John 18:39 – 19:3 – A robber…and a King

A ROBBER … AND A KING.

 

JOHN 18v39 – 19v3.

1. INTRODUCTION.   This Good Friday for most people is just another Bank Holiday – Shopping, Gardening, sport, friends and family  –  pleasure. Vasts amounts of money will be spent on chocolate eggs and bunnies and anything else the confectionary industry thinks will sell well. If we stood outside Sainsbury’s or Texas stores today and did a survey – asking people what today [Good Friday] was all about most would probably be able to say, “It is the day that Jesus Christ was crucified”. If you had a follow up question,“Why did he die?” I am not sure what response we would get. The majority of people don’t really know why Jesus died nor do they want to know. If they wanted to know they would not be gardening or shopping or doing whatever else they are doing they would be here in Church. Just as there are many today who do not acknowledge who Jesus is, so there were on that 1st Good Friday those who chose to reject him. And they were in the majority – the mob. “Not this man but Barabbas”

 

2. THE HEART OF MAN WILL NEVER OF ITSELF SEEK GOD, BUT PREFERS THE SINNER. “No! not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion. [18v40] We don’t know a lot about Barabbas but what we do know indicates that he was not the nicest sort. He was a murderer. If he was living today he would probably be a member of a violent Terrorist Group. He was awaiting execution – he was on death row. It is that man that Pilate offers to release instead of Jesus, no doubt hoping the people would never choose Barabbas. The mob of course did choose Barabbas! Which is really not surprising because mankind by nature always rejects God. Lest we feel smug that we are here remembering Christ’s death let us remember that it is only by God’s grace and that he choose us! If you or I had been in the mob that day, what would our cry have been, Release Him! or Crucify Him! Those baying for Jesus blood were the very ones who claimed to be religious and to be waiting for the Messiah to come. Their own self-importance, their trust their own knowledge of the scriptures blinded them. They were so busy looking for him that they couldn’t see him even though he was right before their eyes.

“You diligently study the scriptures because you think

that by them you possess eternal life.

These are the scriptures that testify

about me, yet you refuse to come to me

to have life.” [John 5v39-40]

The mob had welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem with palm branches and Hosannas only a few days before. Many had seen the miracles he had performed. Only the week before he had rasied Lazarus from the dead. Now their hosannas had changes to shouts of Crucify! Crucify! Away with Him! Everything they needed in a king was before their eyes but they couldn’t see it. They exchanged the Son of God for a murderer! Tradition has it that Barabbas was the deliquent son of a rabbi. Barabbas – lit. “bar” meaning son of.. and “abba” meaning father. father’s son. I wonder if there is any link with what Jesus said of the scribes and pharisees “You are of your father the devil!”

 

Barabbas

father’s son murderer/destroyer insurrection

Jesus

God’s Son – Saviour life-giver/healer resurrection

 

Barabbas through the insurrection brought death and destruction. Jesus through the resurrection brought life and healing. Barabbas was a convenient hero for the Jewish leaders – he would not have been the sort of man they would normal recommend but he suited their purposes now. They whispered in the ears of the mob and turned them against Jesus. The irony was that the Chief priests accused Jesus of setting himself up as a king against Rome. This is what the threatened Pilate with. “If you let Jesus go you are no friend of Caesar’s” The very thing they accussed Jesus of, [and he was innocent] was in fact what Barabbas was guilty of. Barabbas was in rebellion against Rome. Jesus was no political threat to Caesar – his kingdom was not of this world. And to add to that, the Jewish leaders claimed to have no king but Caesar. Wasn’t God their king. How could a Jew accept a pagan as a king. Even Jewish kings were always only vice-regents. Yahweh is King. See how guilt and sin and jealousy blind and turn God’s order upside down. The guilty go free and the innocent are punished. Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged [scrouged]  

 

3. THE MIND OF MAN KNOWS ALMOST NO LIMIT TO INFLICTING SUFFERING ON BOTH THE KING AND HIS SUBJECTS. Human beings are ingenious when it comes to inflicting pain and suffering on other human beings. Jesus suffered and so have his followers throughout the history of the Church and even today. We know little of suffering for the sake of the gospel in our comfortable, tolerant Engilish society. Jesus was scourged – none of the gospel writers describe it. It is as if it is too painful to remember. A scourging was very servere. A whip with many tails into which were fixed pieces of bone and metal. Josephius, a Jewish historian, wrote,”… a certain Jesus, son of Annaias, was brought before Albinus and flayed to the bone with scourges.” Eusebius, at the time of Polycarp, wrote, “… certain martyrs were torn by scourges down to the deep-seated veins and arteries, so that hidden contents of the recesses of the body, their entrails and organs were exposed to sight.” Small wonder that men frequently died from a scourging! Having been whipped Jesus was then crucified and spent 6 hours hanging on the cross having had iron spikes driven through his hands and feet. BUT inspite of all the physical pain it was not that which was the most agonizing. He could even pray Father forgive them they don’t know what they are doing. It was the spiritual separation from his father that was the most painful experience. It was that which caused him to cry out “MY GOD! MY GOD! WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” Why? Because there was no other way! Without a sacrifice there was no forgiveness. It is only in the death of Jesus that God’s love and justice meet and are satisfied. And Jesus is not the unfortunate victim of a capricious God. NO! he willingly when to the cross. He set his face towards Jerusalem. He knew what he was doing. It is by his stripes we are healed [Isaiah 53] After he was flogged “The soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “HAIL! KING OF THE JEWS!” and they struck him in the face” [19v2-3]      

 

4. THE SPIRIT OF MAN STILL MOCKS THE SON OF GOD WITH A CROWN AND A ROBE BUT DOESN’T MAKE HIM TRULY KING. It is all too easy and Easter and Christmas and other religious occassions to pay token homage to God. “After all, you must be balanced! Don’t go over the top about this Christian stuff. Why make such a big thing about the cross it is after all just a religious symbol. Every religion has a symbol. Christians have the cross, Muslims have the star and crescent, Jews have the star of David. “We will all get there in the end. Don’t be so fanatical and exclusive about the cross being the only way. We believe in Jesus and the cross but it doesn’t mean that that is the only way. We need to be tolerant” Yes we do need to be tolerant. We can’t force people to believe what we do. BUT there is a big difference between tolerance and compromise. When the cross of Christ is reduced to just another religious symbol its a mockery. It distorts its message and destroys its meaning. Anything less than Jesus Christ the Son of God, crucified for the sins of the world as the only means of salvation makes a mockery of his death. The soldiers gave mocking homage. They knelt before him and spat upon him and hit him. When our worship of Jesus is insincere and superficial it is as if we spit in his face. “Yes I believe in God but he mustn’t interfer in my life” Where is the cross today? We have cleaned it up. Decorated it. Made it smooth and covered it in gold. It is on steeple and pulpit and around our necks. It is reproduced in glossy magazine format to make it palitable. NOTE: I am not saying we mustn’t have the cross as a symbol. It is the symbol of of faith and it should be. BUT there is the danger that our celebration of the cross can become nice and clean and comfortable and respectable. That is the last thing it was. It was crude and cruel and vicious! We talk about putting Christ back into Christmas! YES! What about the CROSS back into Easter? Easter is not chocolate eggs and bunnies!! Easter is about the excruciating suffering of God’s Son on the cross. The cross is not just a symbol. Jesus didn’t die as a martyr. His death was real! He died for real sin! to satisfy the real justice and righteousness of God because his LOVE for us was real. If we downplay the cross then we downplay sin. Sin then doesn’t seem so bad. Jesus didn’t downplay sin – NO, he saw its seriousness and gave his life to to rescue us from it. Jesus took the place of Barabbas! Jesus took your place! Jesus took my place! Like Barabbas we are all by nature guilty of insurrection – Not against a human govt. BUT against a HOLY God. And like Barabbas we face certain death eternal separation from God in Hell, UNLESS by God’s grace and we accept, by faith what Jesus did for us on the cross. LUTHER “You [Christ] became what you were not so that we might become what we otherwise could never be. You have taken what was mine and given me what was yours”

