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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > Who IS This Guy?

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Who IS This Guy?
John 8:48-59
Skip Heitzig

John 8 (NKJV™)
48 Then the Jews answered and said to Him, "Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?"
49 Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me.
50 "And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges.
51 "Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death."
52 Then the Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.'
53 "Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Whom do You make Yourself out to be?"
54 Jesus answered, "If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God.
55 "Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, 'I do not know Him,' I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word.
56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."
57 Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?"
58 Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."
59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

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

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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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.

"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. An Evil Imposter? (vv. 48-51)

    1. Their Callous Accusations

    2. His Calm Reaction

  2. An Incapable Promoter? (vv. 52-55)

    1. Their Amazement at His Claims

    2. His Assessment of Their Condition

  3. The Eternal Creator? (vv. 56-59)

    1. His Claim to Deity

    2. Their Cruel Defiance

Making it More Than a Sermon:

  1. What does eternal life mean to you? How does your view of eternal life affect your view of physical death?
  2. Why do you think the notion of absolute truth is so difficult for people to grasp?
  3. What do you suppose it was like for Jesus, visiting the planet He formed and seeing the way people live?

Detailed Notes

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Perspective is your ability to see something. You get a different view depending on your angle. Perspective makes a difference—physically, emotionally, and philosophically. In the Gospel of John we are given heavenly perspective of Jesus. He is the Christ, Lord, Savior of the world, God in human flesh. The crowd in this text had a different perspective. They thought Jesus was a liar, fake, fraud, object of their scorn, and the brunt of their jokes. To some Jesus is bad news, but to those who know Him and know better He is good news.

This crowd thought of themselves as heaven-bound because they were descendants of Abraham. Jesus has a different perspective. He calls them liars, children of the devil, and those who don't know God.

This passage is the culmination of a heated argument. Jesus is stating the truth; the crowd is getting emotional about what they hear. Arguments begin at an intellectual level, progress to an emotional level, and finally a physical level. By the end of this argument, the crowd wants to pick up stones and kill Jesus. They have been trying to trap Jesus: physically they sent the temple police to arrest Him; in His words when they brought the woman caught in adultery.

  1. An Evil Imposter? (vv. 48-51)
    1. Their Callous Accusations
      1. Samaritan
        1. The worst thing a Jew could call a person (John 4:9)
          1. Jews hated Samaritans
          2. Would take a longer route to bypass Samaria
        2. To Jews Samaritans were: religious frauds, heretics, false teachers
          1. Rival temple with their own sacrifices, own Bible
          2. Nehemiah would not allow Samaritans to help build 
        3. Jesus broke down barriers
          1. He needed to go through Samaria–John 4:4
          2. He loved them
          3. He wanted to save the outcast
          4. Good Samaritan an example of real friendship–Luke 10:30-37
      2. Demon possessed
        1. Nuts, insane, irrational
        2. The accusations were written in the Talmud - "Jesus the Nazarene practiced magic and deceived and led Israel astray."– (Talmud Sanhedrin 107b, Sotah 47a)
        3. Calling God Satan, and Satan God
    2. His Calm Reaction - I don't have a demon
      1. When reviled He didn’t revile in return­–1 Peter 2:23
      2. Gave a soft answer–Proverbs 15:1
      3. Jesus extended another invitation to them
        1. Nicodemus­–John 3:16
        2. Crowd–John 6:50-51
  2. An Incapable Promoter? (vv. 52-55)
    1. Their Amazement at His Claims
      1. Greater than Abraham
        1. Abraham heard and obeyed and he is dead
        2. The prophets heard and spoke and they are dead
      2. Who is this guy?
      3. Jesus is controversial
        1. He said what no one else did
        2. If not true He is a liar and megalomaniac
        3. If not true, downright blasphemy and madness –Philip Schaff
    2. His Assessment of Their Condition
  3. The Eternal Creator? (vv. 56-59)
    1. His Claim to Deity
      1. Abraham recognized me as superior
      2. I AM - ego eimi
        1. Self-disclosed name of God–Exodus 3:14
        2. Direct claim to deity
      3. Jesus claims
        1. Quencher of human thirst
        2. Satisfier of all hunger
        3. Light of the world
        4. Came from heaven, not from earth
        5. Believe in Him, you will never see death
        6. Predates Abraham
      4. Later Thomas calls him "My Lord and My God"–John 20:28
    2. Their Cruel Defiance
      1. Jesus claims are true, they are committing blasphemy
      2. He is the Redeemer, Creator, Regulator of the universe, Savior, Head of the church, pre-eminent – Colossians 1:18
      3. They should be considering Him, looking to Him, worshiping Him­–John 1:1

Figures Referenced: Winston Churchill; George Bernard Shaw; Lady Astor; Phillip Schaff
Publications Referenced: Talmud Sanhedrin 107b, Sotah 47a; Encyclopedia Britannica
Cross References: Exodus 3:14; Proverbs 15:1; Luke 10:30-37; John 1:1; John 3:16; John 4:4; John 4:9; John 6:50-51; John 20:28; Colossians 1:18; 1 Peter 2:23
Greek Terms: ego eimi - I AM

