Living in the Light of the Gospel of John – John –  10, 11, 12

Living in the Light of the Gospel of John – John – 10, 11, 12

Tonight as I was feeding the sheep I couldn’t help but think how similar we as human beings are to these sheep. Four of the eves had gotten into the pen where we store the extra vales of hay. As I opened the gate to chase these four out about twenty-five more rushed in. After getting them all out I watched them for a while. One of the baby lambs kept getting separated from its mother. Over and over it would cry, as the mother kept reassuring it that she was nearby. As I watched these sheep I began to reflect on how we are often like them in our relationship to God. If we are not rushing into places we don’t belong then we are always crying out in fear that somehow He has left us alone in this hostile world. That is why John 10, where Jesus declares in verse 11 “I am the Good Shepherd” is so important. As I read chapter 10 along with John 11, I receive so much hope as Jesus declares, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.”(John 11:25 NIV) What hope this provides both now and for all eternity. But this isn’t just a promise for the future. Jesus makes a special promise to us now in the midst of our dark uncertainties, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness.”(John 12:46)

As we desire to get a better understanding of what it means to have Jesus as our Good Shepherd lets take a closer look at John 10. There we see Jesus describing the sheep pens where the sheep would go at night for protection. Often these sheep would mix with other sheep and would be separated as they responded to the voice of their shepherd. “When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”(John 10:4 NIV) In this chapter Jesus is contrasting Himself with the Jewish leaders. They are the thieves, strangers and robbers who are blind and misleading the children of Israel while Jesus declares, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before Me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.”(John 10:7-9 NIV) Jesus is not only the good shepherd as verse 11 points out, He is also the gate. In John 14:6 He says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Going through Jesus, the gate provides us with both salvation and the substance (“find pasture”) necessary for daily living.

As we encounter trials, tribulations, disappointments, and uncertainties on daily bases, we must remember, “a thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I (Jesus) came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”(John 10:10 The Message Bible) The devil, the world and the flesh (our sinful nature) tries to do everything it can to rob us of the wonderful life God has intended for each and every one of us. I know when I dwell on the results of the thief and don’t believe in the goodness and grace of God, despair can over takes me. I must not only recognize the pain in this world but also focus on the beauty and blessings that God has provided in abundance in so many different ways.

In both John 10:11 and John 10:14, Jesus declares that He is the Good Shepherd. He doesn’t run off like the hired hands do, but instead lays down His life for the sheep. Also He knows His sheep personally and Jesus is the fulfillment of Ezekiel 34:23 where the Sovereign Lord declares, “I will place over them one shepherd.” Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gave His life for you and me in order that our sins may be paid for through His blood on the cross. Not only did He die for our sins but He knows us, our needs, hurts, and pains and cares for us personally. Now we must develop the habit of prayer as we follow Jesus our Good Shepherd “Base your happiness on your hope in Christ. When trials come endure them patiently; steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer.”(Romans 12:12 Phillips translation) In addition to talking to Jesus our Good Shepherd daily through prayer we must read the word the revealed counsel of God (the Bible) and apply it to our daily lives. “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in a mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God-the free life-even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.”(James 1:22-26 The Message Bible)

As we pray and read the Word of God resulting in the opening our lives, minds and spirits to the Living Lord Jesus Christ we will begin to clearly recognize His voice. He has promised, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand.”(John 10:27,28) What a wonderful thing it is to know that Jesus is hanging on to us. You never see the sheep holding on to the shepherd. The shepherd holds on to the sheep, and no one can snatch us out of His hand. What assurance does this give you at this time? How does Jesus declare His divinity in verse 30 and what reaction does He get from the Jews? In what way does Jesus respond to their accusations?