He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering …

… he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities,

the punishment that brought us peace

 was upon him,

by his stripes we are healed [Isa. 53v3&5]

Like the mob on that day before Pilate we all have a chose. Barabbas or Jesus? A Robber or a King. Jesus said,”If you are not for me, you are against me.” There is no neutral ground! Jesus Christ God’s son came into the world to save sinners by dying for them in their place! That is the message of Easter!

Saviour of Calvary,

costliest victory,

darkness defeated

and Eden restored;

                        born as a man to die;

                           nailed to a cross on high,

                  cold in the grave to lie –

Jesus is Lord!

 

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John 16 and Acts 2 – The purpose of Pentecost

THE PURPOSE OF PENTECOST!

 

Acts2 and John 16

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

Pentecost has it roots in the OT and not the NT.

The word ‘Pentecost’ lit. means fiftieth – it was the 50th day after Passover – it also marked the completion of the barley harvest and was sometimes called the Feast of Harvest – it was also 7 weeks since Passover and consequently it is sometimes called the Feast of Weeks.

 

It was a holiday – Holy Day – a day on which every man in Israel was to bring two freshly baked loaves to be waved by the Priests before the Lord. This was symbolic of thanking God for the harvest.

 

So 50 days after Passover – and also 50 days after Jesus resurrection and 10 days after His ascension.

 

Pentecost is the birthday of the church – it marks the day when, in the words of the prophet Joel, “God poured out his Spirit on all flesh …” — from that point on we talk about the Age of the Spirit — does that mean that the Spirit was inactive prior to Pentecost? Not at all!!

 

1. THE ROLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE OT.

 

Spirit can bring to mind images of ghosts/haunted houses … BUT in Heb. and Gk. > breathe/wind indicating power and activity > this Spirit is not an impersonal force but has personality, emotion, will and intellect.

 

So in the OT we have the Spirit as active in the creation of the universe // one who controls the course of nature and history // communicates and reveals God’s truth and will // equipped people for leadership -Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Elijah and Elisha // enabled or skilled others with practical ablility – artists and craftsmen //….

 

There is much we could say about the activity of the Holy Spirit in the OT – many examples of God’s Spirit at work. ALSO the prediction in the OT that there would be a new and dynamic and different activity in the future

 

Thus ..

Joel 2:28-29

28 “And afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. (NIV)

This OT prophesy is fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost.

 

2. THE SPIRIT IN THE MINISTRY OF JESUS.

 

As we read through the gospel we see how the Holy Sirit is active in the life of Jesus // at his baptism // leading him into the desert to be tempted // in the synagogue in Nazareth Jesus reads from Isa.

Luke 4:16-21

16 ….18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to release the oppressed,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (NIV)

 

Jesus refers to the Spirit not only in regard to his own ministry but to the future when the Spirit would come –

 

John 7:37-39

37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. (NIV)

 

Jesus promised that the Spirit would come – he told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem to receive the gift of the Spirit….

Acts 1:4-5 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)

 

The Holy Spirit duly came at 9:00 am on the day of Pentecost –  What did it mean??

 

 

 

3. THE ESSENCE OF PENTECOST.

 

It is easy to get caught up in the sound of rushing wind, the flames of fire over each disciples head and the gift of languages and to miss the essence of the event. Those where the trimmings – but the coming of the Spirit was an epoch-making event — this was the dawn of something new.

  • The HS came to give each disciple a clear understanding of who Jesus is – and his central place in God’s plan. [viz. to glorify Christ]
  • to enbolden and empower the disciples to be witnesses [Acts 1:5,8] // —– ——— we see this graphically illustrated in the life of Peter who at the crucfixion was timid and cowardly but from Pentecost on was bold and unwavering in his commitment to Christ.
  • the HS is to glorify Jesus TO his people, IN his people and THROUGH his people — and NB — this gift of the HS is promised to ALL who repent and are baptised, from the moment their discipleship starts…..

Acts 2:38

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (NIV)

Acts 16:31-33

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptised. (NIV)

 

4. SPIRIT BAPTISM

One of the critical questions that is often asked regarding the HS is this — Does a person become a Christian and then at a later stage receive the HS?

 

Spirit Baptism – 1 Cor.12v13 has been at the centre of much debate for many years. There were and still are those who claim that it is necessary for Christian to believe and be saved [we all agree] and then at a later stage, in a second experience receive the baptism of the Spirit.  This gives rise to a kind of two tier Christainity or even a two stage salvation.

 

 

There are 7 ref.s to baptism of the Spirit.

Matthew 3:11

11 “I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (NIV)

 

  Baptiser Subject element [en-in] Purpose [eis-into]
Matt.3v11 John

Jesus

People

People

water

Spirit

repentance

 

Mark 1v8 John

Jesus

People

People

water

Spirit

repentance

 

Luke 3v16 John

Jesus

People

People

water

Spirit

repentance

 

John 1v33 John

Jesus

People

People

water

Spirit

repentance

 

Acts 1v5 John

Jesus

(disciples)

(disciples)

water

Spirit

 
Acts 11v16 John

Jesus

(believers)

(believers)

water

Spirit

 
ICor. 12v13  

(Jesus)

(believers)

(believers)

 

Spirit

 

into one body

 

1 Corinthians 12:13 13 For we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (NIV)

 

It is not the Holy Spirit’s baptism but Christ’s baptism with the Spirit. It is the same word [ei] that is used on all 7 occassions.

in the same v13 we read “… we were all given the same Spirit to drink”

In John 7 Jesus promised to send the Spirit – he referred to the Spirit as HE not IT. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, the helper, the Advocate. He is a person – you can’t have a little bit of him. You either have the Spirit or you don’t have the Spirit. As Romans 8v9 makes clear:-

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit,

if indeed, the Spirit of God dwells in you.

But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ,

he does not belong to him.

It is not possible to be a Christian without the Baptism of the Spirit and there is only ONE Spirit Baptism and that is at conversion. It is the Son of God who places all believers into the sphere of the Spirit’s power and person. We are placed into a new enviroment, a new relationship with God and with all other believers.