Topic: The deity of Christ

Keywords: deity of Christ, I AM, blasphemy

Transcript

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Perspective is your ability to see something and when you see something from a different, from one angle, that's your perspective. You're seeing it from your perspective. If you were to move 10-20 feet to the right or left, you'd see the same object with a different perspective. And you might get a different view of it. As an example, how many of you this morning, honest shows of hands, looked at least once, but you looked and saw the Sandia Mountains? Raise your hands. Ok, you saw them. They're unmistakable. Now from our viewpoint down here in the city looking eastward, they appear to be almost monolithic, almost one sheer flat band of mountains. But if you have the privilege of ballooning over them, you see a very different perspective. You see that it's not one but several peaks that are together but there is space between them. And it is not the same view that you get from the front side. So the angle makes all the difference. The perspective makes all the difference both physically as well as emotionally. Philosophically you have a perspective in life and it might vary from another person's perspective. I'll give you an example of how powerful perspective can be. I'm gonna read to you a letter written by a college student to her parents. She's not getting great grades and she needs more money so she writes a letter. Dear Mom and Dad, I just thought that I'd drop you a note to clue you in on my plans. I've fallen in love with a guy named Jim. He quit high school after grade 11 to get married. After about a year ago, he got a divorce. We've been going steady for two months and we plan to get married in the fall. Until then, I've decided to move into his apartment. I think I might be pregnant. At any rate, I've dropped out of school last week, although I'd like to finish college sometime in the future. You can imagine what that would sound like if you were the parent reading that note. On the very next page she continued: Dear Mom and Dad, I just want you to know that everything I've written so far in this letter is false. Sigh. None of it is true. But Mom and Dad, it is true that I got a C in French and I flunked math and it is true I'm gonna need some more money for my tuition payments. She's a clever gal. She learned the power of perspective. She learned that even bad news sounds like great news when you compare it and contrast it to a different perspective. Question: do you think those parents were happy to send her money? You betcha. You betcha. After reading that? You betcha.



That's perspective. Now this is what we have in the Gospel of John. John gives us heavenly perspective. He presents Christ to us as the Messiah, the Lord, the Savior of the world. In fact, as God in human flesh. That's heaven's perspective. That is not the perspective of the crowd that He is talking to. They see Him as a liar, a fake, a fraud, the object of their scorn, the brunt of their jokes. And it's true that, to some people, Jesus--He's bad news. But to those who know Him and know better, He's good news. Something else about perspective. This very crowd thought of themselves as heaven bound, remember that? Because we're descendants of Abraham therefore we're guaranteed salvation. That's their perspective. Jesus comes along and shatters their perspectives. He calls them liars, children of the devil, and those who don't know God. Well you can imagine a conversation like that doesn't go over very well. And what we're about to read is the culmination of a very heated argument. It's not that Jesus is arguing. He is simply stating truth. But they are getting very emotional about what they hear. Have you noticed something about arguments? They have different levels to them. When an argument begins, it typically begins at the intellectual level. Somebody has a point and they share the point and then somebody makes a counterpoint and then you hear the counterpoint and you think you've got a better counterpoint so you say it and that's the intellectual level. It doesn't stay that way very long, however. The second level, because it goes down from that point, is the emotional level. You get emotionally involved. You raise your voice. Your cheeks get red and you're thinking not only do I not like his points, I don't think I like him! And then it can finally even digress to the physical level.



Now this is what we're gonna see here. We've been hearing this point/counter point, but they're now starting, they being the crowd, to move to level number two: the emotional level. To call Jesus names because they can't deal with His arguments. So it's an ad homonym or personal attack; very emotional. They'll call Him names and by the end of the chapter, verse 59, we're told they want to pick up stones and kill Him because of what He says. Now we're gonna look at what they call Jesus or their perspective of Jesus and we're gonna see then Jesus' true perspective of Himself. So there's three possibilities as to who Jesus is. And this is a great paragraph because it sort of brings us to that focus. Who is this guy? And that's what they're saying to Him. Who do You think You are? Who is this guy? He's either number one, an evil imposter, or number two, an incapable promoter saying things that He can't really do, or number three, He is the eternal Creator. Let's begin at verse 48 of John chapter 8: "The Jews answered and said to Him, "Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Just imagine saying those words to Jesus Christ. You are a Samaritan and you have a demon. "Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges."



They're discovering that they're unable to answer His arguments so they are reduced to using abusive language. The emotional level. They'll just call Him names. If you remember, they have been trying to trap Jesus in this chapter. In this whole setting of Jesus in Jerusalem at the temple, they try to trap Him. Number one, they tried to do it physically. They tried to actually send temple police in there to arrest Him and get Him out of there. They were called the temple guards. So they sent the temple guards in there to physically grab Him and take Him. they came back without Jesus. You know what they said? They said well where is He? Why didn't you bring Him? The temple guards said nobody ever spoke like that guy! They were just so amazed at what they heard. So plan number one failed. They couldn't trap Him physically. So then they thought let's try a different tactic. Let's try to trap Him in His own words. They brought a woman caught in adultery and said Master, the law says you gotta stone somebody like that--what do You say? They were ready because whatever He would say they thought would be the wrong answer. If He were to say yeah, stone her, I agree with the Law of Moses, they knew the crowd would turn against Jesus. The compassionate one--where's compassion in that? Not only that, the Romans would get rid of Him because only Rome could exercise the right of capital punishment. But if on the other hand Jesus were to say I disagree with Moses. I'm compassionate. Let her go free. Then it would set Jesus at odds with Jewish Law. The Law of Moses. They thought they had Him trapped. Until He said these words: you are without sin, you throw the first rock. And it said they were convicted in their own consciences and dropped those rocks and all walked away.



