John Chapter 8

What does a misunderstanding of the commandments have to do with Jesus’ return? John covered the subject in detail. Preachers today fail to make the connection. Why? Preachers today teach one subject at a time. They fail to cover material designed to lead into the next subject. Once they miss the introduction to a subject, they miss the entire spiritual message contained in the next story. That is one general rule of Bible Study many people miss. Why? There are factions in this world who stand against Jesus’ return and are working hard to spoil that return in any way they can.

John 8:1-59 NLTse Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, (2) but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. (3) As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. (4) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. (5) The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (6) They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. (7) They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (8) Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. (9) When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. (10) Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” (11) “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (12) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (13) The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.” (14) Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. (15) You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. (16) And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. (17) Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. (18) I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.” (19) “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” (20) Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come. (21) Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” (22) The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going‘?” (23) Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. (24) That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (25) “Who are you?” they demanded. Jesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be. (26) I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” (27) But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father. (28) So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. (29) And the one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” (30) Then many who heard him say these things believed in him. (31) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. (32) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (33) “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” (34) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. (35) A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. (36) So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (37) Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. (38) I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” (39) “Our father is Abraham!” they declared. “No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. (40) Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. (41) No, you are imitating your real father.” They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.” (42) Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. (43) Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! (44) For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. (45) So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! (46) Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? (47) Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.” (48) The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?” (49) “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father–and you dishonor me. (50) And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. (51) I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (52) The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ (53) Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” (54) Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ (55) but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. (56) Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (57) The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (59) At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

I have to admit. I spent years looking forward to writing about John’s book. I always considered John’s Gospel the most passionate of the four gospels. Some of his chapters capture a unique relationship with Christ as well as the necessary and personal connection God is looking for from each of His servants. But those last two chapters and this one paint an entirely different story.

John has been focusing on frustrations Jesus faced throughout His ministry. The disappointment Jesus faced when dozens of His followers walked away. John wrote about the human side of Christ. You can imagine what He felt when those people turned and walked away because they either didn’t get their way, or couldn’t understand. Jesus felt that sinking, empty feeling in His chest. His heart ached. Jesus felt the sting of rejection.

After spending generations planning each event, talking with His prophets, and recording every detail, Jesus finally came to this world. He had to grow up like every other child. He worked in the home and helped His mother like any little boy. Jesus worked with His father like any other young man. Finally His Heavenly Father told Him it was time and Jesus began the ministry He trained for all His life.

Jesus had hopes and dreams like all of us. He had a desire to succeed like most people do. Jesus wanted to make a better life for His family like every father sets out to do. This world is Jesus’ family. All of us are like brothers and sisters to Christ. We are more important than children to His Father. Jesus dreamed of success. He thought of how the day would go, always expecting the best. Constantly praying and most importantly, listening to God’s voice and of course following directions. Jesus knew if He followed each and every step in the plan of salvation recorded in scripture, everything would work out. Of course Jesus knew He had to suffer. But could anyone or anything prepare Jesus for the continual heartache and disappointments He faced day after day?

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Jesus was constantly hounded and hunted by religious leaders of all types. Those religious leaders couldn’t agree among themselves on hardly any subject, but something brought them together. They united to put an end to Jesus’ ministry and His life. But that wasn’t the tip of the iceberg when it came to disappointments and set backs Jesus had to endure. People constantly pierced His heart and tried to nail His hands and feet long before they put Him on that cross. Not physically restraining Jesus, but spiritually.

Priests tried to stop Jesus from using His hands to heal because he healed on the Sabbath. Pharisees tried to stop Jesus from moving forward when they questioned His view on the law. Other religious factions attempted to hold Jesus back in every way they could imagine. All of them were guilty of condemning Jesus without a trial. But this was only a small portion of the trials Jesus faced.

People from the town He grew up in doubted Him and spread rumors about Him. They focused on the miracles and how they could profit from them. They insisted Jesus was born in Galilee and joined the priests in hiding His real birth place, Bethlehem. If people knew, it wouldn’t be good for business.

People followed Jesus around because of the miracles He performed. Gentiles and even the Samaritans turned away from Jesus as soon as the miracles passed. It was like a repeat of the Exodus when Israel and all the people with them forgot the miracles they saw in Egypt. No wonder Isaiah told us the path to God’s throne is on a mountain. It always seems like an uphill battle. If life’s road is not that easy, why would the path to eternal life be any easier?

A Woman Caught in Adultery

John 8:1-11 NLTse Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, (2) but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. (3) As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. (4) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. (5) The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (6) They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. (7) They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (8) Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. (9) When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. (10) Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” (11) “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Jesus returned to Jerusalem after the Festival of Shelters. Also known as the Festival of Tabernacles. He wasn’t going to give up. The previous chapter showed how Jesus was rejected by groups of religious leaders as well as people He grew up with in Galilee. Was Jesus returning to face more of the same treatment? How many of us would have given up?

