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Sunday, October 14, 2018

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

IF ANYONE KEEPS MY WORD, HE WILL NEVER SEE DEATH

 

John 8:33-59

Key Verse 8:51

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

        

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

        

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

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

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

 

John 8:31,32

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

        

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

 

 

 

Sunday, September 30,2018

posted Oct 1, 2018, 6:41 AM by Site Administrator

9

 

WHEN YOU HAVE LIFTED UP THE SON OF MAN,…

 

John 8:13-30

Key Verse 8:28

 

So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.

 

First, “My testimony is valid” (13-20). In the previous passage, we saw Jesus proclaiming that he is the light of the world. He set the condemned woman free and gave her a new life. Jesus promised her that if she followed him, she would never walk in darkness but have the light of life. It was only by the marvelous grace of Jesus that she who had lived an adulterous life, received such a promise from the Son of God. At this, the woman must have shed a lot of tears in repentance and thanksBut when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”But Jesus said to them, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going." It’s true that a person standing in a trialcannot be his own witness. Yet, Jesus said that even if he testified on his own behalf, his testimony was still valid because he knew where he came from and where he was going. Jesuswas the only person who knew the truth and thereby qualified to tell the truth. If he kept silent, the truth would be hidden and no one would know where they came from and where they were going. If Jesus kept silent, then, still today, people would say, “We came from cockroaches,” or some people would say, “A big explosion created us.” Or some people would say, “An alien created the earth.” If Jesus kept silent, the whole world would be in darkness. But when he opens his mouth and speaks the truth, suddenly, bright heavenly light shines into this dark world and people can see who they are, where they came from and why they are in the world; Jesus brings the light into the world; indeed, he is the light of the world. Jesus must testify to the truth and all people must pay attention to his words and accept themso that they too can know the truth. Even if a person's own testimony is not valid in the court, Jesus’ own testimony is still valid because his testimony is truth. The Pharisees judged Jesus according to human standards, but they didn't know that Jesus was beyond human standard because he was the only one who knew the truth. They didn't know Jesus at all - where he came from, why he was there, and where he was going - they had no idea about him.

 

In verses 16 through 18, Jesus backs up his own testimony as the light of the world by establishing two witnesses.According to the law, the testimony of two people is valid. Jesus himself became his own testimony speaker, and he brought one more testimony speaker who spoke for him - God the Father.Then, the Pharisees wanted to investigate the other testimony speaker, so they asked Jesus where he was. Jesus said to them, “You do not know me or my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father.” The Pharisees thought that they knew Jesus, because they knew that he was from Galilee and his parents were Joseph and Mary; they heard many of his messages, had conversations with him and argued with him. But they did not know who Jesus truly was because they did not have any personal relationship with himThe Pharisees also thought that they knew God Almighty because they had studied the Bible, and had organized the temple worship service each week, keeping all the regulations and laws written in the Bible.But Jesus told them that they did not know God.

 

There was a man named, “Saul,” a Pharisee. He had kept all the laws and regulations, and never missed worship service. He thought that he knew God and loved him. Then, one day, while he was going to Damascus to arrest believers there, God appeared to him in the light, and said to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Who should this person be, who spoke to him in bright heavenly light? This person should be God! God called this person by his name, "Saul," showing that he knew him. But this man said to God, “Who are you?” He didn’t know God at all, but just had a lot of knowledge, and even mastering all kinds worship rituals did not make him know God either. This man, there broke down and found himself as an enemy of God, a terrible sinner. There, on the way to Damascus, he met his God, and the name of his God was Jesus. This event of meeting God personally changed his life completely. Since then, he lived for Jesus, because to him, Jesus was his God, the true worthy object of his life devotion. 

 

We are humans, God's creatures; God is our Owner; He is the Cause of our existence; we came from him, and because of his purpose, we breathe, and eventually, we go back to him; indeed, He is the Beginning and the End of our existence; He is the Alpha and the Omega of our life; He is everything of our existence. So, it is really important for us to know Him, because, otherwise, we miss the real essence of our existence, and without knowing Him, we know nothing. In the ancient times, God revealed Himself to the Israel people; He saved them from Egypt, spoke to them, gave them His laws and regulations, and helped them in their life's journey; He lived in a small man-made tent among them - marvelous grace; incomprehensible humility of God was revealed there - indeed, it was thedemonstration of his perfect beauty. But sadly, despite God's efforts, the Israel people failed to know God! Even after having been through so many trials and challenges and battles together with God, they still failed to know their God; instead of knowing God's love, gentleness, childlike-character and compassion, they thought of God too restrictive, too stern and judgmental; instead of loving God, they were scared of him. They missed the whole point. And later, they all mistrusted God and thereby, didn't follow Him wholeheartedly. It was great tragedy. 

 

Originally, we were not so privileged like the Israel people; we were not chosen people. But God's grace has overflowed to even us, sinners in and through Jesus Christ our Lord. Before, we were the objects of God's wrath due to our sins, but now we have become children of God, calling Him Abba Father. And now we are given this chance to know our Creator. Jesus says, "If you knew me, you would know my Father." How can we know God, Jehovah Elohim? By knowing Jesus Christ! When we experience Jesus' compassionate heart, there our eyes are opened to see how our Father is - we can understand how He sees people - with such perfect compassion for them; He sees you and me with such compassion and understands our agonies and pains caused by our weaknesses. When we experience Jesus' unfailing love, there our eyes are opened to see how much God loves us. Despite our shortcomings and faults and mistakes, He loves us in the same way; his love does not change; there we are so comforted and satisfied with his unfailing love. When we really know Jesus' humility, there, we can understand how humble God has been in dealing with us. How blindly have we insisted our own ways only to delay God's will upon our life, and only to bring harm to ourselves? But see how God has dealt with us - so humbly, never violating our own sovereignty, ever respecting our own choice even if it hurts him, but just quietly waiting for us to open our hearts and accept him on our own choice. The Almighty God has honored us that much until now. Our God is indeed beautiful - He is perfect in humility. When you know Jesus, you know God the Father, and at his beauty, you will be blinded and all things in the world will lose their value in your eyes. You will fall in love with God and pursue Him like a crazy lover. We must know Jesus - He is the answer to all the questions we have, and He is the solution to all the problems we have. How can we know Jesus? We must seek him with all our heart. God says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jer 29:13) Pursue Jesus with all your heart, and you will find Him, and you will know the Father. Jesus delivered this message in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come.

 

Second, “If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be,…” (21-24). Look at verse 2121Once more Jesus said to them, "I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come." We remember Jesus saying the same thing to the Jews in the previous chapter. During the Feast of Tabernacles, he said to them, I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come." (Jn 7:33,34) And now in this passage, after the Feast, Jesus told them the same thing again. Later, in John 13, during his last supper, he told the apostles similar things, saying, "My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.” When Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” (Jn 13:33-36) Jesus said the same thing to the Jews and to the Apostles repeatedly, showing the importance of this teaching. Also, we see that the same principle was applied to both the Jews and the Apostles – there is no favoritism. 

 

By the way, how come after Jesus was gone, after killing him, the Jews would look for Jesus? Through his death on the cross, their eyes would be opened to see that Jesus was the Promised Messiah, the Son of God and they would know that through Jesus, they would come to heaven. So they would look for Jesus, because they too wanted to go to heaven. Yet, Jesus told them that they would not find him, and where he was, the kingdom of heaven, they would not be able to come. How come, despite their understanding of Jesus as the Promised Messiah and despite their efforts to come to the kingdom of heaven through Jesus, still, they would not be able to come to heaven? Jesus was going to his Father's house, the kingdom of heaventhrough his death on the cross in obedience to God’s will for him. People can go to the place where Jesus was going through Jesus' way, that is, the way of the cross. Jesus explained this, saying, “Whoever wants to come after me must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Lk 9:23) But the Jews were not willing to deny themselves, and they were not willing to let go of all their desires for success and praise. So, they could not follow Jesus, and thereby, could not come where he was, despite their understanding of him as the Promised Messiah and their efforts to come to heaven even through him. The apostles at that time, were not different from them. They were worldly and power-hungry, competing among themselves to be the Prime Minister in Jesus’ kingdom. At that time, they could not follow Jesus, when he was going to heaven through the cross. But later, after his resurrection, everything became clear to them and they were really determined to live for Jesus and die for Jesus. At that time, they followed Jesus’ way freely, the way of the cross, dedicating themselves to God’s kingdom work and willing to let go of everything in this world, even their life, for God. Since they worked on the same path Jesus worked, eventually, they would come to the same destination, the kingdom of heaven. 

 

People think it easy to find Jesus. They think that they can meet him by simply saying, “I believe in Jesus,” or “I love Jesus.” But Jesus says, “You will look for me, and you will die in your sin." We must think about becoming Christians very seriously. Believing in Jesus and being a Christian is an “all or nothing” deal. How can we follow him? Deny yourself and take up your cross and follow him. When you walk on the same path, certainly, you will find him in the same destination.  

 

Look at verses 23 and 24. Let’s read these verses together: 

 

But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above.You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”

 

This is Jesus’ further explanation of why they would die in their sins, despite their understanding of Jesus as the Promised Messiah and their efforts to go to heaven, even through him. Jesus was from above – he was from heaven, God-origin, but the Jews were from below, from the dust of the ground. Jesus was not of the world, but they were of the world. In short, Jesus was God, but they were humans. There was this fundamental gap between Jesus and the Jews. They were in the third dimension, while Jesus was, maybe, in the twentieth dimension. What they did would be so mundane, at best, some self-righteous thingssuch as going to church, doing some good activities, having some Bible knowledge, or even calling him, "Lord, Lord." But with that kind of human struggles or knowledge or own righteousness, they would never be able to cross the gap that was between Jesus and themselves. With that kind of human struggles, or Bible knowledge or some religious life, no one can find him. No matter how hard they might struggle to look for him, they would die in their own sins. 

 

How can we overcome this fundamental gap and thereby, find him so that we can go to the place where he is? Jesus says, "if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins." The secret way for us to overcome this gap that lies between Jesus and humans is to believe him as the one he claims to be. He claims to be the Son of God: He is our God, so we worship Him, dedicating ourselves to Him completely; he is the cause and purpose of our existence; he is everything to us. So, we wholeheartedly pursue him. When you look for him this way, accepting him as your God, surely you will find him. He claims to be the Savior: Many people understand salvation very theologically or conceptually, saying that when they die, they will go to heaven. But salvation is very real and practical that occurs in our real life; it is actually, very personal. Jesus is our Savior who saves us from all our misery, sin and sorrows; only in him, we find happiness and zoe, that truly fulfilling life – that is salvation. So, we seek him with anundivided heart; we pursue him wholeheartedly, because he is the answer to all our problems. When you look for him this way, accepting him as your Savior, you will find him. In this way, when we believe him as the one he claims to be, our attitude toward him changes; he becomes the Alpha and the Omega to us, everything to us, and we look for him with all our heart and strength. When you look for him that way, surely, you will find him. By faith in him, you find him. But when you do not believe him as the one he claims to be, then, your attitude toward him is not so good. At best, you consider him as the one who can give you a free ticket to heaven; in all things you do for him or in all your struggles to look for him, he is not the end, but the means; you just want to utilize him to get what you want. At that time, no matter how hard you try, you will not find him; instead, you will die in your sin.

 

Third, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man,…” (25-30). Look at verses 25 and 26. Let’s read these verses together:

 

25"Who are you?" they asked. "Just what I have been claiming all along," Jesus replied. 26"I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world."

 

Since Jesus said that they would die in their sin unless they believed him as the one he claimed to be, they asked him, “Who are you?” But Jesus did not give them the answer there, because, actually, he had been telling them who he was – the Son of God – all the time, but they had not accepted him. Jesus said to them, “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” When they did not accept him as the Son of God, Jesus could have pointed out their problems one by one proving their wickedness, pride, rebellion and love of darkness.He could have proved that they rejected him not because they could not understand him but because they loved darkness more than light. But he did not argue with them. He did not fight with them. Instead, he entrusted the judgment in the hand of God saying, “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable.” And he resolutely told them"and what I have heard from him I tell the world." Jesus was determined to tell the world what he had heard from the Father whether they accepted it or not. It seemed that all the Jews were against him, but he did not care. What he wanted was to teach the world the word of God whether they believed it or not. Even in such an offensive environment, Jesus held onto God’s mission and taught them the word of God.

 

In serving God’s mission, in many cases, we have much to say in judgment of those who make excuses or even those who attack us. But the one who sent us is reliable, and what we ought to do is not to prove their wrongness, but to preach the gospel message to the ends of the earth. Jesus’ words sound in our ears like the refrain of the old soldiers’ song: “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.

 

Look at verses 27 and 28. The Jews did not know that Jesus was talking about the Father. They were too blind, and had no ears to hear. Instead of accepting his words, they kept talking back, asking him question after question. It seemed that Jesus could not help but give them up and leave them alone to die in their sin. But Jesus did not give them up. Instead, he had confidence that even these blind and terribly rebellious people would come to understand who he truly was through his death on the cross. Let’s read verse 28 together:

 

So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.”

 

“When you have lifted up the Son of Man…” Jesus did not see his death on the cross as a failure. Instead, he saw that through it, he would really win that people would see who he really was, the Promised Messiah, the Son of God. His death on the cross would reveal everything clearly to everyone. So, even though the Jews kept rejecting him, he was not bothered. No matter what they said and responded, he kept doing God’s work and proceeded. Jesus’ cross reveals everything to everyone. At the cross, we see who we are - nothing but terrible sinners who have crucified the holy Son of God to the cross by our sins.Before the cross, we human beings become utterly sinful because we have crucified the Son of God, and God becomes utterly beautiful because He sacrificed his one and only Son for his enemies. This is the cross now we carry by serving God’s work, by participating in the suffering for God’s redemption work. Sometimes, we shed tears for the pains and sorrows in doing God’s work; sometimes, we are sad because sheep are rebellious; it seems that they will never change despite our efforts. But eventually, the cross will reveal everything clearly. The cross we carry will bring to us complete victory. On that day, our suffering in taking up the cross will turn out to be our glory – something to share in our testimony sharing before Jesus, our valiant story to share with him, saying, “Lord, it was hard, but I did not waiver. I kept pressing on.” To those who were not so responsive, Jesus shouted, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then, you will know that I am the one I claim to be.” Jesus indeed fought valiantly.

 

Look at verse 29. Let's read this verse together:

 

“The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”

 

It seemed that the whole world was against him. But Jesus had no problem, because he was confident that God the Father was with him. How could he have this complete confidence in God’s presence with him? Jesus says, “for I always do what pleases him.” Amazingly, Jesus didn’t say, “for I am the Son of God.” Instead, he said, “for I always do what pleases him.”This shows Jesus’ desire and struggle to please God very well. We all want God’s presence with us. If God is with us, then, who can stand against us? If God is with us, we have nothing to worry about. If the whole world is against us, then, we say boldly, “Then, I am against the whole world.” We are confident of what we do and how we live our life. If God is with us, then, we already live a heavenly life wherever and whatever situation we may be in. How can we have life together with God? Jesus shows us the secret, saying, “for I always do what pleases him.” In a selective situation, we choose to do what pleases God. This struggle of choosing to do what pleases God may come with challenges and even pains. Maybe, we have to let go of our own dreams; sometimes, we may be misunderstood by our family members; sometimes, we have to go through persecution. But still we go this way, because what we want is to please God. As our struggle to do what pleases God accumulates, as it becomes our day to day choice, we come to develop that complete confidence in what we do and how we have lived our life. As we live our life this way, God is pleased with us and He watches over us and pays attention to every step of our life. As his presence is with us, we come to experience him in our daily life – He speaks to us, He intervenes into our situation, changing things in our favor. Having life together with him is indeed glorious, wonderful, and exciting. What a glorious moment it will be when we are able to say, “for I always to what pleases God.” Such people are true victors of this life! They are really great. Let’s pray that we all may be able to say, for I always to what pleases God.” As Jesus spoke this message, many people sensed Jesus’ heart’s burning passion for God; they opened their hearts toward him and put their faith in him (30).

