March 7, 2021

Friends, Listen to God Today.

 Hebrews 3:12-19

In Hebrews 3:12-19, the author reminds us to urge one another continually and ourselves to stay to close to God and check our hearts to make sure they are not evil. We need to be careful that sin is not entering our lives and controlling us so that we are separated from God. Not only that we need to do this now. The author makes an effort to put emphasis on “today”. This is for the audience to see that today means right now and the present.

12Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Later in Hebrews the author again will tell the audience that we need to continue to meet even though our circumstances may be dissuading us from gathering.

24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

There are three situations which we will look at in which believers are tempted to stop meeting one another.

1.      Persecuted Church – a letter exchange between Governor Pliny the Younger and Emperor Trajan give modern readers a glimpse of the persecution around 111 AD. Christians could be interrogated, tortured, and even executed for their beliefs; however, Christians could be pardoned if they worshiped the Roman state sponsored gods. Like our time today, you can be a Christian and avoid persecution, so long as you worship the gods of today.

2.      Troubled times – Personal hardships may put believers in a state of mind when they start to doubt that God is with them. Church splits, congregational in fighting, pastoral scandals, and leadership failures may also push members away or discourage them from meeting. Finally, the acts of God like the current pandemic or natural disasters can prevent congregations from meeting.

3.      Apathy – Perhaps the most disturbing and devastating attack on Christians is apathy towards their own spiritual state or the needs of others, especially brothers and sisters in Christ.

The author goes into the importance of listening for God’s and responding in obedience to God and summarizes Psalm 95:7-11. 

Hebrews 3:15

As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

The rebellion that Psalm 95 is referring to is the same place of rebellion in Exodus 17:7

 

7For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,

The author points out that willful disobedience to God and unbelief will prevent you from entering heaven similar to what happened to the Israelites lead out of Egypt, but who never entered and lived in the promised land because of their hardened hearts.

18And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19So we see that were unable to enter because of unbelief.

The author makes his point that we as believers need to keep meeting, keep getting right with God as well as encouraging other believers to keep doing these actions as well. The consequences of not doing this will result in us not being with Jesus now and in the future. We have gone this far with our walk with Christ. Let us keep walking with Christ today.




February 28, 2021

How Shall We Respond to the God who has Spoken to Us?

 Hebrews 2:1-4

 

If asked what the difference between Christianity and other religions, it is that the Christian God came to us and not us going to God.

 

The first two chapters of Hebrews reveals the distinction of Christian religion. Hebrews tells us that God has taken the burden to do the work of our salvation and to reveal Himself to us. Considering that God has spoken to us, how should we respond?

 

In the last sermon, we learned that our responsibility to God's revelation is to respond in obedience. The instances that we go through in our lives and being obedient to His word is how we should respond.

 

In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve are in physical and frequent contact with God and were familiar with God. God fully intended to have fellowship with people. God gave them instructions which foods to eat excluding the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. After Adam and Eve sinned, they were aware of who God was and hid themselves.

 

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:8 ESV

 

There are many other people which God also spoke to, like Noah.

 

And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

Genesis 6:13 ESV

 

Another prophet is Abraham to whom God also speaks and reveals himself in physical form.

 

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

Genesis 12:1 ESV

 

And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day.

Genesis 18:1 ESV

 

As one can see, the Old Testament has many instances of God revealing himself to the prophets or the people of Israel. In the New Testament, it is Jesus and the Holy Spirit who speaks to us.

 

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Hebrews 1:2-3 ESV

 

The author of Hebrews makes an effort to show how God has sent His Son to us. God has used accommodating communication so we can have some understanding. God is ineffable and greater than what we can understand, but he revealed Himself to us in a way we can understand.

 

These digestible glimpses God reveals to us is an invitation for us to draw closer to God. Through the humbling of Himself to become a human who is then defeated by worldly standards on the cross. God is telling us that He wants us to humble ourselves and live the example that Jesus set.

 

One of hero of the Bible who followed God, but at time failed in faithfulness was Abraham. Abraham does follow God, but there is a famine and then Abraham sins by lying about his wife Sarah to the Egyptians because Abraham did not have faith that God would protect him. Pharaoh and other Egyptians are punished with a plague, yet Abraham is not punished even though he deserved to be punished. Eventually Abraham with his wife, Sarah, leave Egypt. Abraham then does something to show he has learned about God’s faithfulness and mercy; he builds an altar and calls on God as his God.

