Friday, September 30, 2011

A Dark World

Jesus said to the crowd, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). Those words must have sounded as strange to the crowd as they do to those who do not trust in Jesus today. What does he mean when he says they will not walk in darkness?

Remember he had just been talking to the woman caught in adultery. She knew what he meant. The day when those mean burst into the bedroom where she lie with her lover and dragged her in front of the crowd was one of the darkest days of her life. If she had not agreed to be intimate with someone not her husband, she would not be shamed openly.

Take deceiving someone as an example. When a person makes the decision to lie to someone, they have to forever remember what they said. They may have to tell other lies to cover the first one. Eventually they develop a habit of deceiving others to the point that they no longer know which is a lie and which is the truth. They daily live in the dark world of deception.

Indeed living according to what Jesus taught frees us from the dark world of shame, deception, anger and hatred. Instead we live in the light of freedom.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Christian Inhumanity

We do not know what kind of life the adulterous woman had before she was brought before the crowd. We do know she must have had a lot of sorrow because no one commits adultery without some kind of pain in their life. It is difficult to imagine the kind of shame she felt when a gang of men burst in on her in the middle of intimate act. She most likely was led away screaming, crying and kicking. She may have called out the name of the man she was with. He obviously did not help her and may have been in on the conspiracy from the beginning (John 8:1-11).

Sinners should not be treated inhumanely by those who claim to be believers. When fighting sin becomes a greater focus than the compassion for the sinner, we have lost sight of the message of salvation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Calling a Spade a Spade

It is not the recognition that another person has sinned that is the problem. It is the condemning of the person as one without value or hope of redemption (John 8:1-10; Mathew 5:22).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Stone's Throw Away

Early in the morning Jesus went into the temple and the people gathered around him to hear him teach. They had heard him before and were impressed with his demeanor and his words. He had substantiated his message with miracles. Those who heard him before must have come with anticipation. Those who heard him for the first time must have been fascinated. But there were a group of men who were not favorably impressed. They were afraid of losing their influence over the crowds and so were seeking a way to entrap him.

These men, the scribes and Pharisees brought an adulterous woman and put her in front of Jesus where everyone could see her. “Teacher,” they said, “This woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the Law commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say?” (John 8:1-6).

If he had her stoned, he would lose his reputation of kindness and forgiveness. If he did not have her stoned he would be breaking Moses’ law and would be seen by the crowds as a heretic.

Jesus at first ignored them, giving them time to dig their whole deeper. Then raising himself up he said, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” This was a problem because to throw a stone would mean they thought they were perfect, which was as unacceptable in their time as it is in ours. There was nothing to do but leave (John 1-9).

Thrown any stones lately?

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Silent World

We have been reading about the Pharisees and Chief Priests putting political pressure on all of their employees and associates to reject this Christ. After an afternoon and evening of debate, “everyone went to his own house” (John 7:53).

It is a simple sentence that is easily over looked. But its weight is far more important than at first glance. In our homes is where the pretensions fall away. Those who live with us know who we really are. It is there we wrestle with our demons. When we lay our heads down to rest we cannot escape our own thoughts. The pressures come in relentless memories of words spun to impress us. Threats hang over us like clouds of doubts and threatening storms of lost reputations.

It is in the stillness of the night most decisions are formed. We will either cry out to the One who made us or we will turn away into the silent world of unbelief.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Picking Sides

The pressure was increasing to reject Jesus. His popularity was waning. It was certainly no longer politically advantageous to know him. We saw how the soldiers changed their mind when the pressure was applied (John 7:45; 19:6). We saw the crowds begin to dwindle (John 6:66). But one man, a Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus (the one who came to him by night) was gaining strength in his belief. When the rest of his political party rejected Jesus he did not sit silently by.

“Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” Nicodemus confronts his contemporaries (John 7:51). They are not impressed. “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.” (John 7:52). In other words, “Be careful or your political career is over.”

Unlike the officers Nicodemus’ faith did not waver but grew in strength (John 19:39).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Where are you going?