 

This does not mean that we can not have subsequent spiritual experiences – we do have highs and lows in our spiritual walk with God. And we need to be constantly be being filled with the Spirit as Paul says in Ephesians.

BUT the purpose of Spirit Baptism is to bring about conversion and place us within the Body of Christ – the Church.

 

Q> BUT the disciples became believers and then at a later stage received the HS!

The only reason the first disciples went through a two stage, two level pattern of experience was that they became believers before Pentecost BUT for you and me we receive the HS at conversion.

 

Q> What about the speaking in tongues?

No time now — Thursdays in June 12th, 19th, 26th. !!!

Tongues is not normative for all Christians – Two different words are used making it unclear what exactly happened in NT!

On the day of Pentecost the gift seem to be more to do with the Gift of EARS [hearing] than speaking! The practice of Tongues speaking today in the vast majority of cases doesn’t have WIND or FIRE!

Besides ACTS the NT doesn’t mention tongues except in 1 Cor. where its practice was abused – It was not a sign of deep spirituality as Paul tells the Corinthian Christians that they are like children and must grow up.

 

In the following verse – in the gk. the “no” answer is inherent in the way the question is structured>

1 Corinthians 12:30 30 Do all have gifts of healing?  {NO} Do all speak in tongues? {NO} Do all interpret? {NO}    (NIV)

 

The Corinthian Church was very gifted but it was clearly very immature!!

 

Which brings me to my last point about the gift of the Holy Spirit

 

5. WHAT IS THE MARK OF SPIRITUAL LIFE.

 

We live in a world where spiritual /emotional experiences are becoming more and more popular – there is more and more interest in the supernatural/ the paranormal/ very much part of New Age teaching.

 

ILLUS.: Just yesterday I was discussing this with Jack while we played golf – one of his ex-students going to a conference on extra-sensory perception – feeling the aura in a room/situation. We asked “How do we if such things are genuine?” “Is there a way of verifying such things?”

 

Now Christians too claim to have all kinds of experiences – the problem is that experience is a slippery word. Also these experiences are happening to people who are imperfect/ Christians maybe, but still tainted by sin //saved by grace but still not sinless!!

 

J I Packer – No experience just by happening can authenticate itself as sent from God to further his work of grace. The mere fact that a Christian has an experience doesn’t make it a Christian experience. The sign that an experience is a gift of God’s grace is that when tested by scipture, it proves to have at its heart an intensified awareness of some truth concerning God and our relationship to him as creatures, sinners, adopted children … or whatever.”

 

And even if I, as a Christian, have an experince it doesn’t automatically make me a better/ more spiritual Christian.

 

ILLUS.: Last night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall – very patriotic – much waving of Union Jack – enthusiastic singing of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ / ‘Rule Britiannia’ and ‘Jerusalem’ – a great experience BUT it doesn’t make one of those people a better British citizen unless there is a permanent change of attitude or behaviour towards their country!!

 

Q> Am I saying that spiritual experince is of no value? NO! NO! NO!  —-

ILLUS.: — I am a Pastor today because when I was 17 at a missions conference I was stirred by the Spirit, through the Speaker, Rev. Ray Oosthuis, to go forward and offer myself to God to serve him. Was it an emotional spiritual experience? YES! BUT it would have been of little/no value if in the months and years that followed I had not got involved in doing – SS, youth work, preaching, Theological college, mission work …..

 

BUT if our Christian life is a seeking of one spiritual high after another // hopping from one meeting/conference to another to get another fix then we are simply like “spiritual grasshoppers”

 

The mark of SPIRITUALITY is not how many spiritual ‘highs’ you have had.

Pentecost would have meant little to Peter, James and John and the others if the next day they had returned to their fishing boat and never talked of Jesus again – except for an hour a week at the local synagogue!!!

 

The supreme purpose of the Spirit coming at Pentecost //and into the life of every believer at the point of conversion// is to Glorify Christ! [Spirit’s ministry ‘floodlight’ away from himself to Christ]

The Spirit’s purpose in us Christians is to glorify Christ IN/THROUGH us –

  • to glorify Christ
  • to lead us into the truth
  • to empower us to be witnesses
  • to make us like Jesus

 

 

Spiriuality is not based on:-

  • my intellectual ability to manage knowledge
  • an exciting personality
  • emotional experiences
  • spiritual giftedness

 

Rather it is a life of following Christ – obeying his commands – being a witness to him – a deep Spiritual life – characterised by the fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23

22 …. the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control……

 

A life that surrenders to the will of God – when the Spirit of God moves in my life I don’t resist/quench his work in favour of doing my own thing – this is possible.

 

Deep spirituality is not something that come suddenly or easily – it is characteristic of the one who has ‘Walked with God’ – often along dofficult and painful path of life and who hasn’t become bitter but better!

 

What do we want from The Spirit??

  • He is called the comforter – we sometimes think him therefore come to make us comfortable!! NO – — if that is your desire you will not know deep spirituality.

Do you want exciting emotional experiences?? these alone will not develop deep spirituality

Ephesians 5:18 18 Do not get drunk on wine, … Instead, be [being] filled with the Spirit. (NIV)

 

The Spiritual experience we should desire is the daily experience of walking with Christ – and if he gives us wonderful mountaintop moments along the way – that is great – and it is his preogative – we can’t demand them –

 

If we are going to be lead into the truth – read the Bible the Spirit inspire!

If we are going to become like Christ – we must spend time in pray to Him each day.

If we are going to be empowered to be his witnesses – we need to set about that task –

The Purpose of the Holy Spirit’s coming is to glorify Christ by:-

  • Leading us to Christ
  • making us like Christ
  • using us to bring other to Christ          {end with poem by Eddie Askew ‘Day by Day}

John 11:45 – 53 – Caiaphas and Christ – a comparison

Caiaphas and Christ – a comparison.

JOHN 11:45 – 53.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

The arrest, trial and execution of Jesus was carried out at the instigation of the Jewish religious leaders.

 

The times that they had tried to discredit him had backfired and made them look ridiculous. – the interrogation of the man born blind — trick questions about taxes to Caesar and marriage in heaven.

 

Now Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead – they could not deny the miracles; there were too many witnesses – indeed they had probably witnessed some of these miracles themselves – the raising of Lazarus from the dead was the last straw.

 

John 11:47-48 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

 

The popularity of Jesus was alarming – a meeting of the Sanhedrin was called.

Sanhedrin – the high court of the Jews consisting of three type of members – chief priests, elders and teachers of the law – a total of 71 members including the High Priest who was the presiding official.

 

This council was delegated a lot of authority by the Roman but they could not inpose the death penalty – and they clearly wanted Jesus dead – hence the involvement of  Pontius Pilate.

 

Caiaphas – the High Priest.

