Sunday, August 30, 2015

John 12:37-41 comments: Isaiah saw Christ's glory

37 ¶  But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38  That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39  Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40  He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41  These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

John here quotes Isaiah 53:1 and alludes to or paraphrases other passages in Isaiah.

Isaiah 6:9 ¶  And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10  Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

Isaiah 44:18  They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.

Isaiah 53 was long understood to be a reference to the Messiah to come (from Isaiah’s viewpoint) until, as stated earlier in the comments on chapter one, verse twenty nine, the 11th century AD when a Jewish commentator and rabbi named Rashi began applying that chapter to Israel itself as the suffering servant. Now, many Jews claim that it was always meant to refer to Israel as a nation. This belief came about primarily due to Jewish suffering at the hands of medieval Christians in the time of the Crusades. For Biblical reasons for their point of view see Exodus 4:22 and in light of that verse see Proverbs 30:4 and understand that by rejecting the New Testament they have an incomplete understanding of Biblical doctrine as those verses are among the hundreds that point to Christ.

 Verse 41 contains the stunning statement that Isaiah, eight centuries before Christ, saw Christ and spoke of Him. Isaiah’s writing contains many statements of Christ. As examples, besides Isaiah, chapter 53, which you should read, are Isaiah 9:6,7 which contains both advents in one place;

Isaiah 9:6  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

It is not unheard of in the Old Testament for both arrivals of Christ to be included in one passage. Christ Himself teaches us how there can be a great gap in between them. Here he quotes Isaiah;

Luke 4:14 ¶  And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15  And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 16  And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17  And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19  To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20  And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21  And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Here is the passage in Isaiah;

Isaiah 61:1 ¶  The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3  To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

So, as Jesus stops with, “To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,” we can see that the rest of the passage, starting with, “and the day of vengeance of our God,” is not for the time of Christ’s first advent but clearly for the second as He Himself stops at that point and declares it fulfilled. (Also see, by word substitution, how the Holy Spirit defines words in the Old and New Testament by comparing a word and what word is substituted for it. For instance, to preach is to proclaim, gospel is good tidings or news, liberty is deliverance, and the prison that people were bound in was their suffering, of which Christ delivered many from.)

Another verse as an example of Isaiah’s writing referring to Christ is Isaiah 7:14 which is quoted in the New Testament;

Isaiah 7:14  Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23  Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Truly, Isaiah saw Christ’s coming even if he didn’t understand the doctrine fully and we can see Christ in Isaiah’s writings.

Friday, August 28, 2015

John 12:27-36 comments: now is my soul troubled

27 ¶  Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. 28  Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. 29  The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. 30  Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. 31  Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33  This he said, signifying what death he should die. 34  The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? 35  Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. 36  While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

Being fully man and fully God Jesus had a human body, of course, and soul, the seat of self-identity and will, and spirit, that part of a person that can know God if it is made alive by Him (Luke 23:46), by which the man Jesus had constant connection with His Godhood. Jesus had all the unseen, spiritual parts of a man; a human soul and a human spirit, while also being God.

Our flesh does not want to die although it will do everything it can to cause that death by excess if permitted. Jesus, being fully man and fully God, understood our fear of and dread of death.

Matthew 26:39  And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

He was referring to the cup of God the Father’s wrath as expressed in Isaiah 51:17, 22; Jeremiah 25:15, and Revelation 14:10; 16:19.

Hebrews 5:7  Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

And He quoted the opening line of Psalm 22 on the cross for us to reference and understand the entire Psalm’s meaning. See Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34. Christ was cut off from God the Father in that moment on the cross to suffer the punishment for our sin.

Isaiah 59:2  But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

He bore our sins for us. See 1Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; and Revelation 1:5.

This is extremely important to know the suffering that Jesus underwent on the cross, suffering in being cut off completely at that point for our sin, cut off from God the Father, to receive what should be every man’s punishment for rejecting their Creator’s demands on them. Although it was temporary, for the God-man it must have been excruciating soul pain, cutting to the very essence of not only His humanity but His deity. It is more than I can possibly understand. It is by this that Jesus was the propitiation, to appease or placate God’s wrath, for our sins.

Romans 3:25  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

1John 2:2  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world…4:10  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

God the Father spoke in response to Jesus. To the unsaved the voice of God sounds like thunder but to those who know Him it is a voice of an appearance or angel of God (Isaiah 63:9).

2Samuel 22:14  The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice.

Psalm 18:13  The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire.

Job 37:5  God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend.

