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Sunday, December 9, 2018

posted Dec 10, 2018, 7:23 PM by Site Administrator

4

 

UNLESS A KERNEL OF WHEAT FALLS TO THE GROUND AND DIES 

John 12:20-30 

Key Verse 12:24 

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 

First, Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies ... (20-24). Look at verse 20. Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast...These Greeks were converts to Judaism. In those days, politically, Rome was dominant, but culturally, Greek culture called Hellenism was dominant in the world – in art, in literature, in construction, and in philosophy. People believed and worshiped the gods of Greek myths. But these Greeks who came to Jerusalem were not satisfied with the endless myths, or human philosophy; they were not just vainly proud of being Greeks either. Instead, when they heard about the God of Israel, they recognized Him as the true God and converted to Judaism. Now, according to the teachings of the Scriptures, they came to Jerusalem to worship God at the Passover Feast, making a long journey, spending a lot of money, time and energy. Probably, they used up all their vacation days for this trip. They were sincere truth seekers. In Jerusalem, everyone was talking about a young Rabbi, named Jesus - his teachings and his miracles, and especially, how he raised Lazarus from the dead. They wanted to see Jesus personally. So they came to him. 

What did Jesus say to them? Look at verse 23. The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Jesus is talking about his death on the cross. Jesus is the Word who was with God in the beginning. But when he came into the world, he lived as a human, the Son of Man. But now through his death on the cross, he would reveal his glory as the Son of God, as the Creator God. Dying means you lose everything – your hope and desire in this life. But Jesus did not see it that way; instead, he saw it as the time when he himself would be revealed as the Son of God, because it was his obedience to Gods will.

Our title is children of God. You are the sons of God, the daughters of God. But the question is, How can you reveal your glory as children of God? Some naïve Christians think that they can do so, if they heal all the sick people at Kaiser Permanantehospital; some others think that if they perform great miracles in front of everyone, they will be revealed as real children of God. Out of this idea, they ask God to help them to do so. But Jesus revealed his glory as the Son of God by dying on the cross in obedience to Gods will and purpose. When you obey God really, you will reveal Gods glory; when your obedience is complete, you will be revealed as true sons and daughters of God. When real selective situation rises, instead of backing out, let’s choose to obey God, sayingThe hour has come for me to be glorified.

Look at verse 24. Lets read this verse together: 

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 

Here is a kernel of wheat, a tiny seed. As a single seed, it does not mean anything; it cannot be even snack for a sparrow. But it has a great potential to multiply. From this one tiny seed can we harvest 100 kernels, and when they are planted again, they become 10,000, and then, 1 million, then, 100 million, 10 billion, and this calculation goes on until, soon, we cannot count them any longer. It has such a great potential. But potential is potential. It can come true, and at the same time, it may not come true. When its potential comes true, it is great, but if its potential does not come true, a single seed means nothing. The question is: How can that great potential come true? Jesus shows us the two steps of procedure it needs to go through so that its true potential can be realized. 1) It must fall to the ground, and 2) it must die. 

What Jesus talks here is not about farming, but about each individual. Each of us is like a kernel of wheat, coming with a great potential. God created us in his image, and he commanded us, saying, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it,… rule over,… everything… (Gen 1 :28) Why did God give us such challenging commands? He did so, because He had made us to be capable of such tasks – great creatures that arecapable of fighting against any challenges, conquering them and ruling them. Each of us has such a great potential to be a ruler and conqueror of the world. God commands us to live up to our lifes true potential as he created us to be. When our potential comes true, we become fathers or mothers of many nations; we become a source of blessing; we catch many people for Jesus. When our potential comes true, we become worldwide leaders, and our influence reaches to the ends of the earth; and the whole world will be blessed. But if our potential does not come true, then, as an individual, our existence does not mean that much just like a kernel of wheat; whether we get a good job or not, whether we are fired or not, no one cares; even if we die, no one cares - just one of 7.5 billion people on earth. So, the question is: how we can make our potential come true; how we can live up to our true potential. Through this teaching of a kernel of wheat, Jesus shows us how we can make our potential come true - as a kernel of wheat, each of us must fall to the ground and die, only then you have a chance to live up to your true potential. Just when you go through these two steps of procedure, your potential will be realized, and you bear such great fruit, giving good influence to the whole world. When your life goes that way, it carries real value and real meaningYou will be indeed satisfied with how you live your life; your life will be truly fulfilling. Only these two steps of procedure!

A seed falling to the ground means to be planted, and once it is planted, it does not move around any longer. Before it is planted, it can roll here and there enjoying its freedom; but at that time, it has no chance to bear any fruit. Only after it is planted, it has a chance to produce fruit. And once it is planted, it has only one single direction, that is, to sprout. Otherwise, it decays and is dissolved to the ground. So, once it is planted, sprouting is the matter of life and death. The seed uses all its strength and nutrients to sprout; it does all its best to sprout. And once it sprouts, the old form of a seed is gone, and a new form of a plant is created. The old has gone, and a new one has come. Jesus calls this procedure, dying.

Each person must be planted in one place; it means to accept Gods calling and make true commitment there. Many Christians show a kind of allergic reaction to this idea of making commitment to a church, or to a mission. They want to keep their human freedom continually. So, they enjoy church life for a while, but when they are asked to make real commitment, they move to other church; or when a desirable job offer comes, they just leave the church, and find a new church around their new job. The deciding factor in their lives is not Gods will, or Gods calling or Gods mission, but their job. Trust me: no pastor likes these people. In his book, titled, The purpose driven life, Rick Warren talks about so many people that move from church to church. He calls them, church-hoppers. Even though they go to church, they remain as a single seed, and in their lives, their potential never comes true. When they die physically, their all potential also dies without producing any fruit. In Gods eyes, its complete waste. We must accept Gods calling and be planted in Gods church according to Gods plan and purpose. This is the first step for us to live up to our true potential. This is the first step for us to live a truly successful and fruitful life in God.

 

Now once we are planted, we must go through the second step, that is to die. What does it mean to die? It means to die to ourselves. Before knowing Jesus, we lived according to our own desires and understanding. At that time, how was our life? It was really bad; we were bearing the fruit of death. Now in doing God’s work together with others in the church, our old self should not be presented, but a new person, a child of God. We must die to our old self – our old dreams and desires, our old perspectives and understanding, our old value system and characters. Then, through us people can smell the fragrance of Jesus Christ, not the bad odor of a sinful person. Thus comes Christian’s good struggle. We must die to our sins but live to God so that we may not show any response to our sinful desires, but only to the things of God. We must not fight with people but with God through prayer so that we may live as Israel, not as Jacob. We must not live as our own men, but as shepherds whose hearts and lives are dedicated to the well being of Jesus’ sheep. How can we die to ourselves? By dedicating ourselves to God’s calling, God’s mission really! When a conflicting situation comes, for God’s mission’s sake, use the word, “die” to you, saying, “Ok, I die,” and give in, instead of fighting. Then, a selective situation comes, again you choose to die, giving up.You die to your pride. You die to your style. You die to your perspectives so that in all circumstances, despite all challenging moments, you can still pursue God’s will upon your life. That much you are committed to God’s will and purpose, even willing to die to yourself. Through all these struggles, you come to develop shepherd’s mindset and attitude, shepherd’s perspectives and value system, and shepherd’s characters and lifestyle according to God’s calling. Then, your old self does not exist any longer, but a new person that is for God’s will and purpose in Jesus Christ exists. When you die to yourself, Christ indeed lives in you. True commitment to God’s mission leads us to dying to ourselves. Be a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies so that you can bear great fruit according to God’s plan.

 

Jesus says, I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. When those Greeks wanted his teaching, Jesus did not tell them about divine Bible knowledge or theology; instead, he showed them how they should live their life so that they might live a truly successful life. How should we live our life? Which is the right way to live our life so that we will not have any regret? This is a big question all mankind have. We must not make a mistake in this matter, because life is anonetime transaction, and there is no second chance. At the end of our life, we cannot say, Let me try again, or we should not say, Ah, if I live again... Then, how should we live our life? Jesus today shows us that we must live as a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies. If you do so, you will live up to your potential, doing great things and bearing great fruits; you will live a truly successful life. This is the way of life.

 

Second, The man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life (25). Look at verse 25. Lets read this verse together:

 

The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

 

What does it mean to love his own life? It means to value his own dream or desire and thereby, pursue it, trying to secure it. Jesus says, The man who loves his life will lose it. What is he talking about? Jesus is talking about why people refuse to live as a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies. Even if being a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies is the way of life, still, even after understanding this truth, people refuse to live in that way; they struggle in the church for a while, doing some Christian things, but eventually, they fall away, refusing to be really committed to Gods will. When they do so, they come up with many excuses: they talk about theological matter; they talk about the church’s style. But in Jesus eyes, no matter what they say, it is obvious: They do so, because they love their life. They value their dream for success, their dream for romantic relationships, their dream for a happy family; they want to secure such things, even willing to reject Gods will and Gods calling for them. That much is their commitment to their dreams and desires in this life. But Jesus says that they will lose their life. What does it mean to lose ones life? They have valued and pursued their dreams and desires wholeheartedly. They have secured some of them. But at the age of 40, they realize that those things do not carry any value or meaning in their life – their romantic relationships, their great career, even their family carry no meaning and no value. At the age of 50, 60, or 70, when they look back, they realize that they have done nothing in their life. God gave them one life to live and do something great and meaningful, but they have done nothing meaningful in their life; they have simply wasted it; as a result, now their life carries no value; their life is empty and meaningless. Jesus says that if anyone loves his life and thereby, refuses to be a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, that person will lose his life. We must not live our life that way. We must not love our life in this world at all. 

 

Jesus also says, while the man who hates his life in this world will save it for eternal life. What does it mean to hate ones life? Some people, out of complete bitterness, say, I hate my life. Thats not what Jesus is talking about. When a doctor or lawyer gives up his license so that he can go to other country as a missionary, his family members and friends are shocked, saying, Are you crazy? A student after accepting Jesus Christ cut off his relationship with his girlfriend. All his friends were shocked. It seems that in the eyes of others, these people hate their licenses, promising future, and romantic relationships; they are the ones who hate their life. While others value such things, these people value them as nothing. Even the Apostle Paul says that he considers them rubbish. Why do they do so? Its all because they love Jesus and want to do what God wants them to do. As those who love their life are really committed to their dreams and desires for the things of this world such as money, success, relationships and happy family, these people are also really committed to Gods will and Gods purpose that they are willing to give up anything and everything in this life so that they can do what God wants them to do. 

 

Jesus says that these people will keep their life. God gave them this one life, and they have not used it for anything in the world, but for God alone; their life has been used for something really valuable and meaningful – for Gods glory, for Gods kingdom, for Gods name, and for the salvation of many lost people. Then, at the age of 40, 50, 60, as they look back, they see that their life carries real meaning and value, and they are satisfied; their life is truly fulfilling. They have kept their life successfully. It is never anyones desire to lose this one life; we all want to keep our life. Then, we must live as a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies. There are only two ways of life. Either you dedicate yourself to your own dreams and desires because you love your life, or you dedicate yourself to God because you love God. Either you live as a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies for God, or you live as a single seed. Either you love your life or you hate your life. What is your choice? We believe in Jesus, so we can understand Jesus words – the way of life has been revealed to us. We are blessed to know it. But when will we really be blessed? When we do it! Be a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies. 

 

Jesus says, while the man who hates his life (psuche) in this world will keep it for eternal life (zoe). Here, Jesus uses two words – psuche and zoe – in one sentence. This sentence reveals what zoe is about very well. When this psuche life is truly dedicated to Gods will and purpose that you live as a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies - that much is your commitment to Gods will and purpose -, when your life is used for God really, your psuche life produces great fruit, carrying real value and meaning; at that time, your life is really fulfilling, and when your life goes that way, you are really happy and satisfied. How long? For ever and ever (BBE). Thats what eternal life, zoe is about. This is how we can have eternal life in Jesus Christ – that truly fulfilling and wonderful life all mankind have ever dreamed aboutThe key theme of Johns gospel is zoe, eternal life. Gods purpose in sending Jesus to the world is that, in him, we may have this eternal life, zoe. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (zoe). God wants us to have zoe in Jesus Christ. So far, in Johns gospel, God has shown us what zoe eternal life is about over and over again, in various chapters, in various expressions – zoe is like light shining in darkness, showing us everything clearly of who we are, what to do and how to live our life; zoe, eternal life is like a stream of living water welling up in our hearts; when you have zoe, you will never go hungry and never be thirsty – no longer wandering in the world, but you live for God as a child of God – there is deep peace and rest for your soulzoe is the life of knowing the truth and enjoying freedom in Jesus Christ. And in Johns gospel, God has also shown us how we can get it: you must be born again, you must call your husband and come back to Jesus, you must eat his flesh and drink his blood; you must hold to his teaching; you must believe in him. God has shown us everything in Johns gospel. Yet, still some people wonder about how to have eternal life zoe in JesusThis sentence of Jesus clarifies all these, showing us how we can have eternal life in him – while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If you hate your life in Jesus and thereby, live as a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies for Gods will and purpose, willing to give up anything and everything for God, -making that much of complete dedication to Gods will, you will have zoe – your life will go really wonderfully, being used by God for his purpose completely, and you will be truly happy and satisfied. When you live that kind of Christian life, you will like it. You will have no regret. Do you believe in Jesus? This is what Jesus shows us today. How do you respond?

Third, “Whoever serves me must follow me” (26-30). Look at verse 26. Lets read this verse together: 

 

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 

 

The word, whoever shows that this is applied to everyone who serves him. There is no exception. Also, the word, mustshows that this is absolute. By the way, who is this whoeverwho wants to serve Jesus? It is all believers. It is all Christiansdesire to serve Jesus. By saying, Whoever serves me must follow me, Jesus defines how we must serve him: We must follow him! And there is no other option for anyone; everyone, every Christian must serve him by following him. Some people think that they are serving Jesus because they are deacons or elders in their churches – thats not the way, not by occupying such positions in the church, but by following Jesus. Some people, out of ignorance or after having some bad experience at a church, refuse to come to church for worship service, saying, I attend online worship service. Or some people say, When I earn a lot of money, I will plant many churches. One student said that he revealed Gods glory through attending paintball tournament. It’s good that they have a desire to serve Jesus. Yet, how should they serve him? Not in those ways, but by following him!  Whoever serves me must follow me. There is only one way to serve Jesus, that is, to follow him. 

 

What does it mean to follow Jesus? It means to live in the way he lived. It means to walk in his footsteps, doing what he did. What did he do and how did he live his life? Jesus himself lived as a kernel of wheat that fell to the ground and diedsubmitting himself to Godwill and remaining faithful to Gods mission even to the point of death. As a result, he has borne great fruit, even today – we are the fruits of his life. Thats how we must live our lifeSometimes, we reject our familys desire for us; sometimes, we cannot attend our siblings birthday party for the sake of attending worship service absolutely; sometimes, we have to let go of a dream job offer for the sake of holding on to Gods mission; sometimes, we shed tears for the pain of dying to our own desires, plans and styles. But thats how we can follow Jesus. Only those who follow his example, those who walk in his footsteps, living as a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, denying themselves and taking up the cross of mission daily are serving Jesus; they are the ones who follow Jesus.

 

 Jesus gives two promises to those who serve him by following him. He says, and where I am, my servant also will be. Where is Jesus? He is in heaven in glory. His servants who serve him by following his example will also be with him enjoying fellowship with him in glory. This shows us that Jesus knows how much they struggle to love him and serve him; despite such pains and sorrows, despite many rejections and poverty, they struggle to serve Gods salvation purpose; that much they are dedicated to him. Jesus fully appreciates their hearts love for him. He also says, My Father will honor the one who serves me. We are nothing but dust and ashes on the earth, one of the 7.5 billion peoples on earth; the earth is a dust among so many stars in the universe; certainly, we are nothing. But when we serve Jesus by following him, God honors us. Why? Because those who serve Jesus by following his example, by becoming a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies is really great – such commitment to God, such loyalty that they are willing to deny everything for God, they are willing to even die for God – such people are no ordinary people at all, but great people, deserving honor. Even God honors such people. Daniel was highly esteemed by God, and because of that, angels treated him respectfully. Dont you want to be great? Dont you want to be even honored by God? Then, be a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies; make that kind of complete devotion to Gods will and purpose. When we do so, we are no longer just dust and ashes; we are no longer nobodies, but very special ones. All the heavenly angels recognize us and honor us. When we pray, God pays attention to us, and rearranges the whole world only for the sake of answering our prayers; when God honors us, He will not let our words fall to the ground. The world history will revolve around us. God says, Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. (Isa 2:30)

 

Look at verses 27 and 28. Lets read these verses together:

 

Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glory your name. Then a voice came from heaven, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.

 

Jesus heart was troubled at the thought of going through such a painful death. He was not a pain-bearing machine. Even if he was fully determined to take up his cross and die as a kernel of wheat, his heart was troubled at the thought of his impending sufferings, pains and death. Even though he knew full well that through his death on the cross, he would bear much fruit and Gods salvation plan would be fulfilled, still he was troubled, because such pain of dying on the cross was too horrible to even think about. He was like you and me who tremble in the face of sacrifices and difficulties in the service of God. He felt like praying to God for help, saying, Father, save me from this hour. Did he offer that prayer? No. Instead, he said, No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name. At that moment when his heart was troubled, when he felt like avoiding his cross, he remembered why he was there. He was there to reveal the glory of God by fulfilling Gods mission upon his life, and the suffering and sacrifices were inevitable. There is no important mission that is easy or accomplished without any hard efforts and sufferings. If any important mission is to be done, there are sufferings and difficulties that must accompany it. Jesus could not ask God to save him from such a difficult time because he wanted to fulfill Gods mission upon his life. And he had to go through the way of the cross that was filled with pain, sorrow and even death. Dying as a kernel of wheat was not easy even for Jesus. But in order to fulfill his mission, he did not save himself from such a terrible time. Instead, he prayed, saying, Father, glorify your name. Instead of being so concerned about his impending pain and suffering, he positively turned his concern to revealing the glory of God, and he picked up a burning desire to glory Gods name even through his death on the cross. When he had a burning desire to glorify Gods name through fulfilling his mission, he had courage to go through the cross. In this way, Jesus became a kernel of wheat that fell to the ground and died.

 

At this, God was moved by Jesus single-hearted desire to glorify Gods name even through his death on the cross that He responded immediately even with a thunderous voice from heaven, saying, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.God confirmed with Jesus that through his life thus far, God had glorified his name, and that now, through his death, he would glorify it again. Jesus must have been comforted and encouraged. But he said to the crowd, This voice was for your benefit, not mine. He really wanted all people around him to know who he truly was, the Son of God, who came into the world to save people from their sins. He really wanted all of them to accept the truth of a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies so that they might bear much fruit for Gods kingdom purpose. 

 

One Word:Be A Kernel Of Wheat That Falls To The Ground And Dies

 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

posted Dec 3, 2018, 7:47 PM by Site Administrator

2

 

SEE, YOUR KING IS COMING, SEATED ON A DONKEY’S COLT

 

John 12:1-19

Key Verse 12:15

 

Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt.

First, A pint of pure nard (1-11). Look at verse 1. Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. In the previous passage, we studied about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were so happy and thankful that they prepared a dinner in honor of Jesus. When Jesus arrived, he received a rich welcome, and was escorted to the VIP seat at the dinner. And Lazarus was reclining right next to him. Soon, food was brought in, and a joyful feast began. It was only six days before the Passover. Jesus was going to Jerusalem to die as the Passover Lamb for the sin of the world. He already felt the heavy weight of this burden. But here at Bethany, he was honored, and comforted by those who loved him. But that was not all. Something unexpected, something very remarkable happened. While Jesus was eating with others, Mary came into the room with a pint of pure nard in her hands. She went to the place where Jesus was reclining at the table, broke open the jar, and poured it all out on Jesus’ feet. Then, she began to wipe Jesus’ feet with her hair. And the whole house was filled with the sweet fragrance of the perfume. When Mary did this, the entire room was completely silent. People were shocked and watched her while she washed Jesus’ feet with her hair. 

 

Nard is a fragrant and really expensive perfume extracted from the Spikenard plant, native to the Himalayan Mountains. In those days, one small pint of pure nard was worth about a year’s wages. A pint is 2 cups, 16 ounces, 500 ml, 96 teaspoons, or simply a smallish, medium water bottle. That much of pure nard was worth a year's wages, about $40,000.00. A pint of 24K pure gold is about $20,000, so this perfume is more than double the value of pure 24K gold. If you have a pint of pure nard shampoo, then every time you wash your hair you are letting $1000 go down the drain. If you have a lot of hair like me, then maybe $2000. Just one teaspoon of pure nard would cost $416.67. So when I say expensive, I mean expensive.

 

But it was more than just expensive; it was the essence of young ladies' romantic marriage dream. Since it was so expensive, any young girl who wanted to get it had to save every penny for. Maybe saving $400 or $500 to buy just a teaspoon. She would do this for, maybe, 10 years. So if a girl saved a pint of this perfume then she was the one who had pursued her marriage dream wholeheartedly. A pint of pure nard was the evidence of her past struggles for her marriage dream and it was the essence of her future marriage dream; it was indeed, everything to such a girl. It was the most precious thing in her life. Do you have anything equivalent to this pint of pure nard? Do you have anything you have valued and pursued so much like this perfume? What can be like this perfume to us? Maybe, a career dream for young people? Maybe, a dream for success? Or like Mary, a marriage dream? 

 

That is what she poured out on Jesus, to express her thanks, her love to Jesus. In five seconds, the perfume was gone, and at the same time, her marriage dream was gone - she sacrificed her marriage dream, her best treasure to decorate and adorn Jesus' feet for five seconds. Such an act was not toward humans. For her husband, on their wedding day, maybe she would use 2 drops, but not the whole bottle. No human, even her future husband was worthy of the whole bottle all at once, but only Jesus, the Creator God is worthy of this kind of treatment. For Mary, it was an act of worship, her complete dedication to Jesus, her God.

 

Before, Mary loved Jesus and honored him. But in her love and service to Jesus, there was always a limit, because to her, Jesus was just a great man of God. She honored and loved Jesus, but it was always just toward a human. But through her brother Lazarus' resurrection, she saw the glory of God in Jesus - Jesus was her God. Then, her attitude toward Jesus changed completely. She could truly worship Jesus. Jesus had intended and expected that once she saw the glory of God in him, everything would change - her perspective of Jesus, of life, of what is important and what is valuable, what she must do and how she must live her life; her heart, everything in her life completely changed - she would now live as a true worshiper of Jesus Christ, happily and willing dedicating herself to him and his will completely. If anyone sees the glory of God in Jesus, if anyone sees Jesus as God, everything changes; they come to truly worship him. Christian history is actually, the stories of those who saw God's glory in Jesus, and thereby, worshiped him with all their hearts, talents and strength. How do we treat Jesus? How is our attitude toward Jesus? The way we treat him, the way we serve him shows how we understand him. Who is Jesus to you?  