 

One Word: For I Always Do What Pleases God

Sunday, September 23, 2018

posted Sep 23, 2018, 11:15 PM by Site Administrator

I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

 

John 8:1-12

Key Verse 8:12

 

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

First, "If anyone of you is without sin..." (1-9). In the previous passage, we heard Jesus’ invitation to a truly fulfilling life. During the Feast, people enjoyed a lot of fun and excitement. But when the party was over, they were still unsatisfied. Even the climax of the Feast, the Water-Pouring Ceremony, could not satisfy their hearts. They were empty. Seeing the unquenched thirst of people, Jesus invited them to himself, saying, “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.” What people need for the fulfilling life is not money, pleasures, or fame, but Jesus. They need to pursue Jesus. After the Feast, each went to his home for good night's sleep. But Jesus went up to the Mount of Olives to pray. Look at verse 2. “At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.” The facts that Jesus went to the mountain to pray and then, the next day he went to the temple at dawn suggest that something was bothering him greatly. He saw people’s unquenched thirst despite their religious life. The next morning, at dawn, he went to the temple – this shows that Jesus would fight for this matter very positively. After having a vigorous struggle with this matter in prayer, at dawn he resolutely went to the temple, and as he had expected, there were people, waiting for him. So, what did he do for them? He taught them the word of God. In Jesus’ eyes, the only real solution was the word of God. He believed that through studying the word of God with him, they would come to him and drink. The word of God he taught would bring to them the streams of living water welling up to eternal life within them.

 

Also, we are really surprised that, after the 8 days’ feast, there were people who came to the temple at dawn. What kind of people were they? They were the ones who sought God sincerely; or they were the ones who were very touched by Jesus’ message on the previous day. Maybe, after hearing Jesus’ message on the last and greatest day of the Feast, they could not sleep very well. All night long, as they lied on the bed, his words were lingering in their ears continually. “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” Jesus’ message contained deep truth. They sensed something profound; each expression in Jesus’ words kept coming to their minds – “If anyone is thirsty,” “as the Scripture has said,” “streams of living water.” They tossed back and forth all night long. Then, as soon as they saw the glimpse of the sun rising from the east, they got out of their cozy bed, and made their journey to the temple. Then as they had expected, Jesus was there waiting for them. When Jesus saw them, he began to teach them. There are always the people who respond to God’s message; once they taste the goodness of the word of God, they are eager to come to Bible study, sometimes, early in the morning, sometimes, late night. We look for such people and teach them the word of God diligently.

 

While Jesus’ Bible teaching class was going very well, suddenly, there was a big commotion. Everyone looked around, and there was a woman dragged by the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. They made her stand before the people, and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”

 

What a shameful moment it was for the woman! The temptation of sin sounded so sweet, but now, she had to pay the price of her sin, and it was very costly. When she lived according to her sinful nature, she was thrown down to the ground to be condemned. She was exposed shamefully. Many people sin secretly. But sin always finds them, and they have to pay its price. When their families are broken, when their children are scattered as the result of their sins, they weep over others’ shoulders bitterly saying that they don’t know why their lives are so hard. Proverbs 13:15 says that the way of the unfaithful is hard. Originally, God made woman to be a helper suitable for man. God understood that with the help of a suitable helper, man would be able to serve God’s mission more effectively and fruitfully. So He made a woman from the man’s side and established marriage, so that together, they, husband and wife, might form a dream team for God’s purpose and serve God’s will so effectively. When women live for this purpose, they look beautiful, and their influence is great. They are honored, respected and loved by all people generation after generation. Proverbs 31:30 reads: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” But when women give up this will of God upon their lives and give into their sinful desires, they lose their value and become worthless. No one honors such women. This woman was a Jewess, and she could have been a great woman of God, a mother of prayer for all nations. But now as the result of giving herself to sinful desires, she was thrown down to the ground to be condemned and utterly shameful.

 

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law knew the right answer to this question. As they said, it was written in the Bible that such a woman must be stoned to death. They expected that Jesus would say this. Then, Jesus would be pictured as a cruel man - who would like that kind of a cruel man? Moreover, Jesus would be guilty for instructing the first degree murder according to the Roman law. Even if Jesus said otherwise, still they would be able to accuse Jesus of not keeping God's words; they would advertise that Jesus was not from God. Now Jesus was trapped. Either way, he would be accused. The religious leaders so cleverly devised this trap that either yes or no, they would win, and Jesus would lose. They were confident now that they had trapped Jesus.

 

What was his response? Jesus first bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” According to the Old Testament Law, such woman should be stoned to death. So Jesus told them to kill her. She deserved death penalty. But there was a condition: “Who would be the first to throw a stone at her?” This first one to throw a stone at her was the one who would testify against her, testifying that she deserved death penalty, and once he condemned her guilty and threw a stone at her, then, all other people would join in the execution by throwing stones at her. So, that person would be responsible for the execution. The question was, "Who would be that person?" "Who could be qualified to condemn her?” Who would take all the responsibility for this woman's execution? Jesus set a clear criteria for anyone to be the first to throw a stone at her, by saying, “If anyone of you is without sin…”

 

       If you are without sin, you can be the person. During Bible study, I asked, “What about Saleh? Maybe, he can be that person, because he is so quiet?” Then Saleh answered, “Not me! Maybe, I will be the first person who will leave.” I asked, “What about Darius, since he laughs a lot?” Then, he answered, “Not me!” What about you? We all say, “Not me.” When we think about this, we can see that no human is qualified to judge anyone. Sometimes, we hear the news about scandals of well known servants, or TV evangelists. At that time, don’t judge anyone. We are not better than them. The only thing is that their case is exposed, while our cases are not exposed. “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” This is what Jesus said.

 

      So far, all people in the passage, were looking at her, despising her for doing such a shameful sin. They condemned her in their hearts. The religious leaders were even murderous. So they thought about what she had done, gossiping and pointing fingers at her. But when Jesus told them, “If anyone of you is without sin…” they had to check themselves out to see if they were qualified to be the first person; now their sin came to their minds and their corrupt conscience was pricked; at Jesus’ words, they were startled. Before, the arrows were aimed on the woman. But now suddenly the arrows were aimed on them - everyone was checking himself out and quickly all of them were reminded of their own sins. They were shocked, ashamed and fearful to stand before Jesus. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman.

 

Second, “Neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin” (10-11). Look at verses 10 and 11. After defeating all his enemies with the sword that came out of his mouth, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” Actually, there was no one standing; it was obvious that no one had condemned her. But Jesus said so to comfort her. Jesus was the only one remained there, showing that he was the only one who was qualified to judge her. He was the very one who was without sin - he was the judge. If he threw a stone at her, just a tiny pebble, then, she would be condemned to death. But by saying, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" Jesus showed that he had no intention to condemn her. It was not the words of the judge, but of a father. If you stand a trial in the court and the judge says to you, "Do you mean you attend CSULB? I am your alumni." Then, you know that he has a good intention, and he will judge in favor of you. "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" Jesus comforted her, understanding her fear and sense of condemnation; Jesus did not see her based on her terrible acts, but a poor soul, trembling for fear and shame. Jesus is a merciful God who feels sorry when anyone trembles and is contrite in heart for his or her own sins; when he sees any person with a contrite heart, his heart goes after that person and wants to comfort and help him. Our God Jesus is a beautiful person.

 

“No one, sir,” she replied. Jesus declared, “Then, neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus was the only person who remained there to the end, the only person who was qualified to condemn her because he was without sin. But when Jesus, the only person who could condemn her, gave up condemning her, there was no one who would condemn her in the world. When Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you,…” suddenly the woman was set free from condemnation, for there was no one who would condemn her. Her sin was terrible, deserving the death penalty, but Jesus set her free from condemnation. Jesus forgave her freely.

 

       Look at verse 11 one more time. “Then, neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus set her free from condemnation, but it did not mean that he condoned her life of sin. It didn't mean that her life of sin was okay. Her sinful way of life was already condemned. Jesus forgave her sins so that she might now live a new life in him. In this second chance, she should not mess up in sinning again. Instead, she must leave her life of sin, and live this new life for God’s glory in holiness and righteousness. In her old life, she failed because she lived according to her sinful nature. Now, in her new life, she must live for God according to the desire of the Holy Spirit.

 

Jesus’ cross shows us God’s grace for all sinners like us. But at the same time, Jesus’ cross is God’s strong disapproval upon our sinful life. Romans 8:12-14 reads: “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God.” Now as we experienced the grace of Jesus, we have an obligation to live according to the desire of the Holy Spirit. After saving us from our sins, Jesus gives us a clear direction, saying, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

 

       Third, “I am the light of the world (12). Let’s read verse 12 together.

 

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

       What a bold proclamation it is: I am the light of the world. Who can say like this? Buddha never said that; Confucius never said that; Socrates never said that. But only Jesus did! This expression means that he is the hope of the world, who brings bright light into the world – great enlightenment, clear direction, clear purpose and motivation, and thereby, great salvation. Such great blessings can be given to anyone in the whole world. Jesus was the light for the Apostle John; Jesus was the light for John Newton, the slave trader; Jesus is the light for John Baik, John Boos, Johnny Pringle, and all peoples on earth. He is the light of the world. Do you believe this?

 

Now, Jesus gave her a clear direction to leave her life of sin. She must not live in sin any more, but leave her life of sin. But the question is, “How?” She was a sinful woman, loaded with sinful desires. In that legalistic society, it was very dangerous to live a sinful life; it would cost her own life. But still, she lived in sin, because simply, sin was out of her control - she was a slave to sin. She was like a drug addicted father who, at the risk of his family being destroyed, still uses drugs. Or she was like an alcoholic father. How could she leave her life of sin? By herself, with her own will power, she would not be able to leave her life of sin. After oppressing her sinful desire for one or two months, most likely, she would go back to her sinful life. It would be a matter of time. How could she leave her life of sin and live a holy and righteous life as a daughter of God? Jesus said to her, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.” It would be possible only when she followed Jesus. If she followed Jesus, she would never walk in darkness, but would have the light of life. Before, she followed her sinful desire, and almost lost her life. But now when she followed Jesus, she would not live in sin any longer; instead, her life would be beautiful and glorious; instead of living a sinful life, she would have the light of life.

 

       There are many kinds of light – florescent light, sun light, laser, but the light of life is the light that comes with the power of life, zoe, eternal life. When we have light, we begin to see where to go and what to do. With the light of life, we see the true purpose and direction of our life, something truly meaningful. With the light of life, by seeing something truly worthy of our life devotion, we come to have real motivation to live and work hard. Then, we can say to the world, “I know what I must do. I know what I am doing.” So, we pursue it with all our hearts and strength, thus, we become passionate, and our life becomes truly dynamic and glorious. As we pursue something truly amazing and glorious, something that gives light into the world with all our heart and strength, our life becomes full of adventures and action-packed; we come to truly enjoy our life. At that time, people wonder, asking us, "Why are you always happy?" "How come your life is so powerful and fulfilling?" With the light of life Jesus gives, we come to live as children of God, doing something great for the whole world. When we live this kind of life, when we have the light of life, we no longer live in shame or sin. This is the kind of life God wanted us to have from the beginning of his creation that we would be challengers, conquerors, rulers, kings and queens in this world, and this is the kind of life all mankind have been looking for, but the very life we have lost because of sin; on the contrary to their wish for a truly great life, people end up living in darkness, in shame, in sin, and in ignorance. Now Jesus invites all of us, all the people in the world, to the glorious life we all have dreamed about, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

This glorious life of having the light of life is given to everyone who follows Jesus. What does it mean to follow Jesus? It is different from hearing about him or having some knowledge or information about him. Many people know about Michael Jackson, but not all of them follow him. But some people follow his example and pursue his way of life imitating him. They become nothing but crazy. Some people carry Nun-chucks like the Ninja turtle in the cartoon TMNT; sometimes, on the streets, they shout, “Kiooh,” and make strange motions. They look very weird. They are the followers of Bruce Lee. In the same way, following Jesus means to live in the way he lived, pursuing his lifestyle, and valuing what he valued. You know how our Lord Jesus lived his life. He didn’t live for himself for a more comfortable or secure life. Instead, he lived for God, serving God’s mission day and night; he did not do things he wanted, but he struggled to live according to God’s purpose in obedience to God’s will. He lived as a Bible teacher, and shepherd for God’s flock. It was not a self-seeking life, but the life dedicated to God’s mission completely. Following Jesus means to live in the way he lived. This woman, so far, had lived for herself, and as a result, her life was empty, and she was thirsty, and such life brought to her great shame and condemnation. Now Jesus invited her to the life dedicated to God’s purpose following his example. When she accepted this invitation, and followed Jesus, she would never live in darkness, but would have a glorious life. If anyone lives his or her life in the way Jesus lived, that person will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. Today, Jesus invites us to follow him; Jesus invites us to live in his way of life so that we can have a glorious life, the very life we have dreamed about.

 

Now she heard the Son’s promises – whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. It was the time for her to make a decision to follow Jesus. Many people experience Jesus’ grace of forgiveness; they are happy and thankful. They think that they will not live in sin any more. But many people fail to leave their life of sin, because they do not follow Jesus after his grace. Instead, they still follow their own dreams and desires such as their dream for success and money, or their dream for romantic relationships or a happy family. The only difference they have now is that they try to be a better person than before, but still following their own desires. So they end up walking in darkness again. Jesus wants us to leave our life of sin, and have a glorious life as wholesome children of God. So he encourages us to follow him, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Don't follow your dreams and desires any longer - it has been proven wrong, empty and even destructive. Now you have the Son's invitation and promise. Leave your life of sin and follow Jesus, and you will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life; you will be truly satisfied and happy. Are you following Jesus? Today, what do you follow? Now it is the time of our decision-making. Now we must decide to follow Jesus instead of our own dreams and plans in the world. Those who follow Jesus all come to testify that Jesus is the light of the world. 

 

One Word:      Whoever Follows Me Will Never Walk In Darkness

Sunday, September 16, 2018

posted Sep 16, 2018, 10:26 PM by Site Administrator

IF ANYONE IS THIRSTY, LET HIM COME TO ME AND DRINK

 

John7:25-53

Key Verses 7:37,38

 

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "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."

 

First, “I am from him and he sent me” (25-32). In the previous passage, we saw Jesus’ wisdom and courage. Even when the Jews in Jerusalem were looking for him to kill him, Jesus waited for a perfect chance, appeared publicly in the temple courts and taught the people. In such an oppressive environment, Jesus preached the word of God boldly. He challenged them to decide to do God’s will, saying, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” Throughout the Feast of Tabernacles, the conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders grew sharper and sharper. Look at verses 25 to 27. Now the people in Jerusalem knew that the religious leaders were looking for Jesus to kill him. But even though Jesus was preaching in the temple courts freely, the rulers did not do anything to him. They were confused, wondering if the leaders already had concluded that Jesus was the Messiah. But these people rejected Jesus because of his human background. They didn’t have any concrete knowledge of the Bible, but only some vague mysterious expectation about the Christ. They said, “But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from." What did they mean when they said, “When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from”? They themselves did not know what they meant. They had just some mystical idea about the Christ, totally unbiblical, but out of their own fantasy. What was Jesus’ reply? Look at verses 28 and 29. Let's read these verses together:

 

28Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, "Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29but I know him because I am from him and he sent me."

 

The people in Jerusalem thought that they knew Jesus because they had some information about Jesus; they knew that Jesus was from Nazareth. But in the true sense, they did not know Jesus at all – they did not know that Jesus was there not on his own, but according to the plan of Him who sent him; they did not know who sent him. If the people truly knew where Jesus came from, they would have known the Father who sent him. But because they did not know who Jesus was, and where Jesus came from, they did not know the Father as well even if they had read the Bible all their lives, and even if they had attended the temple worship service all the time. They didn’t know anything about Jesus. The Contemporary English Version translates Jesus’ words in verse 28 as, “Do you really think you know me and where I came from?” Many people think that they know Jesus because they have acquired some information about him through attending church worship service few times. Nowadays, the name “Jesus Christ” is a general noun, so people even use this name as a bad word. The knowledge about Jesus is everywhere. So people easily think that they know Jesus. But Jesus wants us to be really sincere and serious about him. He says, “Do you really think you know me and where I came from?”