What wonderful unbroken communion Jesus has with the Father. “That you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”(John 11:38 NIV) Jesus didn’t act unless He saw His Father act. He enjoyed an unbroken deep relationship with God, the Father. If we are going to be like Jesus we must strive to do the same thing. Jesus was so in tune with the Father that He could declare, “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.”(John 14:11 New Revised Standard Version) Earlier Jesus has declared, “I am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me-just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father,”(John 10:14,15 NIV) Jesus doesn’t get all upset when He hears Lazarus is sick. Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”(John 11:4 NIV) Oh how we need to seek God in order that we may get to know Him in this way.

Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed on where He was for two more days.”(John 11:5,6 The Message Bible) It doesn’t make sense. When there is a need, in this case it is Lazarus who is sick, why would Jesus wait for two days? Martha even raises the issue in verse 21 when she says, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”(TMB) In other words, “why did you wait Jesus, why didn’t you act sooner,” For five months now I have been asking Jesus to meet a need in my life. I have prayed and have asked others to join me in prayer, yet I have not witnessed a resurrection yet in that area. It is so hard to wait. As I have waited I have been reminded of Gen.18:25(b) where it says, “shall not the judge of the earth do right.” If only I could do something but God is using this to show me that he alone is in control. As a result I can only wait and pray knowing that He is in control and will make the right move at the right moment. Many also told Jesus in John 11:32, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”(NIV) Jesus waited because He was about to do a miracle much greater than they had ever witnessed.

The right time arrives and Jesus declares, “Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.”(John 11:14 The Message Bible) The bigger and the more impossible the situation is the greater God will be glorified when the miracle takes place. Even though Martha had stated that if Jesus had come earlier our brother may not have died, she affirmed her faith by declaring,” (John11:22 NIV)

In John 11:25,26 Jesus declares, “I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in Me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in Me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this.”(The Message Bible) How are you going to answer Jesus? If you do believe this how is it making a difference in your life? We see the communion between Jesus the Son of God and His Father God as Jesus thanks Him for leaving Him and then asks for His direct intervention so “that they may believe that you sent Me.”(verse 42) “Then He shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ And he came out a cadaver, wrapped
from head to toe, and with a handkerchief over his face. Jesus told them. ‘Unwrap him and let him loose.’(John 11:43, 44)

The impossible has happened. A miracle has taken place. Death the ultimate destroyer as a result of sin has been conquered. As a result many put their faith in Jesus while the religious establishment plot to kill Him. Now six days before the Passover Jesus comes to a dinner given in His honor by Mary, Martha and Lazarus. During the dinner Mary takes an expensive perfume, pours it on Jesus feet and wipes them with her hair. What an example of how the spirit represented by the perfume desires to flow through our lives anointing the one who gave His life for us. Such an anointing takes place as we offer Christ a sacrifice of praise in not only word but also deed. As this takes place there are always critics like Judas who want to use the poor to line their our pockets. He complains that this oil was being wasted and should have been sold and the money given to the poor. The fact is Judas could care less for the poor. “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as a keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.”(John 12:6 NIV) Jesus reminds us we have the poor with us always and have opportunities to help them. The question is how many will? The crowds grow as many hear of the resurrection of Lazarus. As this happens the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well as
Jesus because many were putting their faith in Him.

The next day the crowd gathers as Jesus comes into Jerusalem. Shouting their hosannas they wave palm branches. Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey fulfilling Zech.9:9. After the celebration Jesus declares, “Time’s up. The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”(John 12:23-25 The Message Bible) Not only is Jesus speaking of His coming death and resurrection but is challenging each of us to die to ourselves and start engaging in a reckless love that helps others who are hurting and in need.

Jesus clearly speaks of His death in verse 32 when He says, “When I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”(NIV) Now Jesus challenges each of us not to walk and live in the darkness of fear. Instead He says, “Walk by the light you have so darkness doesn’t destroy you. If you walk in darkness, you don’t know where you’re going. As you have the light, believe in the light. Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives. You’ll be children of light.”(John 12:35,36 TMB) Unless we walk in the light of the love of Christ daily we will be like the people Isaiah spoke of in Isaiah 6:10 and Jesus quotes in John 12:40, “He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn-and I would heal them.”(NIV)

We must stay in God’s Word daily so that the world does not blind us to the reality of His love. Jesus has promised, “I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in Me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark.”(John 12:46 The Message Bible) Let us believe Him even at this period of darkness when those who don’t believe try to make wrong look right and right wrong. The only way we know the difference is by remaining in the light of the Scriptures and trusting Jesus our Lord and Savior.