 

Look at verse 3b. When Mary poured out her pint of pure nard, the whole house was filled with the sweet fragrance. Even though the other guests couldn’t understand Mary’s heart, they could smell something good as a result of her worship. When we pour out our life on Jesus like Mary did, we are filled with the fragrance of Christ. Then, wherever we go, people smell something good on us.

 

Look at verses 4 through 6. When Judas Iscariot saw Mary pour out forty thousand dollars in perfume on Jesus’ feet in just a few seconds, (GASP!) he nearly had a heart-attack. Then he attacked Mary, saying, Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? Judas sounded like a great philanthropist who was so concerned about the welfare of poor people. But, the author, John, tells us that Judas did not say this because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief. As keeper of the moneybag, he would just help himself to whatever was put into it—even if the money was intended for the poor. But still, to many of the other people there, Judas’ argument was persuasive. In one word, Judas was saying that the perfume could have been put to much better use than Jesus’ feet. In Judas’ eyes, it looked like a total waste. 

 

Here, we see a sharp contrast between the way Judas saw Jesus and the way Mary saw Jesus. Judas was one of Jesus’ disciples, but his eyes were not opened to see who Jesus truly was. Maybe he was blinded by his love of money. So, in Judas’ eyes, spending that much money to decorate Jesus' feet for a few seconds was a total waste. That was his understanding of Jesus. So, he could never serve Jesus the way Mary did; he would work together with Jesus, showing him honor and respect, but definitely not sacrificing his precious treasures for Jesus' sake. In that way, he would never truly worship Jesus, even if he had a great title, like apostle. Instead, he was always trying to get what he wanted- money, fame, and power - by utilizing Jesus. This explains why so many people are not wholehearted to Jesus, even though they go to church and identify themselves as Christians. It all comes down to how they understand Jesus, or who Jesus is to them. Those who see Jesus as their God, worship Jesus really, by pouring out all they have for Jesus' sake freely – to them, Jesus is worth it. But those who do not know Jesus as their God truly, just try to serve him by doing some requirements and they’re just trying to get something for their own benefitthrough Jesus, like blessings in this world and a ticket to heaven – to them, Jesus is not worth more than that, so they do not spend any more for Jesus. 

 

Look at verses 7 and 8. Let’s read these verses together: 

 

Leave her alone, Jesus replied, It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.

 

In Judas’ eyes, the perfume fell on the ground. But, Jesus did not let any of her heart’s love for him and devotion fall to the ground. He appreciated it fully. So, when Judas tried to put Mary down, Jesus was really unhappy. Jesus said, Leave her alone… In Mark’s gospel 14:6, Jesus said to Judas, Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. He didn’t want Judas to bother Mary, because in Jesus’ eyes, what Mary did was really beautiful and lovely.

 

Jesus also says, It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. Mary didn’t intend to use this perfume for Jesus’ burial. But as she poured out her heart’s love for him, Jesus gave this meaning to her sacrifice. Jesus accepted her heart’s desire for him and blessed her to be a part of his gospel - his death and resurrection. In Mark 14:9, Jesus saidI tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her. When we love and serve Jesus wholeheartedly, people in the world don’t understand what we’re doing. When we give up our promising future to obey Jesus’ will, they say that we’re crazy. When we turn down a dream job offer for Jesus’ purpose, they say that we don’t understand how the world functions. But we don’t’ care and we’re happy because Jesus knows our heart’s desire for him and accepts it, saying, You have done a beautiful thing to me. We pour out our time and energy for Jesus through fishing and one to one Bible study; we wrestle with rebellious sheep all the time - indeed, we live for sheep. But at the end of the year, when we look back, we see that all our sheep are gone, and we are left empty handed. We feel like all our efforts have been wasted. And this doesn’t just happen once but year after year. We feel like crying. But Jesus doesn’t see all our struggles as a waste. Instead, pouring out our precious time and energy, our talent and life for him is a beautiful thing to him. Sacrificing our precious treasures like our dream for success or marriage, sacrificing our life for him is a beautiful thing to him. Isn't this what you really want to have? - Jesus' acknowledgement of your heart's love for him - Jesus says to you, You have done a beautiful thing to me. Jesus says to you, Well done, my good and faithful servants! Yeahthat’s what we really want, not blessings and fruits, but his acknowledgement of our love for him. Even though our family persecutes us, and the whole world despises us, we can still rejoice, because Jesus knows us and says to us, You have done a beautiful thing to me.

 

Look at verse 8: You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. Judas justified his objection with the humanitarian argument that the perfume could have been better used for the poor. But Jesus teaches us that the first priority is our relationship with him. There’s always lots of work to do, and God wants us to care for the poor; he wants us to feed his sheep, and much more. But, above all else, God wants us to come to him and worship him. All other things are secondary to this. People say lame excuses likeNext semester or Ill follow him later. But Jesus says, But you will not always have me. When Jesus is near us, when we have a chance to come to him and express our love for him, we must not miss it no matter what. 

 

Look at verses 9 and10. As more and more people were coming to Jesus and putting their faith in him, the religious leaders became insanely jealous. They even made a plan to kill Lazarus also because Lazarus was living evidence of Jesus’ authenticity as the Son of God. When they saw Lazarus, they should have repented and put their faith in Jesus. But, they wanted to kill Lazarus as well, thus showing themselves to be children of the devil.

 

I grew up as a Christian, going to church every week with my family, helping in the children’s ministry, even going on mission trips. But I didn’t really know who Jesus was. So, I pursued marriage and the idea of having a happy family, but this led me to a promiscuous, lonely and empty life. God had mercy on me and sent me a Bible teacher at CSULB. After a few years of Bible study my heart was finally cracked open through Genesis 15. In testimony writing God showed me what I had been worshiping—my boyfriend and marriage—and that God ought to be the reward that I seek. He opened my eyes to see the dead end road I was on, and out of love, he invited me to have life together with Jesus, my true husband. That moment was really eye opening and I had a personal encounter with God, but my knowledge of God was still limited. I still didn’t know God.A year later at the Spring 2014 conference we studied Luke 23, and again in testimony writing, God helped me to see what Jesus did for me. Finally, Jesus’ crucifixion became personal and I saw that Jesus died for, not just the world’s sins, but for my sins. When I saw how he carried the heavy cross and how he shed his precious blood for all the dirty sins I had committed it was impossible for my life to stay the same. Over the next year I would seek Jesus really. I repented of the sinful things I was doing and began to fish and teach at UC Santa Cruz. My prayers became less about me and more about Jesus, and at worship service I struggled to listen and obey God’s words. But in January 2015 through Luke Bible studies God showed me that the things I was giving to God and doing for God were really on my own terms and the reality was that I was withholding my whole life from Jesus. I was shocked to see that I was really doing nothing for God and I was more shocked to see how Jesus had been so patient all those years, how he had been calling my name year after year, yet never giving up on me. I couldn’t keep doing this to my God so I accepted his calling and moved to Long Beach. I saw how Jesus held nothing back from me, and so I held nothing back from him. I went to campus every day, filling up every free moment with fishing and Bible study, even meeting with students at 7am and 10pm. Even when I was so poor I didn’t try to secure more hours at work, but just focused on God’s mission. And now that I work full-time and am a student again I entrust my school and career matters into God’s hands and struggle to keep God’s mission first in my life. When I think about his sacrificial love for me, I want to respond and do something for him. I go to campus because of what he has done for me. Pouring out my time, my dreams and my life is my expression of thanks and love towards Jesus. 

 

At our thanksgiving feast after I told the story of my near death experience when I was a baby I saw that God didn’t let me die because he had a plan for my life. I was touched to see that God was watching me and protecting me even when I was just a little baby. Then, when I wandered and rebelled and chased after other things, still he loved me and pursued me. Then when I was a stubborn sheep, remaining lifeless even after 5 years of in depth one to one Bible studies every week, still Jesus bore me, loved me, and had hope for me. And now, when my growth is slow and I still have a worldly value system, still Jesus loves me. He doesn’t regret having called me, but he has great hope and vision for me. Knowing this love of Jesus, knowing his character and his hope for me melts my heart and washes away my sinful and selfish desires.  Because of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for me I can let go of my dream for marriage, even letting God choose who I marry. I offer my life, even my marriage to God, so that he can establish a dream team that will serve his mission sacrificially and wholeheartedly on college campuses and be a source of blessing to the whole world. I praise and thank Jesus who loves me! happily pour out mpure nard on Jesus’ feet!

 

Second, See, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt (12-19). Look at verses 12 and 13. When people heard Jesus who gave resurrection and life to Lazarus was coming toward Jerusalem, in great joy and excitement they ran out of the city to welcome him. They shouted, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel! Their praise toward Jesus is so amazing and awesome. Actually, these are no ordinary praises. 

The word Hosanna means Save us! Originally, it was people’s cry to God for help. So when someone was in desperation, he would cry out to God, Hosanna! Then, later, it became an exclamation and praise to God, because salvation comes from God alone. 

Their doxology was based on Psalm 118:25-26, which reads: O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. Originally, this praise was to the Jehovah God. But now, the people of Jerusalem offered it to Jesus. It seemed that, through Lazarus’ resurrection, they came to see Jesus as God. God is the very one we must really worship, the very one whom we must live for and die for.

 

They also shouted to Jesus, Blessed is the King of Israel.When we study I and II Samuel, we find why Israel began to have kings. God was their King, ruling them, and guiding them with his words through the prophet Samuel. But one day, the leaders of twelve tribes of Israel asked Samuel for a king. They said that their king would go before them, and fight their battles. Samuel was displeased with them, but God said to him, Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. Since then, kings were established in Israel, but on the contrary to their expectation, their kings reigned over them, and instead of their kings fighting for them, they had to serve their kings, fighting for them, and even sacrificing their sons and daughters for their kings. Under the rule of human kings, they were oppressed, and forced to all kinds of labors. God had mercy on them, and promised that he would establish a king in the line of David and he would rule over the house of David forever. That was the king of Israel who would go before them, and fight their battles; under this kind of sacrificial king, they would enjoy the sense of security, peace and happiness. And now according to this promise, Jesus came. He went ahead of his people and fought their battle even to the point of laying down his life for them on Calvary, and brought to them peace and joy, and eternal life. After crucifying Jesus to the cross, people fastened an emblem on the cross that read: Jesus, the King of the Jews. Jesus is the King of Israel, whom God promised to send, the One who went ahead of us, and fought our battle. In many cases, kings are cursed – they bring sheer pain to their subjects. But Jesus is the blessed king who went ahead of us and fought for us. So, from the depth of our hearts, we also shout to Jesus, Blessed is the King of Israel.

 

King is the object of loyalty. Being loyal means to remain faithful despite challenges - dangers, difficulties and temptations. Serving God's mission on the campus is challenging - continuous rejections, financial difficulties, academic suffering, and even sheep are rebellious; but despite all these difficulties, we remain faithful to God's calling - that's loyalty. As we struggle to serve God's work despite difficulties, sometimes, temptations come in regard to financial matter, or marriage matter or even great titles. But we still remain faithful to God's calling, letting go of all these temptations and chances, still swallowing all related pains and sorrows - that's loyalty. Even while bullets go over our heads, bombs explode around us, and even arrows are on our legs and arms, we still keep our battle position according to our king's command - that's loyalty. Our king Jesus deserves our true loyalty!

 

Jesus is our God, the true worthy object of our worship, our life’s complete devotion. Jesus is our King, the true worthy object of our loyalty. He is our God, our King. We have everything we need – our life’s direction and purpose; we know what to do and how we must live our life. What else do we need? Indeed, in Jesus, we know everything, and we have everything for our life.

 

Look at verses 14 and 15. Let’s read these verses together: 

 

Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, ‘Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt.’ 

 

In Beijing, whenever there’s a road closure on the Chang’an Avenue, we knew that our king was coming back, or other kings came to visit our king. People have to wait in their car for a long time, and the traffic became really bad. If you’re really lucky, you’d see the king’s limo passing by at 80 mph. That’s it. But Jesus was not like that. In his entry to the capital city, Jerusalem, he rode on a donkey, actually, a baby donkey, a colt. What? Riding on a donkey’ colt, with his feet touching to the ground…? No way! How does a big man, 300 lbs, riding on a tiny scooter look? So funny. How did Jesus look, a tall man sitting on a baby donkey? He looked even silly! Why did he do so? By doing this, he demolished all the barriers between himself and the people. Actually, there were many barriers between Jesus, the King and his subjects; there were many barriers between Jesus, God and his creatures. But by riding on a donkey, he demolished all these barriers, making himself accessible. Even the lowliest person in the society could come to him and talk with him freely. Even we can come to him and take a selfie with him, saying, Cheese! Jesus intentionally rode on a donkey so that people would not be gripped with fear, but that they would come to him freely and have fellowship with him. This shows Jesus’ burning passion to have fellowship with his people. Jesus wants to come to us and enjoy fellowship with us; Jesus wants us to come to him and talk with him and spend time with him. For this, he removes all the barriers, even making himself look silly. This is the expression of his love for us. This is our God! This is our King. We must respond to his love for us by opening our hearts and coming to him.

 

A prophet named Zechariah, foresaw this about 600 years before his coming into Jerusalem. What was his testimony about Jesus’ entry scene? He shouted in Zechariah 9:9, Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your King comes to you, righteous and having Salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He didn’t say that it was funny. Instead, he was so moved and touched by Jesus’ entry scene that even the king was coming to his people riding on a donkey. Through this entry scene, the prophet Zechariah could see what kind of person the King of Israel, Jesus is – righteous and gentle. Jesus our king is righteous – this means that he does not do anything wicked or terrible, but he does everything in the way God would be pleased. Worldly kings and rulers are not righteous, but in most cases, they are sinful and wicked. They easily manipulate their subjects for their own selfish purpose and take advantage of their people. So, we don’t like them; we don’t trust all politicians. But the king of Israel, our king is righteous – he does only what is right; and whatever he does is right, just, fair and beautiful. So, his subjects don’t need to worry about anything. Jesus is the Righteous King; so trust in him! 

 

Also, he is gentle. Usually, kings are not gentle, but stern and straight in their words and actions. Maybe, in order to rule their kingdom, they have to. So, people are scared of their kings. But our king Jesus is gentle. The word, gentle means, soft,kind, and not harsh or threatening. His words and actions are gentle, not offensive or threatening. He does not threaten us or twist our arms by force. Instead of trying to overrule us or dictate us, he gently stands and knocks at the door of our hearts, saying, If you open the door, I will come in and eat with you, and you with me. Often, we don’t recognize his voice or don’t hear him knocking at the door due to so many things to take care of, or due to our hearts given to something else. So, we leave him alone outside at the door. Then, standing outside all night long, he still gently calls us, Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my flawless one. My head is drenched with dew, my hair with the dampness of the night. (Song 5:2) Just with his mighty power, he can open our hearts by force, removing our worldly desires – it will be easy. But instead, he waits until we open it toward him willingly and happily. Maybe, it takes years, but he waits, and gently calls us, Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my flawless one. When people try to debate with him aggressively insisting their own ideas, he simply gives in and leaves. When we look back, we can see that indeed, Jesus has treated us gently, ever waiting, ever honoring our own choice. 

 

This is how Jesus came to us. He did not come with words of condemnation or judgement. Instead, he stirred up our desire to know him through interesting bible studies. He did not send theologians or bible scholars to us either. Instead, he sent shepherds, fellow college students to us, to tell us his words. Even though we have many preferences or prejudices, he sent us the right one so that we may accept his invitation. The first time we came to the church, we were so cool. But after enjoying the legendary ribeye steak prepared by heaven, we talked with others freely no problem. Jesus came to us this way because he wanted to have fellowship with us, he wanted to live a life together with us. 

 

In view of Jesus’ person, what kind of people should we become? We must become righteous and gentle people so that we can represent him to others properly. Sometimes we try to forcefully open our sheep’s hearts only to scare them away. We need to learn from Jesus by coming to him more and more. Then, eventually, many people can experience Jesus’ beautiful characters through us, thus receive great healings and relief. 

Look at verses 16 through 19. During this event the disciples did not understand why Jesus rode on a donkey, or why the people in Jerusalem welcomed Him in this way. But after Jesus rose again, they realized that everything was done according to the Scriptures. They came to know that Jesus is the Savior of the world, that He truly is the Eternal God, and also the true King of Israel, who was promised to come into the world to save and rule His people. But the Pharisees neither accepted Jesus as their Savior, nor as their God, nor as their King. As a result, they continued to be ruled by their sinful desire of jealousy and anger, which led them to murder Jesus on the cross. 

 

Seeing how joyful these people were while their God and King entering into their city, I remember how joyful I was when the first time Jesus entered into my heart. After studying Jesus’ cross, I ran back to my apartment and told my wife, Finally I know why Jesus died on the cross for our sins! Then, in excitement and joy, I explained to her everything that Johnny taught me. Also, Jesus revealed the truth to me so that I wouldn’t have to endlessly search for it in career, relationship, happy family, video games, or… X-Files. I came to see that every word Jesus said were true and I should listen to him. So I asked Johnny to meet three times a week, but he asked me, Would you be able to do three testimonies…? Eh… No problem! Before, whenever I had free time like waiting for bus, I would pull up my mobile game to kill my time. But since I experienced Jesus’ grace, I always read the Bible, at home, on the bus, in the union. I don’t think I understood what I was reading at that time, yet just reading it and spending my time on it gave me deep joy and satisfaction. My wholehearted desire was to know my God, my Savior, and my King. 

 

Time passes by quickly, 5 years are gone. There were many ups and downs. Sometimes my Christian life was full of joy and happiness, while other times it was full of bitterness and complaints. But God was so gracious to me. He never threatened me saying You are not a good disciple or forced me to do this or that. Instead, he patiently bore with me and took care of me financially by giving me something to do in my aunt’s business. He sat with me, listened to me, taught me his words, and showed me how he cared about me. He is the king who ride on a donkey that even I, a lowly sinner, spoiled child, terrible person could come to him freely. 

 

Because my King is so great and beautiful, I never want to go on and off continually. Instead, I want to secure him in my life, I want to be a citizen fit for his kingdom. No matter how terrible the situation looks, I want to welcome him to my heart every day and love him by obeying his commands. Shepherd Roberto’s testimonies inspired me greatly. He could give thank and praise to God even when he was in those challenging and difficult moments. I want to be like that. Although I don’t have a career yet, I don’t have a permanent legal status yet and I struggle to help my wife turn to Jesus, I can still shout, See, my king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt! When the headhunter told me that it was impossible for me to find a job under the present legal status, when the immigration policy delayed our case, I still thank and praise God for Jesus, my King. When my wife is in bad spiritual condition, I dream about her sitting among the audience and listening to the Sunday message. I have all these thanksgivings not because I am crazy, but because I know how wonderful, beautiful and powerful my king is. 

 

Because he is so great, I can pour out every drop of my life for him and serve his work unstoppably. During summer, my chest and belly was covered with rash, and sometimes I could not even sleep at night due to its unbearable itchiness. But every noon when I saw SOAR students coming and sitting at the tables in the student union, my itchiness was gone and I could invite them eagerly and passionately. I couldn’t wait to have bible study with them and introduce my awesome king to them. Eventually, over two hundred students signed up and all those who came to bible study paid close attention to my words taking notes or writing reflections. This year, Jesus gave me a chance to be a fellowship leader and a teacher in our group bible study. He even blessed me to teach 20 bible studies a week this semester again! With his vision, I could see so many faithful and committed disciples rising up at CSULB and Rio Hondo College. 

 

In taking care of students, I want them to see Jesus through me, not authoritative, not forceful, but gentle and riding on a donkey. Many times I cried out to God because I was not like Jesus at all, not gentle, not approachable. Instead of riding on a donkey, others feel like me riding on a Harley Davidson. I pray that I may grow up in Jesus more and more, so that eventually all my students would shout, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

 

One Word, See, Your King IComing, Seated On A Donkey’s Colt

Sunday, November 25, 2018

posted Nov 26, 2018, 9:37 AM by Site Administrator

 

 
I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE

 

John 11:1-57

Key Verses 11:25, 26

 

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies and, whoever lives and believes in me will never die do you believe this?”

 

First, “This sickness will not end in death” (1-16). Look at verses 1 through 3. When Mary and Martha saw that their sick brother Lazarus was not getting any better, they did not hesitate to send for Jesus. They had such complete confidence in Jesus' love for them that they didn't beg Him for help at all; simply, they informed him, saying, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” They thought that, at this, Jesus would cancel everything in his schedules, come to them and heal him right away. But at this, Jesus' response was different. He said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Wow! Jesus had really an optimistic view of everything. At the same time, he had such a burning passion to reveal the glory of God in any circumstances.

 

          The passage specifies that Jesus loved them. Martha and Mary thought that in love, Jesus would come to them immediately and heal Lazarus. But instead, Jesus intentionally stayed where he was for two more days; as a result, Mary and Martha had a really hard time, watching their beloved brother suffering from the pain and dying moment by moment; maybe, they kept checking out the time, waiting for Jesus to arrive. But Jesus didn't come, and eventually, Lazarus died and was buried, and all their hope was gone, and they were utterly frustrated, sorrowful and painful. Here, we see that Jesus' love is different than human love. In love, Jesus wanted to give his beloved people something really good, and for this purpose, he was willing to let them go through all these pains and sorrows, even Lazarus experiencing the pain of dying. Often in the same way, we are discouraged, because despite our prayer for help, things do not get better. But we must understand that Jesus' love is different than human love; his love is not just to give us a comfortable life; rather, in love, he wants to give us something really good, and for this purpose, he is willing to let his beloved people go through pains, sometimes extreme pains and sorrows. His love is indeed divine.

 

          Then, what did he want to give them? Jesus said, “No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it.” He wanted to reveal the glory of God to them; he wanted to reveal His own glory to his beloved people - who he truly is. Why was this so important? Once they saw Jesus' true glory, once they saw who Jesus truly was - the Word who was with God in the beginning - they would be really amazed and their life would never be the same. Their attitude toward Jesus would change completely; they would indeed worship Jesus with all their heart and soul. For this reason, Jesus stayed where He was 2 more days, even if it meant that they might question His love for them or even blame Him for the loss of their brother. Because Jesus really loved them and wanted to give them something really good, he was misunderstood by his own beloved people, but for their sake, he was willing to bear this pain also. Indeed, it was his lonely battle to show his real love to them.

