, there was a fee for that and the fee was two hours of a working man's wage, of a daily wage. Two hours of that wage just to exchange money. And for every half-shekel that they gave you change in exchange for larger coins, was another two hours of a day's wage. So you could end up---costing you an entire day's wage just to make money exchange in the temple. Not only that but rabbinic literature tells us that the inspectors---yes, there were animal inspectors to make sure your animal was clean and rejected if it was unclean---they spent eighteen months on a farm learning how to distinguish clean from unclean or animals that were once clean but that became unclean. You see how that would work? You would bring a clean animal to be sacrificed and you had it inspected, but these inspectors would look it over and go, "Oh, I'm sorry. This isn't quite the right sacrifice. We found a flaw!" "I don't see a flaw." "Well, look right here. It's microscopic, but I can see it. You can't. I've been trained." They would reject it. So here's the picture: all these people are coming to worship God with pure hearts and they're being charged an arm and a leg to worship God. They're not permitted into the temple unless they exchange the money and have one of these animals. Sort of like going to the movies. Costs you ten bucks for the movie but 250 bucks for popcorn and a Coke.

So Jesus comes to the temple---it is a religious zoo in that temple! It's a charade; it's a circus. It's like the psychological traps that are still used for making money for certain ministries. You know, they'll write you a personal letter and have your name in it and then they'll begin the letter, "Dear so-and-so, I was thinking of you this week. The Lord laid you on my heart and I've been praying specifically for you." They don't know you from Adam! And then they'll say, "Enclosed is a little prayer cloth. Put it on your head and believe and you'll be healed." Or, "Pour oil on your head and you'll be healed," and of course, send a special offering for that. I get a bunch of these; I've gotten them over the years. I collect them. I've sort of run out of room so I don't do it as much, but here's one that says, and I won't turn it around so you can see who it is, you might not be surprised but, it says, "Candlelight miracle request on December 24, Christmas Eve, we will light a red miracle candle and release our faith for your Christmas miracle request." And you just check off what you need. You can check off, and here's boxes, a new home, a sleeping disorder, deliverance from a habit, oh and by the way, at the bottom you check this off: "Enclosed is my Christmas miracle seed faith gift." Boy they like that term. And then I sow this in Jesus' name expecting a miracle. Well what comes with that is a little blurb that says in the letter they send with it, "The Word of God also says one can put a thousand to flight and two can put ten thousand to flight, mixing your faith and actions with that of miracle believing partners, in parentheses, my dad and I, makes your prayers ten times more powerful." I bet you didn't know that your prayers would be ten times more effective if you just sent them that money.

It's a sham! And Jesus comes to the temple and finds that these people aren't allowed to worship without this nonsense. So verse fifteen: "When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables." He didn't bring a whip with him. It wasn't like He had this all prepared, a bull-whip was in the back pocket. He just found cords lying on the temple where the animals were bound with and He just started making a cord of whips and He went after them. He's angry! Now you got to know something. Jesus didn't have an anger issue. He didn't require anger management classes. No, He was exercising His rightful authority as Messiah over His Father's house. This is righteous indignation. And did you know that the Bible actually commands us to be angry but sin not? And here is an example of it---and it's a great example. It highlights something that is typically overlooked by most. Even most of us don't want to acknowledge this attribute of God called His wrath. But it's a theme, not just in the Old Testament, but runs all through the Bible, even into the New, all the way to the book of Revelation. Arthur W. Pink even says, "The Bible includes more references to God's anger, fury, and wrath than it does to His love and tenderness."

In the 1700s, Charles Wesley penned a poem that became a song: "Gentle Jesus meek and mild/Look upon a little child." Well Jesus is meek and mild and gentle if the person that He's dealing with is sincere, honorable, and penitent. But when it comes to religious hypocrisy, He is not gentle Jesus. He's a lethal Judge. He's not gentle Jesus when it comes to the holiness of God. And here, He's angry. You remember that time when Jesus goes to the synagogue? It says in Capernaum and there's a man there that has a paralyzed arm, a withered hand some translations render it. And as soon as Jesus comes into the synagogue, all the leaders are watching Him. They're wondering if He's going to heal on the Sabbath, because that would be a no-no. You can't heal on the Sabbath---like they could ever heal anybody. But they're looking to see if Jesus will heal on the Sabbath. The Bible says in Mark three, "Jesus looked around at them with anger deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts." Much later He'll confront a group of scribes and Pharisees.