So that failed. They couldn't trap Him physically. They couldn't trap Him with His words. So now they are resorting to name-calling. A personal, emotional attack. You're a Samaritan and you have a demon! Now we hear those words and we think well it doesn't sound that bad. I mean, if somebody called you a Samaritan, you probably wouldn't get all shook up. But you have to understand something. 2,000 years ago, the worst thing one Jew could call another Jewish person was a Samaritan. The Jewish people hated, capital H, the Samaritans. They hated them so much that if they had to go from Jerusalem to Galilee or vice versa, the direct route was through Samaria, they would cross the Jordan River twice to avoid Samaria, adding days to their journey. But they didn't want to set foot on Samaritan soil. Even the woman at the well of Samaria, the Samaritan woman, was amazed that Jesus talked to her and said how is it that You being a Jew would take to me, a Samaritan woman, for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans? So they call Him a Samaritan and that is an insult. It's an insult because, to the Jewish people, Samaritans were religious frauds. They were heretics. False teachers. Did you know that in Samaria there was a rival religion? They built their own temple on Mount Gerizim. It was a rival temple to the one in Jerusalem. They had their own sacrifices. They had their own Bible. And it was in conflict with what was taught in Jerusalem. You may also remember back in Nehemiah chapter 4 that when the Jews came back from captivity to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and the Samaritans said we want to help you, Nehemiah and the rest of the crowd said sorry, you can't help us.



And so there was this longstanding animosity between the Samaritans and the Jews. And they said You're a Samaritan. It's like saying you're a heretic. You're an enemy of the Jews. Something else I need to insert here. Jesus was the one who was breaking down the barriers, not erecting them. He was the one that needed to go through Samaria, the Bible says. He was the one who loved the people in Samaria as much as anybody else and wanted to save that outcast, that woman who was scorned and despised. So different than the Pharisees. Also, when our Lord Jesus wanted to give an example of what real friendship was he didn't gave a parable of the good Pharisee or the good Sadducee or the good scribe, but the Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10. So Jesus was all about breaking down the very barriers that existed between these two rival groups. But they call Him the slanderous name: you're a Samaritan! Not only that, they said He had a demon. They said that Jesus Christ was demon-possessed. Now that's tantamount to saying you're nuts, you're insane, you're irrational because typically demon-possessed people act and sound very irrational.



Now we're hearing something in our text and I want you to get this. Here's what it's about. Jesus Christ of Nazareth comes on the scene and does miracles that are indisputable, has a huge following--indisputable, and the people of Jerusalem and Judea, they've gotta do something with that. They gotta explain it. Here's their explanation: false teacher, Samaritan, demon-possessed, irrational. What I want you to know is what you're reading here in John chapter 8 became written down later on in a set of books called the Talmud. The Talmud are many volumes of Jewish literature, part wise sayings, part stories, part interpretations of the Law. But they also write about Jesus Christ and in the Talmud, they said Jesus Christ learned magic while He was down in Egypt as a young child and led a rebellion. Here's the quote from the Talmud: "Jesus the Nazarene practiced magic and deceived and led Israel astray." That which eventually was written down, this is where it comes from. The reaction here in this group at Jerusalem. Now question. Really easy to answer. Did Jesus Christ have a demon? Was all the things Jesus doing by the power of Satan? Absolutely not. This is how backwards they have gotten. They are now attributing what Jesus did miraculously to the work of Satan. They're calling God Satan and Satan God. That's some kind of sick. No He's the Son of God. He is God Himself in human flesh--the very opposite is true.



So look at His reaction. Verse 49: "Jesus answered," and notice how calm and poised and simple the answer is. I don't have a demon. You're a Samaritan and You have a demon! I don't have a demon. "But I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me." That is so simple but so profound. I think of the words of Peter in 1 Peter chapter 2 concerning Jesus: when He was reviled, He did not revile in return. He had no ego to protect. He never said... He just... it's not true. Let Me correct you. This is the truth--and He moved on. What does it tell us in Proverbs 15 verse 1? A soft answer turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger. They're trying to stir that up in Jesus and He just says, I don't have a demon. Have you ever thought about what Jesus could've said to them at this point? I mean, He's the master of all language. He's shown that you can't contend with Him on an intellectual level. He just shredded down those guys to pieces. All of things He could've said at this point. I thought of a few things He could've said. But all He said was it's not true. I don't have a demon. I honor My Father--the opposite is true. And you dishonor Me.