 

Because Jesus loves us, he wants to give us the very best - he wants to reveal his glory to us. How? In our real life, in our real problems, in our life's real challenges! Maybe, we may expect him to give us a smooth path with not too many problems - in our school matter, in our job matter, in our family matter, even in our sheep matter. But in that way, we never grow and we become just naive people, so useless, having no understanding of human life, having no true knowledge of God's person and God's will, but just going through the motions - that's not what Jesus wants us to be. He wants us to be great as children of God with such integrity, maturity and beauty. So, he is willing to let us go through pains and sorrows; he wants us to experience and know him in our real life. When we see God’s glory in our real life, it is indeed amazing, powerful and beautiful; it is wonderful. There, we realize the surpassing greatness of seeing God’s glory, the surpassing greatness of knowing Him and serving Him. In view of the greatness of seeing God’s glory, all other things we once held so dear suddenly lose their value. Our pursuits of finding the perfect spouse, securing early retirement, and raising a happy family all become dull and meaningless; our view of everything changes - how we see God, ourselves, other people, and life itself changes. Jesus wants us to see his glory in our real life.

 

So after two days passed, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” But they said, “But Rabbi, a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?” At this, Jesus gave them a very important teaching. Look at verses 9 and 10. Let's read these verses together.

 

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light.”

 

There are 12 hours of daylight, and only after 12 hours of daylight is complete can 12 hours of night come. We never have to worry about night falling at 11 o’clock in the morning. Night comes only when the day is over. So in the same way, God has granted each person a certain span of life. Until that time is over, we will not die. So as we serve God’s mission, our life will not end because of some accident or someone’s anger, but only when God’s mission is over. Here, Jesus encourages his disciples to walk by day so that they will not stumble; if they walk by night, they will stumble. Right now, the disciples were walking by night, because their decision to not go back to Judea was made based on their fear of death or their fear of the Jews; their whole struggle was to somehow avoid any danger and survive; when fear was controlling them this way, they didn't know what they must do and how they must live their lives, just like a man walking by night. When they lived their lives that way, certainly, it was just a matter of time before they would make a wrong decision, and then stumble. On the contrary, Jesus was walking by day, because his decision of going back to Judea was done by his absolute faith in God's sovereignty upon his life. He knew and believed that his life was in God's hands, not at the mercy of the angry Jews. At that time, he knew what to do and how to live his life very clearly. He must go Judea to reveal the glory of God.

 

We must not walk by night, but by day; our decisions for our major, or career or marriage must not be made by our fear, but by our absolute faith in God. Many people are so worried and fearful that if they pursue God, their life would be ruined and that they would be losers in the world without a career; so, out of this unbelief and fear, they refuse to make true commitment to God, but decide to pursue career and success in the world - they walk by night. God is good, and He has a good plan for us; if we trust in him, He will not disappoint us. Our decisions must be based on our absolute faith in God's goodness, God's provision, protection and blessing. At that time, we know what to do and how to live our life.

 

Jesus said to the disciples, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” But his disciples took Jesus’ words literally and said, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” They really didn’t want to go to Judea. At this, Jesus said to them, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Here we see that Jesus not only wanted to help Mary and Martha but also his disciples. They were committed to him, but he knew their limit. They were limited by death, and because of that, their life of faith was limited also. So, by using this event, Jesus wanted to help them overcome the fear of death so that they would love God and serve God's mission freely. It is indeed good for us to be Jesus' sheep, because he knows our weaknesses and limits, and how to help us overcome them. Under Jesus' care and guidance, certainly, we will all grow as mighty warriors for God's kingdom work overcoming all our weaknesses and limits, even death.

 

          At this, Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Thomas really didn’t want to die; he didn’t want to go to Judea. But he did not want to desert Jesus either. Despite such great danger, he would remain loyal to Jesus, even to death. Even though he was spiritually immature and even blind, he was loyal to Jesus. That was the expression of his love for Jesus. Then, Jesus could lead him continually, and Thomas would grow up as a great man of God.

 

Before meeting Jesus, I dreamed of being happy through the love and acceptance of other people, but in reality, my selfish and self-centered nature only made me unlovable. I did not like who I was and desperately wanted to be someone else with better qualities. In high school, I pursued theatre arts and performed in many shows to gain acceptance and praise but at the end of the day I was still the same person inside, and it seemed I was only slowly getting worse. In college, I compared myself to others and concluded that I could not stand a chance of being successful in this world. Soon, God sent me his servant who taught me the bible. Then, John 4:35 opened my eyes to look up from my current state and instead focus on the harvest that was ready to be picked. Through that verse, I lifted my eyes from myself, and accepted God’s calling to join Gods harvesting team at CSULB as a bible teacher. God began working so fast in my life, and mission life was very action-packed. Each week I could see how God was shaping my perspective and life according to the word of God. I enjoyed mission life and served it wholeheartedly and passionately, eventually teaching up to 23 bible studies one week. God had entered my life giving me meaning, purpose, hope and a future. However, I soon began to struggle with the temptations this world offered, especially the desire to finally to be accepted by others and peers. I thought I was missing out on a fun and fulfilling life. But after trying it out, I only saw that nothing compared to my life in Jesus. So I would come back to my shepherd, only to get tempted and leave in shame again. This happened several times.

 

In the summer of 2017, my father went to the ER several times. We were told that four of his arteries were blocked, he had kidney failure and multiple myeloma cancer. He was put on hospice and given two months to live. I feared for my fathers life and his salvation, so I called my shepherdess for her prayers and help. I returned to bible study and began to attend worship service again. My Fathers sickness led me to return to Jesus, with a new struggle to really hold onto him alone as a matter of life or death.

 

I returned to campus mission, now at CSU Fullerton, and that fall, at the bible conference, I was restored through communion where Jesus showed me he wanted me to be one with him again. Missionary John graciously asked the church to begin to pray for my fathers healing so that his sickness would not end in death. Amazingly, my fathers lab results started showing improvement despite no chemo or treatment for his cancer and he graduated from hospice. My father also began to pray for himself and he credits his healing to Gods grace in answering his prayers. I was amazed by the grace of God and was inspired by this miracle in my father’s life. Hope in Jesus began to rise up in me again. This New Year, I chose 1 Corinthians 15 verses 1-2 as my New Year’s key verse which says, “Now brothers I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain.” I wanted to build up my life on the gospel and to experience practical salvation from my condition and problems by holding onto the word of God. I picked up hope to restore my life again through the Gospel. The spring semester of 2018, God helped me pick up momentum again in shepherding at CSUF. I wanted to give my heart to campus mission, so after work, I fished and had bible study on campus 2 - 4 hours each day.

 

Suddenly my fathers health condition began to get worse. The myeloma spread all across my father’s chest and the power of death began to creep into my heart. But during worship service, the drama on John 10a moved me to tears as Jesus the Shepherd powerfully defended his sheep from the thieves and robbers and changed their names from Coward to Braveheart. Through the message I was comforted by Jesus’ rod and staff. I was reminded that Jesus is my shepherd and I am his sheep so I let go of my grief and fear and put my trust in Jesus my good shepherd who leads me to green pastures. My father’s condition remained complicated and my father and mother were attacked by the wolves of death, hopelessness, doubt, crooked thinking and despair. But in the following Sunday service through John 10b, I was inspired again to follow my shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep and I picked up heart to spend my life for the Gospel, defending Jesus’ sheep. I began to pour out my heart for my parents and my students instead of myself and my desires. As a result, I began to teach more passionately and prayerfully in bible studies, struggling to listen to my sheep and what they needed and praying accordingly. I served my father more sacrificially and struggled to be more compassionate and understanding towards my mother. I could see how God was using my father’s sickness to purify me of my selfish and self-centered nature and raise me up with a sacrificial and giving nature for others. God used this sickness to lead me to my own resurrection. Jesus has never left my side. Because of Jesus, I can keep walking strong and not stumble; I can grow up as a woman of God and a powerful, effective servant who can reveal Gods glory. The entire time I should have trusted in Jesus’ resurrection power and love to change me from a selfish, self-centered people-pleasing-person into a sacrificial servant of God. Looking back, I see how nothing has ended in death, failure or sin. Instead, Jesus has the final say which is that my father’s sickness will not end in death. My life and my sheep’s sin will not end in sin and failure. No it is for Gods glory so that Gods Son may be glorified through it. I will remember Jesus who is the resurrection and believe that in him, all challenges will not end in death but in Gods glory.

 

Second, “I am the resurrection and the life” (17-27). Look at verse 17. When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. There were professional mourners, mourning so professionally, and everyone in the house looked so sad and depressed. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” As soon as Martha saw Jesus, the first words that came out of her mouth were her complaints that Jesus had not come earlier; she simply blamed Jesus for being late. She was really sorry that Jesus was late when she needed his help the most. But after blaming him that way, she was sorry for him also. So, she added, “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” What was Martha talking about? She herself did not know what she

was talking about.         

         

At this, Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Amazingly this is what Jesus was planning the entire time. But she understood Jesus' words as a theological expression. She answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” That's what she had heard about from others. It was better than nothing, but practically, it did not help her at all in the

situation - she was still utterly sorrowful; it was because that theology was nothing but head knowledge - not real to her yet.

 

Look at verses 25 and 26. Let’s read this verse together:

 

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

 

Jesus was not satisfied at all with her head knowledge of the Bible. Instead, he showed her who he was. “I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus is the resurrection and the life. This is an amazing proclamation. What does it mean that Jesus is the resurrection? It means that Jesus is everything of the resurrection - I am the resurrection. It means that the resurrection is about Jesus, for Jesus and by Jesus. Jesus is the Giver of the resurrection, Originator of the resurrection and Owner of the resurrection. The resurrection happens because he does it! The resurrection happens because he endorses on it. Usually, saying, “He will rise again,” is what we can do to comfort those mourners. But when Jesus says, “He will rise again,” it is a different story, because he is the Author of the resurrection. As the resurrection, he does the resurrection at his will anytime and anyone he desires. Who can this person, “the resurrection” be? Who can this person who does the resurrection at his will be? He is God! “I am the resurrection.” This is Jesus' proclamation as God.

 

Jesus also says, “I am the life.” The expression, “the life,” shows that Jesus is everything of life. He is the Giver of life, Cause of life, Creator of life, and Owner of life. The resurrection and the life go side by side; the resurrection can be there because there is life. If the dead are raised without life, then, they are nothing but zombies - they are so cursed and miserable. By the way, here “life” Jesus talks about is, of course, ‘zoe.’ We will have the resurrection at the last day by Jesus and for Jesus, and we will live forever. But this life is not about the extension of this mundane life of eating and drinking and marrying, but zoe, that truly fulfilling, happy and meaningful life - we will live that kind of life forever. Jesus gives this life, zoe at his will. Who might this person be? He is God! Then, what kind of life can we live in Jesus? Jesus says, “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” The phrase “even though he dies” refers to the worst circumstance that could happen to you. In our spiritual life, we want to enjoy this new life in Jesus freely forever, without having any difficulty. But often, due to our own sins, or doubt, or because of life's challenges and burdens, we lose all our strength, vision, and passion for God; we die; sometimes, we feel like worn out batteries-- no life in us. But things do not end there for those who believe in Jesus, because Jesus revives us; he gives us life power through our faith over and over. We have experienced this so many times. We died so many times, but each time, when we believed in Jesus - through the word of God we come to believe that Jesus is our good shepherd and that he is leading us to green pasture, then, our spirits are renewed and our visions are refreshed, and we are revived; through deep prayer, we come to realize that Jesus has a good plan for us and that in him we have really a beautiful future, and we are overjoyed despite all practical challenges; we experience the resurrection. This is what all of us have experienced in our life of faith and mission. So many challenges have been there, academically, financially, and even spiritually. We have been pressed down so much from every side, but we have not been destroyed. By faith in Jesus, we rose again over and over. We are indeed invincible, more than conquerors through our faith in Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life!

 

We have experienced many resurrections in Jesus by faith. We want to enjoy this new life in Jesus to the full continually, never experiencing spiritual death again. Then, how? Now Jesus gives us his answer, saying, “He who lives and believes in me will never die.” By believing in him, we live. Challenges will come; you may have persecutions and sufferings; you may be poor financially; you may have some health issues. But your spirit is never bothered; you are never discouraged, but you always have such fervor for Jesus; you always love Jesus and enjoy such deep consolation in your heart even in extreme challenges that you are always with God – you never die. This is the kind of life Jesus wants us to live - the life of resurrection, and the life that never dies.

 

After this, Jesus challenged Martha personally, saying, “Do you believe this?” Do you believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? Do you believe that you can enjoy this kind of glorious life of resurrection by faith in him? Do you believe that you can live and never die by believing in him? After revealing himself to us as the resurrection and the life he challenges us, “Do you believe this?” After showing us what a glorious life we can enjoy in him by faith, he challenges us personally, “Do you believe this?” What is your answer?

 

Martha answered, “Yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” She should have stopped, after saying, “Yes, Lord.” But by adding some more comment, she showed that she had totally missed the point. She believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God who was to come into the world. That's what she knew for sure. But when a real challenge occurred in her life, when she faced the death of her brother, she was powerless and hopeless. And she complained and blamed Jesus for being late and not helping her. When she did not know Jesus as the resurrection and the life, when she didn't know Jesus as her God truly, her attitude toward Jesus was limited. Her service to Jesus was limited. She was not wholehearted; she was not offering her whole life to him yet. That's why Jesus wanted to reveal his glory to her so that her eyes might be truly opened to him, and thereby, she would really worship him.

 

During the time when Martha was sad and bothered at the fact that Jesus did not come soon to save her brother from death, he encouraged her as well as challenged her to believe that he was the resurrection and the life.

 

In view of this part of the passage, my new life began by faith in Jesus. I had lived my life with Jesus because of his resurrection power. I was happy that Jesus gave me new life, and had brought me to himself. Jesus’ life giving power helped me cross over from my old dead life to a new life in him. I began teaching college students the Bible by faith in God. In my journey with God I also had died many times due to financial challenges. After having bible studies with students which I had spent months teaching them and praying for them, I had witnessed them reject God’s will. I died. Sometimes I had died when I did not do so well in learning my school subjects. A couple of times I had been laid off from work. Sometimes life at home was challenging as well. My family members were not always supportive of my new life, because to them, I seemed to have an excuse of why I did not always visit them when they wanted and why I did not financially support them all the time. For some odd reason, at the beginning of my Christian life, I had thought that my new life with Jesus would be easy-going all the time—not having any new difficulties in this new life. Jesus would be superman, flying to my rescue at every obstacle I faced. This was not the reality all the time. Like Martha, I wondered where was Jesus in all of these moments. Why did he allow me to go through a lot of moments where I had died? Sometimes I cried out to God in my agony of distress, and sometimes he did not respond to my questions. Rather, he kept giving me his words to believe him. He revived my spirit to live for him.

         

Currently I work a lot, and sometimes 6 days a week. My life is very busy with duties and responsibilities. Sometimes I feel like I have little time to rest in between each new duty. I have one day out of the week when I go to campus to find students to teach the Bible. On top of that, I have online training courses to complete for work. I am continually bombarded with task after task, duty after duty. I also have my responsibilities at home. I sometimes wonder how long will this struggle lasts. Sadly, I cannot shut my brain off from the tasks of daily life, and sometimes I cannot sleep peacefully. Sometimes my daughter wakes up at 2am for no reason, wanting to stay up, and make a lot of noise. As a result, I get a few hours of sleep. I had been scared that I may lose my job, because the few hours I sleep would affect my job performance, which means I can possibly cause car accidents to happen. As I go through day to day this way, I feel my life is not getting any easier.

 

As I examine my Christian life, what I found in my Christian life was that Jesus was faithful at reviving me. Although he allowed me go through moments of dying, he remained faithful at allowing me to live again. I realize that a large part of my struggle to live in this new life had been not to die--not to be discouraged, not to make mistakes, but I could not always avoid those moments. However, Jesus still remained as the resurrection and the life, reviving my soul to get up again, to live again. At each new reviving movement, I learned something new about God, and something new about myself. I had been revived just as much as I had been equally died.

 

Jesus says that he is the resurrection and the life in my life. This means that he continues to give me resurrection and life. I have no reason to be afraid of dying, nor be so preoccupied with wanting my present situation to change. In fact, I am learning how I can exercise a believing attitude. I had tasted the joy of believing even when my situation is limited. From having a bombarded schedule, I had learned how much I had depended on my strength, on my understanding, including the time I have to do God’s work. The more I am limited the more God expresses his great glory, his amazing goodness in my life. I don’t need to worry about how my life is bombarded with a lot of tasks, and responsibilities, because those are moments when his resurrection power is launched more powerfully and more dramatically.

 

 When I had looked too tired to work on some days, one of my co-workers who is training me would advise me to take a 30-minute nap in my car, while he work on cars by himself so that I would be revived. Believe me, I would take his advice. I recently had to repent of my negative mindset about how busy my life is and about how little time I have on campus to find students. When I had the negative mindset I was behaving as though Jesus was not the resurrection and the life, and not the Lord on his throne. This is the day I change my negative response to Jesus when there are life challenges to words and thoughts of faith. Even though I will die at times due to ordeals, I am not going to remain in that moment forever. I will rise again, so I do not need to be afraid of life’s difficulties and crave for a convenient life, because I will live and never die. This is the confidence that Jesus gives to me so I can overcome the world. Because of Jesus being the resurrection and the life, my life has been adventurous, action pack and filled with the glory of God. I thank God for this new life I have for I would not trade it for anything else.

 

One Word: Jesus is the resurrection and the life in my life.

 

Third, “Lazarus, come out!” (28-57). Look at verse 28. As soon as Mary heard that Jesus had come, she got up quickly and went to him. When she saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Like Martha, she too expressed her complaints that Jesus was late when she needed his help the most. Jesus saw Mary and all the Jews that had come with her weeping, and he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. When he saw how much they were suffering under the power of death, he was deeply troubled. They really needed to see the glory of God, and driving them to the corner was not easy for Jesus to do; letting them go through such pains and sorrows was not easy. Verse 35 reads, “Jesus wept.” This reveals how painful it was for him to push them to the corner and to let them go through pains and sorrows. They wept because of pain and sorrow, and Jesus also wept because of their pain and sorrow. This was Jesus' struggle for his beloved people, so he continued on in the hope that he would reveal the glory of God to them, and that once they saw it, they would be overjoyed and their life would never be the same.

 

          When they came to the tomb, Jesus told them, “Take away the stone.” Martha objected saying, “But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” Let's read verse 40 together:

 

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

 

          After four days, his eyeballs were rotten, his intestines and inner organs were melting, his body was covered with maggots. For Martha it was already painful enough knowing that her precious brother had died; and now Jesus wanted to open his tomb? No way! She did not want to see the decomposing and maggot filled body of her brother; no, she did not want to endure such a sight. She preferred to leave the tomb unopened and her brother’s body unexposed. But Jesus did not accept her sentiment. Instead, he challenged her, saying, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” Jesus challenged her to take away the stone and expose her brother's half-rotten body by believing in him that, once she opened it, instead of having the most painful and embarrassing moment, she would see the glory of God; once she opened it by faith in Jesus, things would turn out glorious - that's what she must believe.

 

          What glory? The half-rotten dead body of her brother coming back to life! Jesus challenged her to believe in His power even beyond death. Death had been the end to everything, but now Jesus challenged her to believe in his power beyond death – so she had to believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. The challenge was indeed great! If it had been to heal one disease, then she already had faith in Jesus' power. But now the challenge she had was death - her brother's decayed body. Would she believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? Did she still have hope to see her brother again? If she wanted to see the glory of God in this matter, she must put her faith in Jesus as the resurrection and the life, and by faith in him, take away the stone, thus exposing her brother's rotting body.

 

          Many people have this ‘tomb’ problem – their tomb is covered with a stone, so outwardly it looks okay, but inside the tomb, there is a rotting dead body filled with ugly maggots that brings about a terrible odor. They have deep wounds and scars due to their sins and other peoples’ sins, they have resentment, and a sense of betrayal and unworthiness because they have been abandoned; they have been mistreated, abused and despised; they have developed a deep inferiority complex, and have a sense of shame and dirtiness about themselves; they bury all these things into their hearts and they place a huge stone mask in front, pretending that they have no problem at all. But the problem is that while they pretend everything is okay, secretly behind the stone, their dead bodies are rotting, accumulating more maggots, and producing more terrible odors in their words and actions; as a result, slowly and surely, they themselves are decaying.

 

          Jesus’ heart's desire is to reveal the glory of God in our lives; he has a good and glorious plan for us. So, he comes to us and says, “Take away the stone.” But we are afraid to remove the stone from our hearts; we don't want our rotting dead bodies to be exposed publicly. So, we make excuses, saying, 'But Lord, it's too shameful” or “Lord, a bad odor is coming from it.” Or “It's already dead and there is no hope.” But Jesus rebukes us and challenges us, saying, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” If we want to see the glory of God, and if we want to see what Jesus is going to do in and through our life, then we must overcome this fear, this sense of shame and despair, and remove the stone from our hearts and life. Many of us experienced the glory of God in this matter. Surely, things didn't turn out embarrassing or ugly, but glorious, and we were full of joy and happiness and thanks to God - we saw the glory of God when we took away the stone by faith in Jesus. Jesus says, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

 

          After Jesus’ challenge, they picked up faith and rolled the stone away, then he called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” And lo and behold, Lazarus walked out of the tomb, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. He looked like a mummy! But amazingly, he was not a dead man. Instead, after four days he was completely restored, his intestines and organs were renewed and in working order, his skin became firm again and his heart began to pump steadily. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Among all the miracles Jesus had performed, this was the most spectacular, and this revealed Jesus' glory as the Creator God most powerfully. Surely, Mary, Martha and Lazarus saw the glory of God, and their lives changed completely, just as Jesus had planned!

         

          In verses 45 through 57, we see the two different responses of people about this miracle. Many people put their faith in Jesus. But others ran to the Pharisees, religious policemen and told them what Jesus had done. Surely, Jesus' sheep believe in him, and those who do not belong to Jesus reject the truth no matter what. Then, they held a Sanhedrin meeting, and there, they decided to kill Jesus, with the lame excuse of sparing the whole nation through sacrificing one person. Caiaphas, the high priest suggested this. He didn't know that he was actually talking about the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

In this passage I was challenged by Jesus' rebuke to Martha “Did I not tell you that if you believe you would see the glory of God?” At first she did not obey his command because she thought her brother's rotten corpse would be exposed. When I refuse to obey Jesus' word it is actually the expression of my unbelief; I think negatively that the outcome will be bad. Jesus rebukes me for this unbelief and challenges me to live in complete obedience to God. Because only when my obedience to God's command is complete, then the glory of God can be revealed in my life. This is what I have experienced.