 

his role – he was the high priest – as such he was the go-between between God and the people. He was God’s earthly representative – he was the one who represented the nation before God –

 

He took the blood of the sacrifice into the Most Holy place in the Temple on the Day of Atonement – this was to signify God’s willingness to forgive sin in light of the sacrifice of a lamb offered by the High Priest. The blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, on the Ark of the Covenant – this was the place that symbolised the mercy and forgiveness of God.

 

Caiaphas became High Priset in AD 18 – and lasted until AD 36 when he, along with Pontius Pilate, was thrown out By Rome.

 

So by the Time of Christ’s crucifixion Caiaphas had been High Priest for at least 10 – 15 years –

 

He should have known that the blood of bulls and goats could not remove sin –

If he had listened to John the Baptist three years earlier he would have heard him say “Look! the Lamb of God who takes away the sin  of the world!”

 

his personal interests –

John 11:47-48 47 ………

…..”What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (NIV)

 

Clearly they were accomplishing nothing – in contrast Jesus was accomplishing much and many were following him — this was not in the interests of the religious leaders – this threatened their position and their prestige. If people continued to follow Jesus at this rate they would be out of a job – the temple “our place” and the nation would be under threat from the Romans – this was their reasoning

 

his pragmatic approach – Caiaphas was a pragmatic man –  if the nation was threaten by this man – to his mind – then surely the thing to do would be to remove him – after all the good of the majority, the good of the nation was more important that the life of one trouble-causing itinerant preacher.

– the conclusion was this –

 

John 11:49-50

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realise that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” (NIV)

 

Caiaphas was a rude man –  “You idiots!” –

Better for one to die in place of many!! – He had never spoken a truer word – he didn’t know how true!!

 

When he spoke, God was also speaking, if though they were not saying the same thing.”  [Carson]

 

Jesus – the real High Priest

 

What Caiaphas did not understand was that his whole role and office as High Priest was a sign pointing to the very one he was trying to have killed.

Jesus is the true High Priest – he is the real mediator between God and the people – in reality the High Priests , like Caiaphas could not really represent the people as they too were sinners just like the people they were supposed to be representing.   Jesus was sinless – no need for a sacrifice for himself!

 

Now at Jesus trial – it was more like a kangaroo court – Caiaphas came face to face with the real high Priest – Caiaphas was just a fleeting shadow but Jesus was the eternal heavenly high priest.

 

ILLUS.: A young couple in love are separated for a time and all she has is a photograph of her beloved – it is reasured – a prominent place on the bed side table –  even if it become old and tatty it is still treasured – The he returns – the Photograph is forgotten – the real person is there.

 

Caiaphas and the Jewish leaders were hanging on to the tatty of image of the OT system when the Beloved of God was right beofere their eyes but they were too blind to see!!

 

Every year the High Priest would take the blood of a lamb into the presence of God in the H of H in the hope of forgiveness – here standing before Caiaphas was the eternal Lamb of God who would take away all the sin of the world

— BUT Caiaphas could not see it.

 

He was blinded by his desire for position and prestige in this world. He wasn’t really concerned about the nation – he was concerned about himself – with no nation he would be a nobody – he could not allow this young preacher from Galilee to destroy all that he had work and schemed to get.

 

Caiaphas would go once /year into the H of H (the presence of God) – Jesus by His death would usher into the presence of God all who come to him by faith.

 

Caiaphas was trying to protect the Temple and the nation – Caiaphas was using sacrificial language – one dying in the place of many — his thinking was political ‘save the nation’ BUT John points out that his words would come true in a much deeper and more significant way than he ever intended

 

John 11:51-52

51 He [Caiaphas] did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. (NIV)

 

–within a few year both he and Pontius Pilate would be removed from Office but the kingdom of God would continue to spread.

 

The one who stood on trial before Caiaphas was the only one who could give to him the things he most desired

He desired position and prestige – he desired the unity of one nation under God – BUT he was thinking in an earthly way.

 

As a result of Christ’s death God offers us a position ‘in Christ’ – what is more prestigious than being called ‘sons and daughter of the living God’. What better group to belong to than to be part of God’s “Holy nation” – Christ’s Kingdom.

 

It was there in front of Caiaphas but he could not see it – his sights were set too low – It is easy to fall into the trap that Caiaphas fell into – many still do — to be so preoccupied with the affairs of this world and to miss out on all that God’s offers in his great High Priest.

 

Hebrews 9:11-15

11 When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

     /…for this reason ..

15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance — now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (NIV)

 

Caiaphas was right, Jesus must die for the many – And because he died and paid the price that we should have paid we can enter in to all the blessings and privileges of heaven.

 

We don’t need to look to thhis world to find meaning to life – we won’t find it there we must look to the cross – it is only in the death of Christ that the true meaning of life is seen. Caiaphas could not see that – Praise God that he has enabled us to see it!

 

The price is paid. Come, let us enter in

to all that Jesus died to make our own.

John 7v25-44 – Jesus the Thirst-quencher

Jesus the Thirst-quencher.

 

John 7v25-44 [Text vv 37-39]

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

Jesus is coming to the end of his ministry on earth. He has just said in the preceding verses that his time is short. [v.33]

Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time,

and then I go to the one who sent me”.

 

The Jews did not understand what Jesus meant, esp. the religious leaders who always seemed to be confused by Jesus teaching.

 

In order to understand  the full impact of Jesus words “If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink” we must understanding the setting in which these words were uttered.

 

1. THE SETTING.

 

On the last and greatest day of the Feast [v37]

 

What feast is John writing about?

 

There were many feasts and Holy Days in the Jewish calendar – and there still are. This one was called the Feast of Tabernacles {Booths}

 

This festival lasted for 7 days during which time the people were to live in booths – leafy structures made from the boughs of trees and covered with palm branches. This was to remind the people of the wilderness wanderings of their forefathers  after the exodus from Egypt.

The festival took place at the end of the ingathering of the harvest.

 

There is a debate among scholars as to whether this last day was the 7th or 8th day. BUT really it doesn’t change the meaning and significance of the passage in any major way.

 

On each of the seven days of the feast, a golden flagon would be filled with water from the Pool of Siloam and then carried by the high Priest in procession back to the Temple.  As the procession approached the Watergate on the south side of the inner court of the Temple, there would be three blasts on the trumpet.

 

As the people watched, the priest would procession around the altar while the temple Choir sang the Hallel {Pss.113-118}. As they concluded the singing of Ps.118 every male pilgrim would wave a Lulab [Willow, myrtle and palm branches] which was carried in the right hand. And a piece of citrus fruit in the left hand signifying the ingathered harvest. The branches were laid around the altar and over it to form a canopy{Tabernacle}.

 

The water from the golden flagon was poured into a bowl beside the altar from which a tube took it to the base of the altar.  At the same time wine was poured into another bowl on the other side of the altar. This water rite symbolized the fertility and fruitfulness that only rain can bring. These were acted expressions of thanksgiving  for God’s mercy in giving water in the past. It was also strongly linked to Isaiah 12v3:

With Joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation.

 

Not only did this festival point back to a time in the past – the water flowing from the rock in the wilderness – BUT in Jewish thought is also anticipated the outpouring of God’s Spirit in the Last Days.