Job 40:9  Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?

Is this what the trump of God sounds like? This gives us an indication what the translation of the church will sound like to the unsaved left behind.

1Thessalonians 4:16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

In verse 31 Jesus says that now is the time for the judgment of this world of men and that now is the time for the prince of that world to be cast out. Now has an obvious meaning, meaning at that time as in, “this minute,” or conditions are ready as in, “I just graduated from high school, now I can go to college. It is drawing near time for Jesus to be glorified, executed and resurrected from the dead, by which belief in and trust in all men and women can be saved. Now there is no more peace with the world. The world is condemned. Judgment is synonymous with the justice the world deserves. See Genesis 18:19 for judgment and justice linked. There is no more peace between the people of God and the world; its systems, its philosophies, and the things it holds valuable.

1John 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Luke 16:15  And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

This is a subversive and revolutionary viewpoint.  Far too many times the Christian faith was used to uphold and support worldly systems and governments and attitudes like the right of so-called nobility to keep their booted foot on the throats of the common man in Europe. It was used to justify slavery in America. In fact, every group of people who claimed Christ and linked His authority with their own desire to do evil denied these statements by Jesus and made their pact with the Devil himself.

The world is condemned and all of its humanistic drivel is condemned with it; the educated elite, the world of entertainment, the economic system, and, yes, even religion. God has no more regard for a fundamentalist Christian’s self-congratulating pats on his or her own back for being on “God’s team” than He does for any pope’s speaking ex cathedra. But, you still participate in it anyway.

Who is the prince of this world that is cast out?

Luke 10:18  And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

Satan, the adversary, is the god of this world.

2Corinthians 4:4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

He is the prince of this world.

John 14:30  Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me….16:11  Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

Ephesians 2:2  Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Full of anger, pride, and vengeance he works in this world. Read Revelation, chapter 12, and then;

1Peter 5:8  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Speaking of His impending death on the cross and the resurrection, Jesus says that His being lifted up He will draw all men to Him. The world is judged, Satan is cast down, Christ is lifted up and glorified, and all men have the chance to be saved.

Titus 2:11 ¶  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

1Timothy 2:4  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Jesus doesn’t answer their question directly but warns them that now is the time to believe and to stop walking in darkness.  See the comments on chapter 9, verses 1-7, for information on the day of Jesus’ physical presence on earth and the night which came after. They ask, “Who is this Son of man?”

In the Old Testament son of man with a lowercase s refers to a human being, born of a woman and destined to die. When Ezekiel is sent to speak to the children of Israel the Bible uses Son of man with an uppercase S although many times the lowercase s is used for him as well. This title is used for Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, in all four gospels, God coming in the flesh as the Son of God and man sent by God as Son of man, to be that Messiah, that Christ, through whom salvation is offered and the only way to Heaven.

John 1:51  And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

John 12:21-26 comments: him will my Father honour

21  The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. 22  Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. 23  And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24  Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25  He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26  If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

These Gentiles from the Greek culture come to Philip and ask for an introduction to Jesus. Philip went to Andrew who went with him to speak to Jesus. Jesus speaks of His impending death and of the resurrection. He likens resurrection from the dead to a seed being planted that produces fruit.

Notice how the word corn is used in the Bible. A corn of wheat or just corn is the seed or the head of the wheat depending on the context. The word corn was not used for the Native American maize plant until later than the King James Bible was translated. Around the time of the translation the phrase for the American plant was Indian corn but the Indian was later dropped.

While there is some argument about whether what we know as New World (the Americas) maize existed in the Old World (see Ohio State article the statement corn of wheat makes clear what is referred to here . For those who argue that Leviticus 2:14 saying green ears of corn cannot refer to wheat I refer you to the Arab dish called greenwheat freekeh and an old commentary that says, “Green or half-ripe ears of wheat parched with fire is a species of food in use among the poor people of Palestine and Egypt to the present day.” (18)

Jesus has to die so that the resurrection will take place. The resurrection must take place so that Christianity is more than a mere philosophy but is a death-conquering fact. Jesus Christ, like a seed of a plant, must be buried so that He can rise again, like the plant, to feed many. To be of any use we must die, as well. We must die to Self and be brought alive again to God. Unfortunately, much of Christianity in America is simply a self-serving, self-congratulating political philosophy and has little relationship to serving a risen Saviour and more of a relationship to serving the power structure, the economic system, or our own personal bigotry, paranoia, and fear.