         

          Since the summer I have been serving at West LA college. However, for many months prior I was hesitating to return to the mission field due to my sense of failure and fear of the future. However, in Bible study on John 1 I was reminded of Jesus' teaching on life: “Whoever wants to save his life would lose it but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” One evening when I was driving home from work and this verse came to mind. I also heard the questions “How long? How long will you wait? How long will you waste your life?” I realized that as long as I held onto my sense of failure and my fear I was losing my life. And there is no valid excuse or reason I could give for why I should waste my one life. At that moment I saw clearly what to do: lose my life for Jesus and for the gospel. Right then I exited the freeway and that was the first time I went fishing at WLAC. Since then I have been looking for students and teaching the Bible to WLA college students. Sometimes the best part of my day is when I can clock out because I am excited to go to campus. Other times I am physically drained after standing and walking for 8 hours; I am mentally exhausted after dealing with demanding managers and hotel guests all day long. At that moment all I want to do is take a nap. But I remember what Jesus taught me: if I want to save my comfort I will lose my life. So I go to campus regardless of how I feel. In this way I save my life. I am so thankful that God has restored my sense of mission and vision, the meaning and purpose of my life, my joy and freedom to live for him. It is true that through obedience to the word of God I see the glory of God. My life has been saved and I taste zoe.

         

           This year after studying John 10 I learned that the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. In Bible study on this passage Missionary John asked the group “What is life to you?” This question remained in my heart all throughout the week. While teaching this passage and while listening to the testimonies during the Friday meeting I was still thinking about this: what is life to me? During testimony sharing the one word that touched me was John 10:17 “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again .” I could see that the reason the Father loved Jesus is because Jesus loved him by giving up something very precious. So instead of taking Gods love for granted I must lay down what was very precious to me. And hidden in my heart was the desire to secure a romantic relationship and beautiful family. Laying this down to shepherd over college students would be like losing my life, because this is what I had been pursuing all my life. This is when everything became real; far more than doing Christian activities but really dedicating my life to God and Gods flock. At this my heart ached and it seemed almost impossible to let it go. But Jesus rebukes me saying “Did I not tell you that if you believe you would see the glory of God?” Jesus shows that a life of complete obedience to God is a glorious life. If I believe I will enjoy glorious intimacy with God; a real love relationship with God. If I believe I will see the kingdom of God come on my campus. If I believe I will see 50 churches established in CA. If I believe I will be a blessing to the ends of the earth.

         

One Word: If You Believe, You Will See The Glory Of God

 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

posted Nov 18, 2018, 6:14 PM by Site Administrator

 

I GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE

 

John 10:22-42

Key Verse 10:28

 

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

 

First, My sheep listen to my voice (22-27). Look at verse 22. Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter. In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites to keep the Seven Feasts. The Feast of Dedication is not one of the seven Feasts. In the Bible we see many Empires rising and falling. Exodus talks about the Egyptian Empire. Then, in 1 and 2 Kings, we see the Assyrian Empire and the Babylonia Empire. Then, we see the Persian Empire in the book of Nehemiah. That’s where the Old Testament stops. Of course, Daniel prophesied about the Greek Empire and the Roman Empire, and even the end of human history. But the history in the Old Testament stops with the Persian Empire. Then, in the New Testament, we see the Roman Empire. The Bible does not talk about how the Greek Empire rose and destroyed the Persian Empire, and how the Roman Empire rose – it does not deal with that period of time – intertestamental period – the time between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Feast of Dedication was to celebrate the restoration of God’s temple – that event happened during the intertestamental period.

 

The Greek Empire of Alexander the Great short-lived. After his death at the age of 33, his Empire was divided into four Empires by his four generals – Ptolemy who occupied Egypt and Palestine, Seleucus who occupied Mesopotamia and Syria, Cassander who occupied Macedonia and Greece, and Antigonuswho occupied Asia Minor. After many years’ power struggle among these four empires, eventually, the land of Israel came under the rule of the Syrian Empire. In the year 167 B.C., Antiocus Epiphanes IV, the Syrian Emperor strongly persecuted the Jews in order to get rid of Judaism because he believed in the superiority of Hellenism. The Temple in Jerusalem was desecrated; an abominable statue was established in the temple;all sacrifices and religious rituals were prohibited, and anyone who performed any kind of religious activity in Israel was killed. Those who kept the Bible were killed, and parents who circumcised their children were caught and executed together with their children. Then, a priest named Mattathias, rose up and led a resistance movement in the wilderness with his five sons. After his death, one of his sons, named, Judas, who was called later Maccabee, which means hammer, led his people against the army of the Syrian Empire. God helped them and eventually, the Syrian Empire gave up on Israel – it was a great miracle. Their resistance movement worked. They overthrew the abominable statue placed in the temple and reestablished the worship of God in Israel around 164 B.C. Two decades later, the priestly family established kingdom in Israel - the Hasmonean Dynasty (140 B.C – 37 B.C) – Non-Davidic kingdom in Israel and it lasted until Herod the Great was assigned as king of Israel by the Roman Empire in 37 B.C

 

According to the Jewish tradition, at the temple rededication ceremony, they found that the amount of sacred oil that could be used in the temple was only enough for one day, but they needed the oil for eight days. So, they prayed, and by faith, they started the dedication service. Then, miraculously, the lamp light at the temple lasted throughout all eight days of the service. Since then, the Jews have celebrated the Feast of Dedication, which is also called, the Feast of Lights. In Hebrew, it is called, ‘Hanukkah.’ In 2018, it begins in the evening of December 2nd and ends in the evening of December 10th.

 

Look at verses 22 through 24. During the Feast, Jesus was in Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple area, the Jews asked him, How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly. They were in suspense. Suspense is a state of apprehensive uncertainty. They know something big is coming, but they don't know what, when, and how, so they are anticipating with a sense of thrill, mixed with anxiety and fear, sweating in their palms - that's suspense. Here, the author, John, expressed the Jews' feeling well. They were in suspense about Jesus and his identity. Based on his words and miracles, there was great possibility that Jesus might be the Christ, the Son of God, but they didn't accept his words; they didn't believe in him as the one he claimed to be. As a result, they were in suspense.

 

Why did the Jews ask Jesus to tell them plainly if he was the Christ? Did they really want to know Jesus’ identity so that they could believe and accept him as the Christ? No. What they wanted was to know the answer right away so that they might not be anxious of it any longer. They just wanted to be free from their uncertainty. They were like London gamblers who bid a lot of money on Football games or basketball games and anxiously wait for the results. What was Jesus’ answer? Look at verse 25Jesus answered, I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me,  

 

Jesus had already told them that he was the Christ, the Son of God; he proclaimed, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. Whoever believes in me will never see death.Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. Not only so, Jesus had already showed them many miracles so that they could see that he was the Son of God. It was even obvious to the man born blind that Jesus was sent by God, for no one could do such miracles unless God was with him. That was the only logical conclusion. But the Jews did not believe in Jesus. Even if they were intelligent, they were completely illogical and unreasonable; they were not like scholars at all, let alone like children of God. Indeed, they were in suspense not because Jesus had not told them the truth clearly, but because they had not accepted his words.

 

Here, we see that when people don’t accept Jesus’ words, they live in suspense. This is true with both believers and non-believers. Just like these Jews who attended worship service regularly, who read the Bible, and who even were willing to die than denying God, people may do a lot of Christian things such as attending worship service or being nice to others. Yet, when they do not accept Jesus’ teaching, they live in constant suspense, ever wondering what they should do, what will happen in their lives, and how things will go. The opposite of this constant suspense is confidence and assurance. This confidence and assurance is what faith is all about. Hebrews 11:1 says, Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This complete confidence comes from hearing Jesus’ words and responding to them. For example, Jesus says, Follow me. When we accept this direction and make our heart’s determination to follow him, not money or our own dreams and desires in this life, then, we don’t live in suspense; instead, we have complete confidence of what we must do and how we must live our life, how our future will go. Why do many people, even Christians live in suspense, ever wondering, What does God want me to do? How should I live my life? How will my future be? They are in suspense not because Jesus has not told them plainly about himself, about what to do and how they must live their lives, but because they have rejected his words all this time. We must accept Jesus’ words and live by them. Jesus says, But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. The righteous will live by faith.

 

Look at verses 26 and 27. Let’s read these verses together:

 

26but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

 

 Why did these Jewish people not believe the signs of Jesus' Messiahship? Jesus said, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. Jesus thus far, had struggled hard to help them believe in him; he had made everything clear. But they rejected him despite all those evidences. Their response was illogical; it didn’t make sense. When they rejected him to the end that way, he simply understood that they were doing so, because they were not his sheep. The Jews had worship service; they had a strong sense of identity that they were God's chosen people; they were the ones who would choose to die than denying God. It seemed that they were God's sheep. But when God came to them and tried to lead them, they were not responsive. God taught them his ways, practically showing them what to do and how to live their life, but they did not listen to him. Instead, they said, I worship God. Or they said, I know the Bible. Why didn't they listen to God? It was simply because fundamentally, they were not God's sheep; they didn't belong to God, but to the devil. They only looked righteous due to their religious life and their knowledge of the Bible. Jesus said to them, You are not my sheep.

 

How horrible it is to hear from Jesus, You are not my sheep. We never want to hear these words from Jesus. So, we must not insist our own ideas and reject Jesus' words to the end. Instead, we must live as Jesus' sheep. Then, who are Jesus' sheep? Jesus says, My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them and they follow me. Jesus' sheep are those who listen to his voice and follow him. When Jesus saw Simon in the boat, he called him, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.Then, Simon got up from his fishing boat and followed him leaving everything behind. He was Jesus’ sheep. When Jesus told Philip, a sophisticated and smart student, Follow me,Philip followed him. He was Jesus’ sheep. When Jesus said to Nathanael, I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you, immediately Nathanael believed Jesus and confessed, saying, You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel. He was Jesus’ sheep. When Jesus told the Samaritan woman, I am he, she was overjoyed and was changed into a shepherdess for Jesus’ name’s sake because she was Jesus’ sheep. When Jesus said to the former blind man, I am he, he believed him and worshiped him. He was Jesus’ sheep. It seemed that the whole world was rejecting him, but Jesus did not despair because he was looking for his sheep who would listen to his voice and follow him. And when he found just one among so many and after so many rejections, he was overjoyed and his spirit was refreshed. He was like a shepherd who searched the entire mountain all night to find just one lost sheep, and when he found it, he came home putting his sheep on his shoulders and threw a feast with his friends. He was happy with his sheep. 

 

Who are Jesus’ sheep? Not everyone who do Christian things, but those who listen to his voice and follow him are Jesus’ sheep. Now in our society it seems that everybody looks like a Christian, but only those who listen to Jesus' voice and follow him are real Christians. Maybe, what he teaches them, what he asks them to do is not what they like; maybe, they have to give up their own dreams and desires. Maybe, at first, they have a hard time; maybe, they cry a lot for the pain of denying themselves, for the sorrows of letting go of their dreams and desires. But eventually Jesus' sheep listen to his voice and follow him, doing what he wants them to do and living in theway Jesus desires, because they recognize his voice. As we teach students the word of God, many people respond to God’s word casually. They neither listen to Jesus’ voice nor follow him. But some people respond to the word of God so sincerely, and there in the word of God, they find the truth, God’s love for them, and turn to God decisively – despite difficulties, persecutions and even losses, they follow Jesus. How come? Because they are Jesus’ sheep. They grow up as wholesome children of God, beautiful and awesome. Jesus is looking for them; we look for Jesus’ sheep that listen to his voice and follow him.

 

Second, I give them eternal life (28-42). Look at verse 28. Let’s read this verse together:

 

28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

 

The Jews asked Jesus to tell them plainly if he was the Christ. At this, Jesus answered, I give them eternal life. Who can give eternal life to people? Only God can. Then, Jesus gives eternal life to those who listen to him and follow him. Then, who must he be? He must be God. That was Jesus’ answer, showing that he was God, the very one he claimed to be. When you listen to his voice and follow him as his sheep, Jesus gives you eternal life. What is eternal life? It is what John’s gospel has been talking about all this time – zoe, that truly fulfilling and wonderful life we have ever dreamed about. When you are Jesus’ sheep, when you respond to his teaching and follow him, he gives you eternal life, zoe, and you live a wonderful life and you are satisfied. This eternal life is what all peoples on earth have been looking for, but they all have failed to find; they could not find it in money; they could not find in marriage; they could not find it in power or fame. Where can we find that truly wonderful and fulfilling life? John 1:4 says, In him was life, zoe, and that life was the light of men. And now Jesus says, I give them eternal life, zoe. We are living this zoe life as Jesus’ sheep. In Jesus, we do not live in darkness any longer; our struggle in Jesus is not like grabbing the wind any longer; instead, our life in Jesus has a clear purpose, meaning and direction; we know what we are doing and where we are going and what is waiting for us. We know that we are serving God; we know that God puts his seal of approval on what we do and how we live our life. So, with confidence, we happily live as Jesus’ disciples, as children of God, dedicating ourselves to God’s work fully. Jesus’ sheep who listen to his voice and follow him are really blessed.

 

Jesus also says, They shall never perish. In John’s gospel, this word, perish is used repeatedly in comparison with eternal life. All people have one life, but this life, called psuche is not eternal. As Jesus says, its key characteristic is that it is perishing. Without being connected to God, the source of life, without having eternal life, Jesus gives, people perish because of their sins, and because of life’s challenges. Young people are usually strong and zealous; it seems that they will not perish. But Isaiah 40:30 reads: Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall. Life’s challenges are so heavy and burdensome that even these zealous young people grow weary and they stumble and never rise again. Job matter or financial burden often is so heavy that people really perish; broken relationships are painful; and eventually, people are so lonely. At such challenges and burdens, even young people grow tired and give up. That’s how people live their life. But Jesus says that his sheep shall never perish! It is his heart’s determination, his heart’s will that his sheep shall never perish. He did not say that his sheep shall not have those challenges of life, but, that, despite such challenges and burdens, they shall never perish. Instead, they renew their strength in him; even if they fail and fall, they rise again in him; and then they soar on wings powerfully like eagles.

 

Our shepherd’s life comes with many challenges; sometimes, we are discouraged; sometimes, we are hurt; sometimes, indeed, we stumble and fall with no strength left. But at that, Jesus comes to us and speaks to us; he comforts and encourages us; he restores our souls. One time, I fell with no strength to rise – I had been struggling with all my might to do what God asked me to do, but simply the task was more than I could bear. When that kind of situation continued, I was really at the edge; my nerves were about to break down. Then, one person used very hurting words toward me; his inconsiderate words pierced my heart; I fell to the ground and I died. Then, on Sunday, as I heard the message, God’s words came to my heart. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20) I almost grabbed it, but not completely. Then, that night, as I was praying to God, telling him that I was dead with no strength left, the same words of God came to my heart. As I struggled more, finally those words were really given to me – I grasped them. I realized that I had been crucified with Christ and I no longer lived, but it was the Christ that lived in me. Then, since I was already dead, nothing was the matter: how people treated me or they used some hurting words to me or how I felt. Such things did not mean anything to a dead man. When I realized this, I was suddenly freed from all those things. The only thing that mattered was whether Christ was honored or not. Then, I was revived; I could pray to God with thanks for Christ with all my heart. Then, I served God’s work together with that person who had killed me without any hindrance in my heart at all. This is not just my story alone, but the story of all of us; each of us has this kind of amazing story – how Jesus revived us and restored our souls. Every week, we are bombarded with so many things to take care – job, sheep, children, and husband. Burdens are there at work, at home, at school, and even in the church. But as we come to God in prayer, as we wrestle with the word of God in testimony writing, God’s words give us new strength – God’s words comfort us and encourages us. Sometimes, we feel like flat tires, but as we come to God’s words, we feel that new air fills our tires. That’s what we have enjoyed and witnessed every Friday at the Friday testimony sharing meetings. Life’s challenges are to come; they are very heavy and burdensome; people stumble and fall. But Jesus says that we shall never perish. This is his determination for us – we shall never perish no matter whatJesus says, No one can snatch them out of my hands. While others perish, we Jesus’ sheep rise above all challenges and difficulties and become victorious. Praise Jesus! He keeps us safe and sound. Don’t reject his voice, but listen to him and follow him, and he will give you eternal life, and you will be satisfied; you will be renewed in him day by day. 

 

However, that’s not all. Look at verse 29. Jesus says, My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. God recognizes those who listen to Jesus’ voice and follow him. Actually, He is the very One who chose them and sent them to Jesus. God is pleased with them and He honors themSo He pays attention to every step of their lives and protects them from all harms. Nothing can happen to their lives without His approval. Their lives are secured in God’s hands. 

 

As a conclusion, Jesus proclaims in verse 30, I and the Father are one. In what sense are Jesus and the Father one? In verse 28, Jesus said, No one can snatch them out of my hand.And in verse 29, No one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. In protecting Jesus’ sheep, Jesus and the Father are one. In their concern and heart’s desire for Jesus’ sheep, God the Father and Jesus the Son are one – they are in complete agreement with each other in this matter. Jesus’ love for his sheep is complete that he was even willing to lay down his life for them. The Father’s love for Jesus’ sheep is also complete that he was even willing to sacrifice his one and only Son for them. Jesus says, I and the Father are one. Later in John 17:22, Jesus prayed to the Father for his disciples, saying, They may be one as we are one. In their love and heart’s desire for his sheep, Jesus and the Father are one, and now Jesus’ prayer is that we also may be one with him, and with his Father, sharing the same concern and love for his sheep. When a new disciple begins to rise, we are all happy. When that disciple shares a powerful and decisive testimony on Friday, we are all happy and thankful. Outwardly, we don’t express our joy, but just clap and clap. But inwardly, we shout for joy. In the matter of taking care of Jesus’ sheep, we are becoming one with our Lord Jesus and with our Father in heaven. What a blessed people we are! 

 

Look at verses 31 through 38. The Jews heard an amazing message from Jesus that He gave his sheep eternal life. When they asked Jesus, saying, If you are the Christ, tell us plainly,Jesus’ answer was, I give them eternal life. It was the time they must give up their pride and accept Jesus’ words so that they too might become Jesus’ sheep and have eternal life. But as soon as they heard the words from Jesus’ mouth, I and the Father are one, they forgot all the heart moving words of Jesus; they got angry and picked up stones to kill him thinking that hewas blaspheming. So, Jesus explained that even though he called himself God, it was not blasphemy by quoting from Psalm 82:6. 

 

Look at verses 37 and 38. Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father. Jesus did not regard faith based on miraculous signs. (cf. Jn 2:23-25; 4:48) However, since the Jews never tried to even think about his words, he encouraged them to be logical through seeing miraculous signs he had performed. He really wanted the Jews to believe in him so that they might have eternal life. After this conversation, Jesus withdrew to a remote place across the Jordan where John the Baptist had baptized in the early days, and many people came to him. They said, Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true.And in that place many believed in Jesus.

 

In today’s passage, we learned that Jesus gives his sheep eternal life. While people are perishing in this world due to their sins and life’s challenges, Jesus’ sheep enjoy eternal life; they are renewed daily, and they soar on wings like eagles. Let’s make our heart’s complete determination to listen to Jesus’ voice and follow him. That’s the way we can become his sheep and enjoy eternal life. Only then, we have a chance to live life to our true capacity. 

One Word: Jesus Says, I Give Them Eternal Life.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

posted Nov 11, 2018, 8:25 PM by Site Administrator

2

 

I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD

 

John 10:11-21

Key Verse 10:11

 

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

 

First,The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (11-13). In the previous passage, we saw Jesus proclaiming himself as the shepherd; only he is the shepherd for the sheep. Now in todays passage, Jesus shows what kind of shepherd he is: the good shepherd. Look at verses 11 through 13. Lets read these verses together:

 

11I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 

 

As the shepherd and the sheep enjoy really good time together in the open field, from time to time they face a very difficult challenge; wolves that approach the sheep. It is really horrible for the sheep to see a wolf coming toward them growling to kill and destroy them. It is also scary for the shepherd to see such a ferocious beast coming at the sheep, exposing its long sharp teeth and dripping saliva from its mouth. Even if the wolf sees the shepherd, a human being, it has no fear, for the desire to fill its stomach with the sheep is so great. When we face a big unchained dog on the street, we are scared. When the dog approaches us growling with an angry face, we are freaked out. Yet, what the shepherd faces is not a dog, but a wolf whose eyes shine with a beasts ice-cold glare and with complete determination to attack. At that time, the shepherd has only two choices – either confront the wolf and fight with it or run away leaving the sheep behind. Who runs away? A hired hand! There are two kinds of shepherds – a hired hand who tends others sheep for money and the owner tending his sheep by himself. The purpose of the hired hand in tending the sheep is not the sheep but the wages. To him, the sheep are nothing but the means for him to get what he truly desires - salary - money. So, when the wolf comes, he has no reason to risk his life for the sheep. In order to save his life, he is more than willing to sell the sheep. So, he runs away, and might possibly report to the owner of the sheep that there was no other choice for him. 

 

Who then is the one that stands and fights against the wolves? It is the shepherd of the sheep - he is the owner of the sheep who knows them personally. Even though he knows that he may be killed, he cannot simply run away and let the wolf kill the sheep because the sheep are his. He knows each of them – Lucky, Mooshy, Lionheart, and many more. The shepherd and the sheep have enjoyed such fun times together, and they have gotten to know each other very well. When he called, Lucky,then, among the 1,000 sheep, one sheep responded happily saying, Baaeeee!, came to him, and greeted him each morning. When he saw his sheep responding to his voice and following him wholeheartedly, he was happy and proud of them. They were not mere animals to him anymore, but rather they were his precious sheep like his sons or daughters. Should he abandon his precious sheep merely because of the threat of danger, or because of the possibility of injury or damage? No way! Even if he knows that he can be injured terribly by the wolf, he cannot desert them. Therefore, when he sees the wolf coming toward the sheep, he grabs his shepherds staff and draws his battle line up against the wolf by staring at it intently. He is ready to fight. Although the wolf is determined to attack and fill its stomach with the sheep, the shepherd is more determined to fight as a matter of life and death, and his fighting spirit overwhelms the wolf. He is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. Under his care, the sheep feel secure and safe. They trust their shepherd, love him, and follow him wherever he goes. 

 

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” This is Jesus proclamation, showing who he is, and how much he is willing to do for the well being and safety of people under him. Under the care of this good shepherdall his sheep can enjoy a beautiful life. They are blessed. This life in the world comes with a lot of challenges and difficulties, painful moments and sorrows. When things do not go well, when we lose our precious things, we feel like crying in sorrows. When we fail miserably in our school work, when no one seems to remember our birthdays or be concerned of us, we feel like we are all alone in this life, and it seems that lifes challenges are too much for us to bear. Sometimes, we feel like giving up. But Jesus, our Redeemer says to us, I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.It is like Jesus saying to us, You are not alone. I am with you, and I will protect you. Or it is like Jesus saying to us, Dont worry. I will make sure your safety, and you will enjoy a beautiful life. For our safety and well-being, Jesus is willing to lay down his life. The expression, he lays down his life for the sheep shows that Jesus is willing to do anything and everything to secure our safety and well-being. Sometimes, he intervenes into human society to help us. Sometimes, Jesus leaves his heavenly throne, and makes his visit to our small prayer room where we cry in sorrow and despair, and says, Dont worry. I am with you! Jesus says to you today, I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. When we remember that Jesus our good shepherd fights for us even to the point of laying down his life, we are comforted and strengthened to go forward courageously. 