Next time you're verbally attacked, you might want to think back to this little passage of Scripture. Next time somebody says something to you and lashes out at you and you are so tempted to rip into that person and shred him or her to pieces, push their buttons and you know just what buttons to push, to just think back to this. Winston Churchill had quite a mouth on him. He had an edge to him. It was hard to dispute with him. He had that reputation. On one occasion, someone that he knew, George Bernard Shaw, the playwright in England, was opening a new play, opening night in London, and sent two tickets to Sir Winston Churchill with a note: bring a friend if you have one. Not to be outdone, Winston Churchill wrote back and declined going on the first night. He said I'll attend the second night if there is one. Right back at him. Well he became known for that and probably the most famous repartee between Winston Churchill and another person was the Lady Astor, a member of Parliament. And she tried to belittle him publicly on one occasion. She said Sir, if you were my husband, I'd put arsenic in your tea! And he shouted back if I were your husband, I'd drink it! That was Winston Churchill. On another occasion, again in public, he had a little too much to drink and she shouted out above the crowd, Sir, you're drunk! And he looked back at her and said Madam, you're ugly! And in the morning I will be sober. You know why we laugh at that? Because we like it. That is our human nature coming out: tit-for-tat, eye for eye, jib for jab.



Here's what is amazing: not Christ. To this verbal attack, He simply denies what they said and gives the truth. Verse 51 is also astonishing to me. Look at what He says to them. Again, right after their attack: "Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death." You know what this is? This is an invitation to them. Even in this late stage of their animosity and their rejection, as far as they've gone already in their rejection, He still holds out His hand to them. Say I know you don't believe in Me, but for your sake I wish you would. Because if you would believe what I say, you would never see death. Now this is an invitation we've come across many times so far in the Gospel of John. Quick review: John 3:16 to Nicodemus, Jesus said, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. Same truth--different words. To the crowd in Galilee in John chapter 5 He said this is the bread of heaven, that if anyone eats he will never die. Same truth--different words. So gracious, so beautiful, so if you have any of those irregular people in your life. They put you down. You don't like being around them because they do, just again think back to this. Somebody put it so beautifully: love your enemies; it'll drive them nuts.



If you look now at verse 51 and down a few verses, we come to a second accusation that they bring against Christ. The first is that He's an evil imposter, a false prophet, not really true Jewish in nature, a heretic. The second is that He makes promises He can't keep. He's an incapable promoter. Like the politician who makes promises, and it happens every election, I don't care who it is, promises are made and never kept. Look at what they say. Verse 51: "Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death." And "Then the Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.' Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?" Jesus answered, "If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. If is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, 'I do not know Him,' I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word." The first accusation is that He was a Samaritan. The second accusation is that He's making promises that are outlandish, that nobody can keep. Who do You think You are? Are you greater than Abraham?







Now this question, this follow-up question, is to be expected because of what Jesus said. You see, they go back to Abraham. Wait a minute now, Abraham, he's dead, but Abraham actually heard God's voice and obeyed God's voice. But he's dead. And the prophets, they heard God's voice and they spoke God's words, and they're dead. And now You come along and say whoever listens to You will never die? If they listened to God and they're dead, who do You think You are? Well they're setting Him up for the bomb to drop. Who do You think You are? Are You greater than our father Abraham? Now here's what we're dealing with here. We're dealing with a fundamental issue and it is the fundamental issue in the entire Gospel of John or Believe 879. The fundamental issue is the title of this message this morning: Who Is This Guy? John gives us that portrait of Christ and he gives that portrait over and over again: He's the Messiah, He's the Lord, He's the Savior, He's God in a human body. So that we would believe, and in believing, we would have life. That's heaven's perspective. Their perspective, just in this chapter, is number one: You're an illegitimate child born of fornication, verse 41. Number two: You're a Samaritan heretic. And now number three: You are demon-possessed. I'll say one thing. Wherever Jesus went, He was certainly controversial. He sure stirred people up. He stirred their emotions up. There was not a whole lot of neutrality because He would divide that crowd. In fact, He said I came to divide.



By the way, do you know that Jesus still does that? I could prove that. Next time you're in a crowd, not a church crowd, maybe a movie crowd, maybe a crowd of neighbors, mention the word Jesus Christ in a voice loud enough that they can hear or overhear and not, not in any kind of derogatory fashion, of course, because they're sorta used to that. But just talk about how much you love Jesus Christ and just watch what happens and how they react to that. He is controversial. I discovered Encyclopedia Britannica that has articles on lots of things, their article on Jesus Christ--20,000 words are devoted to Christ in the Encyclopedia Britannica. 20,000 words. That's more than their article on Aristotle, more than their article on Alexander, Cicero, Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, and Mohammed put together. You know why that is? I think here's the reason: because Jesus said the kinds of things nobody else said and He made such claims that nobody else dare make. And if the claims that Jesus is making, these claims, are not true, than He is the worst of all liars and He is the megalomaniac of all megalomaniacs.



Historian Phillip Shaft said this testimony, if it is not true, must be downright blasphemy and madness. So there's a couple options. That's their perspective that number one He's an evil imposter or number two He's an incapable promoter. Look at verse 56. Jesus says something different. He says, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Now up to this point in this conversation, I'll just put it this way, Jesus was only throwing grenades. Now He drops the bomb. Now He says something so unmistakable, because they keep saying well who are You, well who are You, well who is this guy, who do You think You are, are You greater than Abraham? And He said, "Most assuredly," verse 58, "I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." Not I was. I AM. They knew exactly what that meant. I'll show you as we go. Notice the next verse: "Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by."