Verse 25 shows us that loving your present life in this world is the surest way to lose it but holding it in contempt, disdain, or hating it is the way to eternal life.  In America Christians have become so fond of their lifestyles and have invested so much time and money so that they can enjoy their stuff  and the families they have formed in the flesh that they will do almost anything to stay alive just one more minute. Christians will spend their last months or even years in agony just for the privilege of staying alive one more day and letting the medical community experiment on them. You will be hard-pressed to find an American being given the news from his or her doctor that they have a life-threatening illness and openly rejoicing at the prospect of going into eternity. One would easily think either that they don’t really believe what God has promised or that they love this life so much that they cannot bear to leave it to be with the One who created them. Christians call an improvement in their condition, for instance, cancer, as God’s mercy rather than dying in the flesh as mercy so that they can be with God for eternity.

The one who serves Christ and follows Him will spend eternity with Christ and God the Father will honor that person. There is no simpler way of saying what the conditions of eternal life are. Look to Christ. He is the answer.

It was by Christ, the Word, whom the Greeks thought was the creative force of the universe as the Logos but John revealed to be God Himself, that all things physical and spiritual were created in time.

John 1:1 ¶  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2  The same was in the beginning with God. 3  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

It is by Christ, the Word that all things are held together and continue without chaos, not gravity or some mythical substances called dark matter or dark energy.

Colossians 1:12 ¶  Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14  In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

It is by Christ that Jew and Gentile are united into one Church.

Ephesians 2:11 ¶  Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13  But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

    2:14 ¶  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17  And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18  For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

And it is by Christ that we can approach the throne of God.

John 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

(18) Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible, published in the early 1800’s and made available on the web at

Saturday, August 22, 2015

John 12:20 comments: who were the Greeks?

20 ¶  And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:

Greeks, Gentiles, who came to worship at the Passover is quite an interesting event. Timothy, Paul’s young preacher protégé, was the son of a Greek unbeliever and a Jewish mother.

Acts 16:1  Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:

In the New Testament the word Greek is used for Gentile or non-Jew as the dominant culture in that part of the world was Greek-centered and the Greek language was commonly spoken, even by many Romans, although far too much has been made about so-called . Any non-Jew in the New Testament might be called a Greek.

Romans 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Romans 10:12  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

Galatians 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:11  Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

 A person might be of an ethnic background other than Greek but still be called a Greek based on culture in the New Testament while in the Old Testament more attention is paid to specific ethnicity or nation. In the following verse the word nation as elsewhere in the Bible does not  refer to a nation-state as it does today. It refers to ethnicity, as in tribal affiliation or people group like the Hebrews or the Chaldeans, or a kingdom in a couple of instances. See Genesis 12:2,3; 10:5, 32 and then Genesis 18:8 with Acts 3:25.

Mark 7:26  The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.

Actual ethnic Greeks, though, had a long history with the Ancient Near East as traders, settlers, and mercenaries who fought for both sides in any given war of which there are a number of historical works including Xenophon’s Anabasis.

Zechariah 9:13  When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man.

Mercenaries are called hired men.

Jeremiah 46:21  Also her hired men are in the midst of her like fatted bullocks; for they also are turned back, and are fled away together: they did not stand, because the day of their calamity was come upon them, and the time of their visitation.

At the Battle of Carchemish, referred to in 2Chronicles 35:20 and Jeremiah 46:2, both Nebuchadnezzar’s and Pharaoh Necho’s armies were at least partly composed of Greek mercenaries.

There is a lamentation regarding children sold as slaves to the Greeks.

Joel 3:6  The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border.

My point is that it is in this way that the Greek culture and mainland Greece would have learned about Jewish religion and been influenced to create their mythologies that justified their own political histories. Examples would be how Hercules is a Greek Samson and a Jonah. Not only was he a man-god of great strength but he, too, was swallowed by a sea monster for three days. The myth of Atlantis is the pre-flood civilization. There are a number of similarities in Greek mythology, too many to discuss here, that would suggest that Greece’s mythology is simply a reworking of Bible truths which preceded them by hundreds of years used to justify political and cultural themes.

The Greeks mentioned in this verse did not have to come from mainland Greece although they could have. They may have been Hellenized (Greek culture)  Gentiles of the Near East who had become believers in the Jewish religion as the Ethiopian official in Acts 8 had.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

John 12:12-19 comments: proclaiming the kingship of Christ

12 ¶  On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13  Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. 14  And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, 15  Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. 16  These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. 17  The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. 18  For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. 19  The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.