 

In the previous passage, Jesus divides all spiritual leaders into two categories – shepherds and thieves or robbers. Now in this passage, he divides all spiritual leaders into two categories again – good shepherds and hired hands. There are so many bad shepherds, who are nothing but hired hands according to Jesusexpression. They care nothing for the sheepWe live as shepherds for Gods flock. Then, for us, there are only two ways to go – either we are good shepherds or we are hired hands. When we think about this, we can see that there is actually only one way to go, that is, we live as good shepherds who lay down our life for the sheep. We must not be hired hands who work for wages such as money, or positions and titles, or our own ambition. Instead, we must do it because of Jesus alone: We know his love for us, and he wants us to take care of his sheep out of love for him, so we live as shepherds. All peoples on earth live for themselves, but we shepherds do not live for ourselves, but we live for others, Jesus sheep.

 

Second, I know my sheep and my sheep know me (14-15). Look at verse 14. Lets read this verse together:

 

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me- 

 

Jesus says that he is the good shepherd for the sheep because he knows his sheep. Here, knowing does not mean to have some knowledge or information, as we have knowledge about Billy Graham through the TV or newspaper. Rather, this knowing is real and personal. Who can say to us, I know you,Even our parents do not know us; even husband does not know his wife really. No one knows us; no one understands us. Sometimes, we cry and cry for an unsolvable problem. Then, our shepherd says to us, Why do you keep crying? Just brush it off! There, we are very hurt – even our own shepherds do not understand us. After becoming a shepherd, I thought about my mothers life, and could see that she had lived a very sorrowful life; I really felt her pains and sorrows. So, wanting to comfort her, I said to her, Mom, I understand your sorrows. Then, with such a serious look, she looked at me directly and said, How can you possibly understand my sorrows? I was embarrassed, because she was really right. How could I understand her sorrows that had been piled up and buried in her heart over and over for the past 40 or 50 years? Indeed, no one knows us.

 

But now Jesus proclaims, I know my sheep. How can he say to us, I know you? How can he say, Roberto, I know you. Johnny, I know youWhen we think about how he entered into our life, how he gave us his words personally, we can really see that he knew us. How could he give us those perfects words that unlocked all the doors in our hearts? To some of us, he gave us just two words: Follow me. To some of us, just three words: Father, forgive them. To some of us, just four words: Stay in this land. To some of us, just five words: Son, your sins are forgiven. To some of us, just one whole verse. At his words, everything became clear; we were so touched that all the barriers that had been built up in us such as fear, shame, sorrows, anger, mistrust, sinful desires, worldly desires and addictions all melted that we could turn to God decisively and we began to live for Him, leaving everything behind. He could do so only because he really knew us. How does he know us so much like that? He knows us because he has been with us in everything we went through; he knows us because he was there while we were crying and crying sensing the pains and sorrows we hadHe has watched us all this time. When we think about this, we realize that we have never been alone, but together with him. We have never been abandoned, because he was there with us all the time. At the same time, his proclamation, I know my sheep, shows his deep concern and interest in us. We were not nobody to him; instead, we were very precious in his eyes that he was deeply concerned about us and thereby, he paid attention to us. Indeed, when he says to us, I know you, it is the evidence of his deep love for us. Today, Jesus proclaims to you, I know you. Jesus has loved you all this time; he has been with you, being concerned about your life, protecting you and guiding you.  

 

Jesus says, I know my sheep and my sheep know me.Here the expression, my sheep know me, shows the sheeps deep interest in Jesus and concern for him. If only the shepherd knows the sheep, but the sheep do not know the shepherd, then, the shepherd-and-sheep relationship cannot be established, because no matter what the shepherd says and does, the sheep do not care, and they do not respond. This shepherd and sheep relationship must be mutual, then, it becomes beautiful. As the shepherd knows the sheep, the sheep also know the shepherd. Jesus sheep know what kind of person their shepherd Jesus is, what he likes and dislikes; they know his style; they pay attention to his will and purpose. 

 

Jesus knows us. And now it is our turn to know him, our shepherd. Usually, in our relationship with God, we were the ones who asked God for help - give me this and that; help me, bless me. The whole focus has been me - my feelings, my condition, my happiness and my desires,... But now the expression, my sheep know me, helps us turn our concern from ourselves to our Shepherd Jesus - what kind of person he is, what he wants, and how we can please him; what is his business. Indeed, Jesus was the good sheep of his shepherd, because his whole concern was about his Shepherds name, his Shepherds kingdom and his Shepherds will - he lived for his Shepherd. When we come to know our Shepherd, we realize that suddenly everything changes - how we perceive things, how we live and what we pursue; we no longer laugh and weep based on our own things, but we laugh and weep based on things of God; we really begin to live for Jesus - for His name, his kingdom and his will. Good sheep of Jesus graduate from this human world and live as children of God, living for God’s will and purpose. Jesus sheep know him. This is our desire; this is our struggle – I want to know Christ.

 

Look at verse 15. just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. Here, Jesus compares his relationship with his sheep to his relationship with his Father. Simply, he describes God the Father as his Shepherd and himself as His sheep. God the Father and the Son Jesus knew each other. They loved each other. Jesus knew his Shepherds desire - redeem the lost mankind, and how it could be done - through a ransom sacrifice for the sin of the mankind. Knowing this will and plan of his Shepherd, Jesus came into the world as a tiny baby to fulfill it; when God saw His sheepobedience and sacrifice, He was happy with him and sent his angels to celebrate his birth, and they sang a song of praise saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. (Lk 2:14) When Jesus received the baptism to start his messianic ministry, God was pleased and said to him from heaven, You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased. Their relationship was not one-sided, but mutual. Jesus loved the Father and obeyed His command wholeheartedly, and the Father was with him all the time. Jesus was a good sheep to his Shepherd. In the same way, when we are good sheep to our good shepherd Jesus knowing him, loving him, and following him, then, we too can grow up as good shepherds in his image. Good sheep grow to be good shepherd.

 

Third, One flock and one shepherd (16-21). Look at verse 16. Lets read this verse together:

 

16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 

 

Here, other sheep that are not of this sheep pen refer to those who are looking for the truth among the Gentiles - they dont know God yet; they are not followers of Jesus yet. But Jesus vision is to bring them to himself also. They too will listen to his voice. Jesus says, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The expression, one flock shows that in Jesus there is no distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles - they are simply identified and described as Jesus sheep. There is no distinction between the white people, the black people, and the yellow people - no Europeans and no Hispanics and even no gender; in Jesus, all of them are called, Christians believers.They are one. This is an amazing secret of Gods plan for all people on earth in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul realized this secret and shouts in Ephesians 1:9And he (God) made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ. What was Gods secret plan, which He purposed in Christ? Paul says in Ephesians 2:14,15, For he (Jesus) himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,… This is Gods secret plan he purposed in Christ Jesus. When you go to heaven, you will not see any American, any Chinese, any White people, or Black people or Yellow People; you will not see any Republican or any Democrat, but only Jesus sheep. The world is divided; nowadays, nationalism is gaining great momentum in every country; politics is a very sensitive matter. Whenever people insist their own national view or political view, there comes barriers, conflicts, and enmity; there comes anger and hatred. This is Satans work. Gods purpose in Jesus Christ is todemolish all these barriers and make them one people – Gods people who share the same godly value system and the same godly perspectives and hopes; they can communicate with each other freely. Jesus says, There shall be one flock and one shepherd. For this, we go out and look for new sheep. For this, we go out even to all nations and struggle to make them disciples of Jesus Christ. Then, they will do the same thing in Jesus. Lets live for this purpose as Jesus good sheep. Lets bring those who are not of this sheep pen so that they too may become Jesus sheep.

 

The expression, one shepherd, shows that eventually, only Jesus will be recognized as the Shepherd. People will no longer look for the truth through Buddhism. People will no longer expect to go to heaven through Mohamed. All these religions and philosophies will be gone completely in the world, and no one will talk about them at all. Only Jesus will be recognized as the Savior. Only he will be praised and honored. There shall be one flock and one shepherd. This is the vision Jesus had, and this is the vision we have and this is the ultimate goal of our mission - we would evangelize the whole world with the gospel of Jesus Christ and bring them to the obedience to his teachings and his will. All other kingdoms and religions and isms will be destroyed, but Jesus kingdom will never end; instead, it will grow bigger and bigger and fill the whole earth.   

 

Look at verses 17 and 18. Lets read these verses together:

 

17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life-- only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.

 

People think that God the Father loves the Son Jesus naturally. It may be right. But Jesus here shows that actually, there was a reason, and the reason was he laid down his life.The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life.When he says, I lay down my life, he shows that his death was not the result of bad luck, or the result of the religious leadersjealousy and plot, but out of his own choice; he intentionally arranged all things and died on the cross. Why did he do so? He did so because it was his Fathers command. He accepted and obeyed even this kind of command; he obeyed his Fathers command this much. This shows his wholehearted love and submission to his Shepherd. When his sheep obeyed and followed him this much, how did his Shepherd feel? How would you feel if your sheep loves you and follows you wholeheartedly like this? Of course, you will be really pleased with him. Then, to you, your sheep is no ordinary. Your heart will go to your sheep and love your sheep so dearly; indeed, you will do whatever your sheep needs. Thats how the Father felt - so honored and loved; thats how the Father saw his sheep Jesus and loved him. The Father his shepherd truly understood how much his sheep did for him, how much his sheep loved him; the Father his shepherd truly appreciated what he did. Thats what the shepherd and sheep relationship is about.

 

When we think about this passage, we can see that the shepherd and sheep relationship is not one directional. Often, people think that the shepherd and sheep relationship is one directional. The shepherd does all the things, pouring out his time and energy, sacrificing everything for the sheep year after year, and the sheep taking everything for granted. But it should be mutual, then, it becomes really beautiful. Lets pray that all the shepherds may be good shepherds. Lets also pray that all our sheep may be good sheep.

 

Also, when we think about how God responded to Jesus’ obedience, we can see that God appreciates what we do for him. When we sacrifice something precious for Gods purpose, He does not take it for granted. Even if, it was something we must do as his creatures, when we do sacrifice it for Gods purpose, God understands how difficult it was for us to do so and He truly appreciates what we do for Him. God counts everything we do for Him. God loves such people who love Him and obey His commands. God says, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Let’s be good sheep to our shepherd Jesus. Let’s be good to even our human shepherds. Then, we will be really loved by all.

 

In todays passage, we heard Jesus proclamation, I am the good shepherd. He is the good shepherd because he lays down his life for us. He is the good shepherd because he knows us. He is the good shepherd because he was the good sheep to his Shepherd. When we become his good sheep, loving him and following him faithfully, then, we too will grow as the good shepherds. Let’s be good sheep to Jesus our Shepherd. Let’s be good sheep to our human shepherds too. Then, we will grow as good shepherds for God’s flock.

 

One Word: Jesus Is The Good Shepherd

Sunday, November 4, 2018

posted Nov 4, 2018, 7:19 PM by Site Administrator

5

 

WHOEVER ENTERS THROUGH ME WILL BE SAVED

 

John 10:1-10

Key Verse 10:9 

 

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.

 

First, The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep (1-6). Today’s passage is the continuation of Jesus’ dialogue with the Pharisees, after healing the man born blind. Look at verses 1 and 2. Jesus says, I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. Shepherds, thieves and robbers are all interested in sheep, but for different reasons. Spiritual leaders are the ones who deal with God’s flock; they have religious titles, and they are teachers and leaders. But here, Jesus divides them into two categories – shepherds, and thieves or robbers. Their difference is found in the manner they approach the sheep pen. Early in the morning, the shepherd comes to the sheep pen confidently, saying to the watchman, Good morning! Thank you for taking care of my sheep all night long. Nothing to hide or worry about. On the contrary, thieves and robbers cannot come to the sheep pen in this way. Instead, they climb in by some other way, very secretly. When you see anyone who does not come to the church by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, you can be rest assured that he is a thief or a robber. Call 911 immediately. 

 

In approaching the former blind man, Jesus did not use any secretive way; he didn’t try to purchase his heart by giving him what he wanted. Even if this man was blind from birth, Jesus challenged him to do the work of God even in that situation. Then, Jesus spit on the ground and made some mud, and put it on his eyes. It was really humiliating, and very questionable in the matter of hygiene. But Jesus did not explain anything to him. Instead, Jesus told him, Go to the pool of Siloam and wash. In this way, Jesus challenged him not to be controlled by human thinking or sense of humiliation, but obey his word by faith. Then, later, when this man lost everything in the world because of his struggle to keep his grace, Jesus challenged him, saying, Do you believe in the Son of Man? With this, he helped the man worship him, and make real dedication to him. Jesus’ way of approaching and helping sheep was not secretive, or complicated, but simple and clear to the point – Do the work of God in all circumstances, remain faithful to God’s grace at any cost, and make full commitment to Jesus Christ. That's exactly what the Bible is talking about - our supreme duty to reveal the glory of God as God's creatures, and our absolute loyalty and commitment to God; that's what we humans are supposed to do - that is the truth. And that is the way for us to enjoy true happiness and fulfillment in God. In trying to influence and lead the man, Jesus had nothing to hide, but confidently taught him the truth; he was like a shepherd who, in the morning, enters the sheep pen by the gate, saying to the watchman, Good morning! How are you doing? On the contrary, the Pharisees’ way of approaching the man was very secretive and twisted, with a lot of interrogation, threatening, and lies. Why? It was because they wanted to fulfill their own desires and plans – like thieves and robbers they were self-seeking, instead of serving God or taking care of God’s flock.When we hold onto the truth – the teachings of the Bible, we have nothing to hide or be afraid of; instead, we can confidently teach them to dedicate themselves to God completely and live for the glory of God; we challenge them freely to repent of their self-seeking desires, humanistic views and doubts and mistrust so that they can obey God’s will upon their life. 

 

Look at verse 3. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. Every morning, many people took their sheep to green pastures usually outside the city, watched over them while they grazed on the fresh grass all day long and in the evening they came back home. Then, they brought their sheep to a public sheep pen prepared for all the sheep in the town, and a watchman took care of the sheep during night, while all the shepherds enjoyed a good night’s sleep at their homes. Then, early in the morning, all the shepherds came to the sheep pen and started their routine shepherding journey. 

 

Now early in the morning, when a shepherd comes to the sheep pen to gather his sheep, there is one problem. There are many sheep in the sheep pen. If ten shepherds, who owned 100 sheep each, brought their sheep to the sheep pen, all 1,000 of their sheep would be in the sheep pen. How would he be able to find the 100 sheep that belong to him amidst so many other sheep? If he had to go through 1,000 sheep one by one to find his own, it would be a very difficult task. In our eyes, all sheep just look the same! Yet, there is a way. He calls his own sheep by name, and his sheep listen to his voice. When he calls out the name, Lucky, among 1,000 sheep, only one sheep responds and comes to him. Then, he calls, Mooshy,then another sheep from the 1,000 responds joyfully, Baaaaeee! and comes out to him. This way, he gathers all his sheep. This shows that the shepherd and sheep relationship is very personal, knowing each other. It is really true that the shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep know him. 

 

Of course, when the sheep were young, they didn't know their shepherd; they didn't know their names either; simply, they didn't recognize their shepherd's voice that even if he called them by name, they did not respond; they were just busy to do whatever they wanted. But overtime, as the shepherd and the sheep went through many things together, they came to realize that the shepherd was taking care of them and protecting them; they came to realize that the shepherd loved them and even would do anything for them; they finally came to trust him; then, whenever their shepherd was near them, they felt so secure and confident; when the shepherd called his sheep, Mooshy, Mooshy was so happy at his voice that it jumped up among all the sheep, saying happily, Baaaeeeee and came out so confidently and proudly. They were happy and proud to be recognized as the sheep of their shepherd who loved them and took care of them. 

 

This shepherd and sheep relationship vividly shows our relationship with God. God wants to bless us and make us happy. But like newly born little sheep, how many times have we naively ignored his voice for our own pleasures and desires in the world, only to bring harms on ourselves? But our Shepherd did not give up on us. He called us by name again and again - sometimes, by touching us through Christian radio station, sometimes through simple Bible passages, and sometimes, by sending his servants to us until we recognize his person in our life. Because of our shepherd’s unfailing love and struggle for us, finally we have come to develop an ear to hear his voice; finally, we come to respond to his voice, saying, Baaaaaaae! How happy our shepherd must be when we finally respond to his voice, saying, Yes, Lord, I am here. Your grace has brought me back to you. Finally, we begin to respond to his voice dancing joyfully. Jesus is our shepherd and we are his sheep. We respond to his calling. When he saysRoberto, he responds, Baaaaaeeee! When he calls, Johnny, he responds, Baaaeeee! Yahoo! Now whatever he says to us, we respond, saying, Yes, Sir! Here I am! Send me. I will do it. We belong to him and he belongs to us.

 

Now we take care of God’s flock. We are God’s hands and feet. Do they recognize their shepherd’s voice? Do they respond at their names? Often, they are really deaf that we feel like talking to the wall. But just as our shepherd did for us, we wrestle with them continually, teaching them the Bible diligently, sometimes, challenging and rebuking them, and sometimes, praying for them with tears. Then, one day, suddenly they begin to respond to God’s words, repenting and sincerely seeking God’s will upon their life, and even obeying our directions wholeheartedly. When they recognize their names as God’s sheep, we are overjoyed. This is how God’s work goes on our campuses.

Look at verse 4. Let’s read this verse together: 

 

When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

 

Now once the shepherd has brought out his own sheep, he starts his shepherd’s journey for the sheep. The destination? The green pasture he had already explored. Then, how does he lead them to the green pasture? Verse 4 says, He goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. He goes on ahead of them. In order to tend pigs, you need to drive them from behind with a stick, but not so with the sheep. Sheep are so near-sighted that simply, to them, everything is blurry, and they are so fearful that they dare not go ahead by themselves even if they are pushed from behind. Instead, the shepherd goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow their shepherd. 

 

This is how Jesus, our chief shepherd has led us so far. Instead of dictating us to do this and that, he went ahead of us so that we can follow his example. Even after skipping meals for forty days, he still refused to use his time, energy and power to make bread and secure his life; instead, he was still determined to meditate on the word of God and live according to God’s command, saying, Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Lk 4:4) When Satan tempted him to pursue worldly glory and riches, Jesus said to him, It is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve him only. (Lk 4:8) At Gethemane, when he felt so troubled because of the burden of dying on the cross, he prayed, Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done. Now Jesus commands us to follow him; he also shows us how we can follow him, saying, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. If sheep does whatever it wants to do and lives however way it desires, surely it will end up eating poisonous ivy and die, or it will surely go astray only to be destroyed by ferocious wolves. But when we follow our shepherd who goes ahead of us, surely he will lead us to green pasture and we will be satisfied.

 

Look at verse 5. Let’s read this verse together:

 

But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.

 

To the sheep, it is a matter of life and death to recognize their shepherd’s voice and follow him. If they make any mistake in this matter and follow a stranger’s voice thinking that it was their shepherd’s voice, then, the next day, they will be found at Food For Less supermarket - $3.99/lb. These animal sheep neither respond to the stranger’s voice nor follow him. Instead, they run away from him. They never make a mistake in this matter. But amazingly, there are so many human sheep that make a mistake in this matter, and follow a stranger thinking that it was their shepherd’s voice only to be miserable and destroyed. There is a voice from our flesh, promising an easy-going, pleasure-seeking and comfortable life; it appeals to our small citizen’s desire. There is also a voice that comes from the world, promising great success, luxury and popularity. There is also a voice from our enemy Satan that plants doubt and mistrust in God and in God’s people. Even demons speak to you to go for sinful things. All these strangers imitate our shepherd’s voice promising good-sounding things we desire such as promising future with great sense of security, convenience, satisfaction and fulfillment. Don’t be deceived. How can we distinguish our shepherd’s voice from the stranger’s voice? Our shepherd’s voice comes with the message that is hard, but right, requiring us of our own self-denial, cross-taking, real submission and dedication to God’s will, losing our life for God, even death on the cross. But the stranger’s voice comes with the promises of easy-going, pleasant, and comfortable life, fulfilling our own dreams and desires, family-centered, valuing our families more than things of GodDon’t be deceived by those enemies. Respond to your shepherd’s voice, but run away from the stranger’s voice.  

 

Second, Whoever enters through me will be saved(6-10). The Pharisees did not realize that Jesus was talking about them – that they were not shepherds for the sheep, the former blind man, but thieves and robbers. That’s why he did not listen to them, even though they said, “Give glory to God.” But instead, he listened to Jesus and followed him no matter what he said, because Jesus was his shepherd. They just understood that Jesus was talking about shepherding. SoJesus gave them another figure of speech to help them understand who he was and who they were. Look at verses 7 and 8. Let’s read this verse together:

 

7Therefore Jesus said again, I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.

 

This second figure of speech of Jesus is based on shepherding in the mountains or in the field where the shepherd watches over the sheep grazing on the grass. Under their shepherd’s care, sheep enjoy good time, and everything is peaceful. Yet, the problem is that from time to time, the shepherd needs some rest as well. He too may feel tired or sleepy in such a peaceful looking environment. But if he sleeps while the sheep graze in the open field, something undesirable or terrible may happen, such as: wolves attacking the sheep, or the thieves stealing some of the sheep. What did they do to solve this dilemma? The townspeople had already made a sheep pen in the open field so that when the shepherd was sleepy or tired in watching over the sheep, he could simply bring them into the sheep pen, and then freely rest. This sheep pen had fence around it, but uniquely, it did not have a door, but only an opening. The shepherd stands there at the opening and brings his sheep in, and after that, he puts his sleeping bag right at that spot, at the opening, and he sleeps. So, then, the shepherd himself becomes the gate for the sheep. In the open field, no one else, but the shepherd can become the gate for the sheep. Jesus says that he is the gate for the sheep indicating that only he is the shepherd. Then, what about other religious leaders? They were thieves and robbers. 

 

In verse 9, Jesus describes the blessed life of people who come to his sheep pen through him, the gate. Let’s read verse 9 together:

 

9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 

 

Jesus promises three blessings - will be saved, will come in and go out, and find pasture. Those who enter through him will be saved. Saved from what? From all dangers and harms. Outside the sheep pen, there are many predators - ferocious wolves, bears and lions; not only so, there are also thieves and robbers. Outside the sheep pen, all the sheep's ultimate struggle is survival. But the sheep inside the sheep pen are secured and protected; they have no concern about the predators, because their shepherd is at the gate. This complete sense of security and protection is what all people want to have. They are so harassed by the sense of insecurity; the fear of future security is one main factor that drives them to study and work hard. Above all, the fear of death is what makes them depressed and suffer from insomnia. Even if they eat all kinds of healthy food, once they catch just common cold, they are so scared that they may have some incurable disease and die. This is how people live their entire life; there is no peace or rest for their souls. But we have been saved from all those predators and we have the deep sense of security that he holds our future and that our life is in Jesus' hands that we don't die by accident without any purpose. Finally, we have found rest for our souls in Jesus Christ. Jesus says, “Whoever enters through me will be saved. This is Jesus' promise for all those who enter through him. 