That's fascinating because He doesn't go, "Now guys? We have a few little differences between us." What He says to them is this and I quote: "Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites, you snakes, brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?" That's Jesus, gentle Jesus, meek and mild, looking upon the little child. In the book of Revelation, which is a description of the great future outpouring of God's final wrathful judgment upon the earth, that phrase is used throughout the book of Revelation: the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. It's interesting, in chapter six, they cry to the rocks, the mountains, and they say, "Hide us from the wrath of the Lamb!" Doesn't that sound like an oxymoron? Have you ever seen a wrathful lamb? Well here, the Lamb of God comes as the Lion of Judah, with all authority and we have a preview of that in the temple of Jerusalem.

So the disciples are watching this and when they see this and they hear this, it triggers a memory. A Messianic psalm comes to mind, Psalm 69, quoted here: "Zeal for Your house has [consumed Me, or] has eaten Me up." Verse 18, we have a confrontation with His enemies, they're really challenging His authority: "The Jews answered Him and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, [He just showed them one] since You do these things?" Now this is a natural question for them to ask. Jesus just interfered with their whole sacrificial system. In effect, He temporarily put an end to the system of Mosaic offerings. Stopping the animal sacrifices---it was the very heart of their nation. This would be the equivalent of Billy Graham walking into a church and walking up to the pulpit and shredding a King James Bible. Can you imagine that? Whoa! He just stopped their sacrifices.

Now they are challenging His authority---they want a sign. They want something further. And the reason they're challenging Jesus' authority is because Jesus just sidestepped their authority. He didn't go to them first; He didn't get permission. He just walked right into the temple and cleaned house. Now I can't prove it but I am very certain in my heart that these leaders who, by the way they knew their own Scriptures, they must have thought back to a prediction that comes from the book of Malachi chapter three. I'll read it to you: "And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple. Even the messenger of the covenant and He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver, He will purify the sons of Levi [that's the priesthood] and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness." I'm sure that that just clicked and so they want to know, they want some clarification, identification. "Give us a sign. Give us something that we can hang our hats on."

There's something else. Jesus referred to the temple as not "our Father's house" but "My Father's house". My Father. He is staking His claim as having a unique relationship with the heavenly Father that they did not have. "It is My Father's house." And so this is the sign in the temple and now Jesus will speak of an even greater sign: the sign of the temple, the ultimate sign. Let's look at that. Verse 19: "Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." If you and I would have been there, we wouldn't have gotten it either. Unless there were an editorial note given us by John in verse 21. Verse 20 says: "The Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, will You raise it up in three days?" But [verse 21] He was speaking of the temple of His body."

We call this a riddle; a double entendre. Something that can be understood in two completely different ways. Like WC, WC. Depends on who's doing the listening and the talking. The Lord often did this with parables. He said to His disciples, "Now I'm speaking in parables so that those who are hostile to Me won't get it, but those who are open and honest and want Me to reveal, I'll reveal it deeper to them. So it will close the eyes of those who are hostile and it will open the eyes of those who are seeking Me." Now something about the temple. You know, they're going, "Wait a minute. Forty-six years!" It took from 19 B.C. to almost 70 A.D.---it was about 63, 64 A.D. that the temple was completed. Then it was destroyed. But at this point it had taken forty-six years to build what was there. Now some of you are thinking, "I'd get a new building contractor at that point. That's a long project." Massive stones. Understand that Herod the Great decided that he was going to take the entire temple mountain and level it. So he took the old temple of Zerubbabel from the captivity---post-captivity, decided, "I'm going to make this thing awesome." He put a wall around the mountain; he put fill dirt around that, so he created a 36-acre flat platform for the temple to stand on and the buildings. If you come with us to Jerusalem, you'll walk on that platform still intact. It's massive.

So they're going, "Forty-six years!" You know, it went like this, right over their heads. "Destroy this temple." And the disciples heard it and it went---and for three years they didn't get it. It says in verse 22: "Therefore when He had risen from the dead His disciples remembered that He had said this to them." I have a question. Why did Jesus speak of His body in this cryptic way? Why did He use the double entendre, the WC analogy? Why didn't He just come right out and say, "OK. You want a sign---here's the ultimate sign. You're going to kill me and I'm going to rise from the dead three days later. Remember that I said that to you. Why did he say "destroy this temple"? Now listen carefully. To the Jews the symbol of God's presence to them was the temple. What Jesus is saying is "I, the unique Son of God, the Logos and the actual presence of God among you." That's what He was saying: "I am the presence of God among you in flesh. I am Immanuel---God with Us".

