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Sunday, June 17, 2018

posted Jun 17, 2018, 9:49 PM by Site Administrator

7

 

THAT JOY IS MINE!

 

John 3:22-36

Key Verse 3:29

 

The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.

 

First, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven" (22-28). Look at verses 22 through 24. At this time, there were two baptisms going on in Israel. One was in the Judean countryside by Jesus and his disciples. The other was at Aenon near Salim by John the Baptist. John's disciples testified that everyone was going to Jesus. It was a transitional time when God's ministry was transferring from John the Baptist to Jesus. Now John's ministry was near an end, but John was still faithful to his mission. Look at verse 25. An argument developed between some of John's disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. We don't know what kind of argument it was about, but anyway, because of this argument, John's disciples felt bad. Before, when all people flocked to John and received the baptism, they too were very honored. At that time, no one dared challenge them. But since Jesus started baptizing and everybody was going to him, John's ministry began to lose its fame. And now, even a man challenged them about certain doctrinal matter, and it seemed that he gave John's disciples a hard time; maybe, he prevailed. So John's disciples came to John and said, "Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan - the one you testified about - well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him." They knew what their teacher John the Baptist had testified about Jesus. They saw John shouting, "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." They saw John saying, "I baptize with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.""He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me." "I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God." But they did not accept his teaching. They did not look at Jesus; nor did they follow him. They were bad students. They did not know why their teacher struggled hard to deliver the message of repentance and gave baptism to many. They did not know John's earnest desire to bring all men to Jesus Christ. Instead, they regarded Jesus as their competitor. What they suggested was: "We've got to do something to attract people back to us." What was John's reply? Let's read verses 27 and 28. 

 

27To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. 28you yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.' 

 

John refused his disciples' suggestion, saying, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven." That was John's understanding and perspectives. So, John had no reason to compete with Jesus the Christ. John knew his position before God - a voice in the desert as the forerunner of the Christ. John never forgot this. When all people wondered if he were the Messiah, he did not go beyond his position. Now, his disciples tried to stir him up to compete with Jesus. But he told his disciples clearly, saying, "You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him." He kept his position as a voice in the desert to the end. When we serve God's ministry, we should keep this word in our mind. "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven." In the world, people struggle hard to climb up the ladder of success to occupy higher positions. But this expression shows that in the spiritual realm, no one acquires a certain position by his own struggles; instead, God assigns each person in his or her position according to his plan and purpose - to some people, as apostles, to some others as missionaries, to still others, as pastors or as shepherds or shepherdesses. Our struggle is not that we would occupy higher positions in God's ministry, but that we may be loyal and faithful to the task God called us to serve. Some people, enticed by the titles such as pastor, think that they can get it, if they have a greater title such as seminary degree, or even PhDs in theology. But that's a worldly way, not God's way. In Jesus Christ, there is no higher position or greater title we can acquire through our own struggles; instead, we can receive only what is given us from heaven. And as we give all our hearts and strength to serving God's purpose, God will surely make us very fruitful and exalt us highly. To anyone who serves God wholeheartedly comes honor and respect. When we remain faithful to the task God assigned to, on that day, Jesus will say to us, "Well done, my good and faithful servant!" That will be our true reward.    

 

Second, "He must become greater; I must become less" (29-30). In verse 29, John explains his position as a friend of the bridegroom using the parable of a wedding. Let's read this verse together: 

 

29The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 

 

According to the Jewish marriage custom, the bridegroom and the bride, once pledged to marry, were regarded as husband and wife, but they did not live together for one year. Instead, they stayed at their parents' house studying the Bible to learn what it meant to be husband or wife, and to learn all practical customs such as how to prepare the Sabbath. A strange thing is that there was no specific appointed time for the wedding ceremony. Instead, near the end of one year, the bridegroom sent his most trustworthyfriend to the bride's house to take care of the bride until he came for the wedding. The mission of this friend was to keep andprotect the bride sound and safe from all harms and evils until his friend, the bridegroom came. So, even though the friend was with the bride, the bride belonged to the bridegroom. Then, when the bridegroom came for the wedding ceremony, someone shouted, loudly, "The bridegroom is coming. Come and welcome him!" Then people came out, welcomed him and performed the wedding ceremony. And the bridegroom took the bride. At the same time, the mission of the friend of the bridegroom was over. So when he heard the voice of the bridegroom, he was happy and joyful, because he had finished his mission successfully for his friend, the bridegroom. His mission was over. John the Baptist regarded himself as the friend of the bridegroom, who took care of and protected the bride until the bridegroom came. Even though so many people came to him, received the baptism and even followed him, he knew that they did not belong to him, but belonged to Jesus Christ, the bridegroom. When the bridegroom, Jesus Christ came and took the brides, John was very joyful because he had finished his mission successfully. He said, "That joy is mine, and it is now complete." John found amazing joy to be trusted as the bridegroom's best friend. John found complete joy in taking care of the brides of Jesus. He found great joy when people accepted Jesus as their Savior. He was so happy because he saw the beautiful, smiling, and happy face of his friend with his brides. He was a truly happy person because of Jesus. But John's disciples were not joyful when everyone was going to Jesus because they were not Jesus' friends. The Pharisees were jealous when people went to Jesus because they were not Jesus' friends, but competitors. 

 

John's understanding of his position as a friend of the bridegroom shows us what we are doing as shepherds for God's flock. We are preparing people for Jesus to come and take them as his brides. We are taking care of the brides until the bridegroom comes to take them. Sometimes, we feel very difficult, because not all the brides are good and mature. Instead, many of them are worldly; instead of giving their hearts to their bridegroom and waiting for him to come, their hearts go after many attractive looking things of the world. So we struggle hard to turn their eyes and hearts from such things to Jesus, their bridegroom. Some of them are very rebellious that they are not like brides, but like goats with two horns. We suffer a lot to bear with them. Some of them even go after other seductive people instead of waiting for their true husband. So we too have to go after them all the way until our feet blister. We want to prepare them as pure virgin brides who love Jesus alone. The apostle Paul gives his own job description, saying, "I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him." (2Co 11:2) For this purpose, he zealously wrestled with them, sometimes challenging them to repent, sometimes, encouraging them, sometimes, watching them quietly. Then, when they repented, when they really loved Jesus, he was overjoyed, happy and thankful.

 

It is our great privilege that we are chosen to be Jesus' friends to take care of his brides until he comes. What great joy we experience when we see, once wayward and worldly sheep become lovely brides for Jesus, saying, "I love Jesus. Oh Lord, whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." (Ps 73:25) How happy we become when once rebellious sheep become so obedient, even beyond human understanding. When an ordinary person grows up to be a great man of God through our care, our joy is complete. At the Friday meeting, after hearing young disciples' sincere testimony, and seeing how they struggle to love Jesus and serve him, we are overjoyed. When the testimony meeting is over, we are so happy and thankful for their love for Jesus that we all pray so loudly and passionately. We indeed have the joy of the friend of the bridegroom. "That joy is mine and it is now complete." 

 

Jesus regarded Simon Peter as his best man. So after his resurrection, he visited Simon Peter, and asked, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you," Simon answered. Then, Jesus entrusted to Peter his most precious treasure, his brides, his sheep, saying, "Feed my lambs." Jesus gave us this important task to take care of his brides because he regarded us as his best men, reliable and trustworthy. This is our thanks topic. Paul says, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service." (1Ti 1:12) Who are we that Jesus King of kings considered us most trustworthy that he sent us to take care of his most precious brides? Now it's our turn to prove ourselves worthy of his trust and of this privilege by taking care of Jesus' brides faithfully praying for them, and teaching them the word of God, until they are ready for the wedding ceremony with their bridegroom. Let Jesus be proved right that he chose us to be his friends to take care of his brides.The apostle Paul says, "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." (Eph 4:1) When he comes and takes his brides, we will see his smiling face and our joy will be complete because we love him.

 

Look at verse 30. John says, "He must become greater; I must become less." At the wedding, the most gorgeous looking person should be the bridegroom. So the bridegroom wears the most beautiful and expensive tuxedo, and is adorned with many beautiful and glorious items like diamonds or sometimes, a beautiful sword. Or sometimes, in order to praise his glory, the bridegroom's friends prepare special ceremony with military band and many soldiers in their uniforms saluting to the bridegroom. At the wedding, the bridegroom must become greater; he must be the hero and star of the day. All his friends wear nice suits only to magnify the glory of their friend, the bridegroom. If any friend of the bridegroom wears more beautifully and luxuriously than the bridegroom, people will be confused, and this friend will bring great dishonor to the bridegroom at his wedding. John the Baptist says, "He must become greater; I must become less." So far, as John had worked hard to prepare the hearts of people for Jesus Christ, he had received the spot light, and he became great. Now, it was the time the bridegroom was coming. John knew his role, and he knew that Jesus must become greater, and for this, he must become less. He was happy when everyone was going to Jesus because Jesus was the bridegroom, and he was his friend. In our life, Jesus must become great because, figuratively speaking, he is the bridegroom at the wedding, and he is the hero and star in our lives. Our heart's desire is to fulfill God's purpose upon our life so that the glory of God may be revealed in and through our lives. But, practically, how can we reveal his glory and fulfill his purpose upon our life? Many people fail to make Jesus great in their lives because their life philosophy is: "He must become greater; I must become greater too." They never do anything great. It is only possible to make Jesus greater when we have one single desire to reveal his glory by any means, even at the cost of our own life. We must remember that Jesus is the bridegroom at the wedding, and he is the Hero and Star in our lives. "He must become greater; I must become less." 