 

The statement, He will come in and go out is an expression of enjoying freedom. Many people think of living as Christians as living with a whole bunch of dos and don’ts. But that’s not true. It is to live as free men and women in God. Enjoying freedom, this is what all mankind have looked for. One person said, Give us freedom, or death. But often, as they pursue freedom doing whatever they want, they end up becoming loyal slaves of sin. This freedom is found in Jesus' sheep pen, and given to those who happily live in his sheep pen. If Adam had remained in God's sheep pen by obeying his command, he would have enjoyed this freedom forever. David sang a song of thanks to his shepherd, God, saying, The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul... Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,... (Ps 23) In living as Jesus’ sheep by obeying his instructions and following his guidance is the real sense of security, peace and freedom. Indeed, there you can say, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” Surely, Christian life is not the life of a whole bunch of restrictions and regulations, but the life of enjoying freedom in God by living as Jesus’ good sheepJesus invites those who are outside this sheep pen, who are harassed, frightened. He invites all those wounded souls, saying, I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out.

 

Jesus also says, Whoever enters through me will find pasture. Pasture is what is most essential for the sheep. With green grass on the pasture, they are satisfied – yum yum; they can grow healthy and sound; they become strong and produce beautiful wools very well. With pasture, their life is flourishing and they are happy. Jesus promises that whoever enters through him, whoever lives in his sheep pen will find pasture that will satisfy them, nourish their souls and make their lives so fulfilling. Jesus is talking about what we have been looking for all the time – something that will make our lives truly meaningful, fulfilling and great. Everyone wants to find it. But they never find what they truly want in this world. Instead, what they find are wolves, lions, thieves and robbers. Adam, the first man thought that outside the will of God he would find wisdom and that he would be like God. But what he found outside God's sheep pen was sorrows, misery, bitterness, pains and death. Only inside the sheep pen, we find pasture we have been looking for, and our souls are satisfied. Then our testimony becomes: I have all I need. My cup overflows. Your grace upon me is sufficient. From our lips comes out thanks and praise to God all the time. With pasture we also grow up as healthy, sound and strong sheep of Jesus. We grow from glory to glory as children of God. 

 

Jesus proclaims, I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. All those who enter through Jesus are truly blessed: they are saved from all harms and dangers; they enjoy truly free life in Jesus’ sheep pen. Moreover, they find pasture, which they have been looking for; they are satisfied and grow up as beautiful, noble, truly respectful and honorable men and women of God. All these blessings are given to everyone who enters through Jesus, the gate.  

 

Look at verse 10. Let’s read this verse together:

 

10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

 

Throughout human history, mankind had only two guests: the first one was the devil. When he visited our father, Adam, and his wife, Eve, and said, Did God really say that you must not eat from any tree in the Garden?, he looked like a friend concerning their happiness. However, later, it turned out that he was really an enemy. Adam and Eve were not aware of this, and were deceived by him. As a result, they lost everything – their wealth as king and queen, their health and life, their mission and position as God’s stewards and the rulers over God’s creation. Today, this thief still looks for a chance to steal, kill and destroy children of God like a roaring lion. Maybe, what he whispers into our ears is sweet and what he shows us looks attractive - great success or a romantic relationship and happy family, but remember: His purpose is not to give you anything good or make you happy, but to steal all good things from you; he wants to steal your joy, happiness, meaning and purpose of life, your beauty, purity, and integrity as children of God. So many people have followed this thief, paying attention to his voice, and as a result, they have lost everything; and now in their thirties, or forties or fifties, their life has no meaning and purpose and they have no joy or happiness; instead, they are miserable, lonely, sorrowful, painful, and fearful; their life carries no value at all, no meaning at all. But this terrible enemy does not stop there with stealing alone; his real purpose is to see the end - he wants to kill and destroy; he is really terrible, so don't be deceived even if he looks good and uses tempting words. 

 

The second guest was Jesus. The purpose of his coming was that his sheep may have life, zoe - that truly fulfilling, dynamic and powerful life. For this purpose, he opened the eyes of the blind, healed the paralytic and made the lamb walk again; he did whatever was necessary for people to have life, zoe; he even would lay down his life for them - that much Jesus wants us to have zoe. Indeed, he has helped us to have zoe, a truly fulfilling life, and certainly he will do more if necessary for us to enjoy zoe. Jesus never wants us to just exist by the means of a career and family - that is the life that is perishing. In his eyes, such life is the life of zombies, the life of the dead. Jesus comes to you so that you may have life, zoe. This is his purpose for you. He says to us, Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. This is how we can enjoy zoe, eternal life, in him. Jesus says, Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor. Then, come and follow me.” This is how we can enjoy eternal life in him. “Whoever loses his life for me will save it.” This is how we can enjoy eternal life in him. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” This is how we can enjoy eternal life. How happy we are when we follow Jesus as his disciples! We were so thrilled and satisfied when we served the messages and symposiums powerfully at the conference. How cool it is to proclaim God's words to many students through one to one Bible studies. God has established us as shepherds and Bible teachers for God's flock. 

 

How is your Christian life in Jesus? Surely, our life in him has been so glorious and fulfilling; we are happy. But certainly, it is not all. Jesus says, They may have life and have it to the full. Jesus wants us to enjoy this new life, zoeto the full - the full spectrum of this new life in him - the joy of finding the secrets of the kingdom of God in the word of God; the joy of having fellowship with God in prayer, the mystery of coworking together with the Holy Spirit in doing his work, the thrill of having a sword battle face to face through one to one Bible studies, and the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord really, the joy of finding the lost,... Jesus wants us to enjoy all these to the full. That’s why we need to follow him wholeheartedly. That’s why we need to get rid of any and every sin that entangles us so easily. When we enjoy this new life zoe to the full, surely, the whole world will be blessed through us and God's glory will be revealed powerfully. This is Jesus' vision for us; this is Jesus' purpose for our life. Surely, he loves us, and his plan for us is only good all the time. Praise Jesus, our shepherd who leads us to green pasture. So, let’s follow his guidance wholeheartedly, throwing away all kinds of doubts and mistrust. When we put our trust in him, certainly, we will not be put to shame.

 

In today’s passage, we heard the promise of Jesus for those who enter through him. Jesus says, I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. Only Jesus is the shepherd, and we must enter his sheep pen through him. Then, we enjoy this abundant life, life to the full, enjoying salvation, new and powerful life in him. May God bless us to hear his voice and enter his sheep pen through him. 

 

One Word: Whoever Enters Through Jesus Will Be Saved

 

 

 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

posted Oct 28, 2018, 8:23 PM by Site Administrator

 

I WAS BLIND BUT NOW I SEE!

 

John 9:8-41

Key Verse 9:25

 

He replied, Whether he is a sinner or not, I dont know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!

 

First, I was blind but now I see (8-34). In the previous passage, we saw Jesus opening the eyes of the man born blind. For the first time in his life, the man could see. For the first time in his life, he saw the beautiful sky: the blue sky was marvelous; and the white clouds were amazing. He could not help but open his mouth in amazement and say, Wow! Wow! Beautiful! As he stood on the street, he saw people passing by, and he was amazed, because each face was different. Some long, some short, some with high noses, some with low, but no matter what each persons face was a miracle to him. In his eyes, each person was a masterpiece of Gods creation, wonderfully and fearfully made. As he was enjoying Gods creation this way for the first time in his life, Jesus grace that had opened his eyes to see all these things welled up in his heart. He was happy and was thankful to Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. It was a new life, a new beginning to him. 

 

But, the townspeople were confused. They said, Isnt this the same man who used to sit and beg? Some claimed that he was, and others said, No, he only looks like him. But he said to them, I am the man. Then, they asked, How then were your eyes opened? He replied, The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see. Then, they asked him, Where is this man? I dont know, he replied. This former blind man powerfully testified to what Jesus had done for him. His neighbors did not feel good about him at all, because he was not begging them with a sorrowful voice any longer, but was talking to them freely and confidently. Their pride was hurt. So instead of rejoicing together with him, they took him to the authorities for investigation.

 

They brought him to the Pharisees – the law enforcement. Unfortunately to the former blind man, the day his eyes were opened was a Sabbath, a day on which it was forbidden to receive any kind of surgery. What was his testimony? He said to them, He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see. Some Pharisees discriminated Jesus as a lawbreaker, but others said, How can a sinner do such miraculous signs? So they were divided. Finally, they turned again to the former blind man and asked, What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened. Then, he simply replied, He is a prophet. The religious leaders had already decided to put out of the community anyone who would recognize Jesus as the Messiah. It was very dangerous for the former blind man to acknowledge Jesus as a prophet, a man who came from God. But he boldly testified that Jesus was from God.

 

Look at verse 18. The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight. Actually, everything was clear, because the man testified to what had happened very clearly - Jesus opened his eyes. But thats not what the Pharisees wanted to hear; they pressured the man continually, but it seemed that this man would not give up his integrity. So they sent for the mans parents. But his parents quickly slipped away from the sticky situation by saying, Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself. They were afraid if they would be kicked out of the community by offending the authorities, so they simply dumped all the burdens and dangers on their son. Then, finally, the Pharisees summoned the former blind man again and threatened him theologically, saying, Give glory to God. We know this man is a sinner. So far, this man gave glory to Jesus, saying, Jesus opened my eyes. He is from God. But now they said, Give glory to God, meaning, Dont give glory to Jesus, but to God. Dont say that Jesus opened your eyes. Then, what else could he say?Either, he could say, I was not born blind, but I just pretended to be blind from my birth, or he could say, I was blind, then, one day, while I was praying, suddenly, God opened my eyes!Because of their jealousy against Jesus, they twisted the truth, and they were not willing to acknowledge what God was doing through him. When Gods work goes powerfully, there are always this kind of people who are not willing to acknowledge what God is doing through his servants. All these people eventually stand against God and live as enemies of God. 

 

Now everything became very clear to the former blind man. Now he understood what the authorities wanted to hear from him. Now, he needed to make his choice, to either stand on their side by betraying Jesus grace and cheating his conscience, or stand on Jesus side by holding on to his grace and going against them. When his eyes were opened by Jesus grace, for the first time in his life, he saw the world and was happy. Jesus took away his sorrow, and now, gave him a new life. New hope for his life arose in his heart. For the first time, he began to think about having a decent life as a normal citizen. Maybe, he thought about getting a decent job first at Taco Bell, then, at the post office, then, finally, becoming a general manager at UPS. Also, he thought about enrolling at JCC, Jerusalem City College, and pursue Psychologymajor or sociology to become a social worker to help many lowly people like the blind. For the first time in his life, he even began to dream about getting married to a beautiful lady, having three kids and buying a house with a large backyard, with some fruit trees. Yet, the world did not leave him alone to enjoy Jesus grace and his newly found life in him. Instead, the world challenged and threatened him beyond his imagination to choose either of two ways: either to pursue all his newly found dreams by betraying Jesus grace and his conscience or to give up all these dreams by holding onto Jesus grace. These newly found dreams were so precious to him, but now he was driven to the corner. Holding on to Jesus grace meant for him to lose all his dreams, and it would be really painful for him to lose such dreams. So far, the former blind man had testified to Jesus grace very boldly. He testified to the townspeople and to the Pharisees not only one time but three times. But the world still did not accept his testimony or loosen their attack; instead the world challenged him to make his choice very clear. Would he stand on Jesus side by holding on to his grace to the end or would he betray Jesus grace to keep the newly found dreams of his life? What was his response? Lets read verse 25 together:

 

He replied, Whether he is a sinner or not, I dont know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!

 

This mans answer was utmost clear. He said, Whether he is a sinner or not, I dont know. The religious leaders tried to poison his mind by saying that Jesus was a sinner not a prophet. When these well-known Bible scholars and theologians said that Jesus was a sinner, it could have been so confusing to the man. Technically, the former blind man did not know who Jesus was. He had not seen him even once; he had never studied the Bibleeither. His understanding of the Bible was so little, and his knowledge of Jesus was almost zeroIf he tried to figure out the answer theologically, or if he argued with them logically based on what they saidsurely, he would have been confused and lost. But he simply answered these doctors and experts in the Bible, Whether he is a sinner or not, I dont know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see! When things were confusing, when others showed different opinion about the one whom God used to help and bless him, he didnt go by what others said, which he didnt know about, but he simply held onto what he knew for sure - what God had done for him through that person - he was blind, but now he could see because Jesus came into his life. No matter what, it was a fact that neither his parents, the religious leaders, his townspeople, nor he himself could deny. Even if the whole world were to go upside down, and even though everything was confusing, he was sure that by Jesus grace he could see. By saying, I was blind, but now I see, he showed his utmost thanks and trust in Jesus. No matter what others might say about him, to him, Jesus was a man whom God sent to him to bless him. In that way, he held onto Jesus grace even when these theologians tried to poison his mind and threatened him. By holding onto this one thing he knew for sure, he overcame the world and kept his purity before Jesus.

 

When, by the grace of Jesus, we are saved from our terrible life – the life of sorrows, the life of meaninglessness and emptiness, the life of sin, it seems that there are so many things for us to do and the things we want to do – dream for a new career, or sweet home or even success. But when we remember Jesus grace upon our lives, we know what to do, that we must love him with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our strength. We must keep his grace no matter what, at any cost. The former blind mans confession of love and faith lingers in our ears: Whether he is a sinner or not, I dont know. But one thing I do know. I was blind but now I see. Indeed, this is our confession of thanks to Jesus. I was lost but now I am found. I was dead but now I am alive. I was a sinful man, but now I am a servant of God. This is one thing no one can deny.

 

Look at verses 26 through 34. The Pharisees, however, did not accept his testimony. Instead, they asked him again, How did he open your eyes? Then, the man was a little angry because they asked him the same question. He said, I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too? Wow! What an awesome man! This former blind beggar pointed out the problem of these prestigious people, saying, I have told you already and you did not listen. Then, these prestigious men lost their temper. They were enraged and said, You are this fellows disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we dont even know where he comes from. But the man calmly said to them, Now that is remarkable! You dont know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.At this, the Pharisees, men of prestige, went crazy. They screamed at the top of their lungs, saying, You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us! And they threw him out.

 

The former blind man was cool. The Pharisees tried to intimidate him, but he was invincible; he was untouchable. Even though he was nothing but a poor beggar, he became so cool and awesome when he just held onto Jesus grace upon his life. With that one thing he knew about Jesus grace upon his life, he overcame all the intimidation of the religious leaders and temptation from the world. He kept his conscience pure and clear. Even though he was thrown away from the community, he was indeed free in his conscience. When we think about him, we are reminded of the word, integrity. He was a man of integrity with strong backbone. When he held onto Jesus grace absolutely, he was no longer an ordinary man, but a great man. Everyone who holds onto Jesus grace absolutely is no ordinary person, but a great person. Despite such great threats, dangers, risks and temptations, they do not cheat their conscience; instead, even at the cost of losing all in this life, they keep Jesus grace. Such people are not push-overs, but men and women of integrity. They possess a real quality as children of God. Here, we are also reminded of Jesus parable of the sower. There, Jesus describes good soil, saying, But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Lk 8:15) They are the people with a noble heart. Those who hold onto Jesus grace despite such threats, dangers and temptation are the people with a noble heart – they are noble people. Dont you want to be noble people? Then, keep Jesus grace absolutely, saying, One thing I do know. I was blind, but now I see.

 

Second, Do you believe in the Son of Man? (35-41)Now, the former blind man was thrown out of the community. He became an undocumented illegal resident. It seemed that his situation became even worse than before only because of Jesusgrace. He lost his job, and he could not return to the society. People kicked him out of their society and he was abandoned. But he was not alone. Look at verse 35. Lets read this verse together:

 

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, Do you believe in the Son of Man?

 

When this man was faithful to Jesus grace, Jesus too remained faithful to him. When Jesus heard about his struggle and how the religious leaders mistreated him, he searched for him and found him. But when he found him, he did not sympathize with his difficult condition; he didnt say, I am sorry. Instead, he asked him, Do you believe in the Son of Man?

 

When you lose all things – your future dream, your legal status, your chance for success, and even your job – only because of your struggle to keep your purity before God, Jesus asks you, Do you believe in the Son of Man? Even when things go that way, do you still believe in Jesus? What is your response? I pray that we all may say, Yes, Lord. I still believe in you. Yes, Lord. Even if I lose everything, I will believe in you.

 

Also, when we think about this question of Jesus carefully, we can see that in Jesus eyes, faith in him is the most important and precious thing. In his eyes, we must keep our faith in him even when we lose everything. This faith in Jesus is like the certificate he issues for us, which we can present at the gate of heaven; when this certificate is presented, we will receive a rich welcome into the kingdom of God, and there we will reign with God forever. This faith will change a lowly beggar into a ruler in the kingdom of God. Moreover, this faith in Jesus is the only asset we can earn in this life and carry to the next life. We came into the world empty-handed, and we leave the world empty-handed, leaving everything behind – degrees, money, titles and positions, and even family. But we can carry our faith in Jesus to the next life in the kingdom of God. So, we must keep it at any cost. If we lose this faith in Jesus only because of some losses or difficulties, we lose everything in this life, and thereby, we have nothing to carry to the next life. Our faith is the most precious thing we can get in this life. I dont know whats going on in your life. Yet, no matter what, despite all challenges and difficulties, do you still believe in Jesus? Faith in Jesus is the victory that overcomes the world and challenges of this life. 

 

Then, the man asked, Who is he, sir? Tell me so that I may believe. Even if he lost his dreams, I mean, his life in the world, he was not sorrowful; he was not afraid. Instead, he was thinking about who that person, Jesus, who had opened his eyes, might be. He wanted to know who Jesus was. Then, Jesus said to himYou have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you. At a first glance, it seemed that Jesus was telling him that he was the very one who had opened his eyes. But actually, it was more than that. Originally, this man knew Jesus as a prophet. But when Jesus said to him, You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you, the man said, Lord, I believe, and he worshiped him. Worship is not toward a prophet, but toward God. When Jesus said to him, You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you, Jesus was revealing himself to him as He. The Jews were afraid to call Gods name directly. So, instead of calling out his name freely, they used other expressions, such as, Adoni, which means, my Lord or El Shaddai,which means, the Almighty. To the Jews, God was simply, He. Jesus here revealed himself as He, the God of Israelwhom they had been waiting for. 

 

At this, the man, as if he had been thinking about it, said, Lord, I believe, and he worshiped him. How happy he was! What an exciting moment it was to him. He found his God who had opened his eyes and talked with him. The world rejected him, but they did not know that he was the happiest man in the world because he had found his God and talked to him. When this man remained faithful to Jesus by holding onto his grace, even at the cost of losing everything in the world, God remained faithful to him also; God found him and revealed himself to him, and this man rejoiced at his God and worshiped Him. Thus, this man became the most blessed man who met his God personally. This is how God blesses those who remain faithful to him. Those who are not faithful to him may get what they desire - money, or success, or family, but as they have not valued their God so highly, God does not value them so highly either. But those who are faithful to God get what they desire - Gods love and blessing; God blesses them by revealing Himself to them, and once they meet their God personally, they are overjoyed and they worship Him; they come to know God more and more, and their life of faith no longer is conceptual or religious, but it becomes real and concrete. Remain in Jesus, and he will remain in you; then, you will bear much fruit, and that will be glory to the Father in heaven.

 

Look at verses 39 to 41. Jesus said, For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind. Those who think that they are okay because of some Bible knowledge they have, cannot see God in the Son of Man, because in their eyes, the Son of Man is merely a human being. They never see that God is working through many of his human servantsThey are blind. They never see what God is doing and what God wants them to do. But those who are humble because they do not know God or those who acknowledge their blindness toward God, toward themselves and toward life, pay attention to what others have to say about God and about life. They meditate on what other servants of God teach them, and thereby, their eyes are opened to see what God is doing and what God wants them to do. They open their hearts toward Jesus and accept his words. Jesus said to the Pharisees who insisted that they were not blind, If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains. They knew the Bible, but they didnt follow what the Bible said, so their guilt remained. The ones who are great are not those who know the truth, but those who do what the truth says.

 

In todays passage, we saw an awesome man of God, the former blind man. Against a whole bunch of prestigious people of the time, he stood firm and testified to what Jesus had done for him, saying, Whether he is a sinner or not, I dont know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see. When he held onto Jesus grace absolutely, he could overcome all difficulties and temptations. When he remembered Jesus grace, he knew what to do with his life. He was a truly great man, and Jesus revealed himself to him as the Creator God, and the man believed and worshiped Him.

 

One Word: I Was Blind But Now I See!

Sunday, October 22, 2018

posted Oct 22, 2018, 5:16 PM by Site Administrator

2

 

SO THAT THE WORK OF GOD MIGHT BE DISPLAYED IN HIS LIFE

 

John 9:1-7

Key Verse 9:3

 

Neither this man nor his parents sinned, said Jesus, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

 

First, So that the work of God might be displayed in his life (1-3). Look at verses 1 and 2. As Jesus and His disciples were walking along, they came across one man who was born blind. Having been blind even from birth, this man had never seen the beautiful world that God had created. Simple things such as the blue sky on a sunny day, or glittering stars in the sky at night, were foreign and unknown to him. He could not see the beautiful colors of red roses, yellow tulips, purple violets, or white begonias. On the 4th of July this man could hear, but could not see the spectacular fireworks. When the disciples saw him, they felt that it was so unfair that all of the basic pleasures of life had been taken away from him not just for one day or one month, but for his life time even from his birth. Then, they naturally came to have a question, Why? Why was he born this way? It was not his own choice that he was born blind. There must be a reason, and the only reason they could think of was someone's sin, and according to their assumption, his blindness was God's curse. They asked Jesus, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?

 

This question is a real question all people have. There are many people who were born in a poor or dysfunctional family; some people were born in a country human rights were not honored, so they experienced untold pains and sorrows; even some people were born with physical disabilities, deprived of many basic privileges of life. Certainly, they did not choose to be born in that way. Why were they born in that way? By whose choice? And for what purpose? Usually, people avoid this kind of question, because they don't know the answer. Yet, what was Jesus' answer? Look at verse 3. Let us read this verse altogether: 

 

Neither this man nor his parents sinned, said Jesus, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

 

Jesus said that this man’s suffering was not because he or his parents had sinned. He confirmed that this man’s condition was not because God was punishing him. In fact, Jesus taught that quite the opposite was true. In Jesus’ eyes, this man was not cursed, nor was God’s punishment being carried out on him, but rather this man was a chosen instrument of God to reveal God’s glory. God chose him even before he was born to be his special instrument, and God equipped him uniquely so that he would be able to reveal the work of God in his life very effectively. Suddenly, probably the most miserable man became a very great tool uniquely equipped and prepared to reveal the glory of God. In Jesus' eyes, this man was not a miserable or condemned man, but instead God’s chosen instrument. For example, if this man was to overcome the fatalistic element in his life to even praise and thank God, many people would be so amazed and come to know God through his life. Him giving thanks to God would be far weightier than other people saying, Thank God. God’s glory then, would be magnified in his life. His blindness would then become an instrument to be used for the salvation of many. 