He said Abraham rejoiced to see My day and he saw it and he was glad. In other words, it was Abraham who recognized My superiority and My priority--not vice versa. You're talking about Abraham and he's the guy and he's our father and he's the superior one. What I want you to know is Abraham, the guy you keep pointing to, recognized I was superior and the priority. He rejoiced to see My day. Now we could talk about what that means. There's a whole lot of debate. When and how did Abraham ever see Jesus and see the day of Jesus and get to rejoice in that? There's a lot of speculations and it fills the pages of many commentaries. I've read at least 6 different viewpoints. I just want you to know that's really not the issue. That's a sidetrack issue. The real issue is what He says about Himself in verse 58: "Before Abraham was, I AM." Another translation puts it this way: Before Abraham ever came into existence, I AM. Why did He say I AM? Because that was what God said to Moses when Moses, in Exodus 3, was sent to the children of Israel as their deliverer and Moses said, so God, what do I tell these people when they say who sent me? God's answer was simple: I AM that I AM. You tell them I AM sent you. So He uses that name of God, that self-disclosed name of God. Before Abraham ever existed, I AM. This is a direct claim to deity. Some people, every now and then I'll meet a person who'll say well Jesus never claimed to be God, other people made Him God later on and churches did that and I always ask them what Bible are you reading? He said it over and over and over again and that is the premise of John in this whole Gospel, is that Jesus always said it and now it's the most direct way of saying it: before Abraham was, I AM. Ego emi. I AM.



Up till now we have seen that He claimed several things about Himself. This is just the Gospel of John. So far He's said He was the quencher of human thirst. He was the satisfier of all hunger. He was the light of the world. That He came from heaven not from earth. That if you believe in Him you will never see death and now that He predates even Abraham. Now if you were to say that, I'd say you're nuts. If I were to say that, you'd say I'm nuts. For anybody to make these claims, they would be nuts! Unless they're God. The eternal Creator. Later on, by the way, you'll see it, Thomas, the doubting disciple, comes to believe Jesus and he says something that Jesus does not correct, but He accepts. Thomas says My Lord and My God! If Jesus is not God, folks, He deserves an Academy Award, because He sure acted like it and He sure claimed that He was over and over again. And the crowd knew that's what He meant. That's why in verse 59 they took up stones, because that was the punishment for blasphemy.



Now either this was blasphemy or it wasn't blasphemy, would you concede that point? Those are the only two possibilities. It either was or it wasn't. If Jesus said what He said and He's not God, then He is a blasphemer. Those are words of blasphemy. But if Jesus is God, then that's not blasphemy what He said. If it's true, it's not blasphemy. In fact, if Jesus is God then this crowd and their refusal to accept Him and their pushing Him away and in their hardness of heart not to receive Him, they're the ones committing blasphemy--not Jesus. They're the ones committing blasphemy. Let's apply that to us. If Jesus Christ is who He claims to be, what should our response to Jesus Christ be? That question is answered by Paul the apostle. You can write this down and look at it later: Colossians chapter 1. I'll tell you about it and I'll quote the verse. Colossians chapter 1, Paul says here's Jesus Christ. He's the Redeemer, forgiving us of our sins. He's the Creator, calling everything into existence and upholding it by His hand, everything consists in Him. He's the regulator of the universe, the Creator of the universe, the Savior of the world. He's also the head of the church, that's us, and then he says that in all things He might have the preeminence. That's Colossians 1 verse 18. That in all things Jesus Christ might have the preeminence. What that means is first place. What Paul is saying is because Jesus is who He said He was and did what He did, He deserves first place. Does He have first place? Does He have first place in your family, in your marriage, in your relationships, in your business acquaintances, in your downtime, on your vacations? Does He have preeminence in your education and in your intellectual pursuits? Does He have first place in all these areas of your life? What you watch, what you hear, what you do when nobody's looking? Because if Jesus Christ is God the Creator and the Sustainer, if all that is true, then He deserves all of our worship. And I just submit to you as we close--that's how we should live our lives, considering Him and looking to Him and pointing to Him.



I've a lot of friends, including a brother who was a carpenter, used to build homes, and I've always marveled that really good carpenters can take these long honking nails and with one hit drive it all the way into a piece of wood. It's like they hold it up and then they release it for just a split second as the hammer's coming down and when their thumb and finger leave, the head of the hammer hits the nail. Boom! Driven all the way in. So I asked a carpenter: what's the secret? He smiled and he said it's easy. Keep your eye on the nail, not on the thumb. Because if you, if you look at your thumb and finger and you think I'm not gonna hit that, if you're looking at it, you'll hit it. You hit what you watch. You hit what you aim. What are you aiming for? What's number one? What's the most important priority in your life? Moreover, what thumbs and fingers are getting in the way that maybe you need to deal with and I need to deal with?