 

Third, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life" (31-36). Look at verses 31 and 32. "The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony." Here, John testifies about Jesus, saying, "Jesus is from above." It means that Jesus is fundamentally different from all because He is the Creator God, whereas all other things are the created beings. We are from the earth, and belong to the earth. But Jesus is from above because He is the Creator God. Also, the expression, "above all" shows Jesus' supremacy. Jesus is above all - above our understanding, logic, and consensus. So, what he says and testifies must be amazing and great - the words of the one who is from heaven, and who is above all. Yet, amazingly, John says, "but no one accepts his testimony." It seemed that thousands' people were following him all the time. But John testifies against them that none of them accepted his testimony, even though they enjoyed his grace. Here, we see that attending Jesus' Bible study or even receiving his healing touch, or doing many religious things is different from accepting his testimony. We can do all these things mindlessly, just going through the motion - these are not so personal; we can do them without thinking too much - going to Bible study, attending worship service, handing out some gospel tracks,... But accepting his testimony is very personal - testimony is already personal, and when you accept his testimony, it means that you agree to whatever he says, and because that's how you see, you live in the way he shows - thus, your life changes according to his words. Such people who accept his testimony cross over from death to life - they are the ones who hears the voice of the Son of God and accept his words. We do a lot of Bible studies; we hear God's message every week. But all these should not be just something we do mindlessly or as a routine of our Christian life; instead, through all these, we must accept God's testimony very personally. As we study God's words, we must respond to them very personally. 

 

No one accepts his testimony. But there are some people who accept it, and when they accept it, something great happens to them. Look at verse 33. Let's read this verse together:

 

The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful."

 

When some people accept Jesus' testimony, agreeing to what he says, their view and perspectives change, and say that God is truthful. The expression, here, the expression "has certified," indicates their complete confidence in God's truthfulness - there is no doubt, it is absolutely clear. That's what happens to everyone who has accepted Jesus' words personally - their views and perspectives change; their eyes are open to God's truthfulness and thereby, they talk about it - God is truthful. When people don't accept Jesus' testimony, everything is vague and conceptual - God's will, God's goodness, God's love, eternal salvation and eternal condemnation,... everything is conceptual, not real. At that time, these people talk about God's grace all the time. They mindlessly say, "Once saved, forever saved." "I am saved when I was four years old." "If this is not God's will, he will make it known to me." They think that no matter what they do, either good or bad, God loves them and blesses them. So, they ignore whatever God says in the Bible; instead, they do whatever they see fit, as a result, there is no true repentance, or no true submission or commitment to God; everyone talks about God, so everyone looks like a Christian, but at the same time, no one looks like a Christian. But when people accept Jesus' testimony, Jesus' words, when they accept God's word really, their attitude toward God changes and thereby, their life changes completely. They do not insist their own way, or their own desires; instead, they submit themselves to God's will and purpose and live for God. They are real children of God. When you accept Jesus' testimony, when you accept one word of God really, this change occurs in your life and you become the one who certifies to the world that God is truthful.

 

As a conclusion, John says in verse 36, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." In English translation, the meaning of this verse is not clear, because it uses two different terms - "eternal life" and "life." But actually, in the original Greek text, both "eternal life" and "life" in verse 36 are the same word, "zoe," that truly fulfilling, meaningful and happy life the author the apostle John talks about in John's gospel continually. Whoever believes in the Son has zoe. "Belief in Jesus" brings you "zoe" eternal life, that truly happy and fulfilling life. Here, we must think about the meaning of believing in him. It does not mean to say, "I believe in Jesus." But rather, it means that we put our trust in who he is - "believe in him." For example, he is the good shepherd who knows his sheep, who knows his sheep's strong points and weak points, who knows what his sheep are going throughWhen we really believe that he is our good shepherd who knows our struggles, pains, sorrows and agonies, there we find deep peace, joy and strength that we will not be defeated by such challenges; instead, by faith in him, we can become strong and courageous and even aim to do something great. When life's challenges come, when difficulties rise, we must believe in who he is - he is our good God who has a good and great plan for each of us; we must believe in who he is - he is the Almighty, and everything is in his control. When we believe in who he is, we enjoy zoe, eternal life, that truly fulfilling, meaningful and happy life, and we rise above all challenges. When you believe, you live.

 

But whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him. We must not reject the Son no matter what. We remember how Judas Iscariot rejected Jesus. Even though he was one of the twelve apostles, even if he had served God's work together with Jesus for 3 years, when a money matter came up, he chose money over Jesus; he opened his heart to money and closed his heart toward Jesus; that's how he rejected Jesus. Don't reject Jesus only because of some money matter, some career matter, because on such people, God's wrath remains. Also, we remember how Judas rejected Jesus by giving into his ill-emotion; when Jesus exposed his betrayal publicly, he was upset and angry with him; he gave into his sense of bitterness and hatred, and thereby, was determined to do something harmful to Jesus. Don't give into your ill-emotion such as bitterness, anger, or jealousy; when you do so, only Satan enters you. When they reject Jesus, the Son of God, they will not see zoe at all; instead, God's wrath remains on them. 

 

As we live as Jesus' disciples, there may be many challenging moments; sometimes, we are discouraged; sometimes, we are upset; sometimes, we are scared. Yet, no matter what, one thing we must remember is this: Whoever believes in the Son has zoe, but whoever rejects the Son will not see zoe. Eventually, the conclusion we must have is to believe in the Son. There is no other option. That's why the Bible declares, "The righteous will live by faith from first to last." You may be pressured on every side; you may be persecuted; you may lose a lot. Yet, when you believe in the Son, even in the midst of such challenges, you have "zoe," that powerful life working in you. Who can understand this secret of faith in the Son? Paul says, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  8  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  9  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." (2Co 4:7-9) So, in all circumstances, keep you faith in the Son, saying, "And I still believe..."

 

In today's passage, we learn the deep love and loyalty of John the Baptist for Jesus Christ. John said, "That joy is mine, and now it is complete." He also said, "He must become greater; I must become less." Because of his burning love and passion for Jesus, John the Baptist was happy. Seeing Jesus' smiling and happy face made him so happy and joyful. He was a truly happy man because of Jesus. That's the joy and happiness only those whose hearts and lives are completely dedicated to Jesus can have. Let's pray that we all may have the same testimony - that joy is mine and it is now complete. Let's pray that we all may live as pure virgin bridesfor Jesus Christ our bridegroom. We are waiting for his coming for our wedding ceremony. Let's pray that we may find the brides of Jesus Christ on our campuses and take care of them faithfully so that they too may be prepared as pure virgin brides for him. When Jesus comes, our joy will be complete. 

 

One Word: That Joy Is Mine And It Is Now Complete!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

posted Jun 10, 2018, 5:44 PM by Site Administrator

 

FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD…

 

John 3:14-21

Key Verse 3:16

 

"For 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. 

 

First, "Just as Moses lifted up the snake…" (14-15). In the previous passage, we learned about how Jesus tried to help a ruler, named "Nicodemus." Jesus gave him his divine counsel, saying, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." Nicodemus could not see the kingdom of God because he was not born again. He was empty despite his great success morally, socially, politically and intellectually. He must be born again through water and the Spirit; he must really turn to God in repentance. But Nicodemus kept talking back instead of accepting Jesus’ words because of his pride and unwillingness to repent. It seemed there was no way to help him out. But Jesus did not give up on him. Instead, he rebuked him, and now, in today’s passage, he showed Nicodemus God’s amazing love for lost sinners like him. Look at verses 14 and 15.Let’s read these verses together:

 

14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."

 

This event, in which Moses lifted up the snake, is recorded in Numbers 21:4-9. It was 40 years after the Israel people came out of Egypt. During this long period of time, the Israelites had wandered in the desert, and all men who were over 20 years old when they came out of Egypt had died in the desert because of their unbelief and rebellion. Now, the new generation had grown up and was serving in the community. They saw how God had guided their way with the pillar of fire by night and of cloud by day, and how God had provided them with bread from heaven every day in the desert, and also how God had destroyed the former generation because of their rebellion. 603,550 soldiers died in 40 years. It means, each and every day, about 40 people who were able to handle weapons for battle died; if we add the women of the same generation, then, everyday, 80 people died.Yesterday 80 people died, today 80 die, and tomorrow again, 80 will die. Every day, there were 80 funeral services. It was really horrible. This new generation of the Israelite soldiers saw all this, and they knew why such a horrible thing had happened – it was because of their fathers’ unbelief and rebellion against God.So they should have learned a lesson. But when they grew impatient on the way to the promised land, they too spoke against God and against Moses and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!"(Num 21:4,5) They blamed God for bringing them out of Egypt; they blamed God for saving them only because of some difficulty they had on the way to the promised land. What difficulty did they have? They said, "There is no bread! There is no water!" "Bread" and "water" is about the security. Actually, God gave them the security by raining down bread from heaven. Also, in the desert, for the past 40 years, God always provided them with water, sometimes, leading them to oasis, sometimes, when there was no water, he just let water gushed out from even rocks. So, God took care of them. But now what they wanted was more than just the basic security. They wanted a little more tasty bread than eating the same bread all the time - they wanted a little more variety of bread. Out of this desire, they despised God's provision of bread, saying, "We detest this miserable food." Let's say you gave people some food, and they say, "We detest this miserable food." How do you feel? You never want to give them anything. What about you have provided with food and water for the past 40 years faithfully, and now, instead of appreciating your provision, faithfulness and love, they say, "We detest this miserable food"? How do you feel? Their sin was really great. Like their fathers, they, too, had no gratitude to God for His salvation grace and generous provision of bread from heaven for the past 40 years in the desert. Ingratitude is the root of all kinds of sins. In our Christian life, God takes care of our needs. Maybe, we are bombarded financially; maybe, we don't drive a Mercedes Benz or we don't live in a Beverly Hills mansion. But at least, we live in a studio apartment; at least we drive a Honda Civic. As we live for God, it is God who takes care of our needs. Yet, some people, out of desire for more luxurious and pleasant life in the world, do not appreciate God's provision; instead, comparing themselves to others, they complain - this is the beginning of all kinds of sins. Give thanks to God for his guidance and provision.