This week please join me in studying John 13, 14,15. As we study these dynamic chapters let us not only be hearers of the Word but doers also. This involves believing the Words of Jesus and living our lives in His light and love.

Larry Rice

Living In the Light of the Gospel of John – John 7 – 9

Living In the Light of the Gospel of John – John 7 – 9

I’m sure you have felt the pressure. Sometime its harder than at other times. Often there are so many demands and then there are those internal struggles as well. We cry out for God to help us with a certain problem but we don’t see an immediate answer. The temptation is to give up. In John 6:60-69 we see many who were following Jesus did give up. Jesus declared in verses 63, 64, “The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing. The Words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are Life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”(NIV) If we honestly look at the facts much of our struggle is a result of our determination to do it our way. This means we are desiring to live in the flesh. Jesus says, “the flesh counts for nothing.” That means we must realize “the Spirit gives Life.” As we realize that “God is Love” and that He cares deeply for us we are free to submit to His will and let His Spirit give us life. This involves believing and trusting. Those that don’t do this will give up and go back to the sin Jesus delivered them from. We read in verse 66, “From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.” In response Jesus asked a question that He could direct at each of us. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Before you answer perhaps you should take a look at Simon Peter’s response found in John 6:68, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the Words of Eternal Life.”(NIV) Yes, if you are going to leave, where do you plan to go and how do you plan to stay out of the same mess you found yourself in before? Believers know they have only one choice and that is to remain faithful to the Living Lord. That means realizing not only that Jesus “has the Words of Eternal Life” but also letting those words guide, strengthen and invigorate us each and every day. For this reason we continue to desire to live in the Light of Jesus Christ as we study John 7, 8, 9.

Remember the Gospel of John was “written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”(John 20:31NIV) Life, that’s what the children of Israel desired as they left the slavery of Egypt for the Promised Land. Their unbelief kept them wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Now Jesus, John records, has come to take us to the Promised Land of Life in His name if we will believe. This is illustrated by Jesus during the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles described in John 7. “With the Feast already half over, Jesus showed up in the Temple, teaching. The Jews were impressed, but puzzled: ‘How does He know so much without being schooled?’” (John 7:14,15 The Message Bible) When Jesus directly answers their question in John 8:57,58 we see their response. “Believe Me,” said Jesus, ‘I AM Who I AM long before Abraham was anything.’ That did it-pushed them over the edge. They picked up rocks to throw at Him. But Jesus slipped away, getting out of the Temple.(The Message Bible)

Unbelief had robbed those that Jesus was trying to help experience life, from receiving that life, love and light that He had come to share. He was trying to help them understand the real meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast was to be a feast of great joy to celebrate Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt. It involved the blowing of trumpets, the offering of seventy bulls and the pouring out of water in the Temple. During this festival the inner court was illuminated with a lighted torch parade. This was a symbol of the pillar of fire that guided the children of Israel by night as they went through the wilderness. In John 8:12 Jesus declared, “I AM the Light of the world.” Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life.”(NIV)

The Festival of the Tabernacles lasted 8 days. Leviticus 23:36. says, “ on the eighth day hold a sacred assemble and present an offering made to the Lord by fire.” When the people thanked God at the celebration of Tabernacles for all the fruits of the past year they did not forget His gift of rain. The gift of water had gone forth centuries before in the words of the prophet, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;”(Is.55:1 NIV). Now Jesus was repeating this in reference to Himself. “Then, on the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and cried aloud: ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me; whoever believes in Me, let him drink.’ As Scripture says, ‘Streams of living water shall flow out from within him.’ He was speaking of the Spirit which believers in Him would receive later; for the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.”(John 7:37-39 New English Bible) Jesus was the fulfillment of Isaiah 12:3 which declares, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”(NIV)