For a time Jesus is recognized for who He is, Israel’s true king, their Messiah, their Christ. A great many people praised Him shouting and waved branches of palm trees. They praised and blessed His name. The palm tree was an emblem of victory and triumph in the ancient world, as Matthew Henry tells it. There is an air of expectation in these praises for Him to be the agent of God’s deliverance of Israel.

Psalm 118:25  Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. 26  Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.

Read Psalm 118 for a mix of the first and second advent prophecy, then read it together with Psalm 2 to get some perspective of the millennial reign of Christ and the events at the end of the millennium when Satan tempts Gog and Magog to rise up in Revelation 20:7-10. This triumphal entry into Jerusalem may be a sign of things to come at the end of history as Jesus does not assume the temporal kingly role at His first appearance but early Christians did expect Him to physically return to rule for a thousand years, called the Millennium or the Millennial Reign of Christ. This is what some historical church organizations think they are doing now, in His stead, with, to them, a millennium just being a long period of time until they win the world for Christ and turn it over to Him at His eventual return. Not doing too good a job are they. The early Christians, though, were expectantly waiting for Christ’s return to rule. They were not expecting to set up a millennial golden age without Christ being physically present.

Jesus came in riding a donkey in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

Zechariah 9:9 ¶  Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Riding upon an ass, a donkey, was an ancient and honorable way of travel for royalty.

2Samuel 16:2  And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The asses be for the king’s household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink.

His disciples did not catch the meaning of all of this until after His resurrection. The Pharisees express their exasperation with another unintentional prophecy as the worship of Christ will become a worldwide religion.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

John 12:1-11 comments: wiped his feet with her hair

1 ¶  Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2  There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. 3  Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 4  Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, 5  Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6  This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. 7  Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. 8  For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. 9  Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. 10  But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11  Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

At this supper to which Jesus was invited, Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead, sat next to Him. Mary poured a pound of expensive ointment on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. This act of devotion, only possible when Christ was physically on the earth, was referred to in chapter 11, verse 2.

Judas Iscariot pointed out that this ointment cost 300 pence. In Biblical terms that would be equal almost to a year’s wages as a penny is the standard set for a day’s wages. See Matthew 20. Translated originally from the word, denarius, using penny and pence is more understandable to us for the smallest unit of money than it would leaving denarius in the text.

Judas was not expressing concern for the poor but was upset because he was stealing from the bag of money. Notice that Jesus and His disciples were not collecting money to build a church gym or take the group on a cruise of the Greek islands. The money was for the poor. Of course, Judas’ statement is also the same excuse every theological liberal makes when he wants to avoid preaching the undiluted gospel to the world, as well.

Jesus makes a point that should be well-noted by interpreters of the Bible, by pastors and teachers. Verses 7 and 8 reveal to us that there were certain conditions that were only met by Jesus Christ actually being on the earth physically walking about. For instance, it was only possible to commit the unpardonable sin by attributing Jesus Christ’s work to an unclean spirit thus blaspheming the Holy Ghost, the third part of the three parts of God, while Jesus walked on the earth.

Mark 3:28  Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29  But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: 30  Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

Jesus’ statement here in “The Gospel According to John” does not give Christians a pass when it comes to caring for the poor in the church so they can buy gospel tracts. If that were so there would be a contradiction with other verses in the New Testament about helping those in the church who were suffering. So, in the little time that God walked the earth His friends and disciples did well by acts of devotion to His person. In a brief time He would be physically gone from them. But, the risen Christ, through His words and the words of His ministers would never accept neglect of the poor in the church. As one example read Ephesians 4:28, Paul’s admonition to Gentile Christians.

Ephesians 4:28  Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Many of the Jews believed on Jesus because of Lazarus and they were fascinated to see the man who had been plucked out of the arms of death. Because of this the chief priests wanted to murder Lazarus because of the threat Lazarus’ new life represented much as a person in many a church today becoming born again is a threat to that church organization. Their sole concern was not truth but how Jesus’ very existence might threaten their power over the people. Like Judas they were really concerned about someone interfering with their scam, their con job. How evil the religious elite were. They were not to be trusted then and are not to be trusted now.



Saturday, August 15, 2015

John 11:45-57 comments: Caiaphas predicts the Jesus' execution

45 ¶  Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. 46  But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. 47  Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48  If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 49  And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50  Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51  And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52  And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. 53  Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. 54  Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. 55  And the Jews’ passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. 56  Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? 57  Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

Some of the witnesses to this miracle believe but amazingly some rush to tell the leadership about this dangerous threat to the status quo. The Pharisees and the council are in a quandary. What are they going to do? They acknowledge that Jesus has actually performed many miracles. Their great fear is that the disruption Jesus causes will encourage the Romans to overrule their authority.