Zechariah 13v1 – On that day a fountain will be opened

to the House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem,

to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

The Jews also linked this ceremony to Isa.55v1:

Come all who are thirsty,

come to the waters…..

 

In Ezekiel we have a picture of water flowing out from the Temple in Jerusalem bringing life wherever it goes.

So even within the Jewish teaching there is a picture of the future temple of God out of which flows the living water eventually covering the whole earth.

 

2. THE SUPPLIER [Inflow from Jesus].

 

The Festival has come to a dramatic climax – it is the crescendo of the 7 days. At this point …

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone

is thirsty let him come to me and drink [v37b]

 

Here Jesus unfolds the true significance of this festival. He takes the water symbolism and uses it to speak of the living water that he will give.

 

ILLUST: Have you ever been really thirsty? Desert thirsty? When I was in the army on patrol in Northern Namibia – so thirsty drank the water from tinned vegetables. Desperate.

What is the first thing a person in the desert asks for? -Water!!

 

The tragedy is that many people don’t realise that they are spiritually thirsty – or if they do they look for water that can never quench their thirst.

 

Remember the woman at the well at Sychar in Jn.4:

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,

 but whoever drinks the water that 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. [Jn.4v13-14]

 

The words here in ch.7 are similar to those of ch.4 – an invitation to the thirsty to come and drink from the source of living water.

 

John makes the point that Jesus “cried out in a loud voice” and that he was “standing”. It was customary for teacher to sit and so Jesus standing only served to add importance to his words.

 

There are numerous passages in the OT that, while not speaking directly of living water, do link the spiritual blessing of God with the symbol of water.

The Lord will guide you always;

he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scortched land

and will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden

like a spring whose waters never fail. [Isa.58v11]

 

Isa.44v3 links water and the Spirit in a direct way:

I will pour water upon him that is thirsty,

and streams upon the dry ground.

I will pour my Spirit upon your seed,

and my blessing upon your offspring.

 

As people come to Christ that their thirst in quenched. Maybe some of us have lost our spiritual passion because we have forgotten what it is like to be thirsty. Sometimes we are content with just a glass of water or satisfied with the drips. But that is not what Jesus offered.

 

3. THE STREAMS [ Out-flow from the believer]

The Spirit.

Whoever believes in me as the scriptures has said,

streams of living water will flow from within him.

By this he meant the Spirit….. [v38-39a]

 

The only ones who can come to Jesus and drink are those who come in faith. And when the believer comes in faith to Christ and drinks, Christ pours out on him an abundant supply that not only quenches his thirst but overflows like a river bursting its banks.

 

When God gives his Spirit to the believer he does not use a teaspoon to measure it out – he opens the flood gates so that rivers flow.

 

God wants to fill us with his Spirit so that we not only take in but give out. He wants the blessings to flow through us to others.

 

When there is not outflow the waters cease to be “living waters”

 

ILLUST:  The Jordan River is the life-giving water to the land of Israel. BUT it flows into the Dead Sea and does not flow out. Therefore it is dead, lifeless and arid.

 

Like the Dead Sea if we damn up the Living Water we are in danger of becoming sterile.

 

A true believer is not to be like that. The Believer is to receive that gift of God and pass it on to others. It is very significant that when the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost the first thing the disciples did was to go out into the streets and preach the gospel to the people.

 

Freely you have received, freely give

 

Christ is the one who gives us the living water {the Spirit} to drink so that streams of living water may flow out form us.

 

We can’t give out what we have not taken in. So we need to spend time in fellowship with God in private and with God’s people in Church and in home groups – where we study together and pray together and grow together. BUT THEN there must be outflow from that otherwise we will stagnant. Outflow in care and acts of kindness to each others and to the unbelievers in an effort to shared the good news that Jesus can quench their spiritual thirst too.

 

[The sinner]

Up to that time the Spirit had not been given

since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

 

This is, of course, pointing to Pentecost when the Spirit was given to the Church – the birthday of the Church. It is not that the Spirit was inactive before Pentecost but that at Pentecost the Spirit was given in a new and unique way.

 

Calvary is the necessary prelude to Pentecost.

In “glorified” we must see not only Christ’s exaltation but included in that his death and resurrection as well.

Notice that John speaks about the cross in terms of glory and not shame. The cross may seem shameful from a human point of view BUT for the believer it is the glorious place where sin is dealt with.

 

John clearly sees the cross and the necessary prelude to the work of the Spirit.

 

Now without getting too bogged down in the Christian experience and trying to divide it up into tiny part – we need to see that it is vital that sin is dealt with before the believer can enter into the life of the Spirit. Sin had to be dealt with before the Spirit could be poured out in this way.

 

A person must come to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing in order to drink of the life-giving living water. Until that happens it is not possible to know the blessing of God. If you have never done that then I urge you to come to Christ. Respond to his love and his offer of salvation.

 

There is the initial pouring out of God’s Spirit when we respond to him but there is also an ongoing filling:

Be filled with the Spirit {Be being filled… } [Eph.5v18]

 

We can hinder the Spirit’s work in our lives, we can grieve the Spirit, quench the Spirit. In order for us to be channels through whom the Spirit flows we need to be clean and clear. I don’t just mean passive pipes. But actively receiving from God and by the power of the Spirit within us being a blessing to others.

 

We are far from perfect BUT God has made a way for our sin to be dealt with. He has given us the Spirit to convict us of our sin. He has given us a Saviour who paid for our sins and now intercedes with the Father on our behalf. And he has promised that:

 

If we confess our sins he is faithful

and just and will forgive us our sins

and cleanse us from all unrightousness [1 Jn.1v9]

 

Let’s not be satisfied with drips or trickles but let us drink from the fountain of Living Water so that streams may flow from within us.

John 6:63 & 68 – Life: Which way?

 

LIFE: WHICH WAY?

John 6:63 & 68.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

ILLUS.: Recently while the children were away at camps and Janet and I were in Cornwall visiting friends, Dave and Tanya redecorated Vicki’s room. She need some more cupboard space and so about two weeks ago I bought some boards and put a cupboard together.

White finished boards that don’t need decorating – hinges that are easy to fit – an unlimited choice of ready-made handles.

As I was doing it I reflected on my first attempt at bedroom cupboards for my sister, Jayne, when I was about 14. They had to be made from scratch – the doors constructed, not ready-made. Piano hinges that seems to have a hundred screws.

All made by hand and no electric machines to work with.

What a difference today – flat pack-furniture that anyone with a screw-driver can put together.

DIY – there were no DIY store when I was growing up – no Homebase or B&Q or Do-It-All –

“Do-It-Yourself” – it occurred to me that we live in a world were many things are for SELF.

Even the Inland Revenue has climb on the Self band wagon with SELF ASSESSMENT Tax Returns.

1. LIFE THE D.I.Y. WAY.

In the past few decades the self industry has exploded – books, videos, course about self-actualization, self-motivation, self-assertion, self-esteem, self-image, the true-self, …. the list is endless.