As we study John 7 and 8 we see that the tension is building between Jesus and the religious establishment. “So the people were in two minds about Him-some of them wanted to arrest Him, but so far no one laid hands on Him. Then the officers returned to the Pharisees and Chief priests, who said to them, ‘Why haven’t you brought Him?’ ‘No man ever spoke like that!’ they replied. ‘Has He pulled the wool over your eyes, too?’ retorted the Pharisees.’”(John 7:43-47 Phillips Translation)

It was the Pharisees who were the ones with the wool pulled over their eyes. They were so blinded that all they could think about was carrying out the law regardless of who was destroyed. Jesus on the other hand was concerned about restoration. When a woman was caught in the act of adultery the Pharisees believed stoning her was the answer.(John 8:4,5) “They were trying to trap Him (Jesus) into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against Him. Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger in the dirt. They kept at Him, badgering Him. He straightened up and said, ‘the sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.’ Bending down again, He wrote some more in the dirt. Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. ‘Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?’’ ‘No one, Master.’ “Neither do I,’ said Jesus. ‘Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.’(John 8:6-11 The Message Bible)

Talk about light in a dark hopeless situation. Jesus showed He was a God of mercy not one determined to kill with a death penalty. Do you ever wonder what Jesus wrote on that ground? Turning to Jeremiah 17:13 we read, “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from Me shall be written in the earth.”(King James Version) Perhaps He was writing the names and the sins of those who wanted to kill that woman. Jesus was casting light on their dark hidden sins. After all, secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven. “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.”(Psalm 90:8 KJV)

Following the example of casting light in dark hopeless areas of the human heart Jesus declares, “I AM the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life,” What Jesus is telling you and me right now in the midst of our questions for the future is, why settle for speculation when you can have revelation.

Jesus is the Great I AM. In Exodus 3:14 God declares “I AM That I AM” Now Jesus says, “I AM the Light of the world.”(John 8:12) In John 6:35 He declared, “I am the Bread of Life.” He also states, “I am the Door”(John 10:9), I am the Resurrection and the Life”(John 11:25), “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life “(John 14:6), and “I am the Vine, you are the branches.”(John 15:5)

Here Jesus declares, “I AM the Light of the world.” He has just exposed the sins of the Scribes and Pharisees. Just like a light turned on in a dark room they run like roaches and rats. Light exposes the darkness of sin which causes sinners either to run or repent. In 1 John 1:5,6 we read, “God is Light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”(NIV)

The tension builds. Some believe, others don’t. “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.’”(John 8:31) NIV) Jesus goes on and explains why we can’t give up and give in to sin. “I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.’”(John 8:34-36 The Message Bible)

Do you believe this? Remember faith alone saves, but faith is not alone. It is accompanied by obedience. Faith without works is dead,” Are you going to continue to follow Jesus, live by faith and walk in the light of His Word? Jesus tells us in John 8:51, “I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps My Word, he will never see death.”(NIV) Do you believe this? If so how are you keeping His Word and how is it changing your life?

Those who do not live in the light that Jesus provides are actually enemies of the cross of Christ, who are dwelling in darkness. They are spiritually blind. “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into the world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.’”(John 9:39 Revised Standard Version)

John 9 is the chapter where Jesus demonstrates as He heals a man who was born blind that He is also the healer of spiritual blindness. When the disciples see the blind man all they can think of asking is “who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?”(John 9:2 NIV) After all hasn’t Jesus been talking about light exposing sin? Here was someone who was blind so the disciples jump to the conclusion somebody must have sinned. Listen to what Jesus said in response. “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One whom sent Me here working while the sunshines. When night falls the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I AM the world’s Light”(John 9:3-5TMB)

Jesus goes on and proves He is the Light of the world as “He spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. ‘Go,’ He told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (this word means sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.”(John 9:6,7)

Right now you may be hurting. Remember regardless of the reasons for our suffering Jesus has the power to help us to deal with it. When your suffering, instead of asking, “why O Lord” ask Him to give you strength and a clearer perspective on what is happening, and how you can grow closer to Him through it.