Human government’s main preoccupation is with preserving its authority. A politician in a Democracy has as his main impulse the drive to get re-elected. Power is the end goal of power. Here we have an admission that Christ is doing many miracles but rather than being drawn to Him, their paranoia and fear of losing control over the people takes precedence.

The Messiah performing miracles, supernatural acts of healing and raising people from the dead, cannot be tolerated. Eventually, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, would understand this.

Mark 15:9  But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? 10  For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.

Envy is a dangerous thing.

Proverbs 27:4  Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?

The high priest, Caiphas, not knowing that he is working toward God’s own goal of the cross and the empty tomb, states that Jesus must die for the sake of the nation. However, there is no fear of God in Caiphas’ remark, though. Later Gamaliel, the great teacher of Paul (Acts 22:3), will say about some of the Apostles actions;

Acts 5:38  And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: 39  But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

Verse 51 states that this was an unintentional prophecy, that Jesus would die for the Jews and not only those over which the Sanhedrin controlled but also for those, “scattered abroad,” meaning the Jews around the world. Here is the phrase used in another context, the Great Tribulation to come, for the Jews not living in Israel.

James 1:1  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

The phrase, “scattered abroad,” is first used to refer to the descendants of Japheth, Ham, and Shem from Genesis 9 who are dispersed around the world at the Tower of Babel event in Genesis 11. After that it is predominantly used to refer to the Jews in Acts 8, 11, and in James. Notice the greeting in 1Peter 1:1 as well. In dispensational theory the Bible is written predominantly to the Jews, first to the people of God under the Law and then to the Jewish followers of Christ. By this theory the Bible is written in dispensational order so that only the books that start with the name, Paul, are written directly and doctrinally to Christians. Genesis, half of human history, is before the Law was presented although God’s standards were understood in many instances as you can see by pagan kings’ fear of God and Job’s understanding of right and wrong. Then, there is the Hebrew or Jewish people under the Law through the Gospels and then after the church age ends in a rebellious slave being sent home to his master in Philemon. After that, the letters are written to Jewish believers, scattered abroad. Matthew, Acts, and Hebrews are transitional books that show the unfolding of the Gospel to the Jews, early church history, and the transition from a predominantly Gentile church to again, a predominantly Jewish one at the end of history. Every verse in the Bible has an application to Christians but as far as our direct marching orders are concerned we must look to Paul’s letters to the churches.

 Whatever theory of interpretation you prescribe to just be careful about instructions given to the Jews and do not confuse the Jews with the Church. Notice what Christ said to the Philadelphia church.

Revelation 3:9  Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

Replacement theology, where the Christian Church claims the promises and authority given to the Jews, has been a dangerous and harmful doctrine in history.

From this day forward their purpose was to kill Jesus and they put out word for informants to let them know where He was. The Passover was coming and it was expected that He would show up there. After all, how could He not, at this most important of times?

Jesus removed Himself and His disciples to the country temporarily, to a town called Ephraim.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

John 11:33-44 comments: Jesus wept

33 ¶  When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34  And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35  Jesus wept. 36  Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! 37  And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? 38  Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39  Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. 40  Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41  Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.  42  And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43  And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44  And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

Our sorrow over death, our fear of it, and the grief it brings have always been a burden on the mind of man and woman. Some people have come up with philosophies that deny a just and compassionate God, or a God at all, could exist with such facts presented to us. A famous evolutionary scientist and militant atheist, Richard Dawkins, understood what we see around us but applied this false conclusion that the universe is an undirected thing with no God present. He said;

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored….In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. (16)


Another atheist scientist does not go so far in his explanation but confirms an important fact of biology;

Humans on rare occasions may survive to 120 years, some turtles to 200. But all animals eventually die. Many single-cell organisms may die, as the result of accident or starvation; in fact the vast majority do. But there is nothing programmed into them that says they must die. Death did not appear simultaneously with life. This is one of the most important and profound statements in all of biology. At the very least it deserves repetition: Death is not inextricably intertwined with the definition of life. (17)

The Bible, however, tells us that death, not present in God’s original creation, was caused by man’s sin, his disobedience;

Romans 5:12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

For arrogant humans who object to being compared to the beasts, with whom we have death in common;

Ecclesiastes 3:19  For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. 20  All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

 The Bible tells us that the whole creation is in agony with pain and trouble abounding;

Romans 8:22  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

Before the Flood, the great physical disaster in human history compared to Adam’s Fall, the great spiritual disaster, neither beast nor man ate flesh by the evidence we have in the Bible.