 

to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord.

Genesis 13:4 ESV

 

Abraham sees that God is merciful and treated him better than Abraham deserved. Soon after making the altar, Lot demands to take the best land for himself. Abraham concedes to keep the peace. Later when Lot is captured, Abraham rescues Lot. Abraham shows obedience to God because he understood how God rescued Abraham when he did not deserve it.

 

God wants us to behave mercifully and be obedient to His word. It is best shown in the book of Isaiah.

 

Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!  Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea;

Isaiah 48:18 ESV

 

In Hebrews, the Christian Jews are enduring much affliction and need encouragement to hold onto God's promises. The author tells the readers not only to pay attention, but to pay close attention to what is happening.

 

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

Hebrews 2:1 ESV

 

We are not the first ones to suffer hardships or face difficult or impossible situations. The Bible shows us many examples of others who suffered for long times before God intervened. More importantly, God always comes to save and rescue those who seek His assistance. God has been consistent in His promises and plans. We can trust in God because He does not change.

 

There is also a warning to the readers.

 

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

Hebrews 2:1 ESV

 

It is easy to doubt God and His promises. We must be intentional with our decision to hold onto God's words. The author uses the word drift away which has an original meaning of slowing slipping through our fingers without out us even noticing. By committing ourselves to knowing and believing His word, we will hold onto it. We also need to take initiative to yield to God's word and respond to it. If we do not commit, His word will not have any effect on our lives.




February 21, 2021

The Assurance of Our Heritage

 Hebrews 1:1-4

 

The book of Hebrews has great truths about our lives as Christians. Although we do not know who the author is, this book is part of the Bible. It was accepted for a long time that it was written by Paul, despite the fact it does not follow his style. Paul's style includes beginning his letters with a salutation which introduces himself to the readers, but this this greeting is absent. When the Bible was being put together, Hebrews was almost not included in the cannon because the author was unknown. Clement of Alexandria saw Hebrew’s worth and concluded that Paul must have written it but had written it originally in the Hebrew the language for its audience, and then when it was translated into Greek, the salutation was left out.

 

Since we are not entirely sure who the author is, there is also debate when Hebrews was written. Some scholars say it was written sometime before the temple destruction in 70 AD. This is assumed because there is no mention of the temple destruction. Some argue that it could have been written after 70 A.D. but before 96 A.D.

 

We can say that Hebrews was written for a Jewish audience. There are many references to the Old Testament and how Jesus continues these traditions and fulfillment if prophecy. The writer also makes many assumptions that the reader is familiar with Jewish traditions which would include a Jewish audience, but not necessarily a gentile one.

 

For our purposes, we will assume it is Paul who wrote this book. Paul wrote to the Jewish believers if Christ because they had started to doubt Jesus since Jesus had not come back yet. The Christian Jews were also told that Jesus would come to their defense, but Roman persecution intensified as well as the Jewish persecution. Hebrews encourages the Jewish Christians to keep their faith.

 

Modern day Christians can identify with the same issues as we deal with long standing problems or wait for the promises of God. The message of Hebrews is that God has spoken to us and is still speaking to us that we have a heritage with Him. Yes, it might take a long time, but it is true.

 

The author tells us why God has spoken to us.

 

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV

 

The author makes it clear that in the past God used prophets but then in our time God sent his Son who has all authority. This is also to show that we are to take part of this heritage.

 

having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Hebrews 1:4 ESV

 

We read in Deuteronomy that God had plans to give an inheritance to the people he chose.

 

“You are the sons of the Lord your God. You shall not cut yourselves or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

Deuteronomy 14:1-2 ESV

 

In the New Testament, Peter further tells us that we have a part in God’s inheritance.

 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9 ESV

 

We do not have a full knowledge of what He has for us. We have read this method of God before with Abraham. God leads Abraham but does not tell Abraham the precise events which will happen.

 

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

Genesis 12:1 ESV

 

The problems happen when we disobey God or work against God's will. Our listening to Him gives fulfillment of the inheritance to us.

 

God knows what the end is going to be, but He does not tell us what is going to happen exactly. We must believe that what God has planned for us is good. God has a plan for us.