We saw yesterday how the Pharisees and Chief Priests put pressure on the Temple officers to reject Christ. The sad fact of that encounter was that the religious were successful in distracting the officers. John 19:6 reveals what result of the pressure. “Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw him, they cried out saying, “Crucify Him, crucify him!”

The one they once admired they join in crucifying. Walking away from God will take us where we never thought we would go.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Political Pressure

The Chief Priests and Pharisees sent officers (soldiers) from the temple to arrest Jesus. When they reported back without Jesus in tow, the officials were furious. “Why have you not brought him?” (John 7:45). The officers responded, “No one ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46).

The response came back sharp and sarcastic. “Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in him? This crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” (John 7:47).

So here is there premise. 1) You are deceived (we aren’t). 2) None of us important smart people are fooled by this man (If you believe you are fooled). 3) The crowd is made up of ideates who are uneducated and easily mislead. (If you believe you show your ignorance and are not worthy of being associated with us.

Has anyone ever made you feel like that for believing?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Controversial Subject

“The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves…” (John 6:52). “So there was a division among the people” (John 7:43). “And there was a division among them” (John 9:16).

Jesus is no less controversial today. On which side of the controversy are you standing?

Do people who know you know where you stand?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Jumping to Conclusions

I was recently in Monterey on a business trip. I was privileged to visit Carmel by the Sea, a beautiful tourist attraction with sun-filled streets, lovely display windows and happy shoppers. The village brags the original location of the first Thomas Kinkaid shop tucked away in an alley garden, a perfect location for perfect pictures.

As I sauntered down the sidewalk my companion was surprised that a certain retailer had a shop there, because it was a national chain that was usually found in shopping malls, not in quaint sea-side vacation spots. I replied, “This is probably its place of origin.” I had to laugh at myself. Why did I say that? There was absolutely no indication that such a thing was true. My mind had jumped to an outrageous conclusion because I knew of the Thomas Kinkaid store.

It is our nature to jump to unjustified conclusions. The people surrounding Jesus did the same thing. When individuals said this must be the Christ, others responded, “Will the Christ come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” So there was a division among the people because of him” (John 7:40-43).

They had the scriptures right, but they did not have accurate information about Jesus. Let’s be careful not to jump to conclusions. They too easily lead us and others away from the Truth.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pin the Tail on the Sheep

People who do not believe are quick to point out errors of Christians, seeming inconsistencies in various teachings and conflicts between denominations. They are sheep examiners and find fault with the apparent weaknesses of those who follow Jesus. In their ridicule, criticism and mocking they miss looking at Jesus directly.

Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Only Jesus can quench our thirst for truth, peace and joy.

We love each other. We do not follow one another. We follow Christ, or at least that is who we are supposed to be following.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


When Jesus announced that he was going away, everyone was speculating as to why he was leaving and where he could possibly going. Some thought he was going to the Country of Greece (John 7:35). Others speculated that he was going to commit suicide (John 8:22).

When things happen that we are not expecting or things do not turn out the way we think they should, we also are prone to speculate about God’s involvement. Perhaps we would be wiser to simply hold steady and wait to see what happens.

It often is not easy to have faith, but it is the way of peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Angry Clouds

Jesus told the crowd, “You will seek me and not find me and where I am you cannot come” (John 7:34). He is speaking of his immediate death. He repeats this saying several times to his closest friends (John 7:21; 13:33). He tells Peter that Peter cannot come with him now, but will follow later (John 13:36-38).

There are times when nothing appears to go right. We seek God and cannot find him. The heavens are made of angry clouds and we feel helpless to find God.

When that happens remember his promises never to abandon you. Wait for him. He will speak to you again.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When the Christ Comes

When Jesus walked the earth it was a confusing time for many people. The debates about this strange man continued non-stop. Was he the Messiah everyone had been taught about as long as they could remember, or was he an imposter?

There was a group who argued, "When the Christ comes will he do more signs than these which this man has done?" (John 7:31). Jesus later tells the disciples, "If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both me and my Father" (John 15:24).

No one else has ever worked as many miracles before or since Jesus. The miracles point to who he is. We need to look to him for what we need. He will answer us one way or another. He will not leave us or abandone us (John 14:18). We need to stop looking to ourselves.