Genesis 1:29 ¶  And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30  And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

It is difficult for us to understand how different that world was. But, it was after it that beasts became afraid of man and man was given the authority to eat them.

Genesis 9:1 ¶  And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. 2  And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. 3  Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

Christ is the only answer for our grief and suffering, for our anticipation and fear of death. Let anyone who says they are not afraid to die ask themselves what measures they take each day to ensure that they will live. Do we not consider someone who wants to commit suicide as mentally ill or, in some cases, possessed by a devil? We, as humans, like the beasts, wish to avoid death as long as we can. Death is a specter that hangs over us all. Christ is the only answer to the question of death.

Revelation 21:4  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

And here, in this passage, the Creator of the universe, in the form of a human being, looks on the misery and grief caused by sin and mourns with us, being one of us.

“Jesus wept.”

Have you ever wept for sin and its consequences in the history of the earth? Have you ever wept for the sorrow of death, just in general, not necessarily for a loss you’ve suffered but for the despair all mankind and, indeed, all creation faces as a result of man’s sin?

Although I cannot be sure if this is exact or not one source ( reports that 55 million people die every year, over 105,000 per day, or two people every second. This statistic does not take into account the untold millions suffering from starvation and disease. Nor does it take into account the million and hundreds of millions suffering mentally and emotionally, grieving, distraught, anxious, and afraid. There are millions of children and women who have been sexually and physically abused and elderly people with no way to care for their own needs. Adam’s sin, which we have inherited, has a devastation that is its consequence that is unimaginable.

In many of the houses you drive by on your way to work or the store there are dramas in play that revolve around heartbreak, betrayal, manipulation, exploitation, and disillusionment. Many of you suffer from things you have done or things others have done to you, in your life. Many even suffer from seemingly random acts, chance acts, that deprived you of someone you dearly loved. And, in the end, there is, on top of all the pain and suffering, a grave.

It is not a “glorious” death most of us face but a whimpering, gasping, drug-clouded death in a hospital, nursing home, or at home, perhaps alone with strangers who see death every day and many times without a familiar face nearby to look for compassion and sorrow in at our passing. I want to impress upon you, who in this age have been so removed from death in a way our ancestors were not, the despair and the grief that Jesus stood facing.

Some commentators have insisted that the following phrase, spoken by Jesus in the popularly called, “Sermon on the Mount,” is about mourning for the existence of sin and its consequences.

Matthew 5:4  Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

God sees the anguish and sorrow of heart that death, the primary result of our sin, causes. He, too, wept. Have you? Thank God, Jesus Christ has overcome death.

Hebrews 2:14 ¶  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

When Lazarus’ name was called he arose to meet the Lord.

1Thessalonians 4:16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

But, like many of us adults who were saved in our prime of life he needed help directed by the Lord to be unbound from the vestiges of his former condition. Unlike the little 12 year old child who arose immediately and was commanded to be fed by the Lord in Mark 5:42 or the son of the widow of Nain in Luke 7 who was perhaps older and needed help even to get up to be delivered to his mother Lazarus represents that middle age between childhood and the older adult who believes.

God can save us, call us forth, to leave the tomb of our sin and wickedness, but we are often still bound in our graveclothes and need help. It is the duty of the body of Christ on earth to edify and instruct the Christian newly delivered from the grave, not to bind them in different graveclothes, keeping the living person bound nonetheless. The call to every preacher and teacher, indeed, to every mature Christian is to take the new believer and, as Jesus commanded, “Loose him, and let him go.”

(16) Richard Dawkins, River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (New York: Basic Books, 1995), 154-155.

(17) William R. Clark, Sex and the Origins of Death (London: Oxford University Press, 1998), 54.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

John, Chapter 11:17-32 comments: the problem of faith

    17 ¶  Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. 18  Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: 19  And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 20  Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. 21  Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22  But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23  Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24  Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25  Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27  She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. 28  And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. 29  As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. 30  Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. 31  The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. 32  Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

Lazarus had been in the grave four days by the time Jesus and His disciples had walked the 15 furlongs from Jerusalem to Bethany. A furlong was between 600 and 700 feet. Jesus delayed a trip of about two miles clearly to make sure that there was no question that His friend was truly dead by human measurements. Even today we keep pushing back the concept of death as our knowledge of how the brain works and how cells live and die changes. There must be no question that Lazarus was dead.