 

Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

Isaiah 42:9 ESV

 

Many times, we do not see the providence of God because we are so focused on our problems. Since we focus only on the injustice to us while ignoring the purpose of why our circumstance happened, we fail to see how great and merciful God is by sustaining us through our difficult times. We also forget that God may need to train us or change us, so we may achieve the purpose and plans he set aside for us.

 

God has spoken to us and continues to deal with us. He has a purpose and plan for you, and we need to live in the moment while being grateful to God for all that happens to us. God will allow events to happen in our lives, both pleasant and unpleasant, to bring fulfillment to His plan. God has not forgotten us, we just need to hold fast to His promises.





February 14, 2021

Give the Devil a Headache

 1 Peter 5:8-10


The Bible included the Devil because God wanted us to know our enemy. When Lucifer was cast out of Heaven, he was not thrown into the lake of fire yet. Satan is still around and wants to destroy us. He sometimes deceives others into thinking he is a god or represents God.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
2 Corinthians 11:13‭-‬15 ESV

The Devil is a deceiver and a accuser who is always looking for an opportunity to attack and destroy us. The devil wants us to stop working towards the great commission. He would rather us fight each other and be enemies with other Christians; however, our real enemy is the Devil.

Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.
1 Timothy 5:13 ESV

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 ESV

Here are five ways you can defeat the devil.

1. Contentment - we need to serve God whatever our situation is. When we are content even though our situation is dire, we give praise to God.

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord  gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord .”
Job 1:21 ESV

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Daniel 3:16‭-‬18 ESV

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
Philippians 4:11‭-‬12 ESV

2. Conviction - We need to stand up and follow our convictions.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:57‭-‬62 ESV

3. Conformity with God - We need to conform to God's will and laws.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7 ESV

4. Confidence of God - We need to know God's word and be confident God will keep His word.

but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Genesis 2:17 ESV

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
Genesis 3:1 ESV

But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
Romans 14:23 ESV


 5. Closeness with God - We need to pray to God  and read the Bible.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:6‭-‬8 ESV

We cannot do this ourselves. We need the full armor of God and God to help us resist the Devil.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Ephesians 6:11 ESV

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
1 John 4:4 ESV



February 8, 2021

Sin’s Desire: Contrary to God and Your Best Interest

Genesis 4:3-16

In Genesis 4, we read about how Cain becomes jealous when God accepted his brother’s, Abel’s, sacrifice and not Cain’s.

Yet, God had instructed both Cain and Abel what to give. By comparing scriptures from Leviticus and Exodus, we can see where Cain did not give the best or the first fruits of the harvest whereas Abel gave the firstborn as he would have been instructed.

Genesis 4:3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground,  

Leviticus2:12 As an offering of firstfruits you may bring them to the Lord…

Genesis 4:4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering,

Exodus 13:12b All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the Lord’s.

When God sees Cain’s jealousy, God is merciful and intervenes with a warning.

Genesis 4:6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”

God gives us the responsibility and dignity to make our choices. God also warns us through His word and His spirit about following the desires of sin. In order to give glory to God through our actions, we need to make the choices to follow God and not Sin. God will intervene, but that intervention may only be his word or spirit. If we entertain sin, it will eventually rule us.

Genesis 4:8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.

We are not given many details about how Cain killed Abel and, thankfully, we are spared the grotesque details that are involved in violent crimes. It is enough to know that Cain killed Abel. When God confronts Cain and punishes Cain, we understand this to be the result of Cain’s ego.

Genesis 4:13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

Cain does not show any remorse over the death of his brother or the grief he has caused to his parents and God. Cain is concerned with his punishment only. There is no evidence of guilt.

Guilt has received a bad reputation, but it is needed. In fact, healthy guilt is needed to help correct our behaviors and seek forgiveness. Unhealthy guilt is that irrational guilt we have over things that are beyond our control. While guilt is concerned with our actions, shame is concerned with our being. Shame takes more time and effort to correct. The life Jesus gives us, allows us to overcome that shame and develop self-compassion, so we can love others.

The following verses may help understand these four types.

1.       No guilt. – Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

2.       Healthy guilt – 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

3.       Unhealthy guilt – Psalm 139: 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

4.       Shame – 2 Corinthians 5: 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

In the end, we need to be faithful and fight the desires of sin. Abel was faithful and he is still blessed because of his faithfulness. Let us strive to be like Abel.

Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.




January 31, 2021

What is Truth?

 John 18:28-40

 

In our age relativism and false news, it can be hard to know what truth is. We all have a desire to know what is true, but it can be elusive and hard to discern.
 
In this passage, Jesus is brought to the courthouse, but the Jewish leaders do not enter with him. We understand that the Jews would not enter a gentile place because they would be defiled. If they were defiled, they would not be able to perform the Passover rituals that year. This is one of the reasons the Jewish leaders and the disciples would not enter the Roman courthouse.
 
When asked what Jesus’ charge was, the Jewish leaders responded to Pilate with this answer.
 
They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.”
John 18:30 ESV
 
Pilate tells the Jewish leaders to deal with Jesus themselves, but the leaders lie and say they do not have the authority to execute anyone. The Jews could stone their people to death, but they wanted Jesus cursed. A sure way to do this was to have a man hanged. The Jesus leaders knew that Jesus could be executed by crucifixion if he were an insurgent against the Romans.
 
Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.”
John 18:31 ESV
 
Pilate is a little skeptical probably because Jesus does not look like the leader of an insurgency or a member of royalty. The Romans had established another family to be king over Palestine.
 
So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
John 18:33 ESV
 
Jesus responds to Pilate's incredulous question by asking Pilate what his source is.
 
Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?”
John 18:34 ESV
 
Pilate admits that he has been given Jesus' by His nation and the chief priests.
 
Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
John 18:35-36 ESV
 
Finally, in frustration or in mocking Pilate ask Jesus what truth is and then goes to ask the Jews if they want Jesus to be released. Pilate's question deserves an answer. The bible defines truth as the word of God.
 
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:17 ESV
 
It is important to know the truth since it is vital to our life and freedom. However, instead of asking what truth is, it would be better to ask who truth is.
  
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32 ESV
 
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6 ESV
 
We need to listen to Jesus to know the truth. We need to listen and conform to what we hear. It is not enough to just listen passively.
 
Let us strive for the truth that can only be found in Jesus and allow it to transform our lives.



January 24, 2021

Be Fearless

John 18:15-27

Do you ever want to hide your belief in Jesus Christ as your savior? In South Korea, we have religious freedom and do not worry about persecution. In many other places in the world, Christians can be arrested for their beliefs, face physical violence, or endure other hardships for their beliefs. However, even in a country where we do not have to worry about persecution, many of us are shy to speak about our beliefs or try to cover up our Christian faith when we are not in the presence of other believers.

In John 18:15, we read that Peter and John followed Jesus to the trial after his betrayal from Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane. There is nothing surprising about Peter following Jesus to the trial since he was a devout disciple of Jesus and had even stated that he would follow Jesus anywhere earlier in the gospels.

Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
John 13:37 ESV

Also, Peter was the only disciple who got out of the boat to walk on water towards Jesus. This took faith, devotion and bravery.

He said, “Come.” So, Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.
Matthew 14:29 ESV

But Peter denies Jesus. He had been so confident in the past when he was around other disciples and Jesus were there to hear his boasts, yet a servant girl makes him scared. She asks a simple question while Peter was warming himself outside.
 
The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”
John 18:17 ESV

Like Peter, we need to be aware of our over confidence in ourselves. Mature and strong Christians fall many times because of their arrogance. Peter would later write about this kind of trap in 1 Peter.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8 ESV
 
We also read in this passage about Jesus' trial. Jesus stood completely within His rights and showed no fear during His trial. He asks for witnesses. Jesus' answers to the high priests show a confident man who is exercising His rights within the law.
 
Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.  Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.”  Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?”
John 18:20‭-‬21‭, ‬23 ESV
 
The author purposely shows the difference between Jesus’ characters and Peter’s character in this passage through the parallel questioning. Interestingly Jesus denies nothing to His questioners although He is innocent. In fact, Jesus is fearless during his trial whereas Peter denies the truth and displays cowardice.

We know, as did Peter knew, that people who deny Jesus will not enter heaven. Peter displays many of the characteristics of people who will be denied entry into heaven as described in Revelations 21.
 