The religious establishment once again misses out on the miracle because of their legalistic hang-ups. Jesus had healed the blind man on the Sabbath. That is all the Pharisees could focus on. As his parents back down in fear from these power brokers, the man who was healed boldly stands up to them and because of such a stand he is thrown out. “Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and went and found him. He asked him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man said, ‘Point him out to me, Sir, so I can believe in Him,’ Jesus said, ‘You’re looking right at Him. Don’t you recognize My voice?’ ‘Master, I believe,’ the man said, and worshipped Him. Jesus then said, ‘I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of the day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.’ Some Pharisees overhead Him and said, ‘Does that mean you’re calling us blind?’ Jesus said, ‘If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you’re accountable for every fault and failure.”’(John 9:35-41 The Message Bible)

In the midst of all the pressure, tension, uncertainty and seemingly hopelessness may we pray, “Lord Jesus help me to see in the midst of all this darkness. You said you ‘came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of the day.’ Now please Lord Jesus let the light of hope come into my confused mind and soul. May I see that you are Lord of all and have promised to never leave me nor forsake me. Also, my Lord Jesus please show me those areas of my life where I am really blinded by pride, self-righteousness and self- centeredness. As you told the Pharisees if I ‘claim to see everything so well,’ I’m ‘accountable for every fault and failure.’ I confess Master of my life and soul, I am blind in so many areas and need your divine light. Please heal O Lord and as you heal me may I have the faith to follow you in obedience and service.”

Now is the time for us to let the Light of God’s Love shine without our hearts. Rejoice you are not alone. God loves you and has a special plan for your life. May we continue to work together in the Light of His Will, reaching out in word and deed to those in need. This week please join me in reading John 10, 11, 12. As you read, ask the Holy Spirit to open the Scriptures to you in order that you may see the Love, and Lordship of Jesus Christ like never before.

Larry Rice

Living In the Light of the Gospel of John – John 4 – 6

Living In the Light of the Gospel of John – John 4 – 6

We live at a time when many that call themselves Christians are betraying Jesus with their actions. Evangelical theologian Michael Horton states, “Gallup and Barna hand us survey after survey demonstrating that evangelical Christians are as likely to embrace lifestyles every bit as hedonistic, materialistic, self-centered, and sexually immoral as the world in general”. George Barna declares, “Everyday, the church is becoming more like the world it allegedly seeks to change”. If we are going to change the world through the power of God rather than be changed by the world, we must experience life in the light of the Word of God. In John 1 we saw that Jesus is the
Word which became flesh and dwelt among us. In John 2 we experience
Jesus cleansing the temple illustrating how He desires to cleanse the temple of our body. John 3 showed us that we must be born again becoming a people who are alive in the presence of the Living God.
Now in John 4 we see Jesus showing us how to be instruments of change in a hurting world.

To witness means to share an experience, an event or other news with someone else in hopes it will help to change their life for the better. In John 4:1-26 Jesus shows how to do this as He interacts with the woman at the Well. The first thing He does is to begin talking to her about something she is thinking about. In verses 7-9 we see that this is water. Jesus takes this discussion about the physical element of water and proceeds to share with her the truth about the waters of spiritual life. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him
will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”(John

4:13,14). Jesus knew that just as the body hungers and thirst so does the soul. In this case the woman’s thirst for love had caused her to not only have 5 husbands but to now be living with a man she was not even married to. Jesus wasn’t judging this woman but instead was communicating to her that He had something much better to offer than another disappointing human relationship that was not centered in the love of God. He was sharing with her that true love and fulfillment
came from worship, that was not limited to a geographical location. Jesus made this possible through His death and resurrection and now is declaring, “But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter. It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simple and honestly themselves before Him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship Him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves in adoration”(John 4:23,24 The Message Bible). This fulfilling worship, power and life is now possible through Jesus Christ who declares in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”.

