Day 40: Marked Man

John 5:15-23 : The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill him, because he did these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, so I am working, too.” For this cause therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God. Jesus therefore answered them, “Most certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise. For the Father has affection for the Son, and shows him all things that he himself does. He will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he desires. For the Father judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent him.

In this passage, we find out why the Jewish leadership wanted to kill Jesus. The reasons were:

  1. He healed on the Sabbath.
  2. He made Himself equal with God.

In regard to Jesus healing on the Sabbath, Jesus said that the Father is working so He was too. This may sound strange unless you understand the basis for observing the Sabbath. This rule is the fourth of the famous Ten Commandments:

Exodus 20:8-11 : Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. You shall labor six days, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates; for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.

Notice that it says: “…for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day;” The reason for the rest that the Jews were required to do on the Sabbath, was that God rested and they were to imitate Him. Jesus’ reasoning was that His father was not resting and He was to do whatever God is doing now. He was following the spirit of the law by doing what God was doing right now not by merely copying what God did at one time. That is what is truly important; imitating God, not following rules.

Now Jesus gives out a hint about the amazing sign He will be doing publically. He says: “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he desires.” Jesus is going to be raising the dead in front of them all, but we aren’t to that part yet…

So Jesus tells the critical leaders that He plans to come out with a bigger sign that will prove that He is who He says He is, but evidently, they would rather finish Him off before He can prove it. Jesus gives another reason why they should listen to Him. It’s more of a warning.

He says that God has given Him the power to judge. In other words, they should respect Jesus, because He will be the one deciding the fate of men. Jesus honestly tried to give these men fair warning, but clearly they refused to listen even though their own fate was in the balance. To top that, Jesus said that their failure to respect Him was going to be judged as a failure to respect God and “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)

Day 27: Heretic or Heavenly

John 3:9-12 : Nicodemus answered him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and don’t understand these things? Most certainly I tell you, we speak that which we know, and testify of that which we have seen, and you don’t receive our witness. If I told you earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven, but he who descended out of heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven…”

When Nicodemus asks how these things could be, Jesus tells Him that He would have expected more from a teacher of Israel. This is a good reminder to us to learn God’s word so that when we tell others about it we will know what we are talking about. I want to hear the words “Well Done” someday when I see Jesus and not “you didn’t understand.” If we trust in the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to understand.

Jesus speaks using plurals (we and our) in verse 11. Many believe, as I do, that He was openly speaking on behalf of The Father as God. Starting with the words “Most certainly” He is asserting that He is God and has authority to speak as the God who has seen everything first-hand both in Heaven and on Earth. A Jewish leader would probably be very aware that God uses the plural when referring to Himself. Listen to what it says in Genesis 1:

Genesis 1:26 : God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

God is three yet one. Jesus is both the only one who came from Heaven as God and also became a Son of Man. These words may have shaken Nicodemus because Jesus was not only saying He was a teacher from God, but God Himself. His only real choice now was to recognize Jesus as God and in His authority as God, or to condemn Him as a heretic.

Day 14: John The Baptist’s Credentials

John 1:19-23: This is John’s testimony, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He declared, and didn’t deny, but he declared, “I am not the Christ.” They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” They said therefore to him, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself? He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

In today’s section of John, we have the record of John the Baptist’s description of himself when he was questioned by Jewish leadership. These men who came to visit John came from the city of Jerusalem, the city of the Jewish temple. The priests were those who served God in the temple and the Levites were one of the families of Israel that God specifically gave temple duties to. In a sense, this was a traveling inquisition. It appears that they were attempting to find out what authority that John had to be preaching to the people in the name of God.

It is a good thing to verify the message of a prophet to see if they are from God (Deuteronomy 18:22, 1 John 4:1,2). John did not avoid the question but answered. He started by making it clear that he was not the Messiah that they were waiting for. The leadership also asked him if he was Elijah. In Malachi 4:4,5 it says that God was going to send Elijah at some point in the future before the “Day of the Lord”. There did seem to be a great similarity between Elijah and John the Baptist, but John was John and this really wasn’t the “Day of the Lord” yet. The Jews were also expecting the arrival of a Prophet. I am not clear about who this is but John knew that he was not the one. It is clear that there is yet to be two prophets that will come to Jerusalem that have been written about in Revelation 11. And this does happen at the “Day of the Lord.”