Additional Messages in this Series

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10/25/2009
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Believe:879
John 20:30-31
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Is your faith in need of bolstering? Do you find yourself saying "Help my unbelief?" The book of John presents a unique, up close and personal look at the life of Christ, focusing on Jesus as God Incarnate. As we dive into a thorough study of each of John's 879 verses, we'll walk with disciples who were eyewitnesses of His ministry, His death, and His resurrection, and we'll experience abundant life in His name.
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11/1/2009
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The World's Most Important Word
John 1:1-5
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It may be difficult to say what the most important word is in any language, but not for the Apostle John. He begins his gospel with the identification of Jesus as, "The Word." Starting with the very beginning of beginnings, John shows us the fundamental truths about the Jesus that he writes about in the rest of this book. The language is simple and unmistakable and yet the truths presented are deep and extremely profound. Let's see how John presents Jesus and Who Jesus is according to one who was closest to Him.
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11/15/2009
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Step Into Son-Light
John 1:6-13
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I love early mornings when sunlight first comes up over the eastern sky. But if you’ve ever had the experience of the sun suddenly shining into your eyes (like when you turn westward while the sun is going down), it's not so pleasant. Most people wince when light is shined in their eyes. Jesus is presented here as being "the light of men" and "shining in darkness". But the world cries out, "Turn off that light!" How can Jesus enlighten your life and how will you respond to Him?
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11/22/2009
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One of a Kind!
John 1:14-18
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It is a mistake to think of Jesus as "one among many" options in the pantheon of deities. He is unique, matchless, unrivaled, singular, and incomparable. From His birth to His Resurrection, there is no one who even comes close to the majestic Christ. Jesus was One-Of-A-Kind! Let’s consider four distinct ways that Jesus was unique and what these mean to us today.
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12/6/2009
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The Greatest Man Meets the Greatest Lamb
John 1:19-34
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Everyone is good at something, maybe even great at something. Maybe you're a great artist or a great mom or even a great leader. Jesus said that John the Baptizer was the greatest man who had ever lived (Matt. 11:11). But John knew Jesus to be the greatest One ever—past, present and future - the Sacrificial Lamb sent to remove sin. Today we discover from John the Baptist how to witness for Christ and we look at the identity and the activity of this most unusual man.
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12/13/2009
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Are You a Follower-Really?
John 1:35-42
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You can't make it through much of the Bible without coming to the word Disciple. Just the four Gospels alone use this term 228 times. Basically a disciple is the follower of a teacher: one who observes, learns, and practices what the teacher shares. We now come to the first time John uses this term in his book. So today we assess ourselves by asking, "Are YOU a follower?" Lets look at five characteristics of the first disciples of Jesus and see if they’re reflected in our lives.
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1/3/2010
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Finding the God Who Found You
John 1:43-51
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When the first disciples encountered Jesus, they chose to follow Him--only to discover that they had already been chosen by Him! Without getting drowned in that theological tide pool, let's consider and marvel at how both of these realities work together. The Bible teaches that God sovereignly elects people for salvation while at the same time teaches our responsibility to believe in Christ. Let’s see how both Philip and Nathanael encountered Jesus for the first time.
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1/10/2010
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The Wedding Guest
John 2:1-12
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How cool (and also potentially scary) would it be to have Jesus as a guest at your own wedding! The unnamed couple at the village wedding of Cana had that privilege. Jesus was the wedding guest who brought the best gift. His first miraculous sign was performed while celebrating that marriage. But far more than just attending a nuptial party, Jesus demonstrated who He was in relation to four entities: His mother, the moment, a miracle, and His men.
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1/17/2010
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Trouble in the Temple
John 2:13-22
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A hymn by Charles Wesley begins, "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon a little child..." It’s a beautiful song with a beautiful thought. However, Jesus is anything but gentle and mild in John chapter two. Here in the temple at Jerusalem, He displays His righteous anger as He overturns tables and beats the religious businesspeople with whips! But Jesus was using this trouble in the temple to predict a greater sign—the triumph of His own physical temple—His bodily resurrection!
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1/24/2010
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Uncommitted!
John 2:23-25
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These three verses are some of the most unusual in the New Testament. They describe a scene in the life of Jesus that explains His popularity and fame. The response of people to the miracles of Jesus is understandable. What is not readily understandable is Jesus' response to the interested and excited crowd. Though they believed in Him, He was not too energized over their kind of faith. Understanding this will help us to understand Jesus and His mission.
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1/31/2010
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Nick at Nite!
John 3:1-8
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The meeting of Jesus and Nicodemus at night is one of the most famous and compelling stories in Scripture. This man's inner curiosity and spiritual thirst drove him to want to know more. What he heard puzzled and astonished him, but he heard from Jesus' own lips the only way to be saved. Jesus' words here divide all of humanity into two groups: those who are born again and those who are not.
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2/7/2010
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Extreme Makeover: Soul Edition!
John 3:9-21
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For years ABC has aired two different versions of a show called Extreme Makeover. One is a total body makeover designed to enhance the physical beauty of a selected individual. The other is a Home Edition that rebuilds or adds to a struggling family's residence. But only Jesus can give the soul a makeover; only Jesus can ready a person for eternity. Here Jesus answers Nicodemus' question of how a person can have the New Life that comes from the New Birth.
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2/14/2010
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God's Valentine
John 3:16
