one work too many

marmsky June 2018 (19)

one work too many

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2417

John 7:19-24

Joh 7:19 Didn’t Moses give you the law? Yet none of you does what the law teaches. Why are you looking for me to kill me?”
Joh 7:20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon!; who is trying to kill you?”
Joh 7:21 Jesus answered, “I did one work, and you are all amazed,” .
Joh 7:22 “This is why Moses has given you the circumcision ritual — not that it comes from Moses but from the fathers– and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.
Joh 7:23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses won’t be broken, are you angry at me because I made a man entirely healthy on the Sabbath?
Joh 7:24 Don’t decide this kind of thing according to outward appearances; decide right decisions instead.”

one work too many

The one work Jesus referred to was his healing of the crippled man at the Sheep Gate (5:1-15). The man had no one to bring him into the pool — possibly because no one dared break a Sabbath rule by doing so. Jesus called on the man to actually break one of those “outward appearance” rules by picking up his pallet and carrying it away. When “the Jews” saw him doing that, they objected to his obedience.

Fast forward two chapters, and the controversy continues. Jesus points out that the problem is not with the Mosaic law. It was designed to promote mutual love and healthy living. But the legalism that had enslaved the law kept people from making right decisions about things.

LORD, show us how to do the right thing, even when it does not always look right.

Posted in judgment, legalism, righteousness | Tagged | Leave a comment

enhancing God’s reputation

marmsky June 2018 (18)

enhancing God’s reputation

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2418

John 7:15-18

Joh 7:15 Then the Jews were amazed and said, “How can this man know so many writings, since he hasn’t been trained?”
Joh 7:16 Jesus answered them, “My teaching isn’t mine but is from the one who sent me.
Joh 7:17 If someone wants to do what he wants, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking from myself.
Joh 7:18 The one who speaks from himself seeks to enhance his own reputation; but the one who seeks to enhance the reputation of the one who sent him is true, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

enhancing God’s reputation

Make it your life’s goal to enhance the reputation of God. One of the ways you can do this is by speaking God’s truth into your life situation. But this comes at a price. You did not come down from the sky like Jesus did. The only way for you to know God’s words and teach God’s teachings is for you to bury yourself in this Bible of his. There is no shortcut. Immerse yourself in the healing water of life. Then, when you encounter that woman at the well, you will be ready to lead her to Christ. Be born from above through the Spirit. Then, when you meet your Nicodemus, you will be able to guide him through the same experience. This is how God’s reputation is enhanced, one soul at a time.

LORD, glorify yourself through us.

Posted in evangelism, glory, scriptures | Tagged | Leave a comment

teaching that points to God

marmsky June 2018 (17)

teaching that points to God

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2415

John 7:11-16

Joh 7:11 That was why the Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, “Where is he?”
Joh 7:12 And there was a lot of gossiping about him among the crowds. Some were saying, “He’s a good man.” Others were saying, “No, he’s deceiving the people instead.”
Joh 7:13 Still, nobody was talking publicly about him for fear of the Jews.
Joh 7:14 When the festival was already at mid-point, Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach.
Joh 7:15 Then the Jews were amazed and said, “How can this man know so many writings, since he hasn’t been trained?”
Joh 7:16 Jesus answered them, “My teaching isn’t mine but is from the one who sent me.

teaching that points to God

Jesus had decided not to publically enter the festival and announce himself. It gave the listeners to his teaching the opportunity to hear him without the hype that would have accompanied his reputation as amiracle worker. So, what the people were amazed at here was the teaching that could not be explained by the influence of any of the current teaching rabbis.

For all of us, there is a learning of the sacred writings that can only come from getting into those writings, and being taught by God. Jesus had that understanding directly from the Father who had sent him to teach. May we seek to learn the Scripture so clearly that our understanding points to God as our teacher.

LORD, we commit ourselves to learning from your word, every day.

Posted in commitment, discipleship, scriptures | Tagged | Leave a comment

cryptic Christ

marmsky June 2018 (16)

cryptic Christ

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2414

John 7:2-10

Joh 7:2 The Jewish Festival of Shacks was near.
Joh 7:3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave from here and go to Judea so your disciples can see your works that you are doing.
Joh 7:4 Because no one does anything privately while he’s seeking to be public. If you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.”
Joh 7:5 (Because not even his brothers believed in him.)
Joh 7:6 Jesus told them, “My time has not yet presented itself, but your time is always ready.
Joh 7:7 The world cannot hate you, but it does hate me because I am testifying about it– that its works are evil.
Joh 7:8 Go up to the festival yourselves. I’m not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet completely come.”
Joh 7:9 After he had said these things, he stayed in Galilee.
Joh 7:10 But after his brothers had gone up to the festival, then he also went up, not openly but privately.

cryptic Christ

The word I translate privately in verses 4 and 10 is the Greek κρυπτός, from which we get our English word cryptic — a hidden message. Jesus chooses to go to the Festival privately — without calling attention to himself. He does so, not because he is ashamed of his words or ministry, but because it is not yet time for him to go public. His timing was designed to lead him to the cross. His circumstances and actions would conspire to have him slaughtered as our sacrifice to atone for our sins.

