gospel lessons in the temple


John 8:48-59

48 The Jews answered and said to him, “Aren’t we saying it right that you’re a Samaritan and have a demon?”
49 Jesus answered”I do not have a demon, but I am honoring my Father and you are dishonoring me.
50 I am not seeking my own glory; the one who is seeking and judging it is.
51 I am honestly telling you, if anyone keeps my message, he will certainly not experience permanent death.”
52 Then the Jews said, “Now we know you have a demon. Abraham died and so did the prophets. You say, ‘If anyone keeps my message, he will not taste permanent death.’
53 Are you greater than our father Abraham who died? And the prophets died. Who do you claim to be?”
54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. My Father– about whom you say, ‘He is our God’– he is the one who is glorifying me.
55 You do not know him, but I know him. If I were to say I don’t know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him, and I keep his message.
56 Your father Abraham was exuberantly joyful so he could see my day; he saw it and rejoiced.”
57 That was why the Jews said to him, “You aren’t fifty years old yet, and you’ve seen Abraham?”
58 Jesus said to them, “I am honestly telling you, before Abraham existed, I am.”
59 That was why they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was concealed and went out from the temple.

gospel lessons in the temple

This heated conversation is filled with amazing gospel lessons. It teaches that God the Father was in the process of glorifying his Son, Jesus. It teaches that the Son pre-existed with the Father, and is co-equal with the Father, so he could say “before Abraham existed, I am (ἐγὼ εἰμί). It also teaches about life after death. But it does not teach that believers will never die. That is a mistranslation, based on the mistaken theology that people have immortal souls that do not die. The Jews here admitted that Abraham died, and Jesus did not correct them. But Jesus taught here that believers who put their trust in his message will “certainly not experience permanent death”(θάνατον οὐ μὴ θεωρήσῃ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα) (51). The Jews thought that Abraham had tasted that permanent death. They could not accept a Messiah who claimed to be greater than Abraham, and certainly thought it blasphemy for Jesus to claim the nature of God.

The good news is about who Christ is, and what he promises. You may not be able to understand how Jesus can be God in the flesh, but do not let that lack of understanding keep you from believing in him. You may not see why we have to be raised from the dead, but don’t let that keep you from trusting him for a resurrection. You will experience a temporary death unless Jesus returns before you die. But the gospel good news is that you do not have to experience permanent death. One day we will meet with Abraham on this earth made new, and celebrate our permanent life together.

LORD, give us the courage to believe in who you really are, and to trust you to fulfill what you really promised.

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how to understand the Bible

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John 8:43-47

43 “Why don’t you know anything about what I am saying? Because you cannot listen to my message.
44 You are of your father the devil, and you are eager to do what your father wants. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he is saying a lie, he is speaking his own language, because he is a liar and the father of it.
45 Yet because I am saying the truth, you are not believing me.
46 Who among you can convict me of sin? Since I am saying the truth, why aren’t you believing me?
47 The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This is why you aren’t listening, because you are not from God.”

how to understand the Bible

There are many people with advanced degrees and high IQs who are confused by the message of the Bible. Jesus was talking to a group of people like that. They were actively seeking ways to kill him, even though he was just telling the truth his Father had told him to tell. Even though they claimed to have excellent parentage, the words of Jesus fell on deaf ears.

Do the words of the Bible seem like a secret code to you. Are you secretly confused by them. There is a solution. We call it conversion. It involves two steps: First, repent of your sins. Then, put your faith in Christ. Without repentance and faith, no one can listen to God’s message. After conversion, it is possible.

LORD, help those who want to know you to put their faith in you. Then they can understand your words.

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why I love my grandchildren

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John 8:37-42

37 I know you are a seed from Abraham, but you are seeking opportunities to kill me because my message has no place in you.
38 I am speaking about what I have seen in the presence of the Father; therefore, you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
39 “Our father is Abraham,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” Jesus told them, “you would do the things Abraham did.
40 But now you are you are seeking opportunities to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do this.
41 You’re doing the things your father does.” “We weren’t born due to sexual immorality,” they said. “We have one Father– God.”
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would have loved me, because I came from God and I am here. Because I didn’t come on my own, but he sent me.

why I love my grandchildren

I currently have seven wonderful grandchildren, and I love them all deeply. I joy at seeing them, and hearing them, and I love to be around them. It’s not that I see myself in these beautiful creatures of God. No, they don’t look like me. But I can see their parents in them. And I love their parents.