 

When God heard their grumbling, He was angry with them. So He sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. (Num 21:6) Then, only after having been punished, the Israelites came to their own senses. They came to Moses and said, "We have sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us." So Moses prayed for the people. (Num 21:7)

 

How did God answer Moses’ prayer? God said to him, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." (Num 21:8) It was a strange direction.Surely, as they had prayed for, God could have taken away the snakes from the Israel community, or he could have killed all of them in one secondBut, He didn't do that. Instead, He asked Moses to make a bronze snake and put it up on a pole so that people who were bitten by snakes might look at it and live.That's the way of salvation God offered them. This instruction sounds superstitious; making a snake shape of bronze is pagan-style; also, a snake is a symbol of evil, hardly nowhere else in the Bible, we see God using a snake or anything in the shape of snake for his purpose; simply, God's instruction does not sound biblical. Yet, this instruction shows God's principle of his salvation very well. Looking up at a bronze snake on a pole is not difficult; it does not require any labor; just use your neck muscles little bit, or roll your eyeball up little bit, then, you can see it. Anyone and everyone can do it. But when many venomous snakes were on the ground, it was a different story. Let's say, here in the sanctuary, 50 cobras are on loose. At that time, God asks you to focus on the worship service, or God asks you to close your eyes and kneel down and pray. What will you do? While 20 cobras are attacking you, you close your eyes, kneel down and pray! Your action, your obedience shows your absolute trust in God, and at the same time, it is the expression of your absolute submission to God, entrusting everything in his hands; it is the expression of your decisive turning to God for help, protection and healing. What God asked for their salvation was not their hard labor, but their absolute trust in God, even entrusting their life in God's hands. This is the principle of God's salvation - what God asks for our salvation is not some activities we do for him, but our absolute and complete trust in Him. Romans 10:9-10 reads: "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  10  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." If we apply this principle to the people in Rome 2000 years ago, we can understand it better. In those days in Rome, those who openly confessed that Jesus was Lord, or those who received the baptism in the name of the Lord might be arrested, tortured and killed. In that kind of situation, those who did so showed their decisive turning to God in Jesus Christ; they showed that they would entrust their entire life both in this age and in the age to come, in God's hands in Jesus Christ. God proclaims his healing and salvation for those people. If we apply this principle to those in Muslim countries, China and North Korea, we can see that salvation is found for those who believe in Jesus Christ. We remember how alcoholism, anger, and demons were destroying Pedro; nothing could save him from such things. But when he decisively responded to God's calling based on Isaiah 6, saying, "Here am I. Send me." he was set free from drinking, anger and demons, and now he is a shepherd for God's flock. Actually, that's how we experienced God's salvation. When we responded to God's words decisively, we were healed of all our wounds and scars, and set free from demons and fears and sorrows - we experienced God's healing that way - that's God's salvation. People are not saved by their hard struggles of hoping and hoping, or by memorizing Bible verses or by saying some biblical words such as, "I believe in Jesus," but by their real faith in GodDo you have that kind of decisive turning to God for help, healing and salvation? Or, you still struggle to save yourself, hoping and hoping and trying to avoid snakes? 

 

Now let's go back to John 3 - Jesus was talking with Nicodemus. Here, Jesus describes Nicodemus, a prestigious and successful man, as one of the Israelites bitten by venomous snakes, dying moment by moment, and thereby needed God’s salvation. In Jesus’ eyes, Nicodemus was bitten by snakes and was suffering from the ill-effects of venom: emptiness, sense of meaninglessness, insomnia, depression and nightmares. In this way, Nicodemus was dying moment by moment. So far, he tried to heal himself, save himself in many ways – religiously, morally and politically, but nothing worked. To him, Jesus said, "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." Through this, Jesus showed him what God had done for him, God’s way of salvation for him. For him, soon Jesus would be lifted up on the cross, so that he may be healed and have eternal life. Nicodemus did so many good looking things, but nothing could save him from his life of emptiness and meaninglessness. Now Jesus helped him to turn his eyes to what God had done for him, what God suggested him for hissalvation from such a meaningless and empty way of life. It was the time that Nicodemus, instead of focusing on what he had done or how good he had lived, or what he had achieved, should see what God had done for him, and put his trust in God's promise of salvation. 

 

Jesus said to Nicodemus, "So the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." Jesus was going to do this much for Nicodemus so that he would enjoy eternal life, called zoe, a truly fulfilling life. Nicodemus should stop making excuses. Instead, he should open his heart to Jesus and accept his love for him! He must secure this gift of Jesus - eternal life. How? By repenting and turning to God! By being born again through water and the Spirit! Now in verse 15, Jesus says, "that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." Believing in Jesus is like the Israel people looking up at the bronze snake decisively turning to God for healing. Nicodemus needed to turn to God decisively in Jesus. How much Jesus hoped that Nicodemus might enjoy his gift, that truly fulfilling and happy life! Many people see this through their Bible studies. But at that time, instead of turning to God decisively in Jesus Christ, they say, "But what about this?" "What about that?" They are just like Nicodemus. No one should make an excuse of not repenting and turning to God - no one should rely on their own righteousness of attending church worship service for 10 years or 20 years. No one should reject Jesus' love for them. "So the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." Turn to God decisively, entrusting your life in God's hands, by faith in Jesus Christ, and you will have eternal life, zoe. 

 

Second, "For God so loved the world…" (16-18). Look at verse 16. Let's read this verse together:

 

"For 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. 

 

This is Jesus' proclamation of God's love for the world. God loves the world so much. How can we say that? Because there is an evidence. He sacrificed his one and only Son for the world! The expression, "his one and only Son" means "his most precious treasure," or simply, "the highest price." Also, the way of sacrificing him was to crucify him to the cross - the most painful way of death. It was not like killing him on an electric chair - just a few minutes, or with poisonous gas, but the most painful way of death. God did this much for the world, willing to sacrifice his most precious treasure for it, willing to pay the highest price for it, willing to endure the greatest pain for itHe valued the people of the world so much that he was willing to do anything for them. Nothing could stop him from pursuing them. He would go to the end! That was the expression of his love for them! 

 

It seemed that the world was really precious, beautiful and lovely to him that he pursued it this much. But actually, the world was not lovely at all, but in constant rebellion against himjust like the Israel people in the desert. The first man Adam sinned by disobeying God’s command even in paradise. Even though God gave him everything even his wife, he teamed up with his wife and betrayed God; God was really hurt. And his son, Cain, was rebellious. When God gave him his divine counseling service not to sin, in rebellion, he did a more terrible sin than he had done before – he murdered his younger brother who was more righteous than he was. During Noah's time, people became nothing but flesh just like animals, losing their dignity as human beings that God had to punish them with the flood. Then, after Noah’s flood, people gathered together and built a city and a tower. Through this, they tried to get rid of the memory of God from human society and enjoy a beautiful life all by themselves. And today still people try to deny the fact that God exists. God’s eternal wisdom and power are well manifested in nature so that all people can acknowledge the work of God. But people suppress the truth deliberately and say that there is no God. Instead, they say that in the beginning was amoeba, and amoeba created all things. Using all their intellect and knowledge, people struggle hard to twist the truth and say, "In the beginning was a big bang." These days people struggle hard to establish laws and regulations that are against God.These people somehow try to get rid of God’s name from human society. What human beings do is so disgusting. Once Martin Luther said that he would have destroyed the world ten times a day, had he been God.

 

God so loved the world! For this world, so disgusting, He gave up his one and only Son to the cross. God wants to bring back the world to Himself this much; today, still God seeks the world, for He loves it. This undying and unfailing love of God has reached to even us, terrible sinners.

 

The next expression, "Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life," shows us God’s purpose in sending Jesus to die on the cross. God loves the world - that's undeniable truth. So, what did he do? He gave his one and only Son to the world. For what? So that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Here, two words are in great contrast - "perish" and "eternal life." If you don't have eternal life, you are perishing. If you have eternal life, you are not perishing. With the word, "perish," Jesus describes the real condition of all peoples in the world. Like the Israelites bitten by venomous snakes, people are perishing. Some people are perishing because of sorrow; some people are perishing because of anger and hatred; some people are perishing because of their lust and immoral life; some people are perishing because of the fear of future security; some people are perishing because of their greed for more money. No wonder Nicodemus could not see the kingdom of God despite his moralistic and religious life - he was perishingmoment by moment. Jesus loved Nicodemus, so he wanted him to have eternal life in him instead of perishing. 

 

God’s purpose in sending Jesus to be lifted up on the cross is to save the people of the world from this terrible status, and, instead, to give them the life that does not perish, but is eternal - no more gloom, or emptiness, but hope and vision, no more void, but a meaningful and fulfilling life. God sent Jesus so that we may stop living the life that is perishing, but live the life that is everlasting. No more life that is perishing, but life that is everlasting! For this, Jesus Christ our Lord died on the cross. He was lifted up on the cross for this.

 

God's ultimate desire for us in Jesus Christ is that we may enjoy eternal life, called zoeThis is what John's gospel is talking about from the beginning to the end. John 1:4 talks about this life, zoe, saying, "In him was zoe, and that zoe was the light of men." Jesus says in John 4, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (Jn 4:13,14) In John 5, he says, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." (Jn 5:35) He says in John 7, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (Jn 7:37,38) He also says, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (Jn 8:12) Then, on the cross, Jesus finally said, "It is finished!" and he breathed his last. (Jn 19:30) With his death on the cross, all the preparations that must be done for people to have eternal life had been completed. The author John concludes his book in John 20:31, "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life, zoe, in his name." This was what the apostle John had grasped. God's ultimate desire for us is not that we offer endless sacrifices like in the Old Testament; it is not that we offer endless ceremonies like in the New Testament either, but that we may have a wonderful life, a truly fulfilling life. Here, we see John's maturity. God wants you to enjoy eternal life, the very life you have dreamed about and pursued. For this, he did so much, even sacrificing his only son to the cross. This is the expression of God's love for us. Today, how are you doing? How is your life? Do you enjoy eternal life? Do you have zoe, that truly fulfilling life? If not, then, get rid of any and all sins that entangle you so easily, and believe. Remember what Jesus says, "Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." "Whoever believes is not condemned." When you believe, you have eternal life in Jesus; when you don't believe, you stand condemned already. The way to secure eternal life in Jesus is by believing. What do you mean, "believe"? Just in the case of the Israel people in the desert, while all kinds of venomous snakes are attacking you - sorrows, or fears, or demons, or depression,... you turn your eyes to Jesus, instead of trying to save yourself, you simply entrust everything, even your life in this world and in the age to come, in God's hands - while so many things are going on in your life, you decisively turn to God in Jesus Christ, entrusting everything in God's hands. Then, you will not perish, but will have eternal life in Jesus Christ.  