ILLUS. Yesterday I looked at the list of books on the Internet at a Website called Amazon Books. Supposedly the largest selection of books in the world. I typed in the word SELF. Do you know how many Books have the word SELF in the title?? 27,125!!

Living for SELF, pandering to SELF, promoting SELF has become the philosophy of  Western World.

When you go for a job interview these day you have to ‘sell yourself’.

Not every thing to do with SELF is bad or wrong – the Bible teaches a certain amount of care for self.

However what we have today is more than Biblical self-care under God – what we have moved to in many ways is self-worship apart from God.

The History of Self-Obsession.

In one sense the history of human self-centredness goes back to the Garden of Eden. BUT more recently in Western thought we can trace it back a few centuries.

During the Middle Ages life was lived with reference to the Transcendent God – God has spoken in Christ and in Scripture.

Since then there have been two major changes that have brought us to the present self-absorbed era.

Firstly, during the Enlightenment, it was no longer believed that God had spoken or that he wanted to speak and so “truth” was sought apart from God. Truth was looked for in the natural world and not in Divine revelation.

Reason it was claimed replaced faith. So began an Era of scientific searching, of reason, and God was sidelined. Faith in God was seen to be subject and without proof. Science and reason became everything.

Science and reason took on the force of Divine revelation – it promised to deal with the truth and find the meaning to life – it did not deliver. (The Romanticism of the mid 19th C was a reaction to Science and Reason)

Far from giving overall purpose and meaning to life it made life fragmentary – there was nothing to get people their bearings in life.

As David Wells puts it “… life’s experiences fall like confetti with no relationship to each other.”

The framework for life, moral behaviour, right and wrong, good and bad has been discarded in the name of science and reason.

During this time came industrialization. Traditional communities broke up – cities grew (vast communities of individuals who don’t know or relate to each other, with no commitment or accountability to each other).

Secondly, in the past few decades disillusionment with Science and reason has turn us away from looking to the external natural world for life’s meaning , to the internal world of the self.

Self and intuition has become the means of finding meaning to life’s conundrums.

But this understanding is more sensed that thought out. It is more about feeling than knowing.

ILLUS. Thus we see bumper-stickers that say: “If it feels good, do it”.

To quote David Wells again, “In the Enlightenment, the only unforgivable “sin”, apart from being religious was being irrational. Today, however, we traffic in the illogical and the irrational without any misgivings and have become suspicious of those who are concerned with logic and rationality. Indeed the irrational is often celebrated while the rational is denigrated.

Then, the life of the mind was everything; now, the mind is trusted far less than the emotions, claims to truth far less than intuitions. And in the absence of any external authority, the line between right and wrong gets lost in the mist of self-desire ….”

ILLUS. Do we not have a graphic illustration this week of the President of the Most powerful country in the world a victim to self-desire.

What is even more interesting is the diverse and conflicting opinions of the commentators.

Our technological, capitalistic society driven along by self interest has not left free to pursue their own happiness.

In fact quite the reverse!

People are less secure – there are more broken relationships, more suicides, more delinquent children, more criminals in prison on and on…. There are more people going to psychiatrist, psychotherapist and counsellors than ever before.

People are filled with disillusionment, disappointment, loneliness and a purposelessness in life … Epitomized by the Bumper sticker “Life’s a Bitch and then you die”

Self has become all important – more important than God – more important that community. The rights of the individual have risen above responsibility. We want benefits without accountability.

Coupled with this rampant individualism is Relativism. Having dispensed with God and reason we are left with every individual self deciding for him or her self or each group deciding for itself what is true, right and wrong (although it is politically incorrect to talk about right and wrong – but rather what is appropriate or inappropriate)

Where does all this leave us?

This individualism has led many to believe that each person is entitled to being left alone, to live in a way that is free from the demands and expectations of others – to being able to fashion one’s own life in a way that one wants to – to being able to develop one’s own values and beliefs in one’s own way – to resist all authority.

This kind of freedom, many think, is necessary to being a true individual.

Why then does it not satisfy? Why are people like us in the WEST  who have more material goods than previous generations, more freedom to travel, more information about the world, better education, better health care, — Why then are we not the happiest and most fulfilled generation in history.

I believe we have the answer in Jesus’ discussion with his disciples in John 6.

John 6:63 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. (NIV)

– the flesh counts for nothing- “Human effort accomplishes nothing” [nlt]

This does not mean that Humanity and human effort is worthless – after all Jesus took flesh – became a man. And he died to rescue Humans because he considered us of great value. BUT When it come to giving life and giving meaning to life Human effort alone has always and will always fail. “Because without God we can do nothing!”

2. LIFE THE D.I.C. WAY.

 

We live in an anti-authoritarian age. We have pushed the notion of individual rights, self, relativism – the notion of freedom so hard that we resist being accountable to anyone. We see this in almost every area of life.

“Noone is going to tell me what to do!”

YET at the heart of the Christian faith is a call to submission to Jesus Christ as Lord!!

We read John 6:25-59. Jesus the bread of Life. Basically Jesus is saying to the crowd “If you want life, real life, spiritual life, meaning in life then you must come to me accepting that I am the only one who can provide that.!”

The crowd didn’t want that! They wanted the benefits without the accountability!

They had seen Jesus in John 5 – 6 heal a lame man, feed the 5000 and walk on water and they wanted the benefits that he could bring but not the accountability.

The people wanted to come to God on their own terms and Jesus makes it quite plain that that is not possible. We come to God on his terms.

Accepting Life the D.I.C. way  – (Done-in-Christ way)

ILLUS. In our Post-Modern age of individualism and self-sufficiency we tell ourselves that we are mature / independent / able to cope with every situation. We humans have the solution.

YET how many like the Lame Man have felt paralyzed and unable to move when faced with a loved one who is seriously ill / disabled in body or mind?

When we see famine or flood or earthquake we feel so pitiful and inadequate to help – no doubt like the disciples felt when faced with 5000 hungry men and their wives and children?

When tossed about on the waves of recession or political or social change do we not feel powerless to do anything about it.

Our proud boast of being independent seems rather pathetic when allied with our impotence.

Our resources are too inadequate – our will is too weak – our knowledge is too limited – and our power is too impotent!

We will find Christ teaching hard as the disciples did – John 6:60

60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

Jesus never promised that following him would be easy – that being a Christian would be a doddle.

BUT faced with the choice of Life the D.I.Y. way or the D.I.C. way the only sensible response can be the one that Simon Peter came to John 6:68

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (NIV)

When faced with the inadequacy and impotence of humanity to solves its own problems and give meaning to life submission to Christ becomes much more attractive. He is the healer, the creator, the sustainer, the teacher, the Lord.

He is the one who is able to change situations and people.

To submit to him is to become involved in his great work of caring, meeting need, of teaching, of serving – this is salvation in all its fullness.

We receive life the D.I.C. (Done-In-Christ) way BUT then we live life the D.I.C. way (Doing-It-Christ’s way)

We must accept Christ as LORD in order to become Christians BUT then we must live in a way that shows that Jesus Christ is our LORD.