Also, don’t confuse the word time here with the word hour in chapter 5. In that chapter, Jesus contrasted two hours, the hour of evangelization and the hour of resurrection. In this section, Jesus contrasts two instances of καιρός (time to go public), saying that his brothers were free to do things publically, but he was not.

LORD, thank you for hiding yourself for a time, so that when you did reveal yourself, you did it to save us.

Posted in atonement, Jesus Christ, the cross | Tagged | Leave a comment

we love you, go away

marmsky June 2018 (15)

we love you, go away

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2413

John 7:1-5

Joh 7:1 And after these things happened, Jesus moved around in Galilee, since he did not want to move around in Judea because the Jews were looking for him to kill him.
Joh 7:2 The Jewish Festival of Shacks was near.
Joh 7:3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave from here and go to Judea so your disciples can see your works that you are doing.
Joh 7:4 Because no one does anything in secret while he’s seeking to be public. If you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.”
Joh 7:5 (Because not even his brothers believed in him.)

we love you, go away

You would think that Jesus’ home region would welcome him back with open arms, seeing that he had a reputation for literally being a miracle worker. But that is not how it was. It was more than just the “prophet without honor in his own country” thing. After Jesus started explaining the “why” for his miracles, people everywhere starting rethinking his superstar status. Was their world big enough for another I AM?

Even his brothers got this. When it came to the question of redefining their world, they were not willing to do that. If Jesus was going to keep talking about his special relationship with his Father — not meaning Joseph — It would be easier if he did that kind of thing from a distance. Their response to Jesus was “we love you, go away.”

If you have ever felt like an unwelcomed stranger in your own country or family, you have had a taste of what Jesus felt like. Ironically, Jesus was the only one with the words about permanent life, and their rejection of him was a rejection of hope.

LORD, draw us to Jesus, don’t send him away.

Posted in faith, Jesus Christ | Tagged | Leave a comment

courage for fickle times

marmsky June 2018 (14)

courage for fickle times

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2412

John 6:66-71

Joh 6:66 From that moment many of his disciples went away and no longer walked with him.
Joh 6:67 That was why Jesus said to the Twelve, “You don’t want to leave too, do you?”
Joh 6:68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, whom would we go away to? You have the words of permanent life.
Joh 6:69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One from God.”
Joh 6:70 Jesus replied to them, “Didn’t I select you, the Twelve? Yet one from you is a devil.”
Joh 6:71 He was referring to Judas, from Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, because he was going to hand him over.

courage for fickle times

It is quite significant that Peter’s confession of Christ at this point mentions the ῥήματα ζωῆς αἰωνίου. It was these words about permanent life that came to Peter as the reason  the disciples to stay with Jesus, even when others are deserting him. Like Peter, we live in Fickle times. One moment, our society is lauding our evangelists, the next they are persecuting our churches. Peter understood that the hope of a resurrection into permanent life is worth identifying with Christ, even when our world turns against him. He offers a solid hope for any times, even fickle ones.

LORD, give us the courage to stand by you, even while others around us are falling away.

Posted in courage, faithfulness, perseverance | Tagged | Leave a comment

hard word test

marmsky June 2018 (13)

hard word test

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2411

John 6:59-65

Joh 6:59 He said these things in the synagogue while teaching in Capernaum.
Joh 6:60 That was why, after many of his disciples heard this, they said, “This word is hard. Who can listen to it?”
Joh 6:61 Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, asked them, “Does this offend you?
Joh 6:62 Then what if you were to watch the Son of Man ascending to where he was formerly?
Joh 6:63 The Spirit is the one who makes someone alive. The flesh is not at all useful. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
Joh 6:64 But there are some among you who do not believe.” (Because Jesus knew from the first those who did not believe and the one who would hand him over.)
Joh 6:65 And He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is given to him by the Father.”

hard word test

Look back at what Jesus had told his disciples about how people come to faith in him:

Joh 6:37 Each one the Father is giving to me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never throw out.
Joh 6:38 Because I have come down from the sky, not to do what I want, but what my sender wants.
Joh 6:39 This is what my sender wants: that each thing given to me by him I will not destroy, but resurrect it on the last day.