 

Third, "This is the verdict" (19-21). Let’s read verses 19 through 21 together:

 

19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

 

It seemed that Nicodemus did not accept Jesus’ message of being born again because he could not understand it. But Jesus declared to him, "The verdict is this: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." Nicodemus’ real problem was not lack of understanding, but his love of darkness. He wanted to have eternal life full of peace, joy and happiness, but he did not want to exchange his wealth, his fame, and his pride for eternal life, because he loved such things more than eternal life. That's why he kept saying, "I don't get it. How can this be?" When people do not want to repent of their love of the things of the world, they turn to theological arguments, saying, "By faith in Jesus, we are saved" or "I’ll go to another church." They must repent of their love of darkness and turn to God so that they might enjoy a truly beautiful life as children of God. There are many people who want to have salvation and eternal life in Jesus, but many of them fail because they do not want to lose their dreams and desires in the world. These people, even when they become completely religious in Christian religion, they cannot see the kingdom of God. Instead, they perish. 

 

Why do people have so much difficulty to renounce such desires and love for the world even though they know that they are going to hell? Jesus says in verse 19, "men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." This means that, when they did what was evil, they began to develop love for darkness. As they keep doing what is evil, their love for darkness grows stronger and stronger until it becomes so great that, even at the risk of being thrown into hell, they cannot reject it. Those who sin a lot go so far away from God that they cannot return. These people hate the light because the light exposes their shameful deeds. Instead of admitting their sinfulness, they hide themselves in darkness, saying, "I don't get it. How can this be?"

 

Jesus says in verse 21, "But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." When the truth was revealed, when Nicodemus saw what he should do through his one to one Bible study with Jesus, he did not go by the truth; instead, he pretended that he did not understand his teaching - he did not admit his wrongdoing and rejected Jesus' message - thus, he was revealed as the one who loved darkness instead of light. But there are some people who admit their wrongdoings and repent, when the truth is revealed to them. They are the ones who live by the truth - when the light comes to them, they come into the light, by admitting and confessing their sins. They turn to God in Jesus Christ and have a new life in him. That's what happened to us - that's how we could start this new life in Jesus as his disciples. How could we do so? Verse 21 shows that it is only by God’s grace that we could accept the light and repent of our sins. We too were sinful. How could these sinful people accept the light instead of loving darkness? By ourselves, it was impossible. If we have done anything good such as accepting the light or repenting of our sins, it has been done only through God’s help; it was the work of God. 

 

In today’s passage, we learned of God’s love—that He sent His one and only Son to be lifted up on the cross so that people in the world can have eternal life. Jesus is the way of salvation God offered for all sinners in the world. How much Jesus wanted Nicodemus to open his heart and accept God’s love for him! How much he wanted Nicodemus to have eternal life instead of suffering from a sense of void, depression, insomnia and nightmares! Let’s accept this love of God so that we may not wander in the worthless things of the world any longer, but have zoe, eternal life. 

 

One Word: Shall Not Perish But Have Eternal Life

 

 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

posted Jun 3, 2018, 10:07 PM by Site Administrator

YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN

 

John 3:1-13

Key Verse 3:5

 

Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit."

 

First, "You must be born again" (1-5). Today’s passage is the conversation between Jesus and a man named Nicodemus. Who was Nicodemus? Verse 1 is Nicodemus’ profile. It reads: "1Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council." He was a Pharisee. Usually, Christians have a kind of an allergic reaction to the term, "Pharisees." Whenever they hear this title, they are reminded of bad guys - enemies. But objectively speaking, they were really not bad. Instead, they were the ones who had exceptional zeal for the worship of God. The word, "Pharisee" means "separated" or "elite." The Pharisees separated themselves from ordinary people and pursued the highest form of dedication to God by keeping the Laws of Moses strictly. They started memorizing the five books of Moses at the age of six, and practiced tough rituals such as fasting two days a week, and bathing three times a day. While other kids were messing up their lives with all kinds of mischief such as stealing candies or getting into fights, they kept themselves pure. Even dating a girl or watching PG-13 movies was totally out of the question. Nicodemus lived that kind of life. He denied all his youthful passion and put his fleshly desires under his full control. He was very religious, completely moralistic and self-disciplined. He was clean in every aspect of his life; simply, he was elite.

 

He was also a member of the Jewish ruling council. This ruling council, called the Sanhedrin, was like the US congress, Supreme Court, and Executive branch all in one. The Council’s 70 members were the most revered men of all Israel. To be admitted to the council was the dream of every prominent man, but it was not easy. Any hopeful candidate had to qualify in three ways. 1) One must come from a distinguished family. So, if your last name was Smith or Plumber, you had no hope! 2) One must master the seven subjects of mathematics, politics, oratory, philosophy, history, medicine, and astronomy. The Jewish ruling council represented the most influential intellectual circle of the time. 3) One must be rich. Nicodemus met all these criteria. He was rich. He was brilliant. And his family background was outstanding. In modern terms, he was like a man, coming from the Kennedys, graduating Harvard university at the age 20 with triple majors, then, getting PhDs in three areas - Law, medicine, and theology, at the age of 25; then, becoming a billionaire at the age of 30, through his internet business, and then, becoming a Congress man at the age of 33, but still living so clean and moralistic life, being so faithful to church every week. What would his next step be except being the President of the USA? Nicodemus acquired everything a man could want—power, money, respect, and intellect; on top of this, he lived a clean, moralistic life. There was nothing left that he could want. His name Nicodemus means, "Victorious among his people" or simply, "Conqueror" and indeed he had conquered life. It seemed that he must be the happiest person in the world!

 

But this man visited Jesus at night. Here, ‘night’ refers to the last segment of the day, which was about 11 PM to dawn. It was really an odd and shocking time for a man like Nicodemus to visit someone like Jesus. For what reason would anyone come to your house and knock on the door at midnight unless it was an absolute emergency? Nicodemus had something that had really bothered him. When he came to Jesus, Nicodemus did not talk about his problem at all, but just flattered Jesus saying, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." How did Jesus respond? Let’s read verse 3:

 

3In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

 

Jesus was not fooled by him; instead, he pointed out his problem directly. "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." Many people think of seeing the kingdom of God as something that is available only after death. But that’s not what Jesus is talking about. Jesus was not discussing with Nicodemus about some theological matter, but he was talking about Nicodemus' problem. His problem was that, despite all his achievements, Nicodemus could not see the kingdom of God.

 

What does it mean to see the kingdom of God? Let's say that today, by God's marvelous grace, you are invited to the kingdom of God, maybe, in your dream. How will it be? "Marvelous! Wonderful!" It will be beautiful and glorious that you will be so amazed and happy, and say, "Wow! This is the kingdom of God! I have heard about it, but now I see it!" You will be so overjoyed and satisfied; you will never want to leave, but stay there forever. That joy, happiness, fulfillment - that's what Nicodemus wanted to see; that kind of a truly happy and glorious life was what Nicodemus wanted to have. By struggling hard to keep the laws and become a Pharisee, that's what he had expected to have - such joy, happiness and fulfillment. But acquiring the title, "Pharisee" did not give him such joy and happiness; his morally clean life did not make his life truly fulfilling; even his completely religious life, or his great Bible knowledge could not make him see the kingdom of God. Then, he expected that if he became a member of the Jewish ruling council, he would be really happy. But no achievement he had acquired thus far could make him see the kingdom of God. Maybe, he married Miss Israel and had 5 sons and 3 daughters, and lived in a Beverly Hill's mansion, driving a BMW. But despite all these achievements, still he could not see the kingdom of God - he could not say that he was really happy. Now he was lost on top of the world, without knowing what to do and how to solve the problem. Outwardly, as a well seasoned politician, he had an attractive smile on his face and waved his hand to those who cheered at him. But inwardly, he was agonized.

 

Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." Jesus is proclaiming one absolute truth that no one can be truly happy unless he is born again. If you want to be happy in your life, you must be born again. No one can be happy however way they try - maybe, religiously, intellectually, morally; no matter what success they may have in the world - money, family, fame or power, people cannot be happy unless they are born again. It is all peoples' struggle to live a truly happy, fulfilling and meaningful life - some people in noble-looking ways like Nicodemus, and some others in ignoble ways like the Samaritan woman who had married five times or like the woman who was caught in the act of adultery in John chapter 8. Since mankind was disconnected from God, the source of life, people struggle hard to find the meaning and purpose of their life in things of this world or in achieving something remarkable in the world - that's the lifestyle of Cain's descendants. But with this proclamation, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again," Jesus shows that no matter how hard they try, all of them fail to find it; all these people fail to find that truly meaningful, fulfilling and happy life, because they are not born again. Nicodemus is the representative of all these people - he is the best case, and this best scenario did not work at all. Hollywood stars testify to this truth very clearly with their endless scandals. People must be born again.

 

The solution Jesus suggested was being born again. "You must be born again." This expression implies a total, fundamental and essential change must be there if anyone wants to see the kingdom of God. Just some improvement such as being a little more moralistic than before, or living a little more cleaner life than before, or having a little more Bible knowledge does not help them at all; fundamentally, the way they live their life, or what they live for, is wrong; there must be a fundamental change in their life. You must be born again. This means that you must start your life newly from its scratch.

 

How did Nicodemus respond? Look at verse 4: "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!" When Jesus diagnosed that he was there because he could not see the kingdom of God, Nicodemus did not raise any question about it; he admitted it. But the solution Jesus suggested was not what he could accept. He said that being born again after getting old was technically impossible. So Jesus explained how people could be born twice. Look at verse 5. Let’s read this verse together:

 

5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit."

 

"…Unless he is born of water and the Spirit." Here we see that we need two components to be born again – water and the Spirit. If you want to be born again, you need both water and the Spirit. The Spirit, of course, refers to the Holy Spirit, showing that there is a role the Holy Spirit plays for people to be born again. We cannot control the Holy Spirit, but when we do what we ought to do, the Holy Spirit does his part and we come to experience being born again. So, the only thing we are to do to be born again is water. Here, water refers to the water baptism of John the Baptist, which means, "repentance." John the Baptist says in Matthew 3:11, "I baptize you with water for repentance." The apostle Paul says, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance." (Acts 19:4) There is only one thing that is required for people to be born again, that is, repentance. Being born again is not so complicated; coming to God really is not so complicated. When you repent and God sees that your repentance is real, the Holy Spirit gives birth to your spirit. This is really an amazing secret that, through repentance, people come to be born again; through repentance, people come to see the kingdom of God; through repentance people can enter the kingdom of God where they will enjoy all beautiful things of God's kingdom.