To say “Jesus is LORD” presupposes a willing to obey his teaching?

Are we as Christians obeying?

Think carefully of the things the NT teaches.

  • To be ‘in Christ’ presupposes repentance and baptism.
  • To be ‘in Christ’ means to be in the Church – His Body of Believers
  • To be in the Church means that I attach myself to a local congregation and participate in the life of that local fellowship – come under its leadership – participate in the life of the fellowship. Prayer / Bible Study /  worship / witness / fellowship / serving others.
  • To claim Jesus as Lord means

– that I am committed to my marriage if I am married.

– that I am concerned and committed to my family

– that I am an honest and conscientious employee

– that I am a fair and reasonable employer

– that I am a considerate and helpful neighbour …… on and on

love one another

forgive one another

serve one another

pray for one another

accept one another

encourage one another

greet one another

offer hospitality to one another

bear one another‘s burdens

Peter, in his response, swears his allegiance to Jesus as LORD. John 6:68

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (NIV)

He will reaffirm his commitment to Jesus as Lord again and again throughout his life – his actions would not always match his allegiance BUT he had nailed his colours to the mast.

Like Peter we too will fail – miserably sometimes – but where is our heart? Is our hearts desire to serve-self // to rebel against the Lord’s authority?

OR Is our heart set towards Christ as Lord with an unswerving commitment to LIFE THE D.I.C WAY!!

John 3:1-21 – A matter of life and death

A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH!

John 3v1-21

Baptismal Service. 2nd October 1994.

[extracted from W.W. Wiersbe -“Be Alive” John 1-12]

Introduction:

Nicodemus was a religious leader – a pharisee – he was himself a teacher and lived by the strictest possible religious rules. He had heard about this new tracher who is alleged to come from God. In fact he had to acknowledge that Jesus was a prophet from God because the evidence [miraculous signs] were undeniable. Possibly he had seen Jesus before – heard him teach or even seen him perfom some of the miracles.

Whether he came at night because he was afraid of being seen or because he simply wanted some quite uninterrupted conversation we don’t know. Maybe he was expecting a stimulating theological discussion with this new teacher BUT what he encountered was an eye to eye meeting with God himself.

We are sure that Nicodemus was a man of strong moral character, he was a deeply religious man BUT he suffered from a servere case of Spiritual blindness – as do all human being by nature.

Jesus uses 4 illustrations to explain the basics of Salvation to Nicodemus:- Birth; Wind; a snake on a pole; light and Darkness.

 

1. BIRTH

Every person has experience physical birth – well that is fairly obvious- – you might not rememberit but you have.!!!  Physical birth is the experience of all and for most their experience remains on this purely physical level.

Thus when Jesus began to speak to Nicodemus about being born again he could not grasp it – he thought only in terms of physical birth “A 2nd time!!”

Here was this well educated, religious leader unable to understand this spiritual truth!

ILLUST: Same today – speak to people about Salvation and they either don’t want to know or they talk about Church traditions, activities and a second cousin on my mother’s side, who is a Vicar,.

But Jesus was patient with Nicodemus and he is patient with us – It is not entering a 2nd time into your mother’s womb BUT spiritual birth – being born again – being born from above by the power of God’s Spirit.

The Spirit of God takes the Word of God and when the sinner believes imparts the life of God.

No one can enter the Kingdom of God

unless he is born of water and the Spirit [v5]

There must be physical birth and spiritual birth in order to enetr God’s kingdom.

Jesus is NOT teaching that salvation is through water baptism. Baptism is connected more with death than birth – no amount of physical water can change a person spiritually. Salvation is through faith in Jesus NOT through a religious ritual.

Water baptism is part of obedience to Jesus but doesn’t add to salvation. Baptism is a picture of what has already taken place in the person’s life. They have repented, they have trusted Christ and they have been born of the Spirit. Baptism is simply a public declaration.

Children inherit the nature of the parents. So to with God’s children. Peter says we are “partakers of the divine nature”  We receive the life of God and he becomes our Father and he wants us to be like him.

Birth involves a future and believers are “born to a living hope”  When you are born into God’s family your sins are forgiven and forgotten and the future is bright with a living hope. Nothing in this world is secure. Political systems and financial institutions come and go – life in this world might not be easy or comfortable even for the Christian, sometimes esp. for the Christian BUT the Future is sure.

2. WIND

Jesus and Nicodemus were probably sitting outside in the evening breeze.

Jesus -“See those trees moving Nicodemus – can you see the wind?”  NO

The wind is powerful but invisible so too the Spirit of God.

In OT Ezekiel saw a vision of A valley of dry dead bones and the wind [spirit] blew on them and they came to life. Maybe Jesus and Nicodemus talked about that. Those dry bones were dead – you can’t get more dead than that – they needed God’s Spirit to impart life.

Paul in Ephesians 2 says

“We were dead in our sins … but God because of his

 immense mercy and incredible love, embraced us.

 He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ.

 He did all this on his own with no help from us!”

God is in the business of giving life – eternal, abundant and full life – to individual people. Thousands of babies are born each day. Try telling the parents “It’s just another one – what is the excitment?” Each one is special and precious! So too with each of God’s children.

3. A SNAKE ON A POLE.

The Jews in the desert – story of sin – a nation in rebellion against God {Numbers 3v14-18} and so God punished them. He sent poisionous snakes amongst them and the people started to die. But it is also a story of Grace because Moses prayed and God provided a remedy. A bronze snake on a pole where everyone could see it. Any one who was bitten could look at the snake and be healed.

A story of Faith – those who looked were healed.

Jesus was lifted up on the cross  – those who look to him will be saved from the snake bite of sin and death.

The solution to the snake problem was not killing the snakes- there were always more – it wasn’t making medicine, or pretending they weren’t there, orpassing anti-snake laws or even climbing the pole. JUST LOOK AND LIVE!!

The whole world has been bitten by sin – God says Just LOOK to Jesus by faith and receive LIFE that will never end.

The difference between Life and DEATH; between comdemnation by God  and salvation is faith. Faith in Jesus who could have come to destroy the world and judge it BUT rather came to save it. He became like the uplifted snake – those who look to him are saved.

For God so loved the World…. v16

4. LIGHT AND DARKNESS

READ VERSES 18-21

We often tend to think that comdemnation is future – on the day of Judgement – but judgement is already passed – all stand condemned – we must come to God for pardon and mercy!

There are only two places to be – in the light or in the darkness – the darkness that refuses to come to Christ for salvation and the light where God lives and loves all who come to him by faith through Jesus Christ.

Nicodemus finally did come to the light – after the crucifixion we read:-

Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus.

…………

With Pilate’s permission he came and took the body away.

He was accompanied by Nicodemus…

Nicodemus came – millions have come since – many here have – Ralph and Shirley and Emma have – if you never have then know this God loves you and he longs to bring you form Darkness into the light of his love.