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 10:32‭-‬33 ESV
 
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Revelation 21:8 ESV
 
However, Jesus is interested in the heart of Peter as he is interested in our hearts. Yes, our actions do carry consequences as well as our words, but it is our heart, or our inner most desires, that God is concerned with.
 
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

John 21:17 ESV
 
Being a Christian is about the relationship we have with Jesus. It is not a legalistic religion that requires perfect obedience and rituals. Our relationship does need faith for that relationship to grow and be more genuine. We all need faith to please God and not to fail. The stronger your faith, the less fear you have. To remove fear, you need to grow your faith, and as your faith grows, so does your relationship with God. 
 
And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
Matthew 8:26 ESV
 
Jesus is not a legalistic god who does not know us intimately. Jesus does want a loving relationship with us. We do not need to be perfect to be loved by God. If we genuinely love God, He will allow us to grow and encourage us to be obedient. We just need to put our faith in God.




January 17, 2021

Who is Jesus to You

 

John 18:1-14

 The book of John is written in a story form. The disciple whom Jesus loves narrates the life of Jesus for us so we can have a better idea of who Jesus is. After reading John, we can know who Jesus is; however, we have to ask ourselves this question, "Who is Jesus to me?"  It is one thing to know who someone is, but it is another thing to know someone at a personal level. 

 In the beginning of John 18, we read about how Jesus is betrayed by Judas and eventually arrested. In fact, Judas brings many Roman soldiers to arrest Jesus. The number of Roman soldiers could have been a few dozen up to 800 soldiers. These soldiers meant business. Their weapons were ready for violence.

 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons.

John 18:3 ESV

 Jesus is divine; He is God. Jesus knew what was coming and did not run as other criminals or people in fear would have done. Jesus did something that He does with all of us. He asks a question.

 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?”

John 18:4 ESV

 Jesus can only tell the truth and answers them in a more profound way than they expected. These men were looking for a man named Jesus from Nazareth, but they encountered God.

 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

John 18:5-6 ESV

 Here we have an event which is called Mysterium tremendum. It is a mystery that repels a person, and it cannot be explained. We read about this kind of mystery elsewhere in the Bible such as in Ezekiel, Daniel 10:9 and Acts 9:3-4. Jesus is the self-revelation of God and every knee will bow at His name.

 We read before in John 17:12 that Jesus prayed none of His disciples would be lost. Jesus makes an appeal to the soldiers to let his disciples go, so they would live. This is the desire of Jesus that all will be saved if they follow Jesus. He was willing to sacrifice himself for His disciples at that moment and later again for all of us. Jesus does not leave anyone behind because He is trustworthy.

 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.”  This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.”

John 18:7-9 ESV

 Peter is zealous for Jesus and often did things which were meant to show his devotion to Jesus, but often did not really satisfy Jesus. Peter cutting off the servant's ear with a sword is one of those instances. In the book of Matthew, the author records the event as Jesus rebuking Peter and focuses on the angelic heavenly forces at work. Luke records the event as Jesus healing the servant and focuses on the physical healing on Jesus whereas John focuses on the focus of Jesus' mission to do God's will.

 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

John 18:10-11 ESV

 To do God's will is not an easy task. Even Jesus struggled with this. What Matthew records shows that struggle better than how John records.

 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Matthew 26:39 ESV

 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

Matthew 26:42 ESV

 To summarise John 18:1-11, we can list the following.

 

1.       Jesus is God and all fell at His name.

2.       Jesus was a sacrifice.

3.       Jesus is the self-revelation of God.

4.       Jesus is trustworthy.

 In other words, Jesus who revealed himself as a trustworthy God willingly gave his life in obedience to the father.

 John 18 also gives us these three truths.

1.       Jesus is God.

2.       Jesus is trustworthy.

3.       Jesus is obedient to the father.

 We then have to ask these questions.

  • Are these statements true to you?
  • How are these statements reflected in your life?
  • How much of our old life are we clinging to and how much of our new life in Christ are you clinging to now?

 At the beginning of the sermon, the question was asked, "Who is Jesus to you?" Paul probably gives the best answer as who Jesus is to him in Philippians.

 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,  being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:6-11 ESV

  Let us remember Jesus as a trustworthy God who sacrificed everything so that we may have life. Let us worship Jesus wholly while we live our lives in His service.