 

This is the secret. We all want to experience the kingdom of God - that beautiful life, so fulfilling, meaningful and happy - nothing in the world could help us see the kingdom of God - money could not, fame could not, and even faithful religious life or Bible knowledge could not make us see the kingdom of God; but when you really repent, when you really turn to God in repentance in Jesus, you will be born again and you can see the kingdom of God. That's why all people must repent! All people must be born again through water and the Spirit, through repentance and the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist's first message was, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!" (Mt 3:2) Jesus' first message was this: "The time has come; the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news." (Mk 1:15) Jesus sent out his 12 apostles two by two on their mission journey. At that time, their message was that people should repent. (Mk 6:12) It means that if you think you are a human, you must repent.

 

It is very interesting to notice that Jesus used this kind of spiritual or theological expression to Nicodemus - seeing the kingdom of God and being born again - because Nicodemus was a Bible scholar familiar with those terms. To the Samaritan woman, he didn't use this kind of expression; instead, he used the term, "thirst," which the Samaritan woman could understand very well. "Whoever drinks this water will be thirsty again, but he who drinks the water I give him, will never thirst." (Jn 4) When people were looking for bread as the means of their security, Jesus used the term, "hunger." After saving a condemned woman who had lived in a secret sin Jesus used the terms, "darkness" and "light," saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." In this way, Jesus used various terms to various people to show their spiritual condition, and invited them to himself for a truly fulfilling life - "see the kingdom of God," "will never thirst," "will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Jesus invited them to have a real life, beautiful and fulfilling, which they had all been looking for, "zoe." Then, how? By repentance, by really turning to him and pursuing him. To Nicodemus he said, "You must be born again of water and the Spirit." To Samaritan woman, he said, "Go, call your husband and come back!" To the condemned woman, he said, "Go now, and leave your life of sin." He said to the rich young man, "Sell everything you have, give to the poor, and then, come, follow me." Nicodemus lived a clean life, believing in the God of Abraham, believing in the Bible, attending worship service all the time, but ultimately, he had been pursuing his own life for his own happiness; he did it in a moralistic way; he did it in a religious way; he did it by pursuing great success in the world; it was a self-seeking life, not life for God. Now he had to repent of his self-seeking life, turn to God in repentance and live for God alone - that would be the expression of his repentance. Fundamentally, people must turn from their own way of life, from their own self-seeking life to the life of living for God. God should be the goal of their life, the source of their happiness and joy, not some achievement in the world or their family. People must repent!

 

       Second, "So it is with everyone born of the Spirit" (6-13). Look at verse 6. Jesus says, "6Flesh give birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." Here, Jesus explains what it means to be born again. To be born again means to be born of body and spirit. We were born of our mothers; for me, it was about 45 years ago. That was the birth of our flesh, and this flesh has been growing for forty five years, now a little worn out. Then, when we repent and accept Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit gives birth to our spirit, so we experience the second birth. That is called ‘born again.’ "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." Natural man has only one birth, the birth of their flesh from his mother, and this natural man cannot see the kingdom of God no matter what because his spirit is not born yet, and thereby, there cannot be any relationship with God who is Spirit. Simply, a natural person is disconnected from God, the source of life; they are like branches cut off from the original tree; no matter what they do and have achieved, they are simply withering moment by moment; it is impossible for this natural man to see the kingdom of God; it is impossible for him to find true fulfillment of life while he is withering and perishing. Like Cain and his descendants, all these people live as endless wanderers on earth, looking for something or someone to fill their void.

 

       But when we are born again of water and the Spirit, when the Holy Spirit gives birth to our spirit, we can have spiritual relationship with God who is the source of life; there, we come to enjoy true fulfillment and happiness, and we can see that the void that has been there in our heart so long has been finally filled. The Bible says that God set eternity in humans, and only God can fill it. When you are born again, now you have an access to God for beautiful fellowship with Him. So, pursue Him and enjoy Him all the way, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

 

Jesus says, "You should not be surprised at my saying, "You must be born again." Being born again or being born of the Holy Spirit is really a great mystery. But Jesus tells us not to be bewildered about it. He illustrates the mystery of being born again through the example of the wind. We cannot see the wind, but as we see the leaves of trees trembling, by hearing the sound of the wind, we can tell that the wind is blowing. In the same way, we don’t know precisely how or when people are born again; however, there are evidences of people being born again such as their changed life – a selfish man becomes sacrificial; a persecutor suddenly begins to preach that Jesus is the Lord; a sinful man struggles to be holy. "The wind blows,… you hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

 

Look at verses 9 through 13. Let’s read these verses responsively:

 

9"How can this be?" Nicodemus asked. 10"You are Israel’s teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? 11I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?" 13No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.

 

Nicodemus rejected Jesus’ message of being born again continuously by saying, "How come?" or "How can this be?" It seemed like he was not accepting Jesus’ message because he could not understand it. But actually, it was because of his pride and unwilling heart to repent. Whenever Jesus said something, Nicodemus talked back, saying, "How come? I don’t get it." This proud attitude made Jesus angry. So Jesus rebuked him, saying, "You are Israel’s teacher. And do you not understand these things?" Jesus also pointed out his problem saying, "You do not accept our testimony." In verse 12, "earthly things" refer to the beginning stage of God's redemption work that occurs here on earth such as being born again, and "heavenly things" refer to the completion of God’s redemption work such as complete sanctification or glorification, which will be done in heaven. So far, Jesus taught Nicodemus the beginning stage of God’s redemption work, which happens here on earth, but Nicodemus refused to believe; then, how could he believe if Jesus talked about more mysterious and glorious things, like the completion of God’s salvation work, which will happen in heaven? Jesus really wanted him to bend his pride and accept his message so that he might be born again and live a truly happy and beautiful life. Jesus must have felt a great burden and pain in his heart for Nicodemus! Jesus said to him in verse 13, "No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man." Jesus is the only person who knows about the things of heaven because he came from heaven. Things about heaven are mysterious. No one knows what the people in heaven do during each day of their life. No one knows what kind of language you are supposed to use in heaven, nor do they know what it is like to shake hands with holy angels; or how happy they feel when they see God’s face and have dinner together with our Lord Jesus. But Jesus knew about all these things because he was the only person who had ever come from heaven. Only he can tell people the things of heaven for he came from heaven. How badly he wanted Nicodemus to bend his pride and accept his words so that he would see the kingdom of God and be truly happy!

 

In this passage, we learn the universal truth that man must be born again. Being born again is not something vague or metaphysical, but it is the matter of the true joy and happiness of our life. If you are not born again, you cannot experience true happiness. If you are not born again, your life cannot have any meaning despite your success or worldwide fame. But if you are born again, now you can see the kingdom of God; so pursue it wholeheartedly, secure it and you will be overjoyed in the fellowship with God; if you are born again, now rejoice because you are children of God and you will inherit his kingdom. God is your Father. Let's humble ourselves and remove all undesirable things from our hearts and life so that we can live for God and pursue Him alone. That's how we can enjoy true happiness in this life, and enter the kingdom of God in the age to come.

 

One Word: You Must Be Born Again

Sunday, May 27, 2018

posted May 27, 2018, 6:42 PM by Site Administrator


 

ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME

 

John 2:12-25

Key Verse 2:17

 

His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me." 

 

First, "How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market?" (12-16). After having recruited his first disciples in Judea, Jesus came to Cana in Galilee. There, he performed his first miraculous sign, changing the foot-washing water to choice wine, and blessed the newly wed-couple. After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, brothers and his disciples, and stayed there for a few days. Then, when it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem with his disciples. It was their first mission venture as Jesus’ disciples. There, something unexpected happened. Look at verses 14 through 16. When they entered the temple courts, Jesus found men selling cattle, sheep and doves. As he was entering the temple courts, he must have expected to see people studying the word of God or praying or to hear beautiful hymns praising God. But instead, he saw the temple crowded with merchants and animals. And everywhere, he heard the animals making a lot of noise and the merchants shouting, "99 cents for two doves!" Maybe, some other people were arguing to cut a better deal. The temple was like a marketplace or a stock market. At this, Jesus made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!" Jesus burned with his holy angerand cleared the temple. 

 

Why were there in the temple all these merchants and animals? In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israel people to celebrate the seven feasts every year - the feast of Passover, the feast of Unleavened Bread, the feast of Firstfruits, the feast of Weeks, the feast of Trumpets, the day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles. These feasts were Israel’s most important national holidays. And God commanded the Israel people to keep three of them very specially – the feast of Unleavened Bread, the feast of Weeks, also known as the Pentecost, and the feast of Tabernacles. Every Jewish man should come to the temple in Jerusalem on these three feasts. And God said to them, "No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you." (Deu 16:16-17) Based on this command, every Jewish man should come to the temple in Jerusalem three times a year with some offering. So in order to keep these three feasts, at the beginning of each year, they checked out their calendar, marked the dates for these three festivals with thick red ink, and arranged all other occasions such as business trip, vacation plan, family gathering or wedding ceremony around them to make sure that they would be able to come and appear before God in the Jerusalem temple. They set aside the dates for these three feasts, and those days were untouchable, solely dedicated to God. Because of these three feasts, their yearly schedule became God-first and God-centered. Each feast usually lasted one week, so to the Jews from a distance, it required a whole chunk of time – three days or ten days or even one month journey to Jerusalem, seven days' feast, and then, go back home spending the same amount of time. In the eyes of the unbelievers, the Jews looked stubborn and unwise. But the Jews remained as the Jews because they were different in their practical lives like this. Every year, when these feasts came, all the Jews made their journey to Jerusalem from every corner of the world; it was their holy pilgrimage to the city of God. But there was a problem. If you live close to the temple, you have no problem to bring your sheep or cattle as an offering to God. But if you live far away from the temple, you are in big trouble to bring those animals to the temple. So, for this case, God instructed the Jews to take their money, come and buy animals for sacrifices to God in Jerusalem. (Deut 14) So for these pilgrims coming from a distance, the Jews in Jerusalem held a market in the outer court of the temple, called the court of the Gentiles. People exchanged the money, usually, silver, for the Jewish currency, and bought animals for their sacrifices to God. This was the reason why there were merchants, money-changers, cattle, sheep and doves in the temple. Year after year, at every feast, this market was there in the temple, maybe, for several ten years.