 

In verse 29, Jesus says, “You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” The crowd did not know who Jesus was, where he came from, why he was there; they knew nothing about Jesus. But Jesus knew who he was, where he came from and why he was there. This statement of Jesus is really significant. “I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” Jesus knew where he came from and how he was in the world. He knew why he was there. Throughout human history, no one said like this; no one said, "I know who I am and where I came from and why I am here in the world." Instead, all mankind tried to figure out the answers to these questions. “Where did I come from? Where am I going? Who am I? What should I do with my life here on earth? How should I live my life?” These are the fundamental questions all mankind have. Without having the answers to these questions, no one knows who he is or why he exists in the world or how to live his life. So, throughout history, people searched for the answers to these questions. A prince of a small kingdom in India left his kingdom and searched for the answers, and finally, he came up with his best shot, saying that life is the endless cycle of reincarnation and that if you want to be a human in the next life, you must be merciful to others. People welcomed this idea and made a religion of it, called, “Buddhism.” Ancient Greek philosophers had sharp arguments about this, saying that we came from water, or fire, or dirt, or atom. Modern day, this argument is still going on among so-called brilliant or genius scientists, saying that we came from nothing but a huge explosion called big-bang or that we came from amoeba or monkeys. These ideas were nothing but their guess work or imagination. All of them died in ignorance. They caused great confusion in human society. Frankly speaking, no one knew the answers to these questions.

 

But here, we find the only person who knew where he came from and who he was, that is, Jesus Christ. He says, “but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” In verse 33, Jesus also says, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me.” At the last supper, right before Jesus’ arrest, the disciples were distressed in heart so much at the thought of losing their loving Master. Then, in John 16:28, Jesus comforted them and showed them the meaning of his death on the cross, saying, “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” He knew where he came from and where he was going. So he was confident of what was going on and what was going to happen to him – nothing to worry about. When people come to the end of their lives, they are so scared because of their unknown destiny. They were born into the world without knowing where they came from, and they leave the world without knowing where they are going. They live in darkness. All people in the world cry out in unison, “Who am I? What shall I do? How should I live my life?” Who can show us the truth? If you go to Buddha, he will tell you, “Before, you were a cockroach. Because you were a good cockroach, you became a human. After this life, you will become a mosquito.” If you go to Confucius, he will tell you, “Are you asking me these questions? Please tell me the answers! If I hear the truth in the morning, it is okay even to die in the evening.” If you go to Socrates, the great philosopher, he will say, “Know yourself.” If you ask the world about this, the world will say, “Build your career and pay the bills successfully; that’s the truth!” Jesus is the only person who knew where he came from, who he was, and why he was there in the world. The whole world is in darkness, but Jesus is the light. Whatever he says is the truth that brings to us bright light. Listen to him, and follow him, and you will know the truth. If anyone wants to open his eyes to see the truth, he must come to Jesus and listen to him. Jesus says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” God sent Jesus, and Jesus knew God and God’s will. Whoever follows Jesus the light of the world comes to know the truth, and lives in the light. As Jesus teaches us, now we know the truth: We came from God, and we are going back to God; throughout my life here on earth, I enjoy, love and serve Him and I will go back to Him some day. Jesus proclaims, “You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”

 

Look at verses 30 through 32. People were offended at Jesus’ words because he said that they did not know God, but he knew him; they were Jews who had attended worship service lifelong and read the Bible a lot. But Jesus did not give them any credit; instead, he plainly told them that they didn't know God. But no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. Still, many in the crowd put their faith in Jesus. But the author apostle John points out here that their faith was not based on his words, but on his miracles, indicating that their faith was not genuine. What did the Pharisees do when they realized that many people came to believe in Jesus due to his teaching in the temple courts? They were alarmed and sent temple guards to arrest him.

 

Second, “You will look for me, but you will not find me” (33-36). Let’s read verses 33 and 34 together:

 

33Jesus said, "I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. 34You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come."

 

       Jesus knew that he came from the Father and was going back to the Father. Because he knew the truth, whatever happened, or whatever people might say about him whether good or bad, he did not have any problem. He was confident of what was going on and what he was doing. To the people who were full of suspicion, Jesus said to them, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me, and where I am, you cannot come.” These words of Jesus added more confusion and suspicion to them because they did not believe in him. Jesus was talking about his death on the cross. When death comes, people are scared; they are terrified. Before death, people betray others and give up their integrity in attempt to avoid death. But Jesus was not like that; he remained calm, because he knew why death was coming to him and what it was about to him - it was not something dreadful, such as extinction of his existence or the end of everything, but it was the way he would go back to the Father who had sent him. Because he knew the truth, he was confident of what was going to happen to him and what he was doing.

 

       Jesus said to them, “You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” His statement is really remarkable and makes us think about it once more. Why, after rejecting and killing him, would they look for Jesus? Here, we see Jesus' confidence in victory through his death on the cross. Right then, they didn't believe in Jesus as the one sent by God, the Promised Messiah. But Jesus was sure that through his death on the cross, they would realize who he was, the Son of God, the Promised Messiah, whom they had been waiting for. So, they would look for Jesus so that they would go to heaven through him. Why then, even if they look for Jesus, will they not be able to find Jesus? Why, despite their desire to go to heaven even through Jesus Christ, will they not come to heaven? It is really painful to recognize that even if many people look for Jesus to go to heaven, they can neither find him nor come to heaven. Actually, this is exactly what Jesus warns about. He says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will come to heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father." By saying, "but only he,..." Jesus excludes any exception - only those who do the will of the Father in heaven can enter the kingdom of God. Why do people fail to come to heaven even if they call Jesus "Lord, Lord" accepting him as the Savior? It is because they don't do the will of God; they simply don't obey God's will and purpose upon their life; they simply don't live for God, but for themselves. While doing so, they try to secure a free ticket to heaven through Jesus. Such people look for Jesus, but cannot find him; where Jesus is, they cannot come. No one can sneak into the kingdom of heaven by submitting the right password. No one can deceive God. Jesus also shows us how we can and must follow him, saying, "Whoever wants to come after me must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Again, by saying, "Whoever" and "must," Jesus shows that there is no exception in this matter. Why do people fail to find Jesus? Why do people fail to go to heaven? It is because they do not deny themselves and do not take up their cross to follow Jesus. In the Pilgrim's progress, we saw how the pilgrims - Christian, Faithful and Hopeful - struggled hard to remain in the right path - it was hard, but right, so despite all challenges and difficulties, persecutions and temptations, they remained in the right path which led them to the celestial city. But other half-hearted pilgrims whose hearts were not completely determined to remain in the right path were sidetracked when difficulties rose and temptations came; they chose byways, and eventually, all of them were misled to destructions. God says in the book of Jeremiah, "You will seek me and find me if you seek me with all your heart." (Jer 29:13) If we want to find Jesus, we must seek him with all our heart and strength; we must pursue him doing God's work with all our heart and strength. If we want to come to heaven and see Jesus there, we must do the will of our Father in heaven; we must live for God, not for ourselves. Those who seek God above all other things, those whose hearts and lives are fully dedicated to God come to the kingdom of heaven. When we look for Jesus with all our hearts, surely, we will find Him, the Creator God, and as we come to know Him, our joy will be complete; we grow to be God’s children, God’s servants and God’s friends enjoying fellowship with Him. I pray that all of us may find Jesus and we all may come to where Jesus is - the kingdom of God.

 

Did the people in Jerusalem understand what Jesus was talking about? No. They were confused more. When they did not put their trust in Jesus, they could not understand the word of Jesus at all. The Creator God was with them and taught them the word of God face to face and showed them the way of life. They had a great privilege to have Bible study with the Creator God. But when they did not put their trust in Jesus, they ended up forsaking all the blessings Jesus had brought to them.

 

Third, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me” (37-52). Let’s read verses 37 and 38 together:

 

37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

 

       The Feast of Tabernacles lasted for eight days. During these eight days, the priest drew water from the pool of Siloam with a gold pitcher and poured it on the altar. On the eighth day, called, “the last and greatest day,” all the people gathered together and circled around the temple seven times, and the priest poured out the water on the altar. Then, the trumpet sound blasted and all people sang a song of thanks based on Isaiah 12:3, which says, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” This was called, “the Water-Pouring Ceremony.” It was the climax of the Feast of Tabernacles. This program was to celebrate the event that water gushed out from the rock in the desert and quenched the thirst of their forefathers. Figuratively speaking, here the rock refers to Jesus, and the water the Holy Spirit. After this ceremony, the Feast ended, and people folded their booths and went back home. On that day, Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, “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.” Why did Jesus speak this message aloud especially on the last and greatest day? All people enjoyed the Feast fully, including the Water pouring ceremony. They celebrated the salvation of God who quenched the thirst of their forefathers with water from the rock. But the problem was, as they folded up their tents to go home, they were still thirsty. During the Feast, they were happy and excited with many fun programs - most authentic ones that carried biblical meaning. But as the Feast, as the festival was over, they felt empty and thirsty. Their souls could not be satisfied with that kind of fun program, or ceremonies, even though such things were very biblical. So, embracing their empty souls, many people wandered here and there committing sins. That’s why the next passage in John’s gospel is about the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Jesus saw that even these biblical activities and programs could not give them true satisfaction; he saw the unquenched thirst of their souls and invited them to himself for true satisfaction, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink...”

 

This invitation of Jesus is really for us. We all understand what Jesus is talking about. In our Christian life, there are many ceremonies we celebrate – conferences, Sunday worship services, and other special meetings. Recently, we attended the ISBC 2018, traveling all the way to Louisville, Kentucky – we were like the Israel people, travelling all the way to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. At the conference, the Holy Spirit worked powerfully that we were all greatly blessed. After this conference, we were satisfied. But not always we have this kind of great time with the Holy Spirit at the conferences. Instead, after serving the conferences, often, we are tired, or even feel empty. Our worship service is important for our Christian life, yet still, even if we keep such important ceremonies – biblical and meaningful, often, we find ourselves empty and unsatisfied. Sometimes, after serving God’s work wholeheartedly and sacrificially through fishing and one to one Bible studies, we feel empty and thirsty. There are certain areas in our souls that cannot be filled with such practices. Jesus understands this very well, so he invites us to himself for true satisfaction, saying, “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.”

 

Keeping the feasts is something all God’s people must do, since God commands. Actually, all these feasts and ceremonies point to Jesus Christ – through all these feasts and ceremonies, we are to come to Jesus, remembering his grace and renewing our hearts’ love and thanks for him. But when we forget about this real point, but just do programs and ceremonies and activities, often, after doing all these important ceremonies, we feel tired and empty, instead of being renewed in spirit and mind. This is what happens to many Christians very often. This is what we also experience. That’s why Jesus invites all of us to himself, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” Don’t wander around here and there, looking for more money or romantic relationships. You are thirsty. You just need to come to Jesus.

 

Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” This is what Jesus promises for anyone who comes to him. The expression, “streams of living water” refers to abundance in satisfaction and happiness and in the sense of fulfillment. Living water is the water that is really good and thereby quenches your thirst, bringing into your soul such sense of satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment. Living water is really good. When you drink it, you really like it. But what about you have only two drops of living water? It’s so good, but??!!! Jesus promises not just a few drops of living water, but streams of living water – great river flowing so abundantly that you drink freely as much as you want – you enjoy that kind of great sense of fulfillment - your life carries such meaning and purpose, and you are satisfied and overjoyed.

 

Also the expression, “flow from within you” shows that such great sense of fulfillment, happiness and thanks is not dependent on outward circumstances. Maybe, your practical condition is not so favorable. Maybe, you still have a financial burden; you still have a job problem; maybe, fig trees do not bud in the field; your sheep pen is still empty, and your cows have miscarriage. Yet despite such challenging circumstances, you have such deep peace, joy, thanks and sense of fulfillment in your heart. Streams of living water flows from within you that you say, “I have all I need. My cup overflows.” This is what Christian life is about, and this is what happens to everyone who comes to Jesus and drink. If you do not have this living water flowing from within you despite your hard struggle to do God’s work, simply come to Jesus.

 

Again, how can we have this living water flowing from within us? Jesus says, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me,…” Jesus here uses two expressions – “come to me and drink,” and “Whoever believes,” and these two expressions actually are the same. When you feel empty, or thirsty or tired even after keeping the Feast of Tabernacles, or even after serving great conferences, you simply need to come to Jesus, maybe in prayer or in deep testimony writing. Notice here that coming to Jesus is very personal. You come to Jesus in prayer and struggle to remember what He has done for you, how He loves you and how He has guided you, and what great plans He has for you. As you talk to God about these things before him in prayer, you see that Jesus becomes so real to you – how he loves you, how good he has been to you; His grace becomes so real and thereby you are so touched and thankful that from the depth of your heart, you express your thanks and love to him. There you really worship Him, praising him and thanking him. There, you are satisfied and happy; there, your spirit is renewed, and streams of living water flow from within you. This is the real essence of our Christian life that by coming to Jesus, by renewing your confidence in Jesus, your faith in his goodness and love for you, streams of living water flow from within you. At the center of our Christian life is Jesus Christ our Lord who loves us so much, and who has become the source of joy and thanks and satisfaction for all Christians. Whenever your faith in him is renewed, whenever you believe, streams of living water will flow from within you. The Feasts such as the Feast of Tabernacles, or the ceremonies such as our conferences or Sunday worship services serve this purpose. If we do all these things excellently, but miss Jesus, then, we become nothing but religious people just like the Muslims – when we perform well, we become proud, but when we do not perform well, we feel so miserable. We cannot survive as Christians by just doing all those things – such boring Christian life. Instead, we must seek Jesus and secure him in our Christian life through all those struggles – as a community of God’s people, we keep those feasts and ceremonies, and as an individual we come to Jesus and drink through prayer and the word of God. Our whole struggle is to come to him and believe. Then, streams of living water will flow from within us. Today, Jesus invites all of us, saying, “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.”

 

One more thing, here, we notice is the expression, “as the Scripture has said.” Here, the Scripture refers to the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachai. People may have many different ideas about the Old Testament. But in Jesus’ eyes, the Old Testament’ main theme is that, by coming to the Christ, people would have streams of living water flowing from within them – such satisfaction, such fulfillment – their life carries real meaning and purpose; their life is valuable, and as they live that kind of life, they are so happy and satisfied. Simply, in Jesus’ eyes, the Old Testament talks about people having zoe, that truly fulfilling life in him. This is what the New Testament also talks about. This is what God desires for all of us – we may have such a wonderful life in Christ! Our God is indeed good. Trust in God and believe so that you can have this wonderful life in Christ.

 

       Look at verses 40 through 52. This final message of Jesus moved many people’s hearts. So they said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Christ.” How come, at this message, they were very touched? It was because this message really hit the head of the nail – the very matter they had – despite keeping the Feast, they had deep void, and Jesus mentioned about it and invited them to himself. But still others rejected Jesus because of his human background. The temple guards who had been sent by the religious leaders were also moved by Jesus’ message. So instead of arresting him, they went back to those who had sent them and declared to them, saying, “No one ever spoke the way this man does.” But the Jews rejected Jesus because of their jealousy. Nicodemus, however, who had visited Jesus earlier tried to maintain justice.

 

       In this passage, we heard Jesus’ invitation to himself for a truly meaningful and fulfilling life. If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Jesus and drink. Jesus is the only One who solves our thirst problem and who leads us to an abundant life. Only he is our Savior. Today, let's accept his invitation and come to him. Whoever believes in him, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.