In John 4 not only does Jesus speak of water that can quench our thirsty spirit, but He also speaks of the food that can truly nourish us. In John 4:34 He declares, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God who sent Me, and from finishing His work”(The Living Bible). What do you think Jesus meant by these words? Now He tells us, “Look around you! Vast fields of human souls are ripening all around us, and
are ready now for reaping. The reapers will be paid good wages and will be gathering eternal souls into the granaries of heaven! What joy awaits the sower and the reaper, both together”(John 4:35, 36 The Living
Bible). How do these verses indicate how really important sharing the
Gospel of Jesus Christ is in our daily lives?

Jesus has entrusted the truth of eternal life to each of us to share with others. The woman at the Well hears this truth. She believed Him when He said, “The water I give them becomes a perpetual spring within them, watering them forever with eternal life”(John 4:14 TLB). As a result of her belief this woman went and told everyone she met about Jesus. “Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to Him because of the woman’s witness: ‘He knew all about the things I did. He knows Me inside and out!’ They asked Him to stay on, so Jesus stayed two days. A lot more people entrusted their lives to Him when they heard what He had to say. They said to the woman, ‘We’re no longer taking this on your say-so. We heard it for ourselves and know it for sure. He’s the Savior of the world”(John 4:39-42 The Message Bible). These people had experienced truth.

Experiencing this truth involves faith. When the official asked Jesus to heal his son, Jesus responds, “You may go. Your son will live”. “The man took Jesus at His word and departed. While he was still on
the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was
living”(John4:50,51 NIV). The key to victorious living involves taking Jesus at His word. That is the secret for being an overcomer in this world. Taking Jesus at His Word and then living in that Word enables us to be as Paul declares, “more than conquerors through Christ Jesus who strengthens us”.

Remember in the book of Numbers we saw the children of Israel wandering for an extra 38 years in the wilderness because they insisted on not believing the Word of God and entering the Promised Land. Unbelief paralyzes, immobilizes and keeps us from being all God wants us to be. In John 5:5,6 we read, “one who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, ‘Do you want to get well”’(NIV). Now He is asking you and me, “do you want
to get well”? If so we must receive and dare to believe for Jesus is
saying, “whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed
the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”(John 4:14 NIV). How does John 3:16-18 make it absolutely clear that belief is essential if one is to drink the water of life that Christ is giving? As we believe and let Christ, the Hope of Glory come and
live within every part of our lives, we are able to share with everyone that “we know this Man (Jesus) really is the Savior of the World”(John
4:42 NIV).

Those who truly believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world are a people who are healed from the paralysis of fear which keeps them from being the revolutionary force for good that God is calling forth at this time. Can you hear Him telling you now, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk”(John 5:8 NIV). When this man at the pool of Bethesda heard these words and believed we read in John 5:9, “The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off” (TMB). This man had been paralyzed for so long it had become a way of life. Since no
one ever helped him into the water he had lost all hope and desire to even help himself, even though the situation looked hopeless Jesus still reached out to him and healed him. If only we will look to Jesus in our time of need we shall also experience His miraculous power in the midst of our hopelessness.

Even after this miracle took place and Jesus healed this man the Jewish leaders still did not accept Him. In fact these Pharisees were more concerned about their petty rules of not working on the Sabbath, which involved carrying your bedroll after you were healed, then they were about the restoration of a fellow human being. As result they not only missed experiencing the miracle that was taking place before them but they also did not honor Jesus the Son of God. In John 5:23,24 Jesus declares, “If you refuse to honor God’s Son, whom He sent to you, then you are certainly not honoring the Father. I say emphatically that
anyone who listens to my message and believes in God who sent me has eternal life, and will never be damned for his sins, but has already passed out of death into life”(The Living Bible).