 

Then, why was Jesus so angryJesus said to them, "How dare you turn my Father's house into a market?" They held the market not to support God's words, or these pilgrims, but to make money, utilizing God's words and God's temple. God is not the One we can use for our own benefit. Rather, He is the very One whom we must worship and dedicate ourselves to. But these people’s heart was corrupt. They did not come to the temple to worship God and pray, but to make money. Jesus would not tolerate this sin. His heart was burned with anger at these people who spoiled the temple.

 

We remember that Jesus asked the two disciples when they followed him, saying, "What do you want?" We must come to church to worship God, to serve God and to have fellowship with God; we must come to church confessing our sins in Jesus so that we may be restored to the fellowship with God. God says in Isaiah 56:7, "My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations." We must come to church to pray for the salvation of all peoples on earth. Church is the gathering of people who have deep concern for the salvation of all peoples on earth. For this, we must study the Bible and teach others the word of God diligently.

 

Second, "Zeal for your house will consume me" (17-22).Look at verse 17. When Jesus burned with his anger against the merchants in the temple and destroyed the whole market, the disciples were shocked. Yet, at that time, the first thing that came to their mind was God's words: "Zeal for your house will consume me." They could not understand fully what Jesus was doing. Selling cattle, sheep and doves, and exchanging money during the feasts in the temple court was biblical, and well-built religious tradition. They had seen this market every year since they were young. Also, it was extremely dangerous for any person to go against the religious authorities or go against the well established religious practice in the religious society. But Jesus did it, even risking his life. Why did he do so? The disciples saw Jesus' exceptional zeal for God's temple. That's what the disciples saw.

 

"Zeal for your house will consume me." This quotation is from Psalm 69, a psalm of King David. In this psalm, David describes his struggle of how he sought God. He says, "For I endure scorn for your sake and shame covers my face. I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother's own sons; for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me." (Ps 69:7-9) Why did he become a stranger and alien to his own brothers? They were all Israelites, having knowledge of God, and maintaining a certain form of God-worship; everyone talked about God; they prayed before the meal in God's name; but to most of them, it was not real, but simply, they had the culture of God-worship; they did not really seek God but had pride that they believed in God. But David was different; he really had zeal for God - God's house, God's kingdom, God's will and God's people; he was really seeking God's will upon his life; he zealously sought God. As a result, when he talked with his own brothers about what he wanted in his life, about what he was going to do and pursue, simply, they could not understand; his value system, his way of thinking, his future desire and direction and his struggles - simply, they could not understand. In their eyes, it seemed that David was too presumptuous, self-conceited. So, they ridiculed him, saying, "You are lunatic. You don't know the reality." And they advised him to have balance between God and the world. He felt he was a stranger and alien in his family because he was really different from them in his value system, life's purpose, direction, and future hope. One time, David was angry at Goliath who had insulted God and Israel for forty days - all Israel soldiers were afraid of him and just swallowed such humiliation for forty days. But David was angry and said that he would go and kill this uncircumcised man by the power of God. But when Eliab, David's oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men like this, he burned with anger at him and asked, "Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle." (1Sam 17:28) His family never understood his exceptional zeal for God. Because he had zeal for God, only because he sought God wholeheartedly, he had to endure scorns and insults even from his own family members. But that's not all. He says in Psalm 69, "When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn;  11  when I put on sackcloth, people make sport of me.  12  Those who sit at the gate mock me, and I am the song of the drunkards. (Psa 69:10-12) Here, weeping, fasting and putting on sackcloth are the expressions of true repentance and struggle for the real fellowship with God. Other people, due to their religious life, took everything for granted; once they attended worship service, they considered that they were already good; when they offered some sacrifices, they assumed that their sins were already forgiven. Then, when they saw David struggling hard to really repent of his sins and to seek the real fellowship with God, weeping, fasting and putting on sackcloth, they ridiculed him, saying that he was a lunatic, a maniac. The leaders in the society such as priests mocked him and losers such as the drunkards gossiped about him. Due to his sincere struggle to seek God, he became a laughing stock in Israel. But David would not back out. He sought God wholeheartedly. God chose him and established the kingdom of God in Israel through him.

 

When the disciples saw Jesus destroying market in the temple, going against the authority, they could see Jesus' exceptional zeal for God's house, like that of David. This shows that many people in Israel had a sense of problem about this market in the temple. But since it had been a long tradition, and also, since it was operated by the authorities such as chief priests in the temple, no one was willing to protest against it; they were afraid. But Jesus was different; he had zeal for God's house; for the sake of God's house, Jesus was willing to be ridiculed, mocked, and even was willing to die, so he fought against this corruption of the temple by destroying the market. There were so many difficulties to do God's work in this God-believing country Israel. But with exceptional zeal for God, Jesus strived to do God's work. Nothing could stop him or slow him down from loving God and seeking God's kingdom. With such zeal for God's house, Jesus established God's kingdom powerfully in Israel even through his death on the cross.

 

When we think about David's zeal and Jesus' zeal for God's house, we can see how we must seek God's kingdom in our generation. Today, like in the time of David, when you seek God really as David did, you become aliens and strangers even to your own God-believing family members. In the Old Testament, Hosea 9:7 shows that in Israel, the prophet was considered a fool, and if anyone sought God wholeheartedly, they called him "a maniac." In the New Testament, the apostle Paul says, "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2Ti 3:12) Today, we face the same challenge. I remember one mother who professed that she was a believer - I don't know if she was a real believer or not. She left her son alone when he lived a wild and self-destructive life in Hollywood. But when he repented and struggled to live a holy and godly life, she was angry and persecuted him; she even hired two big guys to kidnap him; they tied him hand and foot, put him in a car trunk, and took him to a deep mountain. When you live a wild life, no one will bother you except demons. But when you live a godly life, people will persecute you. There are many church going people, but because they don't have real zeal for God, God cannot work with them. So, nothing great happens in their lives. Indeed, it is not easy for anyone to build the kingdom of God in this societybecause there are challenges, difficulties and dangers all the time. But when we have the same zeal for Gods house like David, like Jesus, we can build the kingdom of God in all our campuses. May we also have the same testimony, saying, "Zeal for your house consumes me."

 

Look at verse 18. This verse shows us the Jews' response to Jesus' action. They too, could not understand what Jesus was doing. But they never tried to think about the word of God. Instead, simply they opposed and challenged him to prove his authority to do so. At this Jesus said to them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." Jesus was talking about his death and resurrection. But it sounded like he was giving them a riddle only to confuse them more. Again, they could not understand what he was talking about. So they challenged him again, saying, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?"

 

But the disciples’ response was different. They too could not understand what Jesus was talking about. But they did not reject his words only because they could not understand them. Instead, they kept them in mind thinking that there must be deep meaning in his words. Then, later, when Jesus rose again in three days, everything became clear, and they could see that Jesus had known everything from the beginning, and everything happened according to the Scriptures. Through this, their eyes were opened to Jesus and the Scriptures, and their faith became concrete based on the word of God.

 

In this passage we see the two different responses to Jesus’ action and words. The Jews challenged Jesus because what Jesus did or what he said was not what they could understand. But the disciples did not reject or challenge Jesus only because what he said or what he did was not what they could understand. Instead, they thought Jesus might have some reason to do so or say so, which they could not understand yet. They tried to understand his action based on God's words. They kept his words in mind instead of rejecting them. Then, when his word was fulfilled in their eyes, they could understand what he meant, and they could grow in faith continuously. People say, "In the school of learning, attitude is everything." When we judge the word of God according to our own understanding or knowledge, we never grow up, because we accept what we already know and reject what we don't understand. But when we have a humble learning mind and follow the disciples’ good example, we can grow continuously finding deep spiritual secrets. 

 

Third, "For he knew all men" (23-25). Look at verses 23 through 25. Let's read these verses together:

 

23Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. 24But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. 25He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man. 

 

This passage describes how Jesus' ministry was in Jerusalem. During the feast of Passover, Jesus performed many miracles, and many people believed in him. When these people saw Jesus performing miracles such as healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, and driving out demons, they praised and thanked Jesus with many Amens. They were so excited. Wherever Jesus went, a great number of crowd followed all the time. Based on the miraculous signs, they believed in Jesus name. Here, the expression, "They believed in his name," means that they accepted him as the promised Messiah; they professed their faith in Jesus, saying, "You are the Christ." It seemed that his ministry was going very well in Jerusalem; it seemed that Jesus should be happy and welcome them, saying, "Good job. Now you are saved." But Jesus didn't welcome them at all. Verse 24 starts with a big, "But." "But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men." Even though they professed their faith in him, he would not put his trust in them; simply, they said, "I believe that you are the Promised Messiah," he didn't believe what they said; he didn't give them any credit at all. Why? The author apostle John says in verse 24, "for he knew all men." "For he knew all men" This short sentence means that even though people praised Jesus and believed in his name with many thanks and Amen, Jesus knew what kind of person each of them truly was – outwardly, and with their lips, they looked like very good believers, but actually, they were enjoying some amusement or quick benefits through his miracles without any true repentance before God, and they did not have any interest in Jesus. Even if they believed in his name, it was not their faith in Jesus, but the one who performed such miracles, and that person could be anyone. If Simon performed the same miracles, they would say, "Simon is the Christ." Jesus was not deceived by them, for he knew all of them. Verse 25 reads: "He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man." At that time, many people believed in Jesus with many Amens. But Jesus did not need any man to warn him about them saying that their faith was a fake, because he knew what was in a man. When one person professed his faith in him, saying, "I believe that you are the Son of God," the other person did not need to inform Jesus about him, saying, "Jesus, do not be deceived. He is a liar," for Jesus already knew what was in a man. 