 

One Word: Streams Of Living Water Will Flow From Within You

 

 

 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

posted Sep 9, 2018, 8:05 PM by Site Administrator

IF ANYONE CHOOSES TO DO GOD’S WILL…

 

John 7:1-24

Key Verse 7:17

 

If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

 

First, "The right time for me has not yet come" (1-9). There were two main mission fields: Judea in south and Galilee in north, and between them was Samaria. Jesus traveled a lot, serving these two main mission fields diligently. Once he came to Jerusalem, he stayed there for a while and served God’s work powerfully. Then, when persecution arose, he withdrew to Galilee and served the Galilean ministry. So far, in John chapter 6, we studied about his Galilean ministry – feeding the five thousand people with five loaves of barley bread and two fish, and his miracle of walking on the water, and his teaching about the bread of life. He purposely stayed away from Judea for a while because the Jews in Jerusalem were waiting to take his life. Look at verses 2 through 5. When the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world." For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

 

       According to the Jewish calendar, the Feast of Tabernacles rested on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, which was equivalent to September or October in our time. This year 2018, the Feast of Tabernacles rests on Sep. 24-30. It was one of the three main feasts, in which all the Israelites throughout the world should appear before the Lord in Jerusalem. The word, "tabernacle" means, simply, "tent." God commanded them to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, saying, "Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God." (Lev 23:42,43) They were slaves in Egypt for a long time, but God delivered them from the grip of Pharaoh, and set them free as children of God; after Exodus, as God’s people, they lived in booths, I mean, tents, not in houses in Egypt any more. They lived in booths, and that distinguished the Israel people from the people of the world. Those who live in booths show that they are pilgrims, travelers. In the booths where all kinds of mundane things did not exist, the Israel people had a chance to think about God’s salvation grace and renew their hearts’ love for Him. Since the Feast was right after harvesting the crops of the land in the fall season, it was the most joyful feast in Israel, similar to Thanksgiving Day in America. The Jewish historian Josephus said that the Feast of Tabernacles was the most solemn and great Feast. Children must have been really excited as they built booths with branches and decorated them – to them, it was simply a sleep over! Mothers were busy to prepare foods, and fathers were also busy to build booths with their children. As God commanded, "Rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days," everyone rejoiced.

 

       Now Jesus’ brothers – James, Joseph, Simon and Judas (Mt 13:55) - advised him to go to Jerusalem and perform miracles in front of all those people there so that he would quickly gain great fame. Jesus worked hard, teaching and preaching day and night, forming his own group with disciples and living with them and performing many miracles. Jesus was serving the work of God wholeheartedly. But his brothers thought that Jesus was doing all these because he had some hidden motive; they thought that Jesus wanted to be a public figure like celebrities or politicians. Even though they lived together with Jesus, they didn't know why he was doing all these, and what he pursued and what he wanted; they even didn't know who he was.

 

What was Jesus’ reply? Look at verses 6 through 9. Let’s read these verses together:

 

6Therefore Jesus told them, "The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. 7The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. 8You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come." 9Having said this, he stayed in Galilee.

 

       Jesus says, "The right time for me has not yet come." "My time," Jesus' time is one very important theme in John's gospel. Jesus' time refers to the time when he can reveal the glory of God effectively. When is your time? Maybe, when we win the California Lotto, or get a dream job at Google or Apple, or marrying a dream spouse, we say, "Now is my time." But Jesus' time is when he can reveal the glory of God. This shows us Jesus' complete dedication to God very well. His first prayer topic was "Hallowed be God's name." His second prayer topic was "God's kingdom come." And his third prayer topic was, "God's will be done." He pursued God's glory; he lived for it and eventually, died for it. Again, when is your time? I pray that we all may be able to say, "My time is when God's glory can be revealed very well."

 

       Jesus said of his brothers, "For you any time is right." Their purpose was to please themselves; they lived for themselves. Then, whenever they wanted, it was their time. Whenever they wanted to sleep, it was their time; whenever they wanted to eat, it was their time. At that time, they were like Esau, Jacob’s brother, who married whomever he wanted, and ate whenever he wanted – he was a source of grief to his parents. But when Jesus wanted to reveal the glory of God, when he wanted to please God, he did not do whatever or whenever he wanted. Instead, he waited for the right chance to come, when everything was well prepared for him to work and reveal the glory of God. Jesus was a free man, having the right and freedom to do whatever he wanted, but he used his freedom and power to reveal the glory of God. When he wanted to reveal the glory of God, he denied his desires and waited for God’s time to come. When he tried to please God, he was misunderstood by his brothers and hated by the world. But, he did not care because what he wanted was to please God.

 

In verse 7, Jesus said to his brothers, "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." The world could not hate Jesus' brothers, because whatever the world suggested desirable, they welcomed it and pursued it. When the world suggested fame and popularity, they welcomed it and pursued it; when the world suggested that money was something desirable, they welcomed it and pursued it. The world and the brothers shared the same value system, same perspectives, same hopes, same desires, and same lifestyles. Simply, the world and the brothers were in the same team. So, the world could not hate them, but loved them. But when the world suggested Jesus that money, or fame or popularity was something valuable, he testified that it was evil to tempt people with such things. He did not love them, or value them; instead, he simply testified that what the world did, how the world tempted people with such things, was evil. As a result, the world hated him.

 

       In the book, titled "Pilgrim’s Progress" written by Pastor John Bunyan, the Pilgrims, named, Christian and his friend Faithful came to the city, called, "Vanity Fair." People in this city were struggling hard to sell their products even at a hot bargain price. Their hot selling products were "husbands, wives, pleasures, fame, titles, positions, money, lies, adultery, prostitution, drunkenness, etc,. and so forth." As soon as the pilgrims, Christian and Faithful came into the city, all the merchants brought their goods and offered them deals that could not be turned down. But the pilgrims blocked their ears and shouted, "Let my eyes turn from these vain things." The pilgrims did not cheapen themselves. They were not sold even at the offer of all the best goods in the city. They were following the example of their Master. They said in the book, "The city invited him with a most irresistible temptation. But, our Lord didn't accept it. He didn't lose his honor, nor did he lay down one red cent!!" Then, the people in the city were upset, seized them and tried to kill both of them. Then, as a result, Faithful suffered martyrdom in that city.

 

If we are like the brothers of Jesus, loving the things of this world, sharing the same value system, hope and desires with the world, the world cannot hate us. If we pursue what the world offers, such as husbands or wives – marriage dreams, fame or honor, or luxury and convenience, or pleasures, or just a happy family life, the world will welcome us; people around us such as our parents and siblings, our relatives and friends, will cheer us on to go and run harder for a greater success in the world. We will be loved by the world. But we will neither be able to follow Jesus, nor be loved by God. Jesus testified that tempting people to pursue those things instead of God is evil; pursuing such things is evil. If we are like Jesus that instead of giving into such offers and desires of the world, we testify that what it does is evil, we will be hated by the world - our parents, even Christian parents will not understand us, our siblings will hate us, and many people at work or at school say that we are strange. We will be hated by the world. There are only two ways of life - either we are loved by the world by loving what it offers, or we are loved by God by testifying that what the world does is evil. What is your choice?

 

Second, "If anyone chooses to do God’s will,…" (10-24). Apparently, Jesus’ brothers left for Jerusalem for the Feast, but Jesus stayed in Galilee. But later, as he waited, God's time came that Jesus also went up to Jerusalem secretly. Verses 10 through 13 show us the oppressive atmosphere in Jerusalem very well. Now, Jerusalem was so crowded with people who were coming to keep the Feast of Tabernacles from the entire world. The people’s whole concern was about Jesus, but no one could say anything publicly about him for the fear of the Jews. The authorities were watching for Jesus, to kill him. It was not easy for Jesus to do the work of God in such oppressive environment. But around the middle of the Feast, when the authorities concluded that Jesus would not appear in that Feast, Jesus showed himself up in the temple courts publicly and began to teach. Before the authorities noticed what he was doing, a large audience was formed around him due to his teaching. And the religious leaders could not do anything at random since the majority of the people were listening his teaching attentively. Jesus indeed was wise and brave. But that was just the beginning of his spiritual battle.

 

What was the Jews’ response to his teaching? Verse 15 shows that they were indeed amazed at his teaching. But instead of accepting him as God's messenger, they said, "How did this man get such learning without having studied?" Jesus didn't go to the Pharisee school; he didn't receive training to be a teacher of the law either; he had no graduation certificate from the Jerusalem seminary school. We are also familiar with this kind of response. After studying the Bible with us, many students are so amazed at our divine understanding of God's word. So, they wonder: Where did you get such understanding of the Bible? Some students ask us, "Please, tell me the books you read so that I can read them and have such knowledge."

 

What was Jesus’ response? Look at verses 16 and 17. Let’s read these verses together:

 

16Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. 17If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

 

"My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me." Jesus' teaching was from God. It did not mean that Jesus said exactly what God had dictated him word by word - Jesus used his own language, understanding and expressions. But what he taught was completely in line with the word of God in the Bible, showing God's will and purpose, revealing God's plan and desire. Jesus loved God and enjoyed fellowship with God; thus, he knew God's person - how loving, compassionate, and patient God was. With this, when he came to the Bible, he could see what God was really talking about - what God wanted, and what people should do and how they must repent and obey God absolutely. So, he served God's will by preaching God's message diligently. Indeed, Jesus' teaching was not his own, but it came from God - the origin of Jesus' teaching, or the origin of Jesus' understanding, value system and life's purpose, was from God. His message was from God. When people wondered about the origin of his teaching, as the one sent by God, Jesus positively defended that his teaching was not his own, but it was from God. This way, he upheld the authenticity of his teaching as God's words. Since it was from God, it was absolute, and they must obey it whether they liked it or not.

 

As we serve God's work, we too come to have the same kind of challenge. Some people, when what we teach is not what they want to hear, belittle it, saying, "It is your own interpretation." When our teaching is our own, then, it does not mean anything. It is just one's own understanding or interpretation - nothing but suggestion. But we do not teach our own theology, or our own ideas, but we just show them what God says in the Bible. When we reveal what God says in each Bible study, then, it is no longer our own teaching, but the word of God, which people must accept and obey. That's why, in serving God's work, we don't struggle to read many commentaries and suggest seemingly the best ones to our students; we don't struggle to check out the latest ideas online either. Instead, we wrestle with the word of God, meditating on it deeply and writing a deep testimony so that we can grasp God's message buried in each passage. Jesus said to them, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me." How Jesus wished that they might accept his teaching!

 

Jesus says, "17If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own." Here, Jesus shows us who can tell whether someone's teaching is from God or that person speaks on his own. When you reveal God's message buried in each passage, and if any person says, "It is your own interpretation," then, in Jesus' eyes that person says so because he has no heart's decision to do God's will. But there are people who want to do God's work, but do not know what and how and thereby, waiting for God's guidance. When God's word is revealed to them through our Bible studies, these people recognize that God is reaching to them and showing them what He wants them to do. After Bible study, they are overjoyed, calling their mom, saying, "Mom, guess what? I had the most wonderful Bible study ever." Or after Bible study, so touched that God was reaching to them, or so convicted that they have not lived for God really, they cry and cry for many days until the next Bible study. These people joyfully accept God's words and dedicate themselves to God's work - they are blessed people. As servants of God, if you have revealed to people what God is talking about in each passage, then it is up to them whether they respond to God's word or not. Those who have a heart's decision to do God's will rejoice, seeing and accepting God's will for them. But those who have no heart's desire to dedicate themselves to God, but just want to enjoy Christian culture, or those who just want to have a free ticket to heaven make excuses. And God will judge each person according to what he or she has done: To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (Rm 2:7-8) According to what you pursue, God will judge you.

 

"If anyone chooses to do God’s will,…" With this statement, Jesus encourages us to make our heart’s determination utmost clear today, to obey and do God’s will. When our hearts are not determined, then we are like a ship tossed back and forth by all kinds of winds and waves; as the situation changes, our hearts are in constant turmoil, and fear, anxiety, and worry fills our hearts – such a person does not know where he or she is going; such people cannot expect to get anything good from God. We remember David’s song of praise to God in Psalm 57. "My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples." He wrote this psalm while he had fled from Saul into a cave. While his enemy was looking for his life, while he was holding his breath in the dark cave, he meditated on God’s love for him, and made his heart’s determination utmost clear that he would sing and praise the Lord even if he would die. He was happy; his heart was blossoming with the joy of God. Everything became clear – he knew what he should do, that was to love God and praise God. In that situation, he made his heart’s determination clear to praise God, and he would not change any more no matter what situation he might be in. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will not remain in confusion any longer; he will not be wondering any longer, saying, "What shall I do?" Instead, he comes to see everything clearly; he comes to have complete confidence in God’s love and good will for him. He hears God’s instruction and sees God’s guidance all the time. He is a blessed man. "If anyone chooses to do God’s will," he is a blessed man.

 

Look at verse 18. Let's read this verse together:

 

He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

 

       If anyone works for himself, then, even preaching God's words, or saying good words is not good; even saying, "God loves you," is not good - simply, that person is using God's name, God's words for his own purpose; so, whatever he does, whatever he says is wrong. We must not live for ourselves. But if we live for God, then, whatever we do and whatever we say is right; there is nothing false about us. Maybe, we rebuke people, using even some foul language, saying, "You brood of vipers." Maybe, we comfort people, showing long patience. In all these, we are men and women of truth, nothing false about us. This was actually Jesus' defense statement about himself as God's servant, as the one who lived and spoke for the honor of God who sent him. We all want to be men and women of truth, nothing false about us - such are children of God; such are servants of God. Then, we must speak and live for God alone as God's servants. Today, we need to check out whether we live for ourselves or for God. Do I speak on my own, or do I speak for the honor of God who sent me?

 

       After saying these, Jesus exposed their murderous motives and anger. It seemed that the Jews were God-loving and law-keeping outwardly, but actually, their hearts were filled with murderous desires and anger. At that time, they were not keeping the laws at all, despite their law-keeping life.

 

       Look at verse 20. When the Jews heard Jesus’ words that exposed their murderous desire, they responded by using a foul language, saying, "You are demon-possessed. Who is trying to kill you?" The conflict between Jesus and the Jews became sharper than ever. The beginning of this conflict between Jesus and the Jews was the healing of the invalid man for 38 year on the Sabbath. Because Jesus healed the invalid on the Sabbath, the Jews condemned him as a law breaker. Jesus was very popular; so many people followed him, and then, Jesus violated their Sabbath law - his influence was great, and the Jews felt threatened; it seemed that Jesus was going to destroy their tradition. So, they hated him and wanted to kill him. That's the result of the betrayal of the former invalid man. Verses 21 through 24 are Jesus’ defense statements about their accusations. Jesus never said that it was okay to violate the Sabbath law, but now he showed them that his case of healing the invalid on the Sabbath was okay. According to the Bible, man should not work on the Sabbath, but there was an exception. Circumcision is a minor surgery. Such a surgery should not be done on the Sabbath. But in order to keep Moses’ law about circumcision, if the day of circumcision for a boy happened to fall on the Sabbath, they performed the surgery even though it was the Sabbath, and it was not considered as violation. Jesus’ point is this: In order to clean a part of the body, this surgery was done on the Sabbath, and it was not regarded as violating the Sabbath law. Then, what about healing the whole man on the Sabbath, not even through performing a surgery, but through just saying the words, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk"? The Jews should not have accused Jesus as a law-breaker. Nevertheless, they did so continuously because Jesus testified that what they were doing was evil.

 

One Word: If Anyone Chooses To Do God’s Will…

Sunday, September 2, 2018

posted Sep 2, 2018, 6:13 PM by Site Administrator

 

I AM THE LIVING BREAD

 

John 6:41-71

Key Verse 6:51

 

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

 

First, "He who believes has everlasting life" (41-47). In the previous passage, we saw Jesus proclaiming that he is the bread of life. The crowd was not willing to accept Jesus as the one sent by God unless he satisfied their desire, that is, food. But Jesus would not compromise with them even if he had to lose them all, because it was not God’s will for him to make them believe by giving them food. Jesus said to them, "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me." Instead, he gave them his promise, saying, "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." What was the crowd’s response? Look at verses 41 and 42. They grumbled, saying, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?" Previously, when they ate the free meal of barley loaves and fish and had their fill, they said, "Surely, this man is the Prophet," and they tried to make him king even by force. But now only because Jesus did not give them food any longer, they grumbled, disqualifying Jesus’ statement about his origin.