Martha complained to Jesus that Lazarus would have still been alive if He had not tarried. But, she acknowledged that, even now, she knew God the Father would grant Jesus whatever He wished. The assumption can be made that she was certain Jesus could, if He wanted, raise Lazarus. This faith is an important one in the Bible. The question comes to mind with regard to Abraham of what nature was His faith when He was willing to offer up the child God had promised him as a sacrifice at God’s command. The Bible gives us the answer.

Genesis 22:2  And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. 3  And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him… 7  And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8  And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

Hebrews 11:17  By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18  Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19  Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

(The phrase, “in a figure,” means for our purposes, in type, or, as a type. See 1Peter 3:20,21 to see how Noah’s Ark and Christian baptism are types of our eternal salvation but baptism is not a saving agent in and of itself, but merely a type.)

Jesus made a promise to Martha in verse 23. Lazarus would rise again. Like any good Christian Martha acknowledged that she knew he would rise again at the resurrection at the end of history. This resurrection is spoken of several times in the Bible.

From writings close to 2000BC;

Job 14:14  If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. 15  Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.

Job 19:25  For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26  And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27  Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

Isaiah, writing around the 700’s BC, speaks of a resurrection.

Isaiah 26:19  Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

Daniel, writing around the 500’s BC, speaks of a resurrection.

Daniel 12:2  And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Hosea, in the vicinity of Isaiah in time, speaks of a resurrection.

Hosea 13:14  I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.

And Jesus makes it clear that the God’s dead have not ceased to exist and the following passage makes it plain that the Jews knew of the resurrection, although some did not believe, as it is today.

Matthew 22:23 ¶  The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, 24  Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 25  Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: 26  Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. 27  And last of all the woman died also. 28  Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. 29  Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. 30  For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. 31  But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, 32  I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. 33  And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.

The Jews believed in a final resurrection. But, Jesus isn’t talking about far-off. He is speaking of right now. Soon, Martha shall see with her own eyes the power of God over death.

Verse 25 is the foundation of eternal salvation.

25  Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Paul words it thus;

Romans 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

This is what it means to, “believe on.”

John 3:36  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Acts 16:31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Martha gave the correct answer although this understanding was still difficult to grasp.

27  She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

Notice the declaration of the Ethiopian eunuch that was converted under Philip’s guidance.

Acts 8:36  And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

(Acts 8:37 is removed or questioned in modern post-Enlightenment Bibles as it was omitted from later manuscripts due to the growing institutional church practice of relying on baptism as a sacrament, a saving agent, which it is not. Here, in verse 37, belief precedes baptism so that infant baptism is an absurdity. The verse is found in the Old Latin manuscripts and the Vulgate, is cited by Irenaeus around 180AD in Book III, Chapter XII of his Against Heresies and Cyprian around 250AD according to an early work entitled The Life and Passion of Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr by Pontius the Deacon in paragraph 3. It clearly was in the Bibles they used.)

This declaration that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God or God in the flesh, the Messiah who should come into the world, is the declaration of the believing Jew and the believing Gentile.

Mary also complains in verse 32 what Martha said in verse 31, that if Jesus had been present Lazarus would not have died. Clearly, like a Christian today who has faith and trusts that God can do all things but whose faith is incomplete, Mary and Martha also have an incomplete faith.

God can prevent your loved one from dying of cancer and God will raise them to Him if they are saved. But, does your faith and trust in God continue if He permits Satan to kill them? Do you trust God’s judgment and is your belief that, in the end, no matter how painful things are now, that God’s will is just and good?

Understand from the oldest book written in the Bible, the Book of Job, that Satan has control, if given so by God, over destructive weather that kills, evil men that murder and rob, and disease. See Job, chapters 1 and 2. You are unable to tell who is doing what to you by your experience. We know only what we are told in God’s written word. Satan has the power of death, though if God grant him that power, it might as well come directly from God, as the result is the same.

Hebrews 2:14  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

The Bible makes it clear how indistinguishable God’s authority and Satan’s actions are to us. Who in the following was responsible for David’s sin?

1Chronicles 21:1  And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

2Samuel 24:1 ¶  And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

So, when God permits evil to have its way with you, will your faith still say, I trust in God, like the Hebrew captives of Nebuchadnezzar said?