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Today we take a look at the Bible's most famous verse and probe its depth while preparing to take the Lord's Supper together. Though most everyone knows this verse, John 3:16 is much more than just a slogan; it is a summary statement of God's love through Jesus Christ. This single verse of scripture gives us the salient truths of God's plan of salvation in abridged form. Let's consider God's great plan for us as we unpack it phrase by phrase.
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2/21/2010
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To Grow Up, You Must Grow Down!
John 3:22-30
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"They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves cannot be proud!" That's what British Puritan John Flavel once said. And that’s how John the Baptist once lived! John the Baptist and his followers provide some great applicational fodder for how Christians should get along and humble themselves before one another and God. For any Christian believer who wants to spiritually grow up and grow strong, he must first grow down.
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2/28/2010
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The Nail Everything Hangs On
John 3:31-36
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Imagine if everything you valued was in a sack, hanging on the wall from one nail. It surely must be a strong nail, or you're lost! If life could all be boiled down to one thing or one word or one most important principle, what would it be? What is the irreducible minimum for everything and everyone? John answers that here, saying that Jesus Christ is the nail that everything hangs on. He determined what has been and what will be. Thus our knowledge of Him and relationship to Him is paramount above everything else.
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3/7/2010
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Refreshment!
John 4:1-14
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You know the feeling of swallowing ice-cold water on a hot day or after a savory meal—it's refreshing! That cool, invigorating sip revitalizes you from the inside out and makes you say, "Ahh!" Well, that experience is not limited to the physical realm, but is even more satisfying in the spiritual realm when dealing with Living Water. Jesus came to give thirst-quenching spiritual life to every parched soul on the planet. When was the last time you drank deeply?
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3/14/2010
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How to Lead People to Water
John 4:10-30
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The world is thirsty and doesn't even know it, or won't admit it, or will look to be satisfied by everything else but Jesus Christ. So your job and mine is to lead them to water (living water, that is). Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman illustrates perhaps the best approach for personal evangelism to be found anywhere. Leading someone to the place of spiritual satisfaction is a process that rests upon two pillars—the pillar of attitude and the pillar of approach:
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3/21/2010
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What God Really Wants
John 4:20-24
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Worship conferences, worship seminars and worship experiences abound within the landscape of the American church, but in all these there's something that seems to be always lacking—worship is confined to the activity of singing songs. When the subject is brought up in this chapter, Jesus talks plainly and openly about true worship: what it is and what it isn't. Let's explore these few verses to discover what God is seeking after and how to be part of fulfilling that.
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3/28/2010
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Spiritual Farming 101
John 4:28-42
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Farmers live for the harvest season--a time when their crops are taken in and profits are made. But crops don’t grow on their own. Seeds must be sown and plants must be garnered by a whole group of active farm workers. God is the head Farmer and we are His farmhands, all working together to produce a bumper-crop of people who believe that Jesus is the Savior--Are you in?
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4/18/2010
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Everyone Needs a Faith-Lift!
John 4:43-54
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Like any muscle in our physical body, our faith too must be exercised in order for it to develop. Faith is developed in virtually every circumstance in life, but especially in hard times. Peter put it best, "These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold" (1 Peter 1:7). Let's look at a real-life story of one who came to Jesus in his trial and had his faith lifted to a higher dimension.
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4/25/2010
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Healing Misery with Mercy
John 5:1-16
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One of Jesus' most distinguishing characteristics in His earthly ministry was His mercy toward people who were hurting. This is not astonishing, for the prophet Micah announced that "God delights in mercy" (Micah 7:18). Jesus standing among the squalid misery of sickness and hopelessness while at a feast in Jerusalem is a perfect setting to show how Christians can show mercy to a world in misery. But be warned: not everyone will be sympathetic to your cause!
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5/23/2010
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Like Father, Like Son
John 5:16-24
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The most important question you could ever ask is not, "Who am I?" but rather, "Who is Christ?" That was the supreme question Jesus presented to His disciples when He said, "Who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15). Jesus made the most astonishing claim ever when He confronted the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem here in John 5. What do these claims have to do with us today? Absolutely everything!
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5/30/2010
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Everyone Lives Forever
John 5:25-29
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My mom used to wake me up early every morning with her sweet voice saying, "Rise and Shine!" It took a few times but I eventually got up out of bed. As Jesus declares that He will be in charge of the future judgment, He too will usher the call to everyone who has died to "Rise up!" But not everyone will rise up to shine; some will rise up to suffer. Let’s consider three inevitable and unalterable truths about the future for all of us: We will all die, we will all be judged, and we will all rise again to live forever... but where?
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6/6/2010
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Why Should You Believe?
John 5:30-47
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The theme of John's gospel is "believe." The whole reason he wrote this book is so that people who read it will believe in Jesus (see John 20:31). But why should they believe? And even more applicable, why should we believe? After all, the events of the New Testament are over 2,000 years removed from us today. Jesus' confrontation with the religious leaders in John 5 tells us why we should believe. Like a skilled lawyer, Jesus calls upon four witnesses to testify to His claims and these four give the reasons for our believing in Jesus Christ.
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6/13/2010
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Lessons From a Picnic
John 6:1-14
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This story ranks in the "top ten" of the most famous miracles of Jesus Christ. In fact this is the most famous of all His miracles as it alone is recorded by all four gospel accounts. But this is far more than a Sunday school tale. This extraordinary picnic was not just a free meal for five thousand folks; it provided lessons for both ancient and modern disciples. Here are four profound truths that emerge from this lakeside lunch.