 

At this, Jesus said to them, "Stop grumbling among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." Jesus did not despair despite their unrepentant hearts because he knew that no one could come to him unless the Father drew him. He simply understood that they were not sent by God. Instead, he was looking for those who were prepared by God, because they would accept him. Unlike the crowd in the passage, these are the people who renounce their own desires and accept Jesus' teaching. Here, we should stop a moment and think about people who are prepared and sent by God. What kind of people are they? Look atverse 45. Let's read this verse together:

 

"It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me."

 

They are the people taught by God, and Jesus explains what it means to be taught by God in two ways – "listening to the Father" and "learning from Him." The first condition to be taught by God is to listen to Him. "Listening to the Father" is different from just hearing God's words. Listening to the Father means "paying attention to what the Father says, accepting his teaching and doing it." It's about acceptance and obedience. The expression, "Learning from the Father" shows these people's attitude very well. When they hear God's message, they accept it, willing to give up their own ideas and desires. They are the ones who learn from God continually. When people have this kind of attitude toward God and his teaching, they are taught by God. These people come to Jesus and live as his disciples. The crowd in the passage however, were not willing to accept his teachingbecause they were not willing to let go of their own desires for food; then, they could not learn from him, even after having Bible studies with him. As a result, even if they followed Jesus for a while, eventually, they would go away. We all want to come to Jesus. Then, we must be taught by God. How can we be taught by God? We must listen to the Father and learn from him. Instead of insisting our own ideas and desires, we must pay attention to what He says and accept his teaching, by living according to his will and purpose. At that time, we can follow Jesus as his disciples. 

 

Look at verses 46 and 47. Jesus is the only person who saw the Father, because he was from the Father. Only he knows about God, about how the heavenly life goes, and how we can go to the heaven. As the only person who has seen the Father, as the only person who knows the Father really, what does he say? What news does he bring to the human world? In verse 47, Jesus declares, "I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life."

 

This is good news! The topic Jesus issues is about everlasting life. What is "everlasting life"? It is the life that lasts forever. This is what all mankind look for. We don't need to mention about the first Chinese Emperor who looked for a special herb to have everlasting life. It is the hope and dream for everyone on earth. No one wants to die; no one wants to decay in the grave; no one wants to be extinguished of his own existence. The most terrible tragedy our father, Adam, caused by sinning against God is that he brought death into the world and into our lives. Because of death, people are fearful for their health problem. Because of death, parents worry about their children when they go outside. The older people grow, the sadder they become because they have lost many of their beloved ones to death, and they cannot see them any longer. In order to prepare ourselves for the future funeral ceremony, our bodies already start collapsing causing a lot of health problems such as arthritis, lower-back pain, and all kinds of diseases. Surely, all men are under the shadow of death; all men are under the power of death.

 

But as the only person who has seen the Father, Jesus brings to us good news from God. He proclaims, "I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life." God sent Jesus, His Son to this dying world, so that all men might have everlasting life by just believing. No one knew about this good intention of God, this secret design of God, but only Jesus, because he has seen the Father, and he is from the Father. When people have this everlasting life, they no longer worry about their future; they no longer live in fear; they no longer suffer from mental diseases.Instead, they put their hope in the kingdom of God and live as holy pilgrims here on earth. When they have everlasting life, the things of the world suddenly look very small, and their desires change to love God and develop fellowship with Jesus Christ, their Lord. This is the good news all mankind have been waiting and looking for throughout human history. But you must believe.We thank Jesus for bringing to us this good news, "I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life."

 

But, wait a minute! The only condition for us to have everlasting life is to believe. But what does it mean to believe? All the Jews believed that God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning. They attended worship service every Sabbath. Yet, in Jesus' eyes, they did not have everlasting life. The crowd in the passage said, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come in to the world." They had complete confidence that Jesus is the Promised Messiah. Yet, to these people, Jesus proclaimed, "He who believes has everlasting life." In his eyes, they did not believe, even if they said, "Jesus, you are the Christ." What does it mean to believe? It meant for the people in the passage that they would believe Jesus' teaching that he is the bread of life that came down from heaven and that when they ate him, they would never go hungry and never be thirsty. By believing Jesus' teaching, they would renounce their own desire for bread, and turn to him and pursue him. Believing in Jesus is not conceptual; it is not religious. Rather, it is very real and practical in your life. If anyone hears Jesus' message, accepts it and turns to him, that person has everlasting life. If you believe that Jesus is the bread of life that gives you life, zoe, you come to him, instead of coming to other bread. That's the expression of your belief in him. This real faith is what you need to have, not just having some Bible knowledge or doing some religious things. Notice here when that person has everlasting life - not when he goes to heaven after death, but the moment when he believes, here on earth, even now! This is what the Bible talks about.

 

Second, "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you" (48-55). Look at verses 48 through 51. Let’s read these verses together:

 

48I am the bread of life. 49Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

 

As we studied in the previous passage, God’s original plan was that through his provision of heavenly bread, people might live forever. But strangely, even though the Israelites ate themanna that came down from heaven for forty long years, they all died instead of having everlasting life. Why? It was because that bread, called manna, was not the real one, but fake one, a shadow of the real one to come. The real bread that came down from heaven is Jesus Christ. Jesus says, "I am the living bread who came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever." Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is our Savior who saves us from death. He is the Perfector of our life, and of this world.

 

Jesus says in verse 51, "This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." This statement of Jesus shows us how he could give everlasting life to everyone who believes, that is, through his death on the cross for our sinsJesus did this much for us; he really loves us. The crowd however, were only confused, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" How did Jesus respond? Let’s read verse 53 together:

 

53Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 

 

Here, Jesus shows us how we can have life, zoe, saying, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life." By saying "my flesh" and "my blood," Jesus is talking about his death on the cross. Jesus suffered so much that his body was mutilated, and he shed his life-blood and died - all these were for the forgiveness of those who come to him. That's what Jesus did so that  those who come to him can have life in him. And now Jesus shows us how we can get the benefits of his sacrifice for us on the cross - forgiveness and eternal life: We must eat his flesh and drink his blood. This is the only way we can have life in Jesus. Eating and drinking is very real and practical. You can see a cup of coffee at Starbucks and say, "Oh, that's Cappuccino." But recognizing it and saying, "It is cappuccino," is different from drinking it. You see Rib Eye steakWhen will you be happy and satisfied? Not when you recognize it as Rib Eye steak, but when you practically grab and eat it. The people in the passage had Bible study with Jesus and followed him; they had confidence that Jesus was the Christ and they confessed it, yet they had no life, no zoe in them. Why? Because they had not eaten his flesh and drink his blood.  

 

What does it mean to eat his flesh and drink his blood? Let's say, Jesus brings his suffering-filled flesh to you and asks you to eat it, saying that he suffered so much to pay the price of your sins. Let's say, Jesus brings you a cup of his blood and asks you to drink, saying that he was sacrificed on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. At that time, who eat his flesh and drink his blood? No one wants to eat such a suffering-filled flesh, and no one wants to drink someone's blood. But those who truly accept what Jesus did for them, those who truly believe and accept what God has done for them through Jesus Christ and his sacrifice, eat his flesh and drink his blood. The action of eating his suffering-filled flesh and grabbing the cup and drinking his blood is an expression of your acceptance of what Jesus did for you, how much he suffered for you, how much he sacrificed for you. When you truly accept what he did for you, how much he suffered for you, you come to truly appreciate his love and sacrifice you; there come deep thanks, and at the same time, you come to recognize how terrible your sin is, and thereby, you never want to live in that way any longer. There comes true repentance, and true appreciation, all mixed with many tears. There, your sins are washed away from your heart - they lose their grip on you, and you are freed from your sins; there your old person who lived in sin is dead, and now a new person that is alive to God lives - that's the new life in Jesus Christ; that's the beginning of eternal life, zoe in Jesus Christ. The real thing in our Christian life is not about living a religious life; it is not about having a lot of Bible knowledge either; instead, it is about having real life as God originally designed, by eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Accept what Jesus did for you on the cross; appreciate truly what he did for you, how much he suffered for you, and you will know how much he loves you, and how you must live your life. This is the whole essence of Christianity.

 

The people in the passage could not be real to God, as long as they pursued something else than Jesus. Jesus wrestled with them to turn their interest from bread to himself. It was his wholehearted struggle for them. This is Jesus' struggle for us. Let's not be sidetracked in our Christian life. Let's renounce all our own secret desires for money or marriage or positions or titles. Only then, we can be real to God and truly accept and appreciate what Jesus did for us. Let's seek Jesus all the more so that we can enjoy that truly fulfilling life

 

Look at verse 54. Jesus says, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Here notice that Jesus makes a distinction between having eternal life and participating in the resurrection that will happen atthe last day. Having eternal life by eating Jesus' flesh and drinking his blood is present - Jesus says, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life." That's what happens to everyone who eats his flesh and drinks his blood. And Jesus will, later, at the last day, raise them up with a new resurrection body - they will participate in the next life in the kingdom of God. Many people think that they will have eternal life when they die. But it does not go that way. If you don't have eternal life here, you will not have it in the resurrection. If you don't truly accept and appreciate what Jesus did for you, only because of some silly desires you dream of, Jesus will not consider you so highly and you will not participate in the resurrection. We must secure eternal life while we are here on earth, instead of just being content with our religious life or our Bible knowledge. We must believe in Jesus by accepting his teaching and letting go of our own desires and plans. Then, Jesus will raise us up at the last day.

 

Look at verse 55. Let's read this verse together:

 

55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 

 

Here, Jesus explains why those who eat his flesh and drink his blood have eternal life. Simply, it is because his flesh is real food and his blood is real drink. Real food is the food that is completely nutritious, making those who eat it grow healthy and sound. Real drink is the drink that quenches thirst really completely. So, instead of spending our time and energy on other things, we must make all possible efforts to eat this real food and drink this real drink. Meditate on what Jesus did for you, how much he suffered for you, and accept his atoning sacrifice for you. When you truly accept and appreciate what he did for you, there you find God's intense love for you that satisfies your soul; there you find the true meaning and purpose of your life; you know what to do and how to live your life; and by seeing all these, you can dedicate yourself to God really, by loving him and serving his purpose. As you live that way, you become so healthy and sound in understanding and in character, and your life is so fulfilling and meaningful. Man does not live on bread alone that comes from the ground, but on the true bread that came down from heaven. His flesh is real food and his blood is real drink for your soul, for your life.

 

Be careful that you will not pursue or eat fake foods or even poisonous foods. Be careful that you will not drink poisonous drink either. When Levi the tax collector ate the food of success and money, he was almost killed, because it was poisonous food. When the Samaritan woman pursued happiness and fulfillment in marriage, she later found that it was fake food that left her empty; it was poisonous drink that left her so miserable, shameful and dirty; she was almost destroyed. Stop pursuing these things. Don't reject Jesus only because of these things. Today, accept Jesus' teaching - that is the expression of your faith in him. Pursue his flesh and drink his blood, and you will have eternal life. Then, you will see that you don't need any other things, but Jesus.

 

Third, "So the one who feeds on me will live because of me" (56-59). Look at verses 56 and 57. Let's read these verses together:

 

56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.

 

Now Jesus shows us what happens to those who eat his flesh and drink his blood. They do not want to leave Jesus at all; they are happy with Jesus and want to be with him, so they remain in him, doing everything in his will and purpose - in choosing their major, in choosing their career path, in their marriage matter, in everything. As they remain in him in everything they do, they come to develop the same perspectives, same desires and same value system with Jesus forming unity with him. Then, as they struggle to remain in Jesus, Jesus also remains in them, revealing himself to them and helping them. Thus, they come to have life together with Jesus, experiencing him and coming to know him more and more. This is their changed life. And this is what happens to everyone who eats his flesh and drink his blood.

 

But that's not all. Jesus says, "Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me." Here, the expression, "I live because of the Father," shows Jesus' hot love for the Father and how he enjoyed his Father's love very well. Because he loved the Father so much, and thereby, the Father became the most important figure to him, the Father became the meaning and purpose of his life; the Father was the source of his strength, courage and inspiration. When the Word that was with God in the beginning became a human and served God's will as a human in the world, there were many difficulties. Hunger and thirst was a norm; there was people's rejection - even his own family members did not understand him; there was jealousy, hatred, and even many people wanted to kill him; even his disciples did not understand him. Often, people considered him as a clown in the circus and asked him to perform more miracles to amuse them, instead of trying to teach them. It was really difficult. But despite all such challenges, Jesus had no problem because the Father was with him. Whenever he was discouraged, he went to God in prayer, then, through fellowship with the Father, he was refreshed in spirit, he gained new strength to go and do God's work. Even if no one understood him, Jesus was not lonely; even if the whole world was against him, he had no problem, because he knew that the Father was with him. At the last supper, right before his arrest, Jesus said to his disciples, "But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me." (Jn 16:32) Jesus enjoyed that kind of beautiful love relationship with God; the Father was everything to him.

 

Now Jesus says, "Just as I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me." Those who eat his flesh and drink his blood experience his love deeply, and thereby, they love Jesus so much; Jesus becomes everything to them - the meaning and purpose of their existence, the source of joy and happiness, the source of inspiration, strengthen and comfort. They live because of Jesus. We experience many difficulties in living as Jesus' disciples - rejection after rejection, ridicule, persecution, sometimes, betrayals, terrible injustice; sometimes, we are so discouraged; sometimes, we are so sorrowful; sometimes, we reach our limit and we say, 'I cannot go any longer.' But then, as we come to Jesus in prayer, as we pour out all our agonies on him, as we cry and cry, he gently touches our hearts, saying, "I know you." Or, sometimes, we are reminded of how much Jesus suffered from those things all for our sake. Then, we are completely thankful that we are found in him; we become so thankful that He has given us a chance to experience him in the same situation. There, we are completely renewed in spirit, ready to go and do God's work more wholeheartedly than before. Brother and sisters! We live because of Jesus! We thank God for revealing Jesus to us; we thank God for giving us Jesus - he is the Dearest of all, whom we love so much. With him, suddenly our life becomes so colorful - everything we do carries meaning and purpose, and we are so happy to have life together with him. But the minute we see our life without Jesus, suddenly it becomes so grey and nothing carries any meaning and purpose; without him, there is no reason for us to exist on earth any longer. He is the Lilly in the mountain; he is theRose of Sharon, so beautiful, and we love him so much. Praise Jesus! He is everything to us! Now because of him, we live! Eat his flesh and drink his blood, and this is what will happen to you!

Fourth, "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (60-71). Look at verse 6060On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" When we think about what they said, we can see that they understood Jesus' message, but to them, it was a hard teaching, difficult to accept. Of course, it was a hard teaching. What Jesus said was that, instead of seeking bread in him, they must seek him so that they would have everlasting life. Giving up what seemed the most important and urgent thing to seek Jesus was a hard teaching. But this is what Jesus teaches us. No one can live as Christians with casual attitude. The way of Christians is to give up everything so that we can seek Jesus really. Such people enjoy eternal life in Jesus. 

 

Look at verses 61 through 63. Let's read these verses together:

 

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? 62What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 

 

Even though his disciples were grumbling about his teaching, saying, it was a hard teaching, Jesus did not back out. Instead, he challenged them, saying, "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!" In human eyes, with the worldly perspectives, giving up such an important matter of bread for the sake of seeking Jesus seems hard. But when we think about it in view of heaven, in view of eternal kingdom of God, it is such a small matter. In view of eternity we are going to enjoy in the kingdom of God, giving up our security matter, or license or comfortable life is nothing. We must not see all these with the worldly perspectives, but with heavenly perspectives, in view of eternity in the kingdom of heaven. Then, we can freely give up what seems very important to us such as a career matter, a marriage matter, or a family matter, and follow Jesus wherever he leads us. 