Monday, September 12, 2011

No Place for Sarcasm

Jesus healed people on the Sabbath. This bothered the Pharisees. They considered it work. Yet they performed circumcision on the Sabbath for fear of breaking Moses’ law that a child should be circumcised on the eighth day (John 7:21-24).

Jesus said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

We are appalled at the Pharisees for their lack of sympathy for the one in need of healing. But I wonder, do we come across as Pharisees to unbelievers when we harshly explain Biblical principles? We tell them God loves them but our tone of voice is far from loving. Leaving room for someone to express their viewpoint without responding in sarcasm is not compromising the Truth. It is respecting the individual’s right to believe as he or she chooses.

God treated us with love and respect before we knew him. Let’s do the same for others.

Friday, September 9, 2011

In My Opinion

Jesus said, “My doctrine is not mine, but his who sent me…He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory…” (John 7:16, 18).

I have heard church teachers after reading a passage in the Bible say, “What God is trying to say is…” then they fill in with their interpretation of the words. It makes it sound like God was not able to say what he meant and needed us to interpret for him.

We are in dangerous waters when we try to maneuver God’s words to say what we think they should say. How much better it would be to take his words at face value. To do more may be an indicator that we are seeking our own glory.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Holding Hands

My mother was recently in the Emergency room. My father sat by her bed holding her hand praying silently that God would spare her life. When the nurse pulled aside the curtain, he noticed my mother and father’s display of attention. “You two are so cute,” he smiled. My father told him they had just celebrated 64 years of marriage. The young man said he and his wife hoped to have that good a marriage as well.

My mother and father depend on one another, respect one another and love one another. Their relationship reflects the Son’s relationship with the Father. The Son taught only his Father’s doctrine (John 6:16). He spoke only the words that his Father told him to say (John 14:24) and did only what the Father showed him to do (John 5:19-20).

But we tend to add words to the simple language of the Bible and teach our own persuasions as though they were clearly taught in the Word.

The slightest distortion of the truth is deadly. We need to examine what we want to say. Does the Bible clearly state what we teach someone else, or are we using the Bible to get our own point across? Are our words truly Jesus’ words?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Daily Cross

In the beginning of chapter 6 great multitudes were following him. By the end of chapter 6 the crowds had dwindled to 12 disciples. Now we read that his family is rejecting him. The closer he gets to the time of the cross, the greater the earthly losses.

Being a Christian can be costly.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The World Hates Me

Jesus' words, that the world hates him because he testifies that its works are evil teach us that we also may be hated by the world (John 7:7).

We do not set out with the intention of making others hate us. We are not abrasive on purpose, but our message sometimes provokes unbelievers.

Truth is painful for those who wish to avoid it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Question of Fame

After the feeding of the 5,000 and using the parable of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, Jesus went home to Galilee. The religious leaders were seeking an excuse to kill him, so he no longer walked in Judea (John 7:1-2). But there was a feast called the Feast of the Tabernacles and all good Hebrews must attend if at all possible.

So Jesus' brothers suggested that Jesus go back to Judea and show his disciples his signs and miracles. They either thought he wanted to be famous or they were speaking sarcastically to him. "No one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be well known. If you do these things, show yourself to the world." Scripture says, "For even his brothers did not believe in him" (John 7:1-5).

Have you ever had someone challenge your faith by demanding a miracle?

Jesus responded "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil" (John 7:7). He focused the attention back on those who ridiculed him.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Life experiences can force us to the question is it worth it to follow Jesus? Our beliefs often conflict with cultural values. Our physical loses cause us to wonder where God is. We try to have faith to move a particular mountain, and then open our window to see the mountain isn't moved yet.

When we face impossible circumstances Peter's words to Jesus question, "Do you also want to go away" speak volumes. "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:65).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Part of a Crowd?

Shortly after feeding 5,000 men with five barely loaves and two small fish, Jesus told the crowd, "The words I speak to you are spirit and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe" (John 6:63-64).

John tells us, "From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more" (John 6:64).

Following Jesus' signs and wonders is not the same as following Jesus.