 

"For he knew all men." "He knew what was in a man."What scary words these are for those who do not truly love God. They may deceive others through their performance or motion of worship, or their Bible knowledge, but Jesus sees them through. His eyes are like blazing fire, seeing through everything, and all things are exposed to him naked. The apostle Paul warned the believers in Galatia, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to pleas the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." (Gal 6:7,8) At the same time, what comforting words these are for those who truly love him and pursue him! They do not love anything in the world - no compromise at all. Maybe, their performance is less than satisfactory. But their conscience is free to sing and praise God; they are indeed blessed people. Let's be true to God and love Him with all our heart and strength.

 

Let's have zeal for God's house - God's temple, God's church.As the Holy Spirit dwells in us, our body is the house of God. Jesus has zeal for the house of God. So he challenges us to get rid of all corruption and impurity from our heart. May we prepare a room for God at the center of our heart. May we establish the kingdom of God on all the campuses in California and America and in the whole world; it may be challenging, but when we have real zeal for God, God will work with us and build God's kingdom through us. 

 

One Word: Zeal for Your House Will Consume Me

Sunday, May 20, 2018

posted May 21, 2018, 11:25 PM by Site Administrator

 

THE WEDDING AT CANA

 

John 2:1-11

Key Verse 2:11

 

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed atCana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him."

 

First, "My time has not yet come" (1-5). In the previous passage, we learned that Jesus recruited his first disciples in Jerusalem and left for Galilee. From Jerusalem to Galilee, it took about three days journey. On the third day, Jesus and his disciples were at Cana in Galilee. They were invited to a wedding feast together with Jesus mother, Mary. The Jews regarded the wedding the most important occasion in their lives. So, they celebrated it greatly. Nowadays, a wedding ceremony lasts about four hours including the reception. But back in those days, a Jewish wedding lasted for one whole week, and it was like a town-wide festival, to which all townspeople were invited. When there was a wedding, all townspeople stopped what they had been doing, came to the wedding, and blessed the newly-wed couple. During the wedding banquet, all kinds of sorrowful activities were prohibited in the town. For example, the Pharisees fasted two days a week, but even these Phariseesshould not fast if a wedding was going on in the town. If they fasted, it would be such great insult to the wedding couple. 

 

So setting aside all their own agenda, the townspeople gathered at the wedding ceremony, and now it was the wedding couples responsibility to treat them all. At first, everything was going just fine, until they realized that wine was running out. Wine was gone! It was a serious problem. All townspeople showed respect and honor to their wedding, but the groom and the bride failed to appreciate them. A wedding ceremony without wine was like a hamburger without a patty. It was such an embarrassing moment for the bridegroom and the bride. Jesus mother noticed whats going on, and brought the problem to Jesus, saying, "They have no more wine."

 

What was Jesus response to her request? Look at verse 4. Jesus said to her, "Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come." Wow! Jesus said to his mother, "Dear woman!" I dont want to imagine how missionary Grace would respond if Sarah asks her, "Dear woman, where is my lunch box?" Jesus reply sounds disrespectful, but it is not. Jesus used the same expression while he was hung on the cross. Pointing out the apostle John, he said to his mother Mary, "Dear woman, here is your son." (Jn 19:26) The phrase, "Dear woman," was an official language kings used to call their queens in official settings. If king called his queen "Honey" in front of his subjects, he would look really silly. So, kings used an official language such as "My lady," or "Dear woman." Since he started his messianic ministry, Jesus used this official language, even calling his mother"Dear woman," showing that he did not regard himself as Marys lovely son any longer, but as an official person carrying out Gods work. He dealt with his mother officially. When we receive God's calling, we have this new identity as God's servants; thus, the nature of our relationship with our family members and friends changes.

 

"Why do you involve me? My time has not yet come."His answer to Mary's request was clearly, "No." The reason why he didn't want to get involved in the situation was because his time had not yet come. Here, we see a new expression, "my time." "My time" is an important theme that penetrates the entire gospel of John. In John 7, when his own brothers encouraged him to go up to Jerusalem and perform miracles in front of all the Jews there during a Jewish feast, Jesus refused to do so, saying, "The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right." So, he did not go up to Jerusalem. Then, a few days later, he went up to Jerusalem, because, as a few days passed, the situation had changed, and thereby, his time had come. In John 12, while Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast, some Greeks came to him and asked him for a teaching, Jesus said, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." So, Jesus' time is the time when he is glorified, when he is revealed as God. Not always the environment has been prepared for Jesus to reveal the glory of God; for example, the wedding guests were half-drunk, and even if Jesus made more wine, it would not reveal the glory of God - people would enjoy just a little more wine without knowing what had happened - that's not Jesus' point; if he did something, his whole purpose was that God's glory might be revealed through it; so, he refused to work, even if his mother asked him for help. Then, in John 17, in his high priestly prayer, Jesus says, "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you." On the cross, through his own sacrifice for sinners, Jesus would truly reveal God's glory - God's amazing, unconditional love for all sinners. For this, Jesus proceeded. 

 

Jesus' time is the time when he can reveal the glory of God very effectively. That's his whole purpose in everything he did. He was a free man; he could do whenever and whatever he wanted, but he did not live that way. Instead, he waited for the right chance to come, when the environment was prepared for him to reveal the glory of God; because of this desire, sometimes, he refused to work, even at the request of his mother, and thereby, sometimes, he was misunderstood by his beloved people. Yet, he was not bothered, because his one single desire was to reveal the glory of God - he lived for this and died for this. It is really amazing to notice that his time is when God's glory can be revealed very well. When is your time? Maybe, when you get all A's in your finals; maybe, when you get your dream job - you shout, "Hurray!!!! Praise the Lord!" Or when you marry your dream partner - you feel like flying. Or maybe, when you hit the California lotto and receive 7 million dollars unexpectedly!! Jesus' example makes us think about what we must really live for, and what we must really pursue - God's glory. Jesus taught us this when he taught us how we must pray - Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done. If we want to live for ourselves, any time is right for us - when we want to sleep, that's is our time; when we want to eat, that is our time; when we want to marry, that is our time. But if we want to reveal the glory of God, we learn to deny ourselves and wait for the right time to come. We may be misunderstood by our family or friends, because we refuse to do what they want us to do. But when we have this keen sense of revealing God's glory, we know what to do and how we must live our lives.  

 

When Jesus said to his mother, "Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come," she could have been hurt. But she was not an emotional woman, but a spiritual woman. Even though Jesus answer sounded negative, she interpreted it very positively. She understood and believed that Jesus did not work only because his time had not yet come; it meant that he would work when his time came. Then, she didsomething very positively so that Jesus’ time would come quickly, and her prayer would be answered. What did she do?She said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." She prepared the servants to obey whatever Jesus would tell them. She prepared their hearts to be ready to obey Jesus’ words absolutely. Through her, a few men of obedience were prepared. Her response to Jesus' answer shows her absolute trust in Jesus; no matter what he said, she understood it positively; no matter how harsh his answer sounded, she understood it positively, because she knew him really well - such a good and compassionate person. 

 

When we pray to God for help, often, God's answer does not come right away; sometimes, silence is his response; sometimes, we see that the situation gets worse. We feel like God saying to us, "Hey, why do you involve me?" His answer seems clearly "No." But we know that our God is a compassionate God who is deeply concerned about our wellbeing, who was willing to sacrifice his son for us. The one who was willing to give up his son for us must be willing to give us all other things if we need them. This is our confidence in him. In all circumstances, we must put our trust in God that He will answer our prayers at the right time. Simply, he refuses to answer our prayer, because his time has not yet come. When his time comes, he will answer our prayers and we will see his glory.

 

Second, "Fill the jars with water" (6-11). Look at verses 6 and 7. Originally, Jesus refused to work because his time had not yet come. But when a few servants of obedience were prepared, he began to work, telling the servants to fill the six stone water jars with water. This means that when these men were prepared to obey his words, his time had come. When is Jesus’ time when he can reveal the glory of God very well? Jesus’ time is the time when his servants are prepared to obey his words. Whenever a man is prepared to do whatever God tells him, it is God’s time when God will do mighty works in and through him and reveal his glory. Many people wait for God’s time to come in their lives. They say, "When is God’s time in my life, when God will do great things in and throughme?" But actually, it is God who waits for them to be ready to obey Him so that He can fulfill His will through their obedience. Think about how glorious it was when we finally opened up our hearts to God and responded to his words? A great work of God occurred in our life; on that day, a dead person crossed over from death to life - what can be more glorious than this? God’s time is the time when we make our heart's decision to respond to God's words by faith. Now as we grow up in God, God's time in our life is the time when we make our heart's determination to obey whatever He tells us to do. Then, through our obedience to His purpose, God will do what He wants to do, and reveal His glory. When we make our heart's determination to obey whatever God tells us, His time to reveal the glory of God has come.

 

There are many Christians, but usually, nothing great occurs in their lives even though they go to church and say that they believe in Jesus. Why? It is because they do not do what Jesus tells them. Jesus says to them, "Feed my lambs." But they don't do it. Jesus says to them, "Go and make disciples of all nations." They know it, but they don't do it. Jesus is waiting for His time to come in our life. Jesus is waiting for us to make our heart’s determination that we will live for him alone, and that we will do whatever he tells us to do. God is waiting for you to make that decision. Do you still hesitate between God and the world? When will God's time come in your life? Whenwe make a decision to obey and surrender ourselves to Him, Jesus, seeing us from heaven, says, "Finally, my servant John is ready. Lets go and do mighty works of God through him." Gods time is the time when we are ready to do whatever God tells us

 

Jesus first direction was: "Fill the jars with water."Filling up the six stone jars with water wouldn’t be an easy task. Nowadays, we can fill up those stone water jars easily by just turning on a facet and using a water hose. But in those days, they had to go to well and draw water with a bucket. Each jar held about 20 to 30 gallons. Altogether, they held about 120 to 180 gallons of water. To go and draw up to 180 gallons of water would be exhausting. These servants had been working hard for the wedding feast for a few days; maybe, they were the busiest people at the wedding banquet. Moreover, what they needed was not water, but wine. Why should they work hard for water, when what they needed was wine? If Jesus gave them direction such as, "I know where you can get wine. Go to the Vons market 10 miles from here and you will find wine. Here ismy car key." This direction would sound reasonable to obey. But Jesus direction was totally unreasonable. Yet, how did theyobey Jesus words? Verse 7 says"So they filled them to the brim." The servants obeyed Jesus word and filled the jars to the brim. "To the brim" shows that they filled the jars with enthusiasm and their obedience was out of their willingness.