This is love; not that we loved God but that He loved us,

and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

…the Ftyhare has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,

God lives in him and he in God. And so we can know and

 rely on the love God has for us. [1 John 4]

Amazing grace – how sweet the sound – That saved a wretch like me;

I once was lost but now am found-  Was blind but now I see!

John 1:35-42 – Jesus encounters Andrew

JESUS ENCOUNTERS ANDREW.

JOHN 1:35-42; Mark 1:14-20; John 6:8; John 12:20-22.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

All the 4 gospels are written with a different emphasis – they certainly all begin differently. If we read Mark’s gospel only we could easily get the impression that as Jesus was one day walking along the shores of  Lake Galilee, he saw some fishermen whom he had never met before and said to them ‘Follow me’ at which point they immediately dropped everything and went with him.

One of these men was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

 

Would you give up your source of livelihood and follow a stranger? I doubt you would – I certainly wouldn’t.

 

It is not easy to put the events of the NT in exactly the right chronological order – there is no complete agreement amongst scholars regarding the order of events.

 

As we look at Andrew’s encounters with Jesus I want to try put the event in some order –

 

OPEN BIBLES AT JOHN 1

 

1. From following John to following Jesus.

 

John the Baptist is preaching and baptising in the Jordan Valley when some of the Jewish leader come to investigate – in the conversation John says the following:

John 1:26-27

     26 “I baptise with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” (NIV)

 

The following day when John is speaking to a group of people he sees Jesus coming towards them and he says…

 

John 1:29-30

     29 ….. “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ (NIV)

 

From what John says in the next few verses [31 – 34] it is clear that this is taking place after Jesus’s baptism and temptation. We know that Jesus Temptation was 40 days so this encounter is at the very least 40 days after Jesus Baptism.

 

We also know that John had many followers – What do you think was the main topic of conversation during that time? The Messiah! Indeed that was the reason for John’s preaching – John was sent to announce the coming of the Messiah. Surely that is what he taught his followers.

 

Now let’s read from verse 35.

John 1:35-40

     35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

     37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning round, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

     They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”

     39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

     So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.

     40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. (NIV)

 

Andrew had a disciple’s heart – he had faithfully followed John and listened to his teaching – John pointed people to Jesus and Andrew, having learned well was willing to go with Jesus when he came along. It was only after these events that the encounter on the shores of Galilee took place where Andrew, Peter, James and John left their fishing and followed Jesus.

 

2.  From fishing to following.

 

Matthew 4:18-20

     18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. (NIV)

 

Andrew, with his brother Peter, was a fisherman – Fishing in those days was a good business. Archaeological excavations have discovered some large houses in the area of Capernaum indicating that the fishermen were able to make a reasonably good living from their businesses.

We have often been under the impression that these men were poor peasant people – that might not necessarily be the case.

 

The point is that they were willing to give up their livelihood in order to follow Christ.

Since then there have been many who have sacrificed lucrative careers for the sake of the gospel.

 

ILLUS.: We know the famous stories about  C. T. Studd, Hudson Taylor, — we know people today like Rosemary Brown who has given up a nursing career in England and a comfortable modern home to live in a mud hut and work in Africa. 

Chris Small in Paris – a forestry engineer who loves the outdoor life but lives in a council flat in Paris   — all of these to be obedient to Christ’s call.

 

I am moved by such stories and I admire these people but God hasn’t called me to live in a mud hut. I live a very comfortable life in comparison.

 

What does this call to discipleship mean for us in Binscombe?? [RESPONSE] !!!

 

 

ILLUS.: Recently had Arman and Rema to a meal – lived through the revolution under Ayatollah Khomeni and all the problems that there were and still are in Iran. He said, ‘ I find it more difficult being a Christian in England. At least in Iran I knew who the enemy is! Here it is all very subtle!’

 

As Christ’s disciples we are under great pressure to conform to the world – He requires that we follow him and not get sucked into the worldly system but at the same time convey the gospel in a way that is relevant to the society we live in.

STOTT – ‘double listening’ – to God and to the world. To God so we can obey him and to the world so we can understand it [but not swallowed up by it]

 

3. From fisherman to fisher of men

 

We have very little information about Andrew but we have enough for us to know that he had a missionary heart. In its simplest definition a missionary is a man or woman who is carrying out a mission.

 

Andrew had a mission. His mission was to tell people about Jesus.

One of the first things we read about Andrew is this; John 1:40-42

     40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.(NIV)

  

Andrew is so thrilled with his first day with Jesus that he can’t wait to tell hi brother Peter. He is overjoyed at having found the Messiah and his brother is the first to know he new discovery. But he doesn’t just tell Peter – we read, – 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

 

 It is interesting that Peter is the one who becomes better known. Peter is the one who declared that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God. It is Peter who preaches the sermon on the Day of Pentecost when 3000 repented and were baptised.

 

Little did Andrew know the impact that bringing his brother to Jesus would have in terms of the Kingdom of God. By bringing Peter, Andrew became the first in a long line of those bearing personal witness to Jesus – friend to friend; brother to brother. Still the most effective form of witnessing.

 

When you or I introduce someone to Jesus we have no idea what the impact of that will be.

 

How many SS teachers have influenced children who later became great preaches and missionaries.

How many unknown mothers have raised godly men and women who have had a dramatic impact on the world for Christ.

 

Do you remember John Wesley’s famous comment, ‘I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the Theologians of England.’

 

On another occasion Andrew brought a little boy to Jesus – the boy was carrying five barley loaves and two fishes. We all know what happened to that small meal – it fed 5000 men besides the women and children and there were still 12 baskets of leftovers. [John 6]

 

In the last weeks of Jesus ministry in John 12:20-22 we read

     20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. (NIV)

 

We don’t know that outcome of that story – the gospel writer doesn’t tell – but we can only assume that Jesus acceded to Andrew’s request. We know that Andrew was trying to bring people to the Saviour.

 

Is that our passion and desire – To bring people to Jesus? Or are we too timid too afraid of being rejected, fearful of being embarrassed.

 

I speak to myself. I have tried witnessing to some who have not responded and now I often don’t expect a response. “What is the point of speaking to So-and so that won’t come anyway!” Is that your experience??

 

Hopefully we can learn from Andrew – a man who was overshadowed by his more energetic and outgoing brother, yet he continues his own service to the master in a gracious and selfless manner. We remember Peter for his great spiritual exploits – but in eternity there will be an equally great reward for Andrew – the one through whom the whole story of Peter began.

 

A. Hubleman [presumably a minister in a London Church]. ” O for a church of Andrews!” I do not know that many ministers would want a Church of Peters: it would be too quarrelsome. I am quite willing for Thomas to go to the City Temple and for Simon the Zealot to go to St. James’. Let me have a church of Andrews – of simple, loving  men, content to bring people to Jesus. Men like him are so valuable because everyone can be an Andrew. Not a greatly gifted man, but a greatly faithful man; not a man who would dispute with Peter as to who should be primate, or with John and James as to who should sit on the right hand of Christ and who on the left, but a man who simply, humbly and lovingly does the work that lies nearest to him. He surely is of those last in the world’s estimate who are first in the Kingdom of God.