Jesus’ main problem with these “seed from Abraham” hypocrites is that he could not see his father in them. He saw their father, the devil in them. They were doing the things of their father, the devil. This included their backhanded statement about not being born due to sexual immorality. They were accusing Jesus of being an illegitimate child.

The hypocrites could not love Jesus because they didn’t truly love God, even though they claimed to be a seed from Abraham. Abraham reflected God by his actions; these hypocrites did not.

LORD, help us to draw others to you by reflecting your love in our actions.

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my submarine

20181109

John 8:33-36

33 They answered him, “We are a seed from Abraham, and none have ever been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered, “I honestly tell you, every sinner is a slave of the sin.
35 A slave does not stay in the household permanently, but a son does stay permanently.
36 That is why if the Son liberates you, you really will be free.

my submarine

Does anyone out there want to be liberated from sin? I sure do. I have been a Christian for 47 years, and I still feel the results of the bondage I was born into. Slaves have committed all sorts of crimes — even murder or suicide — in order to become free. I understand that desperation.

But I have found a better way to deal with my inherited slavery. First, I refused to deny it. Many — like these “seed of Abraham” try to deny the reality of their own sinfulness. That did not work for them, and it didn’t work for me. It wasn’t until I confessed my own ability to become good that I found help in Jesus.

Jesus explains here what he can do for the person who comes to him in repentance and trusts in him for liberation. He is God’s only Son, so if he decides to declare a person free, it happens. The rest is living a life of faith in the Son who has set you free. It is like living in a submarine. There is water all around you, but you cannot drown. When my Savior returns, he will rid this universe of sin completely. Until then, he is my submarine!

LORD, set more people free today!

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20181108

Psalms 18:8-9

8 Smoke rose from his nose, and consuming fire came from his mouth; coals were set on fire by it. 9 He bent the sky and came down, its total darkness was beneath his feet.

Darkness and consuming fire are words that describe God’s final punishment of the wicked. The psalmist uses these words to describe the passion with which God responds to his prayer. The nose is often used for Hebrew expression of emotion. A long nose equals patience, but a smoking nose equals anger.

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20181107

Psalms 18:6-7

6 I called to Yahveh in my distress, and I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. 7 Then the earth shook and quaked; the foundations of the mountains trembled; they shook because he burned with anger.

The psalmist describes the Lord’s reaction to his prayer as a violent earthquake. He does not say how long the period was between his prayer and God’s reaction. Perhaps we can be more patient if we realize how much pressure has to build before a seismic eruption happens.

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20181106

Psalms 18:3-5

3 I called to Yahveh, who is worthy of praise, and I was delivered from my enemies. 4 The weeds of death were wrapped around me; the torrents of destruction terrified me. 5 The weeds of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me.

The psalmist pictures a terrifying death of getting pulled down into the sea and trapped there by entangling weeds. If the disaster is not abated, then Sheol (the state of being dead) would be the result. But God comes to the rescue and prevents that terrible death.

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20181105

Psalms 18:1-2

1 I love you, Yahveh, my strength. 2 Yahveh is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in which I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my deliverance, my stronghold.

The psalmist knows the danger he faced all too well. But he also knows deliverance. His praise comes from personal experience. His testimony stands as a basis for further prayer.

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20181104

Psalms 17:13-15

13 Rise up, Yahveh! Confront him; bring him down. Using your sword, save me from the wicked. 14 With your hand, Yahveh, save me from men, from men of the world whose allocation is in this life: You fill their bellies with what you have in store; their sons are satisfied, and they leave their excess to their children. 15 But I am going to see your face in righteousness; when I awake, I will be satisfied with your presence.

The psalmist is assured that he will be raised from death’s sleep and satisfied by his Lord’s presence. But he does not cease to pray for God to act in his life today. His enemies are feeding their children, with enough left over to pass on to the next generation.

He knows God will prove himself faithful in the future. His prayers aim at showing that God is faithful today.

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20181103

Psalms 17:10-12

10 They have closed their hearts; their mouths speak arrogantly. 11 They advance against me; now they surround me. They are determined to push me to the dirt. 12 They are like a lion eager to tear, like a young lion lurking in ambush.

I wish I could say that true Christians never have enemies like this. But I know we do. If you feel surrounded by lions today, remember you are not the first. Trust God, like this psalmist did— like Daniel did.

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