 

Jesus says, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life." What Jesus talked about was spirit and life - they are really essential, truly important and valuable things. What the crowd thought about was flesh and food, which counted for nothing - it had no value at all. The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. Between life and nothing, what should you choose? Of course, you must choose life. The crowd had to renounce their own desire and accept Jesus' teaching so that they might have life.But they didn't. Instead, according to verse 66 many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. Between eternal life and nothing, they chose nothing! What dummies they were! But this is what so many people do even today. By the way, they were not unbelievers; their title was "disciples." They were the ones who enjoyed his Bible study so long, followed Jesus, even running around the Sea of Galilee on foot while Jesus went to the other side of the Sea by boat; they were the ones who even ate the heavenly bread, experiencing Jesus' power and grace. Yet, how come they turned back and no longer followed him? It was because now they saw that, eventually, they would not get what they had desired; they realized that Jesus would not give them what they wanted no matter what; instead, they saw that, in order to follow Jesus, they had to give up what they had really desired and pursued, and that's not what they wanted. So, knowing this end result, they had no reason to follow Jesus any longer. This is why many people leave God's calling. People study the Bible, and even grow up in Jesus to some extent. Then, eventually, they see that they cannot get what they have desired; instead, they see that they have to lose them to seek Jesus really. But this is not what they want. So, they make excuse and no longer follow him. Eventually, it's about what you really desire - eternal things, or things in this life.

 

Yet, the 12 disciples were different; they stayed on, except Judas who would later leave and betray Jesus. Among 5,000 people who experienced Jesus’ grace, none remained, and even many of them were called, "disciples." But Jesus did not try to hold them back or plead with them to remain. Instead, when all people fell away, when all half-committed disciples were gone, he turned his eyes to the remnant, the Twelve, and challenged them to make their decision clear, saying, "You do not want to leave too, do you?" What was their answer? Look at verses 68 and 69. Let's read these verses together:

 

Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go?You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

 

Peter could not leave Jesus because he experienced and found that Jesus' words gave him true meaning, purpose and fulfillment. As he followed Jesus, he found that the word of God Jesus preached was the source of joy, delight and happiness to him. And there was no one else who could give him such words of eternal life, but Jesus alone. He thought about going to other synagogues - so boring. He thought about going to the temple worship service in Jerusalem - so dead. So, he would not leave Jesus at all. We are a small church; our disciples do not have any degree in theology, any title or position people desire. There are many fancy churches with great and fun programs and benefits. But our students keep coming to us for Bible study. Why? It is only because they have tasted greatness of the word of God through us. Peter's confession is our confession too: To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

 

In this passage, we learn that Jesus is the living bread that gives life to the world. Jesus invites us, saying, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day." "My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink."Now between your own desires and Jesus, which one do you choose? 

 

One Word: Jesus Is The Living Bread

 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

posted Aug 28, 2018, 7:43 PM by Site Administrator

1

 

I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE

 

John 6:22-40

Key Verse 6:35

 

Then Jesus declared, "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."

 

First, "Do not work for food that spoils" (22-27). In the previous passage, after having fed the crowd of five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, Jesus trained his disciples through the storm because of his great hope and vision for them. While they were going through a very hard time, he was praying for them. Jesus even came to them in the middle of the lake, walking on the water, in the midst of the storm. It was really cool! Jesus was really awesome! While the disciples received this special training and came to Capernaum, what was the crowd on the other side of the lake doing? Verses 22 through 25 shows that they had stayed where Jesus had fed them, and, the next day, they began looking for him. They reasoned that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. So, "Jesus must be here," they thought. They never imagined that he had joined his disciples overnight by coming to them walking on the water. Eventually, however, they realized that he was not there. "Where did he go?" They did not stop looking for him. They got into some boats that had landed there from Tiberias and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. Usually, it is the shepherd who looks for the sheep, but here the sheep were working hard and looking for the shepherd! When they found him on the other side of the lake, they exclaimed, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" They looked like good sheep, looking for the shepherd earnestly. If we have this kind of sheep, we will be happy. But how did Jesus respond? Look at verses 26 and 27. Let’s read these verses together:

 

26Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."

 

Jesus was not happy with the crowd. He did not welcome them. Rather he pointed out their wrong motive, saying, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill." They spent time and energy to look for Jesus so that they could fulfill their own desire trough him - they wanted to utilize him for their own desire. How do you feel, if some people look for you earnestly, googling your name, finding your address, contacting your colleagues and family members, willing to travel a long distance, so that they can utilize you for their own purpose? Definitely, not good. Neither does Jesus. This makes us think about why we come to Jesus. Why do I come to church, why do I spend time and energy in looking for Jesus? We must do all these, not so that we can get what we desire in and through him. Instead, we must do all these to worship him, because he is our God; we must do all these to serve him, because he is our king; we must do all these because we love him.

 

Jesus told them, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you." This statement of Jesus shows us what we should live for. The phrase "work for" refers to the purpose of all our struggles. We go to school and study hard, spending countless hours in the classroom and in the library. What for? Some of us work full-time, eight hours a day, five days a week. Again, what for? What is our purpose? What are we working for? What are we living for? Outwardly, the crowd was looking for Jesus, spending time and energy. But Jesus pointed out that they did so to get some food that would spoil.

 

"Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life." Here, Jesus sums up all people’s life struggles into two categories according to their purpose. One is to live for something that spoils, and the other is to live for something that endures to eternal life. We must check out whether we are living for something that spoils, whose value decreases and will eventually be gone, or for something that endures to eternal life. During high school many teenagers work hard for popularity and attention. So they do so many crazy things and enjoy some popularity. But after high school, no one remembers them, and they only feel miserable and lonely. They worked for food that spoils. Some people work for romance or affection. They invest everything into it, including their youth, purity and all their potential. When they feel like they have found the right one, they jump into a marriage relationship. But soon after, it loses value, and they don’t feel that sense of romance or happiness anymore. Rather, they find that the other person is totally different after marriage, and they fight a lot, hate each other and divorce. They worked for food that spoils. This is what people in the world do all the time - no matter what they do, eventually, they work for and live for something that spoils such as money, career or marriage. As a result, their life is empty and meaningless. That's why at the end of their life, all of them scream, "Tragedy! Tragedy!"

 

But the problem is that this is how many Christians live their life also, pursuing what spoils, pouring out their time and energy on things that will not last. The worst matter is that, like these crowd in the passage, some people pursue what they desire even by utilizing Jesus, using the church or the name of Jesus. As children of God, we must be different. Jesus says in Matthew 6, "The pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." We must live for food that endures to eternal life. What food lasts forever? Nothing in the world lasts forever. Only things of God last forever - God's name, God's kingdom, God's words, God's people, and everything we do for God last forever. Jesus here introduces himself as the very one who gives us food that endures to eternal life, which we must work for and live for. As the authorized person with God's seal of approval, Jesus gives us the mission we must live for and die for. When we live for this mission, pouring out our time and energy, our life is really fulfilling, because what we have worked for does not spoil, but remains. Again, as children of God, we must love God alone, and thereby, we must live for Him alone. Work for food that endures to eternal life, which Jesus your God gives you.

 

Second, "The work of God is this" (28-31). Look at verse 28. The crowd did not want to give up their desire for a free meal. They said to Jesus, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Wow! If they were to get what they desired, they were willing to do anything God required - maybe, memorizing 10 verses a day, or praying one hour three times a day, or taking care of homeless people, or having Bible study and attending worship service, or even doing some evangelical activity. They were willing to do whatever, if they could secure what they desired. 

 

At this, Jesus said to them, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." Let's read verse 29 together:

 

Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

 

Their concept of the work of God was general: there are many things that are generally expected for God's people to do such as being nice to others, taking care of poor people, or doing some religious things such as attending the church for worship service, or praying. They were willing to do all things. But Jesus answered them that what God wanted them to do was not such things, but to believe in the one God had sent them. That's what God required them to do - to believe in the one God had sent. When God sent Jonah the prophet to the people of Nineveh, what God desired was that they would accept him as his messenger, pay attention to his message and turn to Him in repentance. When God sent Jeremiah the prophet to the people of Judah, His will was that they might accept Jeremiah as his messenger and accept his message, instead of saying, "I already believe in God." When God sent Jesus to the people of Israel, God's will was that they might accept him as His messenger for them and turn to Him in repentance, instead of insisting their own religious life and Bible knowledge. 

 

The work of God is indeed to believe in the one God has sent. When people believe in the one God has sent as God's messenger, personally sent to them to help them and guide them, there they experience God's love deeply; then, God's will for them becomes very clear as they pay attention to the message and guidance of that servant, and thereby, they can see everything clearly - what they must do and how to serve God - not just doing tasteless religious rituals endlessly, but doing exactly what God wants them to do; then, they can pour out all their energy, strength and wealth on serving and pursuing God's will upon their life, as a result, their life becomes action-packed and powerful. This is the work of God: to believe in the one he has sent.

 

When we think about this carefully, we can see that the work of God which God requires us to do is very personal and practical - believing in the one God has sent us. God is reaching to us very personally showing us what He wants us to do and how we should serve Him by sending us his messenger - there is God's calling and His assignment on each person. Yet, people's problem is that, instead of accepting what God is doing in their life by sending his servant to them, they turn the work of God into something general and religious. One young man was very touched by God's word during Mark 10 Bible study about the rich young man. God showed him what to do - "One thing you lack: Go, sell everything you have, give to the poor, then you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." He knew what God was talking about - his girlfriend - so that he would live as Jesus' disciple. When he came to the next Bible study three days later, he exclaimed, "I could not sleep for the past three days." Yet, eventually, he refused God's will upon his life, because he didn't want to give up his girlfriend. Instead, he quit the Bible study, saying that he would go to other church. What God wants us to do is not that we may live a religious life going this church or that church; God's will is not that we may be nice to others, doing a lot of philanthropic things; instead, he wants us to accept his will upon us and do what He wants us to do very specifically. That's why the work of God is very personal and specific; it is very real and practical. God does his work by sending his servants. Jesus says in John 13:20, "I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me." The work of God isthis: to believe in the one he has sent.

Third"I am the bread of life" (30-40). Look at verses 30 and 31. So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you?" Since Jesus declared that he was the one whom God had sent and the work of God was to believe in him, people challenged Jesus to prove his identity as the one sent by God through a miraculous sign. And they hinted at what kind of a miracle they wanted him to perform, saying that, Moses, as the one sent by God, gave their forefathers manna in the desert. So, if Jesus provided bread, like Moses had done, they would believe in him as the one sent by God! How did Jesus respond? Look at verses 32 and 33. Let’s read these verses together:

 

32Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

 

The crowd said that Moses had fed their forefathers with manna in the desert. But it was not Moses who gave them manna, but God. They twisted the truth of the Bible to fit their desire to get bread from Jesus; Jesus corrected them, not toargue about Bible facts, but to show them what God does for people. Jesus introduces God as the One who gives people bread from heaven. Here notice that the expression, "from heaven" is repeated 3 times. When the Israelites came to the desert according to God’s guidance, they had one serious problem: They had nothing to eat in the desert! How could at least two million people, survive in the desert, not only for one week, or one month, but for forty years? They survived because God hadprovided them with food to eat each and every day, but, this food, called "manna," was very special in that it came down from heaven. All foods that we eat daily come from the ground. All kinds of pasta, rice, Rib Eye steak, bread, and delicious fruitcome from the ground. But this manna came down from heaven. They ate heavenly food. God could have fed them however he wanted, like turning rocks into bread. So why did God feed them in this way? Through this, God reveals a deep spiritual truth. Human consists of two parts: the flesh that came from the dust of the ground and the spirit that came from heaven, from GodSince our body came from the ground, God provides all kinds of delicious and nutritious food from the ground. And because of this provision of God, we maintain our life, grow strong and prosper on earth. But since our spirit is from God, from heaven, God provides food for our spirit from heaven, so that our spirit may grow strong, sound and healthy. Manna in the desert shows God’s deep desire to nourish our spirit with heavenly bread so that our spirit may grow strong and we may enjoy a soundspiritual life. This is our God who is concerned about our well being, both physically and spiritually; He is the One who provides us with physical bread and spiritual bread. He is our Father in heaven who loves us and provides us with everything we need so that we can enjoy a delightful life. 

 

Jesus says, "It is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." Manna has such profound meaning, and yet, it is still the shadow of the true bread from heaven, which God gives. What is then, the true bread from heaven? Jesus says, "For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven." It is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came down from heaven and gives life to the world. Jesus is the true bread God gives us so that our spirits can be nourished and grow sound and healthy; with him, we can live a spiritual life, and enjoy life, zoe, eternal life, that is truly fulfilling. This is God's design.

 

Then, as soon as the crowd heard Jesus mention about the bread from heaven to give life to the world, they were so excited! That’s what they had been talking about! So they shouted in unison, "Sir, from now on give us this bread." They completely misunderstood what Jesus said and kept asking for physical bread not only at that moment but, from then on, for the rest of their lives. How did Jesus respond? Look at verse 35. Let's read this verse together:

 

"Then Jesus declared, ‘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.’"

 

This is Jesus' declaration that he is the bread of life, the bread of zoe. He describes the blessings people can have by coming to him as "never go hungry" and "never be thirsty,"which mean true satisfaction, truly fulfilling. When you have this true satisfaction, true fulfillment, you do not look for things that will satisfy you in the world any longer; so, you stop wandering in the world; instead, your soul find deep peace and rest. All these are what zoe, life that is in Jesus is about. When you come to Jesus, you will have this true satisfaction and fulfillment; then, you don't live as endless wanderers on earth any longer, but you live as children of God loving God and serving Him. 

 

This bread of life, the very bread that gives zoe, that truly fulfilling life to everyone who eats it is what all peoples on earth have been looking for. Some people thought that making a lot of money will be the bread of zoe, but they all died in emptiness. Some people think that finding that someone special will be the bread of zoe, but they all become so bitter and empty. Often, we become like the people in the passage, pursuing something we desire even in Jesus; sometimes, we are sidetracked by money because of financial burden; sometimes, when we are not married, we dream about romantic marriage life even in Jesus; sometimes, we even want to cut a deal with God about these things. Then, we become hungry and thirsty; we are not so fulfilled; instead, we become strange in words and actions. Why do such things happen to us even in Christ? It's because, instead of coming to Jesus, we come to those things. Remember that only Jesus is the bread of life; only he is the bread of zoe. Jesus wants us to pursue him so that we can have zoe in him, so that we may never go hungry or thirsty. 

 

Look at verses 36 and 37. Let's read these verses together:

 

36But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

 

Sadly, even after Jesus offered them this gracious and wonderful gift, they rejected his offer. But Jesus was not discouraged because he knew that, even though all of them rejected him, there were people prepared by God - they would come to him and believe in him. Even though the whole crowd was not willing to deny their desires for breadJesus was comforted at the thought of seeing the people whom God had prepared for him - they would accept his teaching and follow his guidance. Jesus says in John, "Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." What kind of people are those on the side of the truth? They are the ones who acknowledge the truth and live by it, even if it is costly and painful. Such people listen to Jesus, while others makes excuses. They come to Jesus. When we think about this, we see that real Christians are no ordinary in God's eyes - they are great - those on the side of truth. Jesus says, "Whoever comes to me I will never drive away." Their sins may be great; they may have lived as party animals; maybe, they were gang members, or thirsty Samaritans. Yet, no matter whatthey have done, if they come to Jesus, he will not drive them away; instead, he will accept them, cherish them as those prepared by God. 

 

Look at verses 38 through 40. Let's read these verses together:

 

38For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

 

Jesus says, "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me." If Jesus had done what the crowds demanded and satisfied their desires, he would have been instantly accepted and popular. But it was not God’s will for Jesus to make them accept him by satisfying their desires. God’s will for him was to take care of the people sent by God so that he shall lose none of them but raise them up at the last day. He would not compromise with the crowd even if all of them should leave him. Instead, he was looking for the people who would come to him and believe in him as the bread of life that gives life to the world. He would teach them, protect them, live together with them and eventually, lay down his life for them so they could flourish and enjoy their life.