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6/20/2010
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What Storm Goers Need to Know
John 6:15-21
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Have you ever been on the ocean in a raging storm? If so, you know that a well-trained crew follows an immediate protocol until the storm is over. Their knowledge and experience about violent weather are invaluable for those who want to survive. Using the story of Jesus walking on the waves to His disciples, let’s discover a few things about the stormy trials of life.
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7/4/2010
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The Right Thing, The Wrong Way
John 6:22-29
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Our text reads that crowds of people came "seeking Jesus." That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? And yet Jesus challenges them as to their motive because they were seeking Him (the right thing) in order to satisfy themselves only (the wrong motive). Let’s consider three monumental truths about how people interact with spiritual things in general and Jesus Christ in particular. Let’s also reconsider the starting point for anyone who wants anything to do with Christ.
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7/11/2010
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Wonder Bread!
John 6:30-50
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The Hostess Company has for years advertised that its Wonder bread "helps build strong bodies 12 ways" and that just two slices has the calcium of eight ounces of milk and the fiber of 100% whole wheat. Wow! The crowd that Jesus was speaking to would have loved that! But our Lord presents something to them far greater than what they were wanting. He knew what they needed.
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7/18/2010
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Plain Truths About the Bread of Life
John 6:51-71
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Mark Twain once remarked that "A lie can travel halfway around the world while truth is still lacing up its boots!" This section of John's Gospel has generated much confusion and misunderstanding. Even Jesus' original audience had trouble understanding His meaning, and when they did, they found the truth was difficult to bear. These "hard truths," however, are "the words of eternal life" (v. 68). Let's look at these four realities today.
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8/1/2010
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Seeing Jesus Through the Fog
John 7:1-13
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There was always a fog surrounding Jesus! It was a fog of uncertainty, of unbelief, and of conflicting opinion. He was misunderstood about both His mission and His message. His friends, His family, and His foes were often bewildered about who He was and what He was doing. That remains true even today. But in this passage our view becomes clearer. Jesus had clearly defined objectives that He reveals here and they are extremely practical for us today.
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8/8/2010
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Follow Jesus But Don't Be Religious
John 7:14-24
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Jesus clashed with religious leaders more than any other group of people. He went against their spiritual grain and challenged their legalistic ideas. Christ made it clear that He hadn’t come to establish a new religion but rather to show the way to God His Father. He didn’t give people another “system of beliefs and practices”; instead He said that He Himself was the way, truth, and life. In this public confrontation, we learn how to follow Christ in truth and not be religious.
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8/15/2010
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Standing by a Waterfall (Dying of Thirst)
John 7:25-53
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All the diverse and assorted experiences offered by this world can never satisfy the deepest longing of the human soul. What we really want isn't what we really need. The rest of John chapter 7 illustrates this truth. In the midst of a crowd of people clamoring for deep spiritual satisfaction stands the only One who can provide it. He offers them the drink that really satisfies and all but a few refuse it, preferring rather to die of thirst. How painfully ironic!
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8/22/2010
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Scribbling on the Ground
John 8:1-11
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Can you imagine what a surviving copy of Jesus' autograph would be worth today? Or what about a letter to His disciples? The fact is, there is no existing document or copy of anything Jesus ever wrote. We only have this story of Him scribbling something in transient dust on the Temple stones. Though John doesn't tell what Jesus wrote that day, his account does reveal a lot about Jesus Himself and how He interacted with three different kinds of folks.
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8/29/2010
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Blinded by the Light
John 8:12-20
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When the sun shines right in your eyes, your immediate inclination is to squint, turn away, or put sunglasses on. Light can be blinding! Though light penetrates our world, providing illumination and energy for our very existence, big doses of it can be difficult to handle. That's true spiritually as well. Jesus, by His teaching and work, illuminated this world darkened by sin. Some rejoiced in that light, able to see where they were going. But others, who'd been so accustomed to spiritual darkness, could only wince when Jesus was around.
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9/5/2010
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The Worst Way & Best Way to Die
John 8:21-30
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One person put it this way, "Death is the big flaw. Sometimes we can postpone it, lessen its physical pains, deny its existence—but we can't escape it!" Since that is universally true, why don't people take death seriously enough to plan for it? While we are alive in this world, everyone should be thinking more about the next. But what's the best (and worst) way to die?
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9/19/2010
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The Best Way & Worst Way to Live
John 8:31-36
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Everyone has an opinion on what "The Good Life" is. For some, it's financial independence. For others, it’s autonomy from government control. For still others, it’s the ability to do whatever you want whenever you feel like it. Jesus offers a different kind of freedom and a better brand of life. Here Jesus tells us what the best way to live really is: It’s the freedom to be a genuine disciple. And He tells us what the worst way to live really is: It’s the slavery of a sinful lifestyle. Today consider how free you really are and what areas of life you may still be in bondage to.
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9/26/2010
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The Devil's DNA
John 8:37-47
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Your body has 100 trillion cells. Inside each one is a nucleus and in each nucleus are DNA molecules. DNA is like an instruction manual for life with densely coded information telling each cell what to do. A simple paternity test would prove that my father was really my father. Here Jesus gives His audience a spiritual paternity test that reveals their spiritual father to be the devil himself. No matter what your physical ancestry, you can always tell one's spiritual heritage.
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10/10/2010
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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.