 

Why do you think people are born with so many problems? What is the cause of human suffering? Jesus says, This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. When we look back our own life, we too come to have many questions, Why? Why? Jesus says, so that the work of God might be displayed in your life. Those who accept this will of God upon their lives come to the light and live victorious and powerful life rendering glory to God. They can see that nothing happened without any purpose; they can see that all things happened in their life so that they might be uniquely equipped and prepared to do God's work; through all things happened to them in their life, their understanding, value system, characters have been shaped up in a way God can use for his purpose very effectively. Indeed, when we accept this will of God to display the work of God in our life, we can see that we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10). People are miserable not because they have problems, but because they do not accept the divine, good and perfect will of God for their lives. When we accept the will of God upon our lives, we become God’s chosen instrument uniquely prepared and equipped to display the work of God and render glory to God. 

 

Second, As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me (4-5). Look at verse 4. Let’s read this verse together: 

 

As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.

 

Here, ‘day’ refers to man’s life on this earth, while ‘night’ refers to the time of man’s death. As long as it is day means as long as we breathe,… Jesus says, As long as we breathe, we must do the work of God. The disciples were fatalistic upon seeing the tragic life of the man born blind. Because it looked too tragic and because it was a humanly impossible situation, in their minds they had already given up. They had no desire or faith to do anything positive in that situation. But Jesus told them that no matter what, in all circumstances, man must do the work of God. If you think you are breathing, then, you have this supreme duty to do the work of God.

 

Jesus says, Night is coming when no one can work. This means that the time of our death is already coming. Death does not wait for us to finish all we want to do; instead, death is coming to get us moment by moment. We do not have that much time. We should not waste our time in pity party, or in complaining, or in pursuing worthless things in this world. Night is already coming. You may think that you will do the work of God after graduation, or after marriage. Some people plan to do the work of God after making a lot of money. But who knows whether you will live until that time? You never know what will happen tomorrow. Night is coming, and now is the time for us to do the work of God wholeheartedly. 

 

As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work. This was how he understood of his life. At the same time, this shows Jesus' burning passion to do God's work. With this understanding of his life purpose and this passion for God's work, he saw everything. He was there to do God's work, and his time was limited. So, he would use every flying minute to do God's work; simply, no time to waste in pity-party or complaining. When he had such burning passion to do God's work in any way possible, then, when he saw the man born blind, he was excited, because in his eyes, this man was uniquely equipped to display the work of God in his life. When he said to his disciples, As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me, it was like him saying to them, Don't talk about anything negative. No time to lose. Let's go and do the work of God.

 

When we really pursue God’s mission, then we too become like Jesus, seeing everything in God’s mission in mind. We look for sheep day and night. Then, as we walk on the street, someone asks us for help to find V.A hospital. We help him, then, we ask, By the way, are you interested in studying the Bible? We want to make disciples – this is what we pursue wholeheartedly; we mean business. Then, if someone asks us, Do you think allChristian should be Bible teachers? Then, we say, Yes, everyone, especially, you! We just want to establish disciples as Jesus has commanded us to make disciples of all nations. No matter what, as long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent us.

 

Look at verse 5. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Before Jesus entered the scene, everything looked so fatalistic and tragic. Without Jesus, the man born blind had to live the most condemned and cursed life. He had to suffer from sorrow and meaninglessness to the end. The man born blind was pleading for mercy with his best sorrowful voice, saying, Alms for the blind. And the disciples felt so bad and sorry. They too had no hope or vision for a man like this. Everything looked completely dark. But when Jesus came into the scene, suddenly everything in this scenario changed. The most fatalistic case became the best chance to reveal God’s glory. When Jesus came into this man’s life, his life became the very tool to reveal God’s glory. Everybody became excited and eager to start working. In this way, when Jesus came into his life, the most fatalistic man was changed into a powerful instrument of God, because Jesus was the light of this man. 

 

While Jesus is in our life, he is the light of our life. He sends forth light and lightens everything up. Then, suddenly, everything in our life becomes clear and everything carries real value, meaning and purpose. Our job carries real meaning and value that we work faithfully. Our school work carries real value and meaning that we study hard. Our family carries real value and meaning that we support it faithfully. Our past, our present and our future, everything in our life has real value and meaning. It is really like we are in the garden of Eden. All these have happened in our life only because of one fact – Jesus is in our life. The only problem is though, that, because we have been in this kind of blessed environment for years, now this kind of life has become the norm that often, we forget about what a blessed life we are enjoying in Christ Jesus. But just think about how we lived, how our life was before coming to Jesus. How was it? It was really terrible – dark, gloomy, sorrowful, fearful, sinful, and many of us were even suicidal. Was there any hope for our future? Did we have any meaning in school work? What about our family life? Did you enjoy it? We were crying and crying, without knowing what to do, without knowing where our life was going. It was meaningless and empty. Demons tortured us. We were fearful of what was waiting for us – destruction and death. Just thinking about it, we are scared. But now, everything has changed. Jesus has changed everything. Night has turned to day. Indeed, on those living in the shadow of death, a light has dawned. Jesus proclaimsWhile I am in the world, I am the light of the world. We praise Jesus! He is our light.

 

Here, we can see that the most important thing in our life is to have Jesus in us; the most important thing is to have a room for him to dwell in us. All good things come from Jesus, and without Jesus, we lose everything. When you have him in your life, your life has the light. You see a great hope and vision for your life, and you live a powerful and glorious life. But without Jesus, you have no light in your life; suddenly, you lose everything - hope, meaning and purpose in everything you do. Even if you may go through the motion of worship, even doing Bible studies, you don't see any real purpose and meaning. Without Jesus, you can do nothing; without Jesus, you perish. Because of him, we live, and without him we die. The most important thing is to have Jesus in us. That’s why we must hold onto his teaching. That’s why we must persevere in doing God’s will.  That’s why we must reject all temptations – temptation is nothing but our enemy trying to take us out of Jesus. Secure Jesus in your life no matter what and enjoy your life with him to the full. 

 

Third, with saliva and mud (6-7). Look at verses 6 and 7. After teaching his disciples, Jesus, suddenly, began spitting on the ground, and he scooped a handful of dirt, and made it round like pancake. It was a homemade mud pack – 100% natural made of Jesus’ saliva and dirt. Then, he put it on the man’s eyes and commanded him, Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam. Jesus’ way of healing the man was very active and powerful, but very questionable in the matter of hygiene. Surely, he could have opened the man’s eyes in more stylish way by simply saying, Be opened or Your faith has healed you as he did to others. But instead, Jesus chose to use such a primitive and even questionable practice in helping the man to open his eyes. Why? Jesus was demonstrating his words, As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Even though there was no medical equipment available for him to use to open this man’s eyes, Jesus did not give up. When he did not have a band-aid, he made one using his saliva and dirt. When there was no normal saline to wash the treatment area, he asked him to go to the Pool of Siloam. Through this, Jesus showed his disciples that they must do the work of God in all circumstances, and they should never say, We cannot do the work of God, because of this reason or that reason. Rather, using whatever they have, they must do the work of God, no matter what. 

 

Jesus wanted his disciples to do the work of God even in the case of a man born blind. A man born blind – what can you do with this case? Actually, nothing! Human impossibility! But Jesus never wants his disciples to sit back and give up, only because it is a human impossibility; instead, he wants his disciples to do God’s work, as long as they breathe, even in this kind of impossible situation. You may have a very challenging situation – maybe, your school load is too heavy, but if you think you are breathing, Jesus wants you to do God’s work. Maybe, you don’t have a lot of time, but at least you have saliva. Maybe, you don’t have enough resources to do God’s work, but at least, there is dust on the ground. Maybe, as you try to do God’s work, you cannot do it in a fancy way – don’t worry about manner or etiquettes or hygiene. Just make some mud and put it on the man’s eyes. Jesus’ way of doing the work of God in the impossible situation wasn’t so fancy or fantastic or miraculous, but very simple and basic – what Jesus' example shows is do something. Never say, Never! Never say, It is impossible, or I cannot do it. Instead, do something trying to display the work of God. As long as it is day, we must do the work of God who sent us. Those who follow Jesus’ example do the work of God in all circumstances and render glory to God – they are disciples of Jesus Christ.

 

What was the man’s response? He went, washed and came home seeing. Wow! This man obeyed Jesus’ instruction. It was not easy for him to do so. While he was sitting there expecting some coins from the passers-by, he suddenly realized that some people were talking about him. Then, he heard one person spitting on the ground, not one or two times, but several times, and after one or two minutes, suddenly, a man applied on his face something – it was a homemade mud pack mixed with man’s saliva. But Jesusdid not explain anything, but simply told him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. At that time, he could have said to himself, Oh, man, these guys are making sport of me, and could have been very angry at Jesus and his disciples. Or he could have withdrawn in deep sorrow and embarrassment, and then sat down and wailed uncontrollably. But amazingly, he did not think that way or do anything like that. Instead of entertaining human thoughts and becoming fatalistic, he regarded Jesus as a servant of God andobeyed his instruction. So, he made his journey to the pool of Siloam. On the way, how did he look? A blind man struggling to make his way to the pool, while his face was covered with mudpack? He looked so funny and weird. People might have laughed at him or ridiculed him. But he didn't care. He just wanted to obey the man who gave him this order. As a result, his eyes were restored, and he could see the world for the first time in his life. 

 

Actually, Jesus could have done everything for him in opening his eyes. But after doing his part, Jesus gave him this instruction, asking him to participate in his work to display the work of God in his life through his obedience. When we think about this carefully, we realize that this is the very style of God found in the Bible continually. God wants us to participate in his work through our obedience that comes from faith. Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. This was the final test - everything else was done by Jesus and then, he challenged him to participate in his work with this instruction. If the man had been only concerned about his pride or his self esteem or if he had entertained human thinking and rejected Jesus, he would have remained as a loyal enemy of Jesus for the rest of his life, with great anger and bitterness toward him, always blaming him and thinking of him as a bad person. But when he obeyed his instruction overcoming all human thinking and sense of humiliation, he experienced the power of God and his eyes were opened to see that the man who gave him this instruction was a servant of God; since then, his life changed completely. 

 

Jesus, a great man of God, treated this blind beggar in such a humiliating and despicable way, and without explaining why he was doing so, he simply told him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. What a great challenge the blind beggar had! Sometimes, we feel treated in the same way. Usually, no one intentionally treats you that way – instead, usually, in a nice way, understandable way, with a lot of explanation and communication– only exceptional people like Joseph in Genesis and Jesus in today’s passage did so intentionally. But ordinary people like you and me do not do so intentionally. But often, due to lack of communication or misunderstanding, we feel like we are treated unfairly or even in a humiliating way. This happens actually in all human communities – between husband and wife, between parents and children, among coworkers at work, among friends, among siblings, and among brothers and sisters in the church. As far as we live in a human community, we cannot avoid it. But the important thing is how you respond when that happens to you. Many people give into their sense of injustice; as a result, their inner world is really ruined. They are full of bitterness and anger; their wholehearted desire is to retaliate; often, we see many of them live as enemies of God. No healing comes to them. When such a thing happens to you, don’t give into your hurt feelings; don’t insist your own pride; don’t insist your sense of justice either. Instead, remember today’s passage – how Jesus humiliated the blind beggar intentionally, and how the man submitted himself to him, honoring him and obeying his command. At that time, God will comfort you, and you will experience God’s healing. 

 

In this passage, we learn that Jesus is the light of the world. While Jesus is in my life, he is the light of John Baik. Without Jesus, our lives cannot have any meaning or purpose. Without Jesus, our life has no taste like a Black and White TV. But when Jesus comes into our lives, we begin to have light in our lives and suddenly life becomes full of meaning – very colorful like a color TV. Then, we realize that we must do the work of Him who sent us. As long as it is day, we must do the work of God who sent us into this world.

 

One Word: While Jesus Is In My Life, He Is The Light Of My Life

Sunday, October 14, 2018

posted Oct 15, 2018, 5:36 AM by Site Administrator

IF ANYONE KEEPS MY WORD, HE WILL NEVER SEE DEATH

 

John 8:33-59

Key Verse 8:51

 

I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.

 

       First, “He who belongs to God hears what God says” (33-47). In the previous passage, we learned of Jesus' instruction for those who had believed in him. When many people finally put their faith in him, he didn't just welcome and bless them; instead, he gave them a clear direction of what they should do, saying, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Becoming real disciples of Jesus, knowing the truth and enjoying freedom - all these are so amazing. When these promises are fulfilled in your life, you will really like how you live. You will be truly satisfied and happy. And Jesus says that only if we hold to his teaching, we will enjoy all these blessings. It was Jesus' invitation to such a beautiful and glorious life. This is what Christian life is about.

 

       But at this, the Jews answered him, “We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” They had pride as Abraham's descendants, God's chosen people. Of course, this pride helped them overcome unbearable sufferings and survive. But it also made them slaves to racial pride. In Jesus' time, they were under the bondage of the Roman Empire. They also had been under the rule of Egypt, Babylon, Persian Empire and the Greek Empire. In spite of the historical facts, they never admitted they had been under the rule of anyone.  

 

       Look at verses 34 through 36. Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Slaves stayed in their master's house, but when they became old or sick, when their usage was gone, they were kicked out into the streets. Slaves had no permanent place in the family. In the same way, slaves have no permanent place in the kingdom of God, and everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Maybe, some people have great spiritual heritage such as their father is a great man of God like Abraham; they may have read the Bible a lot; they may attend the church regularly. Yet, despite all these things, once they sin, they are salves to sin. This is the reason why everyone should be set free from their sins so that they can have a permanent place in the kingdom of God. This was what Jesus talked about when he said, “If you hold to my teaching,... the truth will set you free.” Despite their spiritual heritage, they were slaves to sin; they were slaves to the national pride; in that way, they would have no permanent place in the kingdom of God. They really needed to be free from their sin and from their national pride. How? In the previous passage, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching,… the truth will set you free.” Now in this passage, he says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Eventually, freedom comes from Jesus. In Christ, as people come to Jesus by faith, they experience this freedom. This is what we experienced also. Some of us were slaves to bitterness and anger, maybe, due to some terrible experience; we could not forgive; we could not love; instead, we hated; some of us were slaves to lust that even if we knew that our sinful life was leading us to destruction, simply we could not stop, even if we wanted to stop; some of us were addicted to drugs or alcohol; we were indeed slaves to sin. Then, as we studied the word of God, as God’s words came to our hearts, as we respond to Jesus’ love, we were set free from all the things that had bothered us; at Jesus’ grace, we could turn away from such things and start a new life in Jesus as free children of God. Jesus set us free. He says, “So if the Son sets free, you will be free indeed.” This is his grace that occurred in our life. And this is the very reason we must hold onto his teaching all the more. Freedom from sins is found in Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

       In verse 33, they said, “We are Abraham’s descendants.” Jesus challenged them about it. Then, in verse 39, they said, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus challenged them about it again. Then, they said in verse 41, “We are not illegitimate children. The only Father we have is God himself.” We can see how wholeheartedly they held onto their righteous standing. They had great ancestors such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They had the Bible, the Jerusalem temple, and worship service. While all other people in the world worshiped worthless idols, they had worshiped the only true God. They had such great pride to be God's chosen people that they would rather choose to die than denying God. So, based on these things - their spiritual heritage, knowledge of the Bible, their worship of God, and their passion for God that they would rather choose to die than denying God - they thought that they were already children of God. When they said, “We are not illegitimate children. The only Father we have is God himself,” they meant that they were the only rightful children of God. Actually, they were the only ones who had worship of the God of Abraham in the whole world; they were the only ones who kept the authority of the Bible. Surely, if they were not, then, who would? They were not willing to give up their own righteous status that they were already children of God. But the problem was that, as long as they held onto this righteous status, giving real importance to it, they had no room for the word of the Son of God - even God was speaking to them, but they had no room for God’s word to dwell in them. They had Bible study with Jesus, but they had rejected everything he taught them; thus, despite having Bible study with the Son of God, there was no change in their life; they were not blessed.

 

       I had students who enjoyed Bible study with me. Through each Bible study, God’s divine words, God’s divine will and purpose, God’s great vision for them were revealed – they saw them and were glad. But instead of accepting God’s vision for their life, they insisted, saying, “I am already saved.” They said, “I have been a Christian lifelong.” When they held onto it, all the words of God were bounced off. As a result, despite having Bible study every week for months, or even for 2 years, there was no change in their life. One person wrote even a testimony every week – it was not like real testimony, but rather it was like Bible exposition – he was not responding to God’s words with heart, but just talked about this and that. One day, after about one year’s Bible study, I asked him, “We have studied the Bible for one year, and you wrote a testimony every week. You have learned so much. But, do you have any verse you really accepted?” Then, he thought about it for a minute and said, “No.” He had not accepted even one verse during all these Bible studies for a whole year. No wonder that there was no change in his life. Eventually, he quit Bible study. People hold onto their own righteous standing – how they have lived as Christian for 10 or 20 years, or their father is a pastor, or they want to love God (they don’t love God, but they wish that later, they will love God – even this wish becomes their righteous standing); I even had one student who thought that he was good, because he wanted to go to heaven, not hell. When they hold onto their righteous standing this way, there is no room for God’s word to dwell in their hearts; they ever study, but they reject all the words of God. As a result, no real change ever occurs in their life.

 

       While they insisted their own righteous standing, saying, “We are Abraham’s children,” “The only Father we have is God himself,” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do what Abraham did.” He said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God… You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.” Jesus did not give them any credit despite all those good looking things; instead, he just focused on what they were doing and how they were really living, and based on these two aspects, he told them plainly that they were not children of God, but children of the devil, for they were doing exactly what the devil would do - lying and developing murderous desires. In what sense were they lying? When Jesus made everything clear of who he was and what God wanted them to do, they should have accepted him as God’s servant and responded to his messages. But they didn’t do that. Instead, even after understanding everything, they said, “We are already saved. We are already God’s children.” That was lying.

 

Here, we see that what is really important is how we live and what we do, or what kind of people we are - people of truth, people who love God and pursue Him - not our words of mouth, our knowledge of the Bible, or how religious we are. Jesus does not give any credit to those things. Abraham’s descendants are those who do what Abraham did. If you think that Abraham is your Father, then, instead of saying, “I am already saved,” or “I have been in the church for 10 years,” do what Abraham did. What did Abraham do? He didn’t do that much, but one thing – that, when God revealed his great vision for his life, he accepted it and obeyed God’s command by leaving his country, his people and his father’s household; in this way, he was pursuing God’s great vision in his life. He lived as God’s covenant person, pursuing God’s covenant vision upon his life. How was it? It was not easy. He had financial difficulty that he went down to Egypt for survival; he had the sense of insecurity that he lied, saying that his wife was his sister; the fruit of his life of faith did not come up so quickly; instead, despite his hard struggle to live according to God’s will, he was fruitless for years. Then, when he thought about his future, it looked really hopeless; he was really depressed; he complained to God about it. Yet, despite such great ordeals and difficulties, whenever God encouraged him with his words of promise, Abraham believed and thereby, continued on his life as God’s covenant person. Because Abraham believed, because Abraham pursued God’s covenant vision upon his life continually, God could lead him continually and finally God could fulfill his purpose for him, establishing him as a source of blessing for all peoples on earth. Abraham was God’s business partner for God’s world salvation plan, all because of Abraham’s belief in God. If you think Abraham is your father, do what Abraham did so that God can fulfill His great purpose in your life.

 

In the same way, if God were your Father, do what your Father would do. What does God the Father do? God is loving and compassionate. Moreover, He is in his soul saving business. Jesus says, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too, am working.” Since the transgression of the first man Adam, God has been working to save souls and restore God's kingdom on earth for the past 6,000 years without taking any vacation; this is what God is doing today, and this is what He will do continually until His redemption plan is completed. Who are children of God? Those who do what God would do! Those who work together with the Father and the Son to save souls and advance God's kingdom with compassionate heart for those who are dying are children of God. When these children of God whose hearts and lives are fully dedicated to God’s world salvation see anyone who does the work of God, they rejoice and love that person. Jesus says, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God.” We must not rely on our religious life such as reading the Bible or attending worship service for years or praying, or even fasting; we must not rely on Bible knowledge either; we must not rely on the desire we have for God. You may say, “I will never deny God even if I have to die.” But this does not make you a child of God. Instead, we must strive to do what God would do by dedicating ourselves to God's soul saving business - that's how children of God live their life here on earth. If God is your Father, do what God would do.

        

       Look at verse 47. “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” Jesus proved his identity as a man sent by God through his words and deeds; it was clear to even a man born blind that Jesus was the Son of David, the Promised Messiah. But these Jews were not willing to accept him as God's servant; instead, they hated him and tried to kill him. Even though Jesus taught them the word of God continually, even if they could see that Jesus' message carried such profound meaning, revealing the secrets of the kingdom of God, they were not willing to acknowledge him as a man sent by God. Their case was a real mystery; logically, it didn't make sense. Even Jesus himself asked them, “If I am telling you the truth, why don't you believe me?” (46)? Now Jesus drew a conclusion, saying that it was because they didn't belong to God, but belonged to the devil. Even if they had great titles and degrees religiously, even in the name of worship of God, Jesus did not give them any credit when they did not hear God's message; simply, he understood them as those who belonged to the devil.

 

       He who belongs to God hears what God says. Jesus does not give any credit to us based on our religious life or knowledge of the Bible. The most important thing is whether we hear what God says or not; the most important thing is how we respond to God's message. God speaks to us through his words; he speaks to us through his servants. And we must hear what God says. Maybe, what God says is challenging; maybe, we have to deny our own desires and plans to accept his message. But despite all challenges and difficulties, those who belong to God eventually hear what God says and do what God wants them to do, while those who do not belong to God eventually excuse themselves and do not hear what God says. Do you belong to God? Open your hearts and accept God's will upon your life. Let's live for God as children of God.

 

       Second, “If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death” (48-59). Look at verse 48. The Jews answered him, “Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” Calling a Jew ‘a Samaritan’ in those days was great insult. It was a really bad foul language. When Jesus pointed out their problem, exposing how they were living, and conclusively saying that they belonged to the devil, not God the Father in heaven, they were angry.