Daniel 3:17  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Or as Job admitted even in his self-righteous justification of his own goodness;

Job 13:15  Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

Or will you say, “Lord, if you had been here,” or, “were real, this wouldn’t have happened.” I assure you, God never left and is very real. I have read atheists complain against God’s right to have authority over their lives in such a way that it seems that they really believe in God but deny His authority over them. What about the Christian who has faith as long as things are going his or her way but when they are not, begins to doubt? What are you thinking about God when tragedy strikes or is imminent?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Chapter 11:1-16 comments: Lazarus is dead

1 ¶  Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2  (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3  Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4  When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. 5  Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6  When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. 7  Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. 8  His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? 9  Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10  But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. 11  These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12  Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13  Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14  Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15  And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. 16  Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

A certain man or a certain woman are particularly interesting phrases in the Bible denoting God’s focus on an individual person, as my wife, Beth, pointed out to me. You can search for those phrases and for the word certain. It is an interesting study. The God who created the stars which are as numerous as the sand on the seashore (Genesis 22:17; Hebrews 11:12), who defied someone to even try to count their number (Genesis 15:5), not only can count them and has names for all of them (Psalm 147:4), but is aware of every sparrow that falls from the sky (Matthew 10:29).  God lives in eternity, unbound by time (Isaiah 57:15), and sees each and every created being and thing.

The phrase a certain man or a certain woman reveals God’s knowledge of each individual. Your prayers, your thoughts, your concerns, your sins, your joys, and your failures are all revealed before an eternal God who simply is, with past, present, and future blended into one, I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3:14). He knows you from inside by your spirit (Proverbs 20:27), from your presence before Him as an angel or appearance (Matthew 18:10), and probably a million different ways all the way down the smallest microscopic cell function. The God who created the furthest nebula in entire universe was focused on a certain man named Lazarus.

Mary will perform her act of devotion listed in verse 2 in the next chapter of John. Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick. Jesus, who is said to have loved Lazarus and his two sisters, promised that this sickness would not result in death but in glory to God that His, Jesus’, power and relationship to God the Father would be manifested. Jesus waited and did not go to Lazarus’ side immediately.

Jesus announced to His disciples that they were to return to Judea, a plan to which they objected because of the danger. Then, Jesus explains that there are 12 hours in the Jewish day and 12 hours in the night. We read from the first chapter of Genesis and see that a 24 days begins in the evening (Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23 & 31). We see from the gospels that the hours of the day are marked from 6am to 6pm in our thinking (Matthew 20:3; 15:25; 15:33; 27:45; Acts 2:15 etc. etc.).

Jesus isn’t talking about a regular day, though. He is referring to the time in which He walks the earth, when people could know Him personally and in the flesh as the day. He is the light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5). He is saying that if a person does not know Him, the light of the world, then he is walking in the dark and stumbling as his way is not sure and his path is unsafe. This makes an analogy with death and life that is to come.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The night is significant because it is spiritually day while Jesus walked on the earth.

John 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

Again, repeating from my comments on chapter 9.

John 13:26  Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27  And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. 28  Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. 29  For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30  He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

Paul wrote;

Romans 13:12  The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

1Thessalonians 5:5  Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

Peter wrote;

2Peter 3:10  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

As Christ’s resurrection was revealed in the morning, we are waiting for Christ’s return for us, for the morning light to peek over the horizon;

Genesis 1:5  And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Psalm 30:4  Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. 5  For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Psalm 130:6  My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

2Peter 1:19  We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

Jesus was the particular and special light of the world of men while He was in the world as He is now. No one living then, other than Him, could have forseen the power over human civilization that His presence was to have. Without His existence in the form of a human we would be lost. It was that visitation that set the stage for our salvation.

John 1:4  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

John 8:12  Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Additionally, in this set of verses we find sleep used as a euphemism for death. Paul will also use this figure of speech. Notice the position of sleep in contrast to died in the following verse;

1Thessalonians 4:14  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

In the following verses sleep is used for spiritual lethargy and apathy as Paul calls believers to “WAKE UP!” in a manner of speaking.

Romans 13:11 ¶  And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12  The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13  Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14  But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

1Thessalonians 5:6 ¶  Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7  For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8  But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9  For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10  Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

So, whatever spiritual state you’re in, as long as you are a believer, as in Paul’s us Christ died for you and you will live together with Him.

But, in these verses sleep’s contrast as a type of death is apparent.

1Corinthians 11:30  For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

1Corinthians 15:51  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Thomas, of course, as the disciples and we often do, does not understand what Jesus’ is saying.