Later on Jesus will predict the same thing. They'll say, "Show us a sign!" This is in Matthew's Gospel. He will say, "An evil, a wicked generation seeks after a sign. No sign will be given except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights." The resurrection. I want to touch on something just quickly. Because somebody will ask, "Why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, physical resurrection, such a big deal? Why is it so essential that you Christians hold to the bodily resurrection?" Because it means everything. If Jesus doesn't rise physically from the dead, His credibility is shot. The resurrection proved who He was. Because He predicted that He would rise from the dead many times---many times. If He didn't do it, He's a liar. His credibility is gone. There was a so-called theologian who said, "It wouldn't hurt my faith one bit if they found the bones of Jesus." I don't know what kind of faith he has, but it would decimate my faith totally if they found the bones of Jesus. Everything rests upon it. That's why the New Testament preachers all kept the resurrection at the center of all of their sermons. It's the credibility of Christ. Not only that, but it proves that I'm going to rise again from the dead as well. If Jesus can do it and He would always say, "If you believe in Me, you'll live forever. I'll raise you up on the last day." All of that promise is hinged upon His physical, bodily resurrection.

Look at the last verse where we close, verse 22. Just as the sign in the temple brought a negative reaction by His enemies, the sign of the temple, that is His resurrection, brings a positive reaction from His friends. "Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said." Now you know these disciples weren't seminary Ph.D.'s. They were blue-collar fishermen. They had calloused hands---they were workers. But they were Jewish fishermen who had at least a little bit of working knowledge of Scripture. And now they're developing a worldview. They're remembering. It's just like when He was in the temple and He whipped them out. They remembered Psalm 69: "Zeal for Your house is eating Me up." They're going to connect another dot in three years when Jesus rises from the dead. And they'll trust in Him again.

Now I want you to think about that. Jesus said something that those disciples wouldn't get for three years. All I can say is Jesus is sure patient. He knew they wouldn't get it for three years and He doesn't drag them outside the temple and go, "Don't you guys get it? You guys gotta get this now! You gotta understand this right now!" He just said it, let it go, knowing in three years, it'll snap. What that tells me is God is so gracious that He lets us grow at our own pace. He lets us grow at our own pace. Have you ever read through the Bible and you've read the passage several times and then suddenly it's like, "I get it! I never saw that before! That's awesome---I never noticed that before." It happens to me all the time. God lets us grow at our own pace. Patience.

Compare verse 11 with verse 22, because that's really the heart of this series. In verse 11, which is at the marriage supper of Cana after the waters turned into wine, we noticed last time. "This is the beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee and manifested His glory and His disciples believed in Him." Verse 22: "Therefore when He had risen from the dead His disciples remembered that He had said this to them and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said." Boy, it's a great day when you start believing the power of Scripture. When you start saying, "Not only do I believe in Jesus, but I believe that what is here is from the very mind and breath of God." And it's so freeing and it builds such confidence in the way we live. The disciples are developing a biblical worldview. They're starting to look at their life through the lens of Scripture. Now I don't know how you look at life or what lens you approach it with. If it's the lens of popular culture or CNN or what people's opinions are, but it's a great day when you start looking at life through the lens of Scripture and develop a biblical worldview. It really is wonderful.

One of my favorite little newspaper articles that I read was a reporter who was talking about survivors of tornadoes. And in one instance when a house was being shaken and they thought that it'd be ripped up from its foundations, one of the women living in the house, so scared, she shouted out, "Auntie Em! Auntie Em!" That's from the Wizard of Oz. She had so internalized the Wizard of Oz that that's the first thing that came out of her mind and her mouth. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our lives were so influenced by the Bible that when we are in a crisis, that's what comes out first? We believe the Scripture and the Word was Jesus said so that's equating His word with Scripture in that verse.

I can't resist but thinking of something. Nicodemus I believe was in that crowd. He'll show up in chapter three. He'll want to talk to Jesus, but I'm sure as one of the representatives, the teachers of the law, he was there that day in the temple and he knew all about Jesus and he saw that commotion. Beautiful thought. Now you know the Bible talks about another temple and that temple is you and me. First Corinthians chapter three: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you?" So here we are housing the Holy Spirit of God in these physical bodies called the temple. But we all know that our temples can get cluttered. That life can crowd in around us and we can take certain activities into our lives that aren't pleasing to God and they need to be purified---they need to be purged. Second Corinthians 6 says: "What union can there be between God's temple and idols? For we are the temple of the Living God."