 

Then, Jesus gave them his second command, saying, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."They saw how the master of the banquet was frantically running here and there looking for more wine. How would he respond if they brought him a cup of water? Most likely, he would be so angry at them, thinking that they were making fun of him; probably, he would punish them severely. The first direction was difficult to obey, because it did not make sense. But the second direction was even harder to obey, because it was dangerous. When the servants thought about this, they were scared, and looked at each other. Yet, what did they do? Verse 8b says"They did so." The servants drew some out. What was it? It was still, water, not wine. Then, with shaky hands, they took it to the master of the banquet. The banquet master took the cup to his mouth and sipped it. Then, a miracle happened!!! Verse 9 describes what happened very clearly. It reads: "and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine..." The master of the banquet tasted "the water." It was water until he tasted it; but then, when he tasted it, it was wine!!! The wine tasted exceptionally great that the banquet master told the bridegroom about it, saying, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." And the bridegroom did not know what he was talking about - what a wonderful comedy it was! The wine was good, because it was made by Jesus, the Creator of heaven and earth.  

 

The servants were challenged greatly and were forced to go even beyond their human logic, knowledge and reason. They trembled greatly for the possible failures and following persecutions. They could have backed out in the middle. But they took great courage and boldly went beyond their own understanding and common sense by obeying Jesus words absolutely. It was really a scary moment. But when they went beyond their logic and human territory by faith, by absolute obedience to Jesus’ command, there, they experienced the power of God, the wonder working power; there, they saw that the worthless foot washing water was changed into choice wineby the power of God. There, their eyes were opened to see who Jesus was, the Son of God, who came into the world to save his people. By faith, by absolute obedience to Jesus’ command, they went beyond human territory, and tapped into Gods world,and saw the glory of God in Jesus. It was indeed marvelousSince then, once they tapped into God's world and experienced his glory, their life would never be the same - their perspectives changed; their hopes changed; their life purpose changed (no more worthless things of this world, but the glory of God).

 

People want to see the glory of God. They want to experience the power of God in their lives. But despite their desires, nothing great happens in their lives; despite their wish, they do not see God's miracles in their lives. Why? It is because they do not obey God's words - they still are limited by their own human territory - they live according to their own logic, understanding and experiences; when they are challenged to obey directions they cannot understand, they are so startled, and full of doubt, fear and suspicion, and often, they are ready to attack as if their life is threatened. How can we see the glory of God and experience his power? By obeying God’s words to the end. Perhaps, in hope to see God’s glory, they try, but after trying a few times, when nothing happens, they give up, saying, "See, I tried, but nothing happened." They are fearful to obey God wholeheartedly for a possible loss and failure. Obedience should be complete. See these servants’ case. When they filled up one jar, what happened? Nothing happened! When they filled up 4 or 5 jars, what happened? Nothing happened! Even after filling all 6 jars with the water, still nothing happened. Then, only then, when they obeyed Jesus’ command to the end, when they drew some out, and took the cup of water to the banquet master, when their obedience to Jesus was complete, there, a miracle happened; there, they experienced the power of God, and they were overjoyed. Jesus wants to guide us to the place where we can see the glory of God; Jesus wants to help us tap into God’s territory where we can see God’s glory and experience God’s power, where we can enjoy beautiful fellowship with God. So Jesus commands us: "Fill the jars with water." "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." When we obey Jesus’ command despite logic, reasoning, and the practical reality, we experience God’s power and see God’s glory. Simon Peter was a fisherman, living according to his logic and experience. But one day, Jesus stepped into his boat and said to him, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." Peter had been living in shallow water where everything seemed understandable, reasonable, and thereby, predictable. And his life in the shallow water was empty like his empty net. But now Jesus invited him into deep water that went beyond his human logic and understanding. It was his invitation for Simon Peter into God’s world. When Peter obeyed this command despite all human logic and understanding, in deep water he experienced the power of God, and there, he saw the glory of God in Jesus; there, when he met his God in Jesus, everything changed, and his life was never the same. 

 

Jesus invites us, "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Jesus wants us to dedicate ourselves, our life to him fully so that he can mold us into fishers of men, God’s servants. When our obedience to this will of God is complete, there we experience God’s divine power, and our life becomesglorious. Jesus commands us, "Feed my lambs!" "Take care of my sheep!" "Feed my sheep!" So, we go fishing and teaching the Bible to students. When our obedience to God is complete, when we fill the jars with water to the brim, God’s glory will be revealed, and we will be overjoyed. The characteristic of children of God is to fill the jars with water to the brim by faith. Children of God are those who live in God’s world by faith in Him. Again, God’s time is the time when we make our hearts’ determination to obey Him. God is waiting for his time to come in our life, when he can do mighty works and reveal his glory through our obedience. Jesus commands us, "Fill the jars with water."

 

Verse 11 says, "This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him." Jesus performed many miraculous signs in his life. But among all of them, the author, the apostle John, chose only seven of them as the proof of Jesus’ deity that he is God. Through this first miraculous sign Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee, the first disciples witnessed Jesus’ transforming power and were convinced that Jesus is God. Thus, they put their faith in him.

 

This first miraculous sign of Jesus has spiritual meaning.Jesus, who blessed the wedding at Cana, came to bless us. At the wedding, foot-washing water has no importance and value.It has no meaning. Before Jesus came to our lives, we were just like the foot-washing water, living meaningless lives and wecould not find the purpose of our existence. Moreover, no one valued us or paid attention to us - whether we got a job or not, whether we died or lived; our existence did not carry that much value in this world. But wine is the essential thing at thewedding banquet. When we remain in Jesus, we can experience Jesus transforming power. Jesus changes us into very important persons both to God and to the world; we become so precious and important that what we do or say quickly comes to be known to the people of the whole world. Jesus wants to transform us into wholesome children of God. He wants us to live in God’s world, where everything is possible.

 

One Word:Fill The Jars With Water

Missionary Underwood's Prayer

posted Oct 25, 2010, 4:10 PM by Unknown user


Missionary Horace Grant Underwood prayed in korea one hundred years ago.

보이지 않는 조선의 마음


주여! 지금은 아무 것도 보이지 않습니다.
주님, 메마르고 가난한 땅
나무 한 그루 시원하게 자라 오르지 못하고 있는 땅에
저희들을 옮겨와 심으셨습니다.
Lord, nothing is visible at this moment.
Lord, you have planted us on this barren and poor land, where not even a single tree can grow tall enough.

그 넓고 넓은 태평양을 건너왔는지
그 사실이 기적입니다.
주께서 붙잡아 뚝 떨어뜨려 놓으신 듯한 이곳
지금은 아무 것도 보이지 않습니다.
It is such a miracle that we could come to this land across the wide wide Pacific Ocean.
Nothing is visible, though, in this land on which we seem to have been dropped off by your hand.

보이는 것은 고집스럽게 얼룩진 어둠뿐입니다.
어둠과 가난과 인습에 묶여 있는 조선 사람뿐입니다.
그들은 왜 묶여 있는지도, 고통이라는 것도 모르고 있습니다.
고통을 고통인줄 모르는 자에게 고통을 벗겨주겠다고 하면
의심부터 하고 화부터 냅니다.
Only stubbornly stained darkness can be seen.
Only Korean people chained with poverty and superstition can be seen.
They don't even know why they are chained, what suffering is.
They just distrust us and express anger to us as we tell them how to take away their suffering, which is not suffering to them.


조선 남자들의 속셈이 보이지 않습니다.
이 나라 조정의 내심도 보이질 않습니다.
가마를 타고 다니는 여자들을 영영 볼 기회가 없으면 어쩌나 합니다.
조선의 마음이 보이지 않습니다.
그리고 저희가 해야할 일이 보이질 않습니다.
The thoughts of Korean men are not visible.
The mind of this government is not visible.
We are afraid that we may not have any more opportunity to see the women commuting on Kamas(-a cart carried by men).
And we do not see what to do.

그러나, 주님, 순종하겠습니다.
겸손하게 순종할 때 주께서 일을 시작하시고
그 하시는 일을 우리들의 영적인 눈이 볼 수 있는 날이 있을 줄 믿나이다.
"
믿음은 바라는 것들의 실상이요, 보지 못하는 것들의 증거니... "
라고 하신 말씀을 따라
Yet, Lord! We will obey.
We believe that you begin your work as we humbly obey,
And that the day will come when our spiritual eyes will see your work,
According to your Words, "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see..."


조선의 믿음의 앞날을 볼 수 있게 될 것을 믿습니다.
지금은 우리가 황무지 위에 맨손으로 서 있는 것 같사오나
지금은 우리가 서양귀신 양귀자(洋鬼子라고 손가락질 받고 있사오나
저희들이 우리 영혼과 하나인 것을 깨닫고, 하늘 나라의 한 백성, 한 자녀임을 알고

눈물로 기뻐할 날이 있음을 믿나이다.
We believe that we will see the future of the faith of Korea.
Although we are as if standing on a desert with bare hands,
Although we are condemned to be Western devils,
We believe that the day will come when they will rejoice with tears realizing that they are one with our spirit in Christ, and that we all have one Kingdom and one Father in Heaven.

지금은 예배드릴 예배당도 없고 학교도 없고
그저 경계의 의심과 멸시와 천대함이 가득한 곳이지만
이곳이 머지않아 은총의 땅이 되리라는 것을 믿습니다.
주여! 오직 제 믿음을 붙잡아 주소서!
Although there is no church to worship you, no school to study,
Although this land is filled with doubt of suspicion, contempt, and disdain,
We believe that in the near future this land will become a land of blessing. 


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