 

Jesus is the bread of life that came down from heaven to give life to the world. People are hungry for many things. In search of meaning and purpose for their lives, they wander a lot without having any rest of their souls. But Jesus declares, "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." Let’s come to Jesus with all our problems and pursue him, and we will never go hungry.

 

One Word: Jesus Is The Bread Of Life

 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

posted Aug 20, 2018, 3:55 AM by Site Administrator

 

IT IS I; DON’T BE AFRAID

 

John 6:14-21

Key Verse 6:20

But he said to them, "It is I; don’t be afraid."

 

First, "Jesus withdrew to a mountain by himself" (14-15). In the previous passage we learned that Jesus fed the large crowd with five barely loaves and two fish. It was a glorious miracle. Now after the crowd was fed, they said, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." The word, "Surely," shows their complete confidence. They did not say that Jesus was a prophet, but the Prophet, referring to the Promised Messiah. With such confidence, they said, "Jesus, you are the Christ." At that time, however, Jesus did not say, "Finally, you believe! You are saved." Instead, verse 15 shows that he withdrew to a mountain by himself. When they said, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world," he was very burdened; he avoided them by withdrawing to a mountain by himself. Saying to Jesus with such confidence, "Jesus, you are the Christ," seems good. How come, even if the people shouted, "Jesus, you are the Christ," Jesus was burdened and avoided them?

 

Originally, these people had a certain spiritual desire for him. That's why, when they saw Jesus going to the other side of the lake by boat, they followed him by running around the Sea of Galilee and getting there ahead of him. They were like sheep following their shepherd. And Jesus took care of them, even by feeding them with heavenly bread. They experienced Jesus' grace; they saw Jesus' glory - he even fed about 10 thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish. Only God can do it. Who should Jesus be then? It was the time when they should open their eyes and see who Jesus truly was - the Son of God who came into the world in a human form. But instead, when they saw Jesus feeding 10 thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish, they saw a great possibility to solve their serious bread problem in and through him. In those days, if you ate two meals a day, you were considered rich. To most people there, the bread problem was very important and urgent. Now they saw the possibility to solve that problem in and through Jesus once for all. When they saw this possibility, they quickly forgot about their spiritual desire - knowing Jesus personally or learning of God; instead, they were ready to say, "Yes, Amen!" at anything Jesus would tell them. Jesus being the Promised Messiah, "Check!" Jesus being the Son of God, "Check!" Jesus being their leader, "Check!" Only if Jesus could take care of their urgent matter, they were ready to accept him and say "Amen," all the time. They were even determined to make him their king without any vote, even without asking for Jesus' consent. At this, Jesus was burdened; he avoided them and withdrew to a mountain by himself.

 

Modern day, many people show the same kind of attitude toward Jesus. They come to church, not necessarily with pure spiritual desire for him; nonetheless, they still have some spiritual desire; they come to church, because, everyone says that Jesus is the Savior, they want to check out who he is; everyone say that Jesus is God, so they wonder if it is really true; or simply, because Christianity is one of the major religions and many people say that they have experienced him  personally, so they want to check out; or, simply, they wonder if they can find the truth in the Bible, so they come to church. In this way, they have some spiritual desire when they come to church. But at the church, they find the possibility of solving their serious problems, then, they quickly abandon their spiritual desires. Some people are lonely, and in the church, they find some friends whom they can hang out with - quickly they forget about their spiritual desire, and they become sin-partners with each other; or they find that church people are nice, far better than party animals and wicked people in the world whom they cannot trust at all - you never know what kind of life they have lived; but in the church, they find such sincere and nice people, forgiven people whom they consider as the best marriage partners for themselves. So, quickly forgetting about their spiritual desire for Jesus or for the truth, they doggedly look for some desirable people to marry. Or, in the church, they find the possibility of establishing good network for their business, or even some people try to recruit some investors and business partners in the church. They are corrupt, quickly giving up their spiritual desires for the sake of the possibility of solving their own serious problems in the church; yet, meanwhile, going to church every Sunday, or saying, "I am a Christian," or saying, "Hallelujah! Amen!" They are no longer seeking Jesus or the truth - or they are not so interested in such things. They just want Jesus to bless them in those things. In the true sense, they are not serving or worshiping Jesus as their God and King, but they simply want to utilize Jesus to solve their problem. If Jesus helps them in those things, they have no problem to call Jesus, "The Christ," or "King," or handing out gospel tracks on the streets occasionally. When people are corrupt like this, Jesus is embarrassedeven if they say, "Surely, Jesus is the Christ," or "Jesus, you are my Lord and King," he is burdened and he avoids them. We never want to see Jesus avoiding us. But how easy it is to give into our own desires! That's why we must be very careful in our Christian life and strive to love Jesus really.

 

When we come to Jesus, he has pity on us and helps us; thus, we come to experience his grace and many great things occur in our life – we come to enjoy beautiful fellowship with many friends in the church; Jesus restores our sanity that we no longer live a reckless life, but we become very sincere about one life we have; our minds are purified that we can now focus on studies and perform well getting good grades and receiving favors from our professors at school and from our boss at work; we see that we can live a sound life in the world as well. But at that time, we must not be given to such things. Instead, we must remember Jesus who has done all these great things for us – all these great things have happened only when we come to Jesus, only when we come to the church, only when we come to our Bible studies. All good things are from Jesus. Seeing this, we must put our trust in him and thereby, pursue him really so that we may come to know him more and that we can be really blessed by him.

 

Second, "A storm training" (16-18). Look at verses 16 and 17. When evening came, Jesus’ disciples went down to the lake, got into a boat, and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus was not with them. According to Mark’s gospel’s record, the disciples just had returned from their mission journey, on which Jesus sent them two by two. For several days, they had traveled on foot, preaching the good news, driving out demons, and healing many sick people. Their mission journey was a great success. When they returned to their headquarters in Capernaum, they had a great mission report with Jesus. Everyone had something great to share – they were excited; their spirits were good. But Jesus noticed that they were exhausted from the long mission journey and that they needed rest. So, Jesus invited them to a picnic with him, saying, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." They left the crowd, and went on a retreat, going to the opposite shore of the Sea of Galilee. But when the crowd saw Jesus and his disciples leaving, they figured out where the boat was heading; they ran around the Sea of Galilee, and arrived there ahead of Jesus and his disciples, and said, "Hi, Jesus." Because of this thoughtless crowd, their retreat plan was ruined. But Jesus had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus taught them the word of God, and when they were hungry, he served them all with delicious barely loaves and fish. After the disciples served the crowd, they were exhausted - 12 waiters serving 10,000 people was really exhausting.They had a long day. These 12 dog-tired disciples were rowing the boat in the dark night. Yet things did not stop there. 

 

Look at verse 18. "A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough." Suddenly, the peaceful boat ride became a terrible nightmare. Strong wind and waves tossed the small boat back and forth like a basketball, and water was flooding the boat. The disciples worked desperately to keep the boat from sinking. Peter and James manned the oars, John at the rudder, and the rest of them frantically bailed out the water from the boat. But the waves only crashed down harder filling the boat with more water. According to Mark’s gospel, in chapter 6:48, their struggle lasted until the fourth watch of the night, which is equivalent to between three o’clock to six o’clock in the morning. Suppose that they left the other side of the lake at 7 o’clock in the evening, then it meant that they had been struggling against the wind for about 8-11 hours. The lake was less than four miles diagonally. With 7 experienced fishermen on the boat, they could have finished the boat ride in less than one hour.  But that night, they had to spend about 10 hours struggling hard to row the boat and make progress against the strong wind. Indeed, it was a desperate struggle for survival. During this storm, they must have been fearful that the boat would sink any moment.  

What was Jesus doing during all this time? He was on the mountain, praying. Mark 6:48 reads that in the evening, he saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. He knew how tired his disciples were. He knew that they were struggling in the storm without him. So, what did he do for them? Did he rebuke the wind and save them? No. He just let them go through the storm all night long until maybe 5 o’clock in the morning. He did not come to help them right away, but kept praying to God. When we think about this, we can see that Jesus did it intentionally. Why didn’t he help them right away? This event is not unrelated to the previous event of feeding the five thousand people with five loaves and two fish. Out of shepherd’s heart, Jesus fed them with heavenly bread, even though they had not asked him for it. But when they ate the bread, they were corrupt, quickly abandoning their spiritual desire, because they saw the possibility of solving their serious bread problem. The situation was: The more Jesus served them, the more corrupt they became. When Jesus saw this, he was really frustrated and burdened. When people were like that, how should he or how could he serve God’s work? The more he served them, the more fleshly they became! He needed insight, wisdom and guidance. This matter was so bothering that he wanted to go to God by himself on a mountain, even without his disciples. Then, through having fellowship with God in prayer, he came to have a clear direction, that was, instead of serving these hopeless people endlessly, he would focus on his disciples whose hearts and lives were completely dedicated to him. They were an absolute minority – only 12, compared to many ten thousand people, or even millions people, but they were dedicated to him. Jesus put his hope on them and wanted to train them so that they would become strong, reliable and effective servants of God who would be able to serve God’s work in any challenging circumstances. Then, when the storm attacked them, Jesus wanted use it as the means to train them –it was the perfect time to train them when they were exhausted and their human strength was gone. 

 

While the storm was going on, the disciples had hard time; they were already exhausted, and struggling with the storm was like having a boxing match after a marathon race. They were so afraid that the boat would sink any moment. While the disciples were straining at the oars, Jesus was watching over them, and he let them go through the storm. That’s a very interesting picture. In the storm, the disciples struggled hard to survive, doing all their best, using all their skills and muscles, and maybe, praying to God and to Jesus wholeheartedly, but no answer came. They felt that they were alone; they were scared that they would die any moment. Yet, Jesus was watching them, and even praying for them. Indeed, they were not alone, but together with Jesus. They were not fighting alone, but together with Jesus. The storm attacked them and they had a hard time, but there was God’s divine will and purpose for them. Surely, they would not be destroyed by the storm even though they might have had a hard time. Surely, Jesus was watching over them even though they couldn’t see him. Surely, Jesus was with them even though they thought that they were alone in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus hoped that his disciples would come out as strong leaders and as unshakeable warriors, who would establish God’s kingdom in the hearts of men. He hoped that they would be men of integrity that couldn’t be shaken by challenges at all. It would be these disciples that would destroy all terrible and wicked lifestyles in the world. Through this storm training, they would come out as powerful leaders, who were refined, beautified like beautiful glittering diamonds. Job said, "When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold." (Job 23:10) 

When we think about this passage, we are very touched by Jesus’ desire for us. Who are we? Nothing but sinners just like all sinners in the world. But only because we dedicate ourselves to God, Jesus takes us very specially and he puts all his hopes on us – he wants to take care of all peoples on earth through us. And in this hope, he trains us. We are God’s hope for the whole world. Who put such great hope on us? Only Jesus our God! In him, we become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation; in him, we become fathers and mothers of many nations.

 

We also learn that Jesus trains us – it is not some kind of a religious training such as memorizing 10 Bible verses a day, but a real training through our life’s challenges – some health matter, some financial matter, some relationship matter at work, at home, and even at the church; sometimes, through painful betrayals, sometimes through terrible injustice that goes beyond our imagination maybe at work, or at home or even in the church; or sometimes, some people deceive us and take all our money and we become heavily indebted. For those who do not have faith in Jesus, such storms are nothing but bad luck, or terrible fate, or miserable failures, or terrible injustice or betrayal; as a result, so many people carry such wounds and scars in their hearts that they cannot trust anyone any longer – they are indeed destroyed by such storms – their characters are terribly damaged, and their view of life is so crooked, or they develop deep void in their hearts for money or human love – their whole life is terribly damaged. Or some people just give up everything and, out of frustration, they jump off the building. But for Jesus’ disciples whose heart and lives are fully dedicated to him and his kingdom work, these storms are the means of training for them. As they go through these storms, their hearts are being purified. Through these storm training, all worldly, humanistic, and relativistic elements are removed from them – think about the disciples who, in the storm, throw away all things they have in the boat for survival – in this way, they are being purified as God’s servants, ready to say, "Yes, sir!" at whatever direction God gives them. They are being prepared for God to use freely. When you are in the storm, remember that Jesus is watching you! When you are in the storm, remember that Jesus is praying for you that you may come out as pure gold. Jesus has great hope on you, so he trains you. At that time, have faith in God! And say just like Job, "When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold."

 

Third"It is I; don’t be afraid" (19-21). Look at verse 19. "When they had rowed three or three and half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified." The lake was no more than four miles long. So they were almost at the shore of Capernaum. In the storm, they really struggled hard to row the boat, and now they were very close to the goal. When they began to have a glimpse of hope for survivalthey saw something on the water in human shapeAt this, their hairs on their necks suddenly stood up, and theyscreamed, "G GG Ghost!!!" They were terrified thinking that finally, a sea ghost had come to take them to the bottom of the lake. Because they had been in the fear of death all this time, because their struggle had been so intense that even when Jesus appeared to them, they could not recognize him; instead, they recognized him as a ghost that was going to attack them and kill themLook at verse 20. Let’s read this verse together: 

 

But he said to them, "It is I; don’t be afraid."

 

Jesus said, "It is I; don’t be afraid." How surprised the disciples must have been when they heard Jesus’ voice. Theynever dreamed of seeing Jesus in the middle of the stormy Sea. They thought Jesus was too far away. But, Jesus said to them, "It is I; don’t be afraid."

 

Many people due to their struggle with the storms of life, often do not recognize Jesus. Jesus visits them because the storm training is almost at its end, and soon new and wonderful things will start in their life – the time of God’s restoration, the time of God’s blessing and the time of God using them for his wonderful salvation plan for the whole world as his servants. But due to many wounds and scars they have received because of the storms – betrayals or injustice, they are still in the fighting mode, trying to defend themselves, even against Jesus. So, Jesus reveals himself to them clearly, saying, "It is I; don’t be afraid."Jesus touches their wounded hearts with God’s love deeply. Jesus shows his great vision for them, saying, "From now on you will catch men." While some people are so mistrusting and self-defensive due to their wounds and scars, Jesus makes his efforts to reveal himself to them, saying, "It is I; don’t be afraid." The time of the first training is almost over, so don’t hold onto your past wounds and scars. Instead, let Jesus start a new page in your life by opening your heart to him and following his guidance freely. Jesus has been with you because he has great hope for you.

 

When the disciples realized that it was Jesus who walked on the water and came to meet them in the middle of the lake, they were overjoyed. They shouted for joy. Then, they could overcome all fear of the storm. They could be confident that there was nothing to fear since Jesus, the Sovereign Lord was with them. The Apostle Matthew records that when Simon Peter heard Jesus’ voice, "I it is I; don’t be afraid," he was completely fascinated and wanted to walk on the water also. So he boldly asked Jesus, "Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water." Then Jesus told him, "Come." And Simon Peter immediately jumped out of the boat, and behold! He stood on the water and began to walk. If all the 12 disciples had done the same thing, they would have had one hundred meter dash on the water in the middle of the lake in the storm.

 

When the disciples heard Jesus’ voice, the storm was not a storm any longer but a joyful wind surfing time. They had reallya cool time at 6 o’clock in the morning in the middle of the lake, and their fatigue was gone immediately, and their spirits were restored. It was the real retreat Jesus had prepared for his disciples. When we serve God wholeheartedly, we come to experience this kind of miraculous refreshment from God.

 

Look at verse 21. "Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading." This was another miracle. Now all of them, the 12 disciples and Jesus were full of spirit and joy. As soon as Jesus joined their boat, the boat was full of God’s power that it reached to the shore of Capernaum immediately. It flew at the speed of light, and in the blink of an eye, they were at the shore, ready to serve God’s work again

 

One Word: It is I; don’t be afraid

 

 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

posted Aug 5, 2018, 8:12 PM by Site Administrator

JESUS FEEDS THE FIVE THOUSAND

 

John 6:1-13

Key Verse 6:

 

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

 

First, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" (1-9). Look at verses 1-2. Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the sea of Galilee (that is the sea of Tiberias), 2and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.According to Lukes gospel, the disciples had just returned fromshort-term mission trip. They were probably worn out and ready to rest. It’s like us after a long game of soccer and ultimate frisbee. All we want to do is go back to church and relax and enjoy pizza. Jesus, sensing how worn out his disciples were, had planned on a retreat to give them time to recover. Maybe he had some pizza already prepared for them at the picnic spot. But things did not go as planned.