So if you are discovering today that your life, your temple, is being crowded out and you're not worshiping God like you should and devoted to God like you should, your temple's been crowded and needs to be cleaned, cleansed, purged, I know just the One who can do that. And it is Jesus. And it is the sign of His temple being resurrected that proves He can still perform the sign in the temple---your body and my body---today. Because if Jesus rose from the dead, then He's still alive. And if He's still alive, He is ever powerful. And He can change. When you feel like, "I can't change anymore! I need real change!" He can do it. Let's pray for that.

Heavenly Father, we discover that change in all of these stories so far. In Cana of Galilee, the disciples believed in Him. In the temple of Jerusalem, they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus spoke. There were changes that occurred in their lives at every twist of an encounter with Christ. So Father we pray today that there might be a change. I pray there would be a change for those who have never met You personally. They've come out of curiosity or to indulge a friend or a relative this morning. Maybe they've come because they sense a burden that's going on in their heart; they want some relief from that. They're looking for answers; all legitimate, all genuine needs. Or it could be, Lord, that some who have made a commitment to follow You found that their lives, their temples, have been crowded with unnecessary and even ungodly things. And they want to be set free. I pray, Lord, that You would do that today, that You would change today, that You would increase our faith today, and we would grow more and more into Your image. 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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1/24/2010
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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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3/11/2012
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Disciples on the Graveyard Shift
John 19:38-42
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You can find an unending supply of books, pamphlets, and articles on discipleship in Christian churches and bookstores. Many of them will be predictably regimented and conventional, giving solid biblical references and calling Christians to ardently follow Christ—all great stuff. But not everyone's spiritual journey is identical. Some disciples are unexpected, and so is their story. Here are two disciples of Jesus who've been in the background and now step forward to care for the body of Christ after His death. Let's allow their story to inspire us.
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3/18/2012
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A Not-Quite-Empty Tomb
John 20:1-10
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There was a lot of confusion happening on the first Easter morning. The resurrection had happened but it was neither expected nor accepted by all at first. Mary Magdalene ran to tell the disciples what she saw, and they ran to check out her report. What they saw was compelling evidence of a resurrection, but only one of them really connected all the dots. Let's see why.
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3/25/2012
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Hope Rekindled
John 20:11-18
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When people grieve, they usually run the gamut of the emotional spectrum, from denial to bargaining to despair to anger to eventually hope. Mary Magdalene was in hopeless despair as she stood weeping by the grave of Jesus. The resurrected Christ deals tenderly with this woman as he reveals Himself to her and conveys hope for her future. Let's glean some principles for dealing with brokenhearted people.
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4/1/2012
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From Closed Doors to the Open Road
John 20:19-23
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Our relationship with Jesus isn't a secret to be hoarded; it is a story to be heralded! The disciples were seated behind closed doors (sounds like a lot of churches). Jesus wanted them out, giving away what they had been given. Let's see how these early followers went from panic to peace, from perplexity to purpose, and from protection to power. It's a great journey. Are you up for it?
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4/8/2012
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Rise Up!
John 20:24-31
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The apostle Thomas has been noted for his skeptical attitude. In fact, we refer to a skeptic as a "doubting Thomas." In this message from John 20, we consider four ways Thomas was able to rise up from doubt and become a joyful follower of Jesus.
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4/15/2012
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Gone Fishing! (Relating to a Risen & Returning Lord)
John 21:1-14
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I am not a great fisherman. I don't do it often and when I catch something, it's pure luck! My dad was the opposite—he loved it and was great at it. At least seven of Jesus' disciples were fishermen and here we see them plying their trade after the resurrection. Some beautiful lessons can be discovered about how to live while we wait for Jesus to come back for us.
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4/22/2012
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I Failed! Now What?
John 21:15-19
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One of life's harshest realities is failure. The very sound of the word seems harsh to our sensibilities. We even harbor the age-old axiom, "Failure is not an option!" But failure is an option; in fact, it's a certainty. But discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to victory. In a post-resurrection interview, Jesus restores Peter with a fresh commission. If you have failed in your spiritual experience (and who hasn't), these principles will inspire.
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4/29/2012
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Final Instructions
John 21:20-25
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As John closes off his singular testimony of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he features some closing words of Jesus and Peter about himself (John). These final sentences provide some instructions for us as we await Christ's return. How should we live in light of who Jesus is, what Jesus did, and when Jesus will return?
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There are 95 additional messages in this series.