 

Look at verses 49 through 51. Let's read these verses together:

 

V49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. V50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. V51 I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

 

       Now Jesus talks about himself. On the contrary to the Jews who lived a self-seeking life, Jesus lived the life of honoring his Father. How? He says in verse 55, “I keep his word.” Instead of living for himself or however way he desired, he held onto God's word and lived by it, even if it meant for him to be poor and die on the cross for others. When Jesus lived this kind of life, he was misunderstood and despised, but he continued to live in that way, because his purpose was to honor God. What a happy man he is when he can say, “I honor my Father.” People should have honored Jesus for his noble desire and struggles.

 

       Jesus also says, “I am not seeking glory for myself.” Jesus was the Son of God, a glorious Being; he could have sought his glory. But even if he did mighty works of God, preaching the word of God day and night, saving souls and establishing disciples powerfully, he did not seek his glory; he didn't try to reveal himself to the world; he didn't ask others to honor him and respect his words either. Instead, he simply served God's work, taking a form of God's servant, submitting himself to God's authority and living according to his command. In the Lord's prayer, Jesus taught his disciples what they should pray for, which means, what they should pursue and live for. Actually, it was his prayer topics, which he pursued - that's why it is called, “The Lord's prayer.” The first prayer topic was, “Hallowed be your name,” the second prayer topic was, “Your kingdom come,” and the third prayer topic was, “Your will be done.” So, Jesus pursued “God's name, God's kingdom and God's will.” What about then, his own life? He prayed, “Give us our daily bread.” He was simply satisfied with just daily bread; if he had one day's food, he was happy and satisfied. He lived this way. Relying on God's provision for his daily needs, he pursued God's name, God's kingdom and God's will. Indeed, he didn't seek glory for himself, but for God alone.

 

       At that time, how did he look in the eyes of God? He looked so beautiful, honorable and precious. When Jesus lived for God this way, there was one Person who sought glory for him; it was the Father. The Father was with him all the time and answered whatever he asked for - multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish for five thousand people? No problem! Walking on the stormy water? No problem! God answered whatever he prayed for so that Jesus might be exalted highly and receive honor and respect. When Jesus died on the cross in obedience to his command, God did not leave him among the dead. He raised him from the dead on the third day and exalted him highly to sit right next to him and gave him all authority in heaven and on earth; He made him the judge of all so that all people might honor him. In this way, when Jesus sought glory for God, God sought glory for Jesus. This was what God did, and his decision is final because he is the judge. Those who accept what God has done and honor Jesus submitting themselves to his authority will be accepted, but those who do not accept what God has done for him and does not submit themselves to Jesus' authority will be punished. Those who kiss the Son will be blessed, but those who rebel against him will be dashed to pieces like pottery.

 

       In doing God's work, we must not seek glory for ourselves, but for God alone. Jesus says in verse 54, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing.” He was the Son of God, but if he glorified himself, his glory would mean nothing. Then, what about us, miserable sinners, if we try to glorify ourselves only because we do some work of God? Let's say, someone really works hard and serves 20 Bible studies and establishes many great disciples. What he has done is great. But if he says, “I serve 20 Bible studies and have established many disciples, so you must honor me,” then, you will be embarrassed without knowing what to say and how to respond. At that time, what he has done, all the hard work for God and all great achievements become nothing, and he becomes a miserable person, so pathetic - if anyone glorifies himself or herself, that glory means nothing, and that person becomes miserable and pathetic. Even this was true with Jesus. So, we must not seek glory for ourselves; instead, after doing all these, we must say, “I have only done my duties.” We must keep an unworthy servant's attitude that after working hard and even achieving great things for God, we still work harder, humbly taking the form of a servant, ready to serve more.

        

       Jesus proclaims, “I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” This is his proclamation of who he is, the Giver of life, eternal life, zoe, and at the same time, this is his promise of eternal life for those who keep his word. We want to have eternal life, zoe, that truly fulfilling, meaningful and powerful life, that will give us true satisfaction and happiness. In Jesus is zoe. Then, how can we have it? By keeping his word! By holding onto it! By living according to his word. As you struggle to keep it, challenges may come, difficulties may rise, and temptation may come, but you still, keep it; you do not let it go away, but keep it. Sometimes, some other suggestions may come; temptations may come, but you give absolute value and priority to Jesus' word that you keep it absolutely - consistency, absoluteness and perseverance; as you struggle to keep the word of Jesus this way, your life will change and you will see yourselves living a truly glorious and powerful life as children of God. When you keep Jesus' word, you will never see death. This is the answer to the question so many Christians have. They want to live a powerful life and keep their spiritual fervor and passion for God continually. They want to be wholehearted to God's mission all the days of their life. In other words, they never want to see death in their Christian life. Then, how? Jesus says, “If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” By keeping Jesus' word! This is how we can enjoy real Christian life continually.

 

       John 3:16 says that by believing in Jesus, we shall not perish, but have eternal life. We must believe in Jesus so that we can have eternal life. Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” We want this living water, flowing from within us, that complete satisfaction and happiness as Christians - this is eternal life, zoe. Whoever believes in him will have this living water. By the way, what does it mean to believe? It means to keep Jesus' word, holding onto it and living by it continually. This is the real meaning of believing in Jesus. When you keep his word, you will never see death and your Christian life will be powerful and glorious.

 

       But what will happen to you, when you do not keep it, for whatever reason you may have - financial difficulty, conflict with family members, pains or sorrows, or temptations? You lose zoe, eternal life, and you die. When zoe is gone, what is left is only psuche - you just exist by eating food and inhaling oxygen just like pigs or ants, no meaning, no fulfillment, no real vitality in your life. Spiritually, you are dead. This is why we must hold onto Jesus' teaching no matter what, because it is the matter of life and death. If we fail to keep his word because of temptation, or because of persecution, we lose zoe. Maybe, we try to cover our deadness by attending church, but there is no real life in us. We must keep Jesus' word so that we may never see death, but have eternal life in us continually.

 

       The Jews, of course, did not understand what Jesus was talking about. So, they rejected him, saying, “Who do you think you are?” In verses 54 through 56, Jesus showed them who he was. He was an honorable person whom God wanted to glorify. So, they should have honored him. He was the one who knew God personally, so they should have honored him. He was the one who kept God's word, living according to God's will and purpose. Such a person must be honored. Jesus said to them, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” They took great pride to be the descendants of Abraham, but now Jesus showed them that all Abraham's hopes and joy were deposited in him. Jesus wanted them to repent of their false pride in being Abraham's physical descendants, and have the hope and joy that Abraham had had. 

 

       Look at verses 57 and 58. “You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” It was his public proclamation that he was the Word who was with God in the beginning. When we think about how hostile they had been to Jesus thus far, we can see that they were not the right audience for this kind of message. At this, their response would not be so good. They picked up stones to stone him. Yet, Jesus was willing to go this far for their sake, hoping that there might be one or even two people who would accept his words. Indeed, for their sake, he went to the end. This reminds us of God’s grace upon us. How many times we rejected God; how many times we chose other things over God despite his efforts for us. Yet God did not give up on us; instead, he continued to wrestle with us, showing us his love for us over and over again. Only thanks to his unfailing love for us, finally, even we, such sinners, came to have a chance to recognize him and respond to his love. Indeed, by God’s grace, we are here today. Let’s remember how God has dealt with us. Let’s seek God’s glory, because He is worthy.

 

One Word:      If Anyone Keeps My Word, He Will Never See Death.

 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

posted Oct 7, 2018, 10:43 PM by Site Administrator

IF YOU HOLD TO MY TEACHING, YOU ARE REALLY MY DISCIPLES

 

John 8:31,32

 

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

       First, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (31). In the previous passage we saw Jesus shouting, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be.” Even though they kept rejecting him, he did not despair because he was confident that through his death on the cross they would come to know that he was the Son of God. At this, many were moved in heart, and put their faith in him. Jesus must have been pleased with these people. But he did not stop there. Instead, he showed them what to do as the people who believed in him. Look at verses 31 and 32. Let’s read these verses together:

 

31To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

These two verses are some of the most famous words in the Bible. Here Jesus gives everyone who believes in him his beautiful promises to know the truth and enjoy freedom. But at the same time, these words of Jesus show us his burning desire for those who believe in him to be his real disciples. What does it mean to be his real disciples? Of course, it means not fake disciples; of course, it means not those who just go to church once a week; of course, it means not those who just go through the motion. Jesus once said, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Mat 10:37,38) Then, we can understand what it means to be Jesus’ real disciples – those people whose hearts and lives are completed given to God alone. Jesus wanted to see those who had just believed in him grow as his real disciples. Then, how could they become his real disciples? Should they memorize the Bible, more absolutely than the teachers of the law did? Do they have to pray 3 times a day more absolutely than the Pharisees did? Not that way! Jesus shows us how we can become his real disciples, saying, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” There is only one thing you need to do - hold to Jesus’ teaching, and you will become his real disciples. Holding to his teaching is such a critical matter for all those who believe in him – those who do so become Jesus’ real disciples, while those who do not, become strange, at best, religious, or in many cases, they fall away.

 

In the passage, many people put their faith in Jesus. These believers were different than many other believers we have encountered as we studied John’s gospel so far. There were many people who believed in Jesus, but the author did not forget to point out that they had believed not because of his words, but because of the miraculous signs Jesus had done. Their faith was not genuine; they were not good. But these people in John chapter 8 were different. They believed in Jesus because of his words. Verse 30 states, “Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.” In such an oppressive environment, while their leaders were looking for Jesus to kill him, it was really not easy to accept Jesus as the Promised Messiah. While their leaders sent the temple guards to arrest Jesus, it was not easy to accept him as the Christ. Despite all these ordeals, they decided to put their faith in him openly. What a precious people they were to Jesus! Jesus must have been really encouraged. Then, it was never Jesus’ desire to see these people eventually all become religious, or just go through the motion, so tasteless like stale Cocacola. It was never Jesus’ desire to see them fall away due to life’s challenges and temptation either. Instead, he wanted to see them grow as great people, great children of God, so mature and beautiful and completely dedicated to God as his disciples. So, he said to them, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” In this wicked and adulterous generation, when some people respond to God’s love and turn to Him, how happy Jesus is with them. How precious and how beautiful they are in his eyes! They are the ones who chose God’s love over pleasures of this life, turning away from their sinful life in Jesus. They are the ones who chose to identify themselves with Jesus in this world. Jesus loves them and his heart goes after them. All of you are so precious to Jesus. Then, it is never his intention to see any of you fall away no matter what reason. Instead, he earnestly desires that you all grow in him as beautiful children of God, strong and powerful, giving great influence to the world. So, he gives us this instruction, saying, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” We all must hold onto his teaching.

 

       Then, what does it mean to hold to his teaching? Other Bible versions use various expressions, such as, “If you live by what I say,” “If you abide in my word” “If you obey my teaching” “If you continue in my word” “If you keep on obeying what I have said.” So this word, “hold” comes with two implications, “obey and continue.” It’s different than on and off; hold to his teaching continually, not on and off. Holding to Jesus’ teaching means to live according to Jesus’ words in our life journey continually not only in good times, but also in bad times as well. It is not like you go to church Sunday worship service only when you have no finals or when there is no family gathering, but instead, you identify yourself as believers of Jesus all the time. When we hold onto Jesus’ teaching, sometimes, we go through difficulties and challenges, such as severe persecution from our family members, or painful failures in our school work, or sometimes, financial difficulties. Sometimes, temptation comes. Satan sends his agents – sometimes, an attractive looking person shows interest in you; sometimes, a dream job offer comes to you. But don’t be sold at such an offer; don’t cheapen yourself. Despite all these challenges and difficulties, we keep on living in the way Jesus describes, following him as his good sheep. Then, the people around us recognizes us and say, “You are different.” When they need help, they ask us for advice, because in their eyes, we are real people of God. As we live this way both in good times and in bad times for 10 years or 20 years or 30 years, our inner person is completely shaped up in the way Jesus desires – godly value system, spiritual perspectives, and heavenly hopes. Then, as we open our mouths and speak, what has been built up in us, how we understand and perceive things, what we hope for and pursue, what we really value and desire all come up naturally, because we have become that kind of person. Then, we are children of God, servants of God, not only in titles, but in our real person. Jesus describes such people as “his real disciples.” As I have told you, I can say it again, “Christian life is very real.”

 

Colossians 2:6 and 7 shows us its meaning very clearly. It reads: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Here, the expressions, “continue to live in him”, “rooted and built up in him”, and “strengthened in the faith as you were taught” all have the same meaning with “holding to Jesus' teaching.” It means to lay down an unshakable value system, and to secure the unchangeable way of life based on Jesus’ teaching so that no matter what others say to you, or no matter how the world goes, you keep living in the way Jesus shows. When the strong wind of temptation blows, hold onto his teaching tightly so that you will not be blown away. When big waves crash on your life boat, hold fast to his teaching so that you will not be swept away. Instead, when such challenges come and difficult rise and when temptation come, take down a deeper root in Jesus’ teaching by choosing Jesus over all other things. Then, you become Jesus’ real disciples. When you become Jesus’ real disciples, he will be really happy with you. You will be his treasured possession. This is Jesus’ desire for you.

 

Long time ago, in the beginning, God had a great vision for his last creation, human. He wanted to present Himself through him; so He made him in his image, in his likeness so that, whenever other creatures saw him, they would be reminded of God – God’s holiness and righteousness, God’s love and grace. So, God gave him his mission and his command to live by and fulfill his purpose. But the man failed to be the God-reminder in the world because he did not hold onto God’s command; instead, he became a shameful fugitive. When the man failed, God must have had great pain – his best creature became so miserable. When God brought the Israel people out of Egypt, he had a great vision for them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation; among all peoples on earth, they would be his treasured possession. So, He gave them his words – his commands and his laws for them to live by and become great. But the Israel people failed. God spoke to the prophet Isaiah about them, saying, “Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption.” Finally, God destroyed the nation Israel and sent them to exile in Babylon; later, He scattered them over the whole surface of the earth for the past 1900 years. The Israel people failed to live as God’s people, because they did not live according to God’s words. Mankind failed because they gave into their sinful desires instead of living according to God’s words. But God’s purpose for people has not changed at all. Now Jesus found some people who, despite such an oppressive environment, put their faith in him. Now Jesus had a great vision for them to grow as his real disciples, as real children of God, holy and righteous, such great people for God and for the whole world. So, he gave them this instruction, saying, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” Jesus’ vision for us is really great. He wants us to be his real disciples, real children of God, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. So, he gives us this direction to hold onto his teaching. When we hold onto his teaching, we become his real disciples; we become a holy and righteous people, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Hold onto his teaching, and you become Jesus’ real disciples.

 

Second, “Then you will know the truth” (32a). Jesus says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then, you will know the truth.” Knowing the truth is what naturally follows as Christians struggle to hold to Jesus’ teaching. It means that Christians come to know the truth not because they have struggled hard to know it, but as the result of their struggle to hold onto Jesus’ teaching. Jesus says that if anyone who believes in him holds on to his teaching, that person will come to know the truth. So, what is the truth? Actually, all peoples on earth throughout history tried to grasp the truth. Confucius once shared his desire to know the truth, saying, “If I hear the truth in the morning, it is okay to die in the evening.” But no one told him the truth, so he came up with his best shot, saying that wives must obey husbands, youth must obey seniors, children must obey parents, and subjects must obey rulers – his teaching is called, “Confucism.” Confucius suggested how humans should live in the society. Buddha, a prince of a small kingdom in India wanted to know why people were born, get sick, and die. He tortured himself and meditated on this subject for several decades, and came up with his best shot, saying that life is an endless cycle of reincarnation. In this way, he tried to understand what life is about. Greek philosophers wanted to know the origin of the universe and everything in it. So they argued about it all the way, and drew a conclusion that there must have been something superior, something mysterious that humans cannot grasp, and they agreed to call it, “logos,” and said, “In the beginning was logos.” Scientists struggled hard to figure it out also. But strangely, these so-called brilliant intellectuals came up with a very silly idea, saying that the universe was made by a big explosion called, “Big bang.” Explosions cause chaos, not harmonious cosmos. Still so many people say that we came from amoeba, or monkey is our ancestor.

 

       All these human struggles show what the truth is about. It is about who we are, or what we are. It is about how we must live our lives and what we should do with our lives. It is about the origin of our existence – where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. The truth is about where we came from, where we are going, who we are, what we must do with our lives and how we must live our lives; the truth is about knowing what the universe is about, and what all the stars in the universe are about, and what the earth is about, and why they exist. We must know the truth; we must have the answers to these fundamental questions. Otherwise, no one can see his or her life as a whole picture. People struggle to eat well without knowing who they are. Students study hard without knowing who they are, and how they should live their lives. Throughout history, mankind tried to know the truth, but no one found it, but only came up with their own ideas only to cause more confusion to human society. Amazingly Jesus now says to his believers, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth.”

 

       Wow! So Jesus’ disciples are the ones who know the truth. Then, what is the truth? The truth is this: that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and because of God, all these things exist. The truth is that we came from God and, because of God we exist. The truth is that we are God’s creation and God sent us into this world. We are God’s children created in His image to be great, holy and righteous like Him, to conquer and take care of the world. As we struggle to hold onto Jesus’ teaching and live according to God’s purpose, our hearts are enlightened to know the truth and now we can tell the world boldly that we came from God and we are going back to God and during our life time here on earth, we enjoy, love, and serve our God in heaven, and after finishing our mission here on earth, we go back to God and enjoy Him forever. All people in the world live for the things of the world such as fame, money, and pleasure – such things are not the truth – they are not worthy of our life. We Christians do not live for such things, but live for God’s glory. When we live our life based on the truth, at that time, we can truly enjoy God’s creation – we can enjoy delicious foods freely such as “Vietnamese noodle” or “Soft Tofu” while struggling hard to fulfill God’s mission. The Christian life is the life of knowing the truth – where we came from, where we are going, who we are, and why we are here.

 

       The word, “know” implies “confidence.” As we hold onto Jesus’ teaching, we no longer live in darkness or confusion; instead, we come to grasp the truth. We Christians are truly blessed to know the truth by simply holding onto Jesus’ teaching. Are you a Christian? Then, you know the truth. If you do not know the truth yet with such confidence, then, it means that you have not been holding onto Jesus’ teaching. Many people say, “I don’t know what God wants me to do.” It sounds like they would live according to God’s plan if they knew God’s will for them. But the reason why they do not know what to do with their lives is not because God has not told them what to do, but because they have not held onto Jesus’ teaching. Simply, they have not lived according to the word of God. They must repent their worldly and self-seeking way of life and turn to God. Do you want to know the truth? Do you want to know who you are, where you came from, where you are going, and what you ought to do with your life? Then, believe in Jesus Christ and hold on to his teaching, then, you will know the truth. The Christian life is not an ordinary life, but the life of knowing the truth that all philosophers in human history have wanted to know so badly. When we know the truth, we can become the light in this dark world guiding so many people out of darkness into the wonderful light of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do you know the truth?

 

       Third, “The truth will set you free” (32b). Jesus said to those who believed in him, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Enjoying freedom is the last product of our Christian life. Here, let’s think about freedom more carefully. What is freedom? People think that freedom is the right for them to do whatever they want. But that’s not freedom. Rather, it is the exact expression of rebellion that invites policemen and that leads them to Los Angeles County jail. In Genesis chapter 4, we see Cain killing his beloved brother Abel. It seemed that he was free because he did whatever he wanted. But actually he was not free; instead he was only feeding his jealousy even by destroying his beloved brother. He was a loyal slave to his jealousy. Let’s say, a married woman enjoys numerous affairs with other men besides her husband. It seems that she is enjoying her freedom, but actually, she is only feeding her sinful desires even at the cost of her family and her purity. She is not free, but precisely speaking, she is out of control and a loyal slave to her sin. Again, what is freedom? After creating the world, God commanded the first man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die.” God gave him freedom to choose whatever food he wanted. For cows, God chose grass to be their food; for lions later, God gave them meat. God programed them to go in that way. So, cows always eat grass, while lions always eat meat. But for the man, God did not choose any food, but instead, he gave him freedom to choose whatever he wanted. This freedom of choice was God’s special gift for humans. With this freedom, the man could do whatever he wanted – he could choose to eat cherries in the morning, and big black plums in the evening, and after eating that way for two days, he could change the menu however he desired. With this freedom, he could enjoy God’s blessing to his heart’s content. But  having this freedom did not mean that he could do whatever he wanted, because there was something harmful for him, if he ate it. That’s what God warned him about. So, with this freedom, on his own, the man must choose to do what was good and avoid what was bad. As long as he did it, he would enjoy his life and his freedom, and everything would be wonderful as God had originally designed.  

 

       In other words, enjoying freedom means to be able to choose what is really good and beneficial over what is bad and harmful; enjoying freedom means to have the ability, strength or power not to sin, but to obey God’s command. Jesus says in verse 34 that whoever sins is a slave to sin. When people sin, they live as slaves to sin, doing what they do not want to do, and not being able to do what they want to do – they do not have freedom. As much as you have the ability to not sin, but obey God’s command, that’s the degree of freedom you have. The degree of one’s ability to obey God, is the degree of freedom that he or she enjoys. When sisters enjoy freedom, they can keep their purity. When young students enjoy freedom from their sins, they are beautiful and become the hope of the society, not a source of trouble. When a husband and a wife enjoy freedom, they can keep their marriage relationship intact and secure. When parents enjoy freedom from sin, their family is kept sound. Actually, this freedom is what all people really desire. Jesus says that if we hold to his teaching, we will enjoy freedom, being able to do what is really good and wonderful, choosing to obey and love God in all circumstances. Then, we will be able to put all the sins and the desires of the flesh under our complete control.  There was a medical student; his desire was to be successful and comfort his widowed mother. But when he came to know Jesus Christ, he renounced his career as a medical doctor and decided to give his life to God’s purpose as a shepherd for college students. Despite such difficulties in his heart, he was able to obey God’s will. He was a free man to obey God and love God. Our father Abraham enjoyed this freedom. When God commanded him to offer his one and only son Isaac as a burnt offering, his heart must have sunk. However, despite all reasonable and unreasonable excuses he could make, he chose to obey God and offered his one and only son as a burnt offering. He was free to obey God. What is the Christian life? It is the life of enjoying freedom in Christ Jesus. All people are slaves to sin and they only obey the commands of their sinful nature. Neither do they want to obey God, nor can they do so. Yet, we, Christians, know the truth and enjoy freedom, choosing to obey God over the fleshly things of this world. This is Jesus’ promise for those who hold onto his teaching.   

 

Let’s read verses 31 and 32 one more time:

 

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

       Jesus invites us to be his real disciples. Jesus invites us to know the truth. Jesus invites us to enjoy freedom. All these blessings are fulfilled in us only when we hold onto Jesus’ teaching.

        

One Word: Jesus Says, “If You Hold To My Teaching, You Are Really My Disciples”

 

 

 

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