Studying Scripture is important if we let that study point us to Jesus. He states, “You have your head in your Bible constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about Me! And here I am standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from Me the life you say you want”(John 5:39,40 TMB). Jesus is the giver of life. John in his book of Scripture chose eight of Christ’s miracles to reveal His divine life-giving mission. These miracles include #1. Turning water to wine (John 2:1 -11), #2. Healing the official’s son (4:46-54), #3. Healing the man who is unable to walk (5:1-9), #4. Feeding the 5,000 with just a few loaves and fish (6:1 -14), #5. Walking on the water (6:15-21), #6. Restoring sight to the blind man (9:1 -4), #7. Raising Lazarus from the dead (11:1 -44) and after the miracle of the resurrection #8. Giving the disciples an overwhelming catch of fish (21:1 -14). Every chapter of John reveals the divinity of Jesus Christ.

After feeding the 5000 Jesus withdrew by Himself to a mountain. The disciples proceed to get into a boat and go across the lake for Capernaum. Three and half miles across the lake they encounter a strong wind and rough waters. As Jesus approaches them on the water they were terrified. They didn’t expect Jesus to come to them in their time of need. If we expect His presence we won’t be surprised or terrified when the storms of life arise. Instead we will hear Him say, “It is I, don’t be afraid”(John 6:20 NIV). Believing and holding on to the teaching of Jesus gives us freedom from fear. Living in the realization
of God’s love day-by-day, moment-by moment enables us to believe that He is there at all times. Yet, Jesus says, “But you shouldn’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. No, spend your energy seeking the eternal life that I, the Messiah, can give you. For God the Father has sent Me for this very purposes”(John 6:27 The Living Bible). He is saying this in response to those who saw Him multiply the fishes and loaves. Jesus goes on and says, “I am the Bread of Life, He who comes to Me will never go thirsty”(John 6:35 NIV). Jesus is telling us that He alone can meet our inner longings. Feasting on His Word of the
Scriptures, beholding the wonders of His creation and drinking in the depth of His Spirit fill us like nothing else can. This fulfillment and freedom that only the resurrected Christ can provide applies not only to the emptiness and boredom of this life, but also for all eternity. “For 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 on the last day” (John
6:40 NIV).

Those enslaved in sin don’t believe that Jesus can give them eternal life. Yet the reality remains, “The Spirit gives life, but the flesh counts for nothing”(John 6:63 NIV). Peter believing this, declares to Jesus, “You have the words to eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God”(John 6:68,68 NIV). Do you agree with Peter? If so, how is Jesus making a difference in your life?

Please join me this week in reading John 7-9. As we read together let us pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us into a fuller revelation of who Jesus is and how His presence can revolutionize our lives.

Larry Rice

Living in the Light of the Gospel of John- John 1 – 3

Living in the Light of the Gospel of John- John 1 – 3

He was present at creation. “Before anything else existed, there was Christ,
with God. He had always been alive and is Himself God” (John 1:2, The Living Bible). As you read John 1:3-9 you see some direct comparisons to Gen.1:1-5. Light created in the midst of darkness. “In Him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”(John 1:4,5 The New International Version)

The Book of John is written in order that we may know that Jesus is truly God as well as fully man. He is the eternal Son of God who provide the gift of eternal life and light to those living in the darkness and hopelessness of sin.

In Genesis 1 we see God speaks the Word and creation takes place. In John
1 we see the Word coming forth and dwelling with us. As the Message Bible in John 1:14 declares, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one of a kind glory, like Father, like Son. Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” John is saying, “This isn’t just a bunch of spiritual mumble jumbo. “I’m telling you what we have seen with our own eyes, Jesus is the real thing.”

When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him he declared. “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,”(John 1:29 NIV) Experiencing the Living Christ is something we can’t just keep to ourselves. What was the first thing Andrew did when he met Jesus according to John 1:41,42?
What did Philip do when Jesus said “Follow Me” according to John 1:45?