So the question then was, “Who was John?” The wonderful thing is that John was also spoken of in prophesy and he quotes it to them. It is an Old Testament prophesy found in Isaiah 40:3. It is my understanding that Isaiah was already hundreds of years old by that time. Isaiah was one of the books of the Old Testament that was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls in recently. Amazingly enough, these copies dated back to about the time of John. So we know that they were aware of this prophesy and that it was already old. Evidently, this quote wasn’t enough to satisfy theses leaders as we will find out more about in the next verse next time.

Day 13: God Revealed

John 1:18 : No one has seen God at any time. The one and only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.

Again, this verse seems to be filled with mysterious paradox. First, John writes that no one has seen God, then, he says that now we have seen God revealed in Jesus. The Bible is clear that if we have seen Jesus we have seen God as we read earlier. The question then is, what is meant by, “No one has seen God” and He has been “revealed?”

We know that no one had been able to “see” God as clearly as they were able to when He came in the form of a man. The Bible tells us, however, that Jesus had to be reduced to be put in human form (Philippians 2:7). The Bible also says that God is Spirit (John 4:24), so in order to see Him, He would have to take a physical form of some kind. God has and will represent Himself in other physical ways such as in light (Revelation 21:23). There are two things that I can think of that make God impossible for mankind to fully “see.” They are His immensity and His intensity! Because of God’s great power and perfection, the best that we would be able to “see” would be someone who is made small enough for us to understand and more than that, He would have to be someone whose presence we could withstand.

Did you know that if a man looks at God he dies? You can read about this in Exodus 33:18-23. God is so much more powerful and perfect than we are that we would not survive just looking at Him. We can understand this in a small way by the considering the fact that we cannot look at the sunlight for long without going blind. God, who created the sun, would logically be brighter and considerably more harmful.

Jesus has revealed what God is like to us by meeting us where we could understand. After all, God would look like a man if He were in human form. We know this because of what Genesis 1:26 says. Not only that, Jesus has given us a view to what God’s personality is like though our relationship with Him. We can now get to know God through Jesus Christ.

Day 1: An Unusual Title

John 1:1 : In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In John 1:1, Jesus is given an unusual title. John, who was one of Jesus closest disciples, calls Him “The Word.” Jesus is God’s Word to man in a human form. We also learn in this one verse, that Jesus was already there at the beginning of all creation.

There is an amazing parallel with this verse to the first verse of the Bible: Genesis 1:1. Try comparing Genesis 1:1 with John 1:1 in your Bible. It’s as if God gives us more information about what was happening. Not only did God create everything, but Jesus was there and He was to be our “Word.”

This is evidence that the world was created. It did not “evolve” or change all by itself from nothing into something. The Bible clearly disagrees with the basis for evolution in that evolution depends only on chance and not a creator. God was speaking through the mind and words of John to write this part of the Bible. He says that Jesus was there at the beginning. This makes Jesus a witness of creation. History is better understood through witnesses than through science. If a scientist finds a hat in the road and says it is 10 years old and later another man comes in and says that it is actually only one year old and it’s mine. I made it. We should at least seriously investigate the claim before taking the word of the scientist who never claimed to be there.

This one little verse also tells us that Jesus was God. Obviously it is not true that the Bible never says that Jesus is God. This is one of the many places. This verse also gives us another interesting fact about God. It says that Jesus was both “with” God and that he “was” God. You might wonder how a person can both be with someone and also be that someone. This is one of the mysteries that is unique to God. I think this has to be believed because it falls outside of our intelligence. The Bible talks about this mystery quite a bit in many different places in the Bible. It is often called “The Trinity” and references the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They all together are recognized as one God. I think it’s important for us to remember that it’s Ok to believe things we don’t understand. Just because we don’t understand something, doesn’t mean that it isn’t real and true. There are many things like that in life that we see and accept but don’t fully understand and I believe that the Trinity is one of them.