 

The crowds had seen Jesus perform miraculous signs and were excited with him. So, when they saw where the boat was heading they went after Jesus. They had seen what he had done and wanted to see more, running around the lake to get to him.Maybe when the disciples saw the crowds coming they sighed.It’d be like getting to church, smelling the pizza, then remembering you have 7 back to back bible studies that start in just a few minutes on campus. You’re dream for a restful rest of the day just evaporates before your eyes.

 

When Jesus saw this crowd coming, he could have been angry with them. They were ruining his plans to have a private retreat with his disciples. But instead of getting angry at the crowds Jesus took this as an opportunity to teach his disciples.So, what did Jesus do? First, he went up a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. This way they’d be separated from the crowd, ready to serve them. Jesus called his disciples out from the crowd and had them come to him. Originally, his disciples were just like the crowd. But when they had accepted Jesus’ calling their spiritual position was changed from members of the crowd to leaders and shepherds for Gods flock.

 

Many people want to have a great position as a leader, so what do they do? Many go to seminary and get a PhD in theology. They think that by having that piece of paper they are qualified to lead Gods flock. But real positions of spiritual authority don’t come from a piece of paper, or even one’s own efforts. Real authority comes from accepting Gods calling upon them. We remember John the Baptist's rebuke to his disciples saying "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven." John the Baptist's position wasn’t earned; but given.Likewise, the disciples hadn’t earned this title but had been given it by Jesus. Then once they had the title, Jesus worked hard to shape them up into men worthy of it. He’d worked hard to teach them and help them to grow up into great men of God.Now with this crowd Jesus was going to help them to pick up a leaders and a shepherds mindset.

 

Look at verses 5-6. Let’s read these verses together:

 

"5When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" 6He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

 

The crowd didn’t come for food, but Jesus saw their condition. They’d just went all the around the sea of Galilee, probably walking many miles to get to him. The people were probably collapsing from exhaustion. Jesus saw their condition and had compassion on them. He wanted to feed them and restore them. So, to do this he singled out Philip and asked "where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?"

 

What was Philips response? Philip looked at the crowd, maybe he pulled out his pocket calculator "ok, there’s 50 people over there, at 4 bucks a meal that’s $200. Then there’s another 200 over there that’s another $800. I’ve got $2.75 in my pocket, between us disciples we’ve probably got $14.75, man this is going to be tough." Then he looked at the droves and droves of people. An endless sea of people to be fed. As he tried to calculate it the numbers just became more and more ridiculous.The number wouldn’t even fit on his calculator! Finally, he threw up his hands and exclaimed "eight months wages wouldn’t be enough for each one to have a bite!" Philip looked, calculated the situation and saw that it was impossible. The passage says that Jesus had asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip was a smart man, but despite his brilliance he failed Jesus’ test.

Why did Philip fail? Philip accurately analyzed the situation and concluded that it was impossible to feed all these people. But that’s not what Jesus wanted. When looking for a solution, Philip only looked at what he and the other disciples were capable of doing. When he saw things that way the situation was impossible. But Jesus didn’t want Philip to look at his own strength but to turn to Jesus for the answer.

 

Often when faced with challenges we look to ourselves for the answer. Then when its something we can’t overcome we throw up our hands and say "Its impossible! Maybe if I had a bit more money or time or bible knowledge I could do it. But as things are, it’s impossible.As shepherds we’re already up to our necks in school and work and our own sin problems. It seems like we’re barely keeping ourselves afloat. Then with our few precious hours we have to spare each week Jesus asks "where shall we buy bread for the campus to eat?" Maybe we want to cry out "8 months wages wouldn’t be enough for each one to have a bite! Jesus I’m buried in my school work, I don’t even have a minute to spare!" or our sheep are so unresponsive that we feel we can’t help them. No matter how much we pray and struggle for them it seems nothing changes. We seem incapable of feeding them. When we just look at our strength, shepherding life seems impossible and we’re only filled withbitterness and despair as we look at the impossible task we’re supposed to do. Truly, in serving Jesus we must not look at just what we can do alone.

 

As Philip was running his calculations Andrew, Simon Peters brother, was also looking at the situation. He too saw that it was impossible, but he found something and he brought it to Jesus. Look at verses 8-9 let’s read these verses together. Let’sgo "Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, "here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?" Andrew looked at the situation and like Philip, concluded that it was impossible. But unlike Philip he tried to find something, some possibility, and to bring it to Jesus. When he saw a small boy pulling out his lunch sack his mind went "aha" and he told the boy "come with me" and brought him to Jesus. Maybe he triumphantly presented him saying "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish. Here Jesus, here’s something for you to work with." Andrew brought this boy to Jesus, why? B/c he could see a glimpse of the idea that Jesus would be able to feed this entire crowd with this lunch sack.How? He didn’t know. But he was willing to try and to bring something to Jesus. But then, rather than keeping his focus on Jesus and hanging onto what he’d glimpsed, he looked again at the crowd. Then reality hit him and he said "but how far will they go among so many?"

 

Andrew did the same thing as Philip. He looked at the situation and realized that on his own strength it was impossible.It would cost tens of thousands of dollars to feed this entire crowd. Even if they had the money, where could they go to buy food? They were in the middle of nowhere. But he didn’t stop there but he struggled to find something to bring to Jesus.Andrew included the Jesus factor in his calculations. As a result, he was able to see the possibility of overcoming the situation.The possibility of feeding this entire crowd somehow through Jesus. Why did Andrew succeed when Philip failed? Its b/c he had faith in Jesus. What was his faith? It was that Jesus could do something, what? He didn’t know what. But something, when Andrew was willing to believe that Jesus could do something he searched for something to bring to him.

 

We’re often like this, in a limited situation. Our sheep’s condition seems impossible. We teach them but it seems like we’re just giving them empty words. No matter how much we teach them they don’t ever seem to change, to be fed. So, we wonder "how am I supposed to do this? How am I supposed to feed my sheep when what I have does nothing for them?We look at the scale of our campuses. Santa Monica college has 35,000 students. CSULB has 37,000, El Camino has 22,000, USC has 45,000. How am I to feed them when it's just me and a few other shepherds for so many? When we look at the scale of what Jesus asks us to do we feel overwhelmed. We want to say "8 months wages wouldn’t be enough for each one to have a bite!But when we go Andrews way and say "ok, on my own this is impossible, but with Jesus it can be done." Our view changes. Then we start to think about how we can bring something to Jesus so he can work in the situation. We think "ok I’m limited, but Jesus isn’t. If Jesus can create the entire universe out of nothing surely he can do something here.And we think of what we can bring to him to work with. With Jesus we can see the possibility of feeding the entire campus so we look and think "what are my 5 loaves and two fish that I can bring to Jesus?"

 

We are all limited in one way or another. Most of us are limited in many ways, we’re short on time, short on cash, we don’t have great prestigious titles like pastor or seminary professor to get the students to listen to us or hear what we say.Maybe we’ve only studied a few weeks more passages than we’ve taught. Then we’re terrified our students will ask us to study twice a week because that means we’ll run out of new notes for them in a few weeks. We’re all limited, but when we bring what we have to Jesus a miracle can start from there.

 

Second, "Have the people sit down" (10-13). When Andrew brought the boy with his lunch sack to Jesus, Jesus started working. When we’re willing to bring something to Jesuswith faith that he’ll do something with it, even if it’s as small as a child’s lunch sack, he starts to work with that. Jesus told his disciples to have the people sit down. A proper environment had to be prepared. If the people were all just milling about they wouldn’t be ready to hear the message and they wouldn’t know where the food had come from. So, Jesus had his disciples get involved. He told the disciples to have the crowds sit down. This would be dangerous, maybe the disciples would tell the crowds "everyone have a seat, food will be here shortly." All the while the disciples knew that there was no food available. If the disciples didn’t deliver the crowd would be angry, thinking the disciples had been playing a trick on them. Having a crowd of 5,000 angry at you could turn very bad, very quickly. The disciples knew this but still they trusted that Jesus would do something, what? They didn’t know, but something, somehow,to provide food for this crowd.

 

Jesus could have just fed the crowd himself. Jesus is God.He is not limited by this situation or any other. But rather than doing this all on his own he drew his disciples into it. He made them really have to entrust themselves to him and believe that this situation would turn out good, even if they couldn’t see how.This is what Jesus asks of us. He says "will you trust me? Will you work and follow my direction even if it seems impossible?Jesus challenges us to trust him rather than the situation, rather than our own understanding of how things will go. Even when there’s so much on the line, Jesus asks us to trust him. When we do… we’ll let’s see what happened.

 

Jesus took the loaves that Andrew had gotten, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. It was a miracle! With just one boys small lunch sack, Jesus was able to produce enough food to feed thousands of people! When the disciples were willing to just believe in Jesus, to trust him rather than their own calculations, a great work of God occurred. This is what happens when we trust God rather than the situation.

 

What Andrew brought to Jesus seemed ridiculous. Feeding all this crowd with one lunch sack is like feeding an entire campus with one French fry. But when Andrew brought this to Jesus didn’t reject him or say "What! That’s all you’ve got?! Get out of here! You’re pathetic." But instead he took what Andrew brought, gave thanks and multiplied it. Jesus took what Andrew brought. It was small pathetic, not some great offering worthy of the God of all creation. But when Andrew brought it Jesus happily accepted it. What we have may be so small. Maybe only an hour or two a week. But we see here that when we bring what we have to Jesus, even if its one French fry’s worth, he’s happy to take it and work with it.

 

 Then Jesus gave thanks. What was he thankful for? Was it for the lunch sack? No, the material to work with was never an issue. Jesus could just as easily have produced food for these people out of thin air as he did out of this boy’s lunch. But there was one thing that Andrew brought to Jesus that was very special. One thing that made Jesus very thankful. His faith.When Andrew approached Jesus, he approached him with trust that Jesus could do something with what Andrew was bringing to him. And he approached him with trust that Jesus wouldn’t reject this tiny pitiful seeming offering. Andrew had faith in Jesus’ power and faith in Jesus’ goodness. For that Jesus was very thankful. What can we do to please Jesus? Not much.We’re sinful beings, unreliable in the best of times. Plus, when we think about it, anything we bring to Jesus is just something he gave us in the first place. "Here Jesus, here’s my time""Thanks, I’m the one who gave that time in the first place""Here Jesus, my efforts" "Thanks I’m the one who gave you the body your using for me" "Here’s my tithe" "I gave you your job." Anything we bring to Jesus is really just bringing back to him what is already his. Those don’t really move Jesus. But there’s one thing we can bring to him that he really treasures, our faith. We can bring a decision to trust in his goodness and his power. We can choose to bring to him our faith that when we offer him something, it won’t be wasted but he’ll take it and use it. When Andrew was willing to make that act of faith, that act of trust in Jesus, Jesus gave thanks. Jesus was thankful to God for his disciple’s hearts trust in him.

 

Then Jesus took what Andrew brought and distributed to the people as much as they wanted. At first glance this situation had seemed impossible. But as the disciples saw food spreading through the crowd they must have been awestruck. Then when they were all done and got back to Jesus they could see a sea of people all putting food in their mouths. It must have been an overwhelming sight. At first, they thought that this situation was impossible and indeed without Jesus it was. But when they were willing to trust Jesus he quickly worked and soon the situation was conquered and everyone was fed. There must have been many "wows" and high fives among the disciples as they saw this. When we face challenging situations, like the challenge of feeding our entire campus with just a few hours a week, it can seem overwhelming and we can be tempted to quit without even trying. But when we bring the situation to Jesus like this then our view changes and we pick up great hope and vision of transforming things. Then this impossible situation becomes a chance to reveal Gods glory, then despair turns to excitement.Praise Jesus for impossible situations! These are the times where we can really learn how to put our trust in him and to develop faith in what he’s able and willing to do.

 

After everyone had had enough to eat. Jesus told his disciples to gather the pieces that were left over. To let nothing be wasted. So, the disciples gathered 12 baskets with the pieces left over. Now not only was the crowd fed, but each disciple had their own personal gigantic basket full of food to enjoy. When they were willing to bring what they had to Jesus, the result was an overflowing abundance and everyone, both shepherd and sheep were satisfied. When we bring what we have to Jesus, the result will be the same.

Through this passage I was really touched and inspired.Before Jesus’ calling I was a nobody going nowhere in life. All throughout school I was a troublemaker and a weirdo. I was in the principal’s office on an almost daily basis in elementary school. I was someone who just barely put forth enough effort to pass my classes and survive. In short, I was just like the disciples, living for small things and not having any vision for myself. My dream was to get rich, somehow, get a boat and spend my life traveling the world. But Jesus, through giving me my one word that I would no longer be Jacob, someone who struggles with man, and instead would be Israel, someone who wrestles with and pursues Gods blessing, gave me a new hope and vision for my life. I recently was able to eat at a high-end steakhouse. As I sat there, eating my meal, I watched an elderly lady in an electric wheelchair eating her meal and talking about a trip to Ireland. I watched and internally said "that’s where your fantasy would have ended up Rob. Old, with your life worn away and behind you, feeling like you were living the high life but completely ignorant of Gods will for you." As I saw where my "fantasy life" would have really ended I just prayed thanking God for the new life he had given me and that I was denied my worldly dream.

 

Jesus called me up the mountain so to speak through bible studies on CSULB. I would walk up the hill to the library on top of campus to be taught Gods words. As I continually went up that mountain, God called me from my old life of living for myself to instead living as a shepherd over his flock. I started living as a shepherd in 2008 and have been doing so ever since.God has been building me up from someone who’s joy in life was YouTube to someone who envisions filling the world with thousands of divisions of shepherds, feeding the entire planet with God's word.

 

Through this passage I’m inspired to see that 8 months wages isn’t what I need. I don’t need to be in better shape or have more time or money to effectively serve Gods work.Instead what I truly have to have is belief in Jesus. As I have that sort of belief, one where I truly see it as certain that he’ll work through me, not possible but certain, I can come to him in prayer and bring him all I have, my entire person.

 

I grew up as a Philip, I learned that if you can’t do it on your own it can’t be done and to always have a backup plan.Even in serving God all I leaned on was my own ability to teach and make the passage clear. But through this passage I can see that its not by my own efforts Gods work can be done. Instead when I bring what I have to Jesus in prayer, he can empower my five loaves and two fish to become a real meal that students can be fed with.

 

I’m married, work full time and have a one-year old daughter. My hands are already full with that and I only have a few spare hours, two days a week, to go onto campus and to fish and to teach. But when that time is first offered to Jesus in prayer saying "here Jesus you take this and put substance behind it" then those few hours a week can be more than enough to feed the students on Santa Monica college. Through those, Gods words can begin to grow and sprout in students’ hearts and soon they too can be working as shepherds for Gods flock. Gods work can start and grow mightily when I just bring him my five hours on two nights on SMC.

 

Before my way of serving Jesus was 8 months wages. I would debate creation versus evolution with my friends, attempting to convert them with intellectual arguments and debate. It never worked and only produced endless arguments that never went anywhere. But now, rather than struggling with students by my own strength I struggle to come to Jesus in prayer, to bring what I have before him to use. I pray, "Jesus, please cause your words to sprout and gain weight in my students’ hearts. Let them be able to see it as true and unable to deny what your will for them is." As I’ve done so, it's been completely transformative for me. Now rather than always arguing, I just teach and let God do what really only he can do.Several of my students are becoming more responsive to bible studies. Their testimonies are getting better and longer. I can see God is starting to do a great work on SMC and I’m excited to see what will come of it. When we just bring what we have to Jesus, he’ll gladly take it and work with it to feed more than we could ever imagine.

 

One word: Bring Your Five Loaves And Two Fish To Jesus

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