Many people have the wrong idea that Jesus is against people having a good time. They think that Christians never have any real fun. Yet in John 2:1-11 we see Jesus performing His first miracle at a wedding party. Here He over rules the laws of nature and turns water into wine. What Jesus is declaring through this act is that He has so much more to offer than the intoxicating wines of this world. Through the Living Waters of His presence we can experience the New Wine of
the Holy Spirit.

After this first great miracle Jesus takes us to the temple. “In the Temple area He saw merchants selling cattle, sheep and doves for sacrifices, and money changes behind their counters. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them out, and drove out the sheep and oxen, scattering the money changers’ coins over the floor and turning over their tables! Then, going over to the men selling doves, He told them, “Get these things out of here. Don’t turn My Father’s House into a market!”(John 2:14-16 TLB) In 1Cor. 3:16,17 we are told, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”(NIV) When you read these two verses together what do you believe they have to say about Jesus’s desire to drive the lusts for money and
power out of our lives in order that He be truly our Lord and Savior.

It is critical that we believe in Jesus if we are going to experience the Life and Light He has promised. In John 2:23-25 we read, “many people saw the miraculous signs He was doing and believed in His name. But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for He knew what was in man.”(NIV) Even though they believed in His name why do you think Jesus could not trust Himself to them? Could it have been that they believed only because they saw the miraculous signs? What do you think it means to believe even when there appears to be no signs? How does one continue to believe at a time like that? Real faith is that faith which causes one to continue to follow Christ even when it is unpopular to do such. Jesus gives power to all who believe in Him to become children of God (John 1:12) The word believe occurs 8 times between John 2:23-3:21. But as we saw in John 2:23-25 believin g is more than seeing signs and being draw to the one who performs them. Jesus knows what is in each person and He knows that a sympathetic spectator is not the same as a person of faith, He cannot give Himself to spectators.

When Nicodemis comes to Jesus at night Jesus makes it clear that true faith is a result of being born again. When Nicodemis questions how this can happen Jesus responds, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation-the ‘wind hovering over the water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life-it’s not possible to enter God’s Kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is found by something you can’t see and touch-the Spirit-becomes a living spirit.”(John 3:5,6 The Message Bible) Jesus goes on to explain that the miracle of the new birth is possible because He (the Son of Man, the Son of God) has come. “No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One Who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be
lifted up-and everyone who looks up to Him, trusting and expectant, will gain a
real life, eternal life.”(John 3:13-15 TMB) Jesus is speaking of His death on the cross for our sins. Jesus had spoken of this earlier in John 2:19:22 when in response to the challen ge from the Jews concerning His authority Jesus declared, Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days. The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forth-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ But the temple He had spoken of was His body. After He was raised from the dead, His disciples recalled what He had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.(NIV)

Yes, God loved the world and gave. Please read carefully John 3:16-18 and explain who God gave and what this means to you personally. Listen to what
Jesus says happens when this gift is refused. “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light steamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”(John 3:19-21 The Message Bible TMB)

John the Baptist knowing Jesus is the Son of God gave the following testimony. “He (Jesus) must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. He has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. I am of the earth, and my understanding is limited to the things of the earth. He tells what He has seen and heard but how few believe what He tells them. Those who believe Him discover that God is a fountain of truth. For this One–sent by God—speaks God’s /Words, for God’s Spirit is upon Him without measure or limit. The Father loves this man because He is His Son, and God has given Him everything there is. And all who trust Him-God’s Son-to save them have eternal life; those who don’t believe and obey Him shall never see heaven, but the wrath of God remains upon them.”(John 3:30-36 The Living Bible TLB). What do these verses have to say to you personally? What do you think it means to believe and trust in Jesus?

Please join me this week in studying in detail chapters 4-6 of the Gospel of John. Remember we are calling this series Living in the Light of the Gospel of John. As you read please note what light you are receiving from your reading for your daily life.

Larry Rice