One of the things that will demonstrate the authenticity of a disciple is her ability to respond in faith to the hard words of Jesus — the gospel truths which are a bit more difficult to understand or endorse. The eating and drinking Christ as a sacrifice word is one of those hard words.

LORD, give us to Jesus. May we learn the courage to accept all his words — even those which are difficult for us.


Posted in discipleship, faith | Tagged | Leave a comment

gnawing on and drinking the sacrifice

marmsky June 2018 (12)

gnawing on and drinking the sacrifice

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2410

John 6:52-58

Joh 6:52 At that, the Jews argued among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Joh 6:53 That is why Jesus said to them, “I honestly tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in yourselves.
Joh 6:54 The one who gnaws on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day,
Joh 6:55 because my flesh is a true consumable and my blood is a true drink.
Joh 6:56 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood stays in me, and I in him.
Joh 6:57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who gnaws on me will live because of me.
Joh 6:58 This is the bread that came down from the sky; it is not like the manna your ancestors ate– and they died. The one who eats this bread will live into the age.”

gnawing on and drinking the sacrifice

The antagonistic Jewish audience had refused to accept Jesus as the new manna from the sky. Now, he goes on to an even more difficult metaphor. He compares himself to the Old Testament sacrifices, particularly the ones that were to be consumed by the worshippers. These sacrifices were like sharing a meal with God the king, and symbolized the shared relationship and covenant with God.

The referent does not change with this new metaphor. Gnawing on the flesh and drinking the blood of this new sacrifice still means believing in Jesus (6:47). But Jesus changes the metaphor because gnawing on the flesh and drinking the blood are actions tied to the covenant aspect of the consumable sacrifices. Believers celebrate that covenant relationship every time we partake of the symbolic meal that commemorates Christ’s death on the cross.

LORD, thank you for providing the perfect sacrifice for our sins, and thank you that we share a relationship with you because of his sacrifice.

Posted in communion, faith, Jesus Christ | Tagged | Leave a comment

sacrifice from the sky

marmsky June 2018 (11)

sacrifice from the sky

Devotions from Jefferson Vann

John 6:47-52

Joh 6:47 “Truly I tell you, anyone who believes has permanent life.
Joh 6:48 I am the bread of life.
Joh 6:49 Your fathers ate the manna in the desert, and they died.
Joh 6:50 This is the bread that comes down from the sky so that anyone may eat from it and not die.
Joh 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from the sky. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Joh 6:52 At that, the Jews argued among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

sacrifice from the sky

Jesus had already explained his metaphor by saying that anyone who believes has permanent life. In this passage, Jesus ties that teaching to an Old Testament type which prefigured his ministry. That type was the manna. Eating the living bread means believing in Christ, who sacrificed his flesh on the cross for us.

The Jews arguing among themselves missed the point completely. Just like their ancestors, who questioned the gift of manna, these unbelievers would rather have an explanation than a salvation.

There are lots of things in life, and in God’s word that we will not understand. That should never be an excuse for unbelief.

LORD, increase our faith, and help us to have faith in you in spite of the things from your word we do not understand.

Posted in Bible, faith, Jesus Christ | Tagged | Leave a comment


marmsky June 2018 (10)


John 6:41-47

Joh 6:41 This was why the Jews started grumbling about him — because he said, “I am the bread that came down from the sky.”
Joh 6:42 This is what they said, “This is not Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from the sky’?”
Joh 6:43 Jesus answered them, “Stop grumbling among yourselves.
Joh 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me extricates him, and I will raise him up on the last day.
Joh 6:45 It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to me–
Joh 6:46 not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God. He has seen the Father.
Joh 6:47 “Truly I tell you, anyone who believes has permanent life.


The Greek word ἓλκω  (helko) in verse 44 is often translated “draw,” so I always thought of it as some kind of force from God attracting those who would believe. But the word has a more interesting history. It is the word used for extricating or extracting a sword from its sheath.

What is this power that extracts people from their antagonism to Jesus? It is being taught by God. The ones who listen to the Father’s word, and learn from him, believe who Jesus really is, and are promised permanent life.

LORD, extricate us, and teach us how to believe in your Son.

Posted in Bible, discipleship, sovereignty of God | Tagged | Leave a comment