One strange thing I’ve noticed about John’s style of writing over these past few chapters is Jesus’ disciples are hardly mentioned. John called attention to the people Jesus was trying to reach. John put the emphasis on how Jesus was able to reach people and what He had to deal with when people didn’t want to accept Him or His message. It’s evident, John left us with a valuable training tool.

Were the disciples there when those religious leaders brought that woman to Him? We don’t know for sure by only looking at John’s book. What we see is a few words and phrases Jesus and John repeated to focus our attention. We see the words taught, teachers, and teacher. So we know those words are drawing attention to a lesson.

We also see the phrase, “caught in adultery,” repeated. We should ask how the Pharisees caught the woman in the act and what happened to the man? Doesn’t adultery take two? Those are the types of questions most people ask and preach on. It’s only natural. Those are details on the surface. But we are searching for the spiritual messages in each story.

Looking at other key words, we find an unusual combination in accusers and condemn. When we look at the story, we can see how the Pharisees wanted Jesus to either condemn the woman or let her go. If Jesus forgave her, the Pharisees would have accused Jesus of acting like he’s greater than the law and condemned Him.

How did this woman get herself in that position. She was at the mercy of the Pharisees who put her at Jesus’ mercy. In later chapters we will see the same attempt at shifting responsibility in condemning a person. John didn’t tell us how the woman got into that position, but we can look back to see how John led us into this story.

Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked. They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself–no prophet ever comes from Galilee!” Then the meeting broke up, and everybody went home. (John 7:50-53 NLTse).

John wanted to make it evident those religious leaders condemned people without a trial out of habit. You might say it was one of their traditions. Now that we have that information, we can see one of the reasons they didn’t want to listen to Jesus. That’s one major reason He had such a hard time reaching them. What lesson can we learn from that?

Look at people you’ve tried to reach. It seems for the most part, Christians reach out to other Christians. There seems to be three major groups. People who support you, who actually support one another. People who are looking for help and answers. The third group is Christians with all the answers who look for people to either debate or argue with. The Pharisees belonged to which group?

People who like to argue also tend to condemn people without knowing them. Like those Pharisees, their mind is made up and no one is going to change it. They may also try to trick you so they’ll have something to use against you. I think of those people as modern Pharisees. I think you’ll agree, they can’t see that in themselves. I have no idea why.

I wish we knew what Jesus wrote in that dust. But John doesn’t seem to give us any hints. If we followed general rules of context, we can look back to see if John included any hints. We can take a look at a list of verses that may give a clue.

My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me.

Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.

Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves

Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly

These are only a few. Other texts may be in previous chapters. Part of the answer may be seen later in this chapter. So far we see, Jesus had a message. He wanted to get that message across to them. Jesus knew their pride. Maybe if they wouldn’t listen to His messages, they might read them in the dust on the ground. Whatever He wrote, it made them leave. The older, wiser men left first, followed by younger Pharisees. Jesus got them to look below the surface. There is one more place we can look for an answer, in the summation.

Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (57) The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (59) At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

We don’t see a lot here telling us what Jesus wrote in the dust, unless it had something to do with Abraham. But we see something. They couldn’t stone the woman, so they picked up stones to kill Jesus. Another example of playing judge, jury, and executioner. Jesus kept returning because those Pharisees needed a lot of help. In a way, Jesus took the place of that condemned woman.

I Am the Light

John 8:12-20 NLTse Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (13) The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.” (14) Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. (15) You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. (16) And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. (17) Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. (18) I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.” (19) “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” (20) Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come.

When John pointed out Jesus spoke to the people once more, he showed us how much Jesus cared. He wasn’t about to give up. He couldn’t give up. Jesus introduced another new symbol, light. Jesus kept this new symbol simple and provided the spiritual interpretation. Jesus is the light given to this world. He is the light that leads to eternal life. What Jesus didn’t do was repeat the word darkness, nor did He define it. That’s not to say He didn’t point to it’s interpretation. But the emphasis is on Jesus the light that leads to eternal life.

The Pharisees had no idea what Jesus was talking about. What happened to that lesson they learned when they dropped their stones and walked away? That was the problem. As soon as they began learning, they walked away. After showing they understood what Jesus wrote in that dust, it didn’t take long for them to go back to their way of thinking and way of doing things. Who was really guilty of adultery?

Jesus fired back at the Pharisees with the truth, they didn’t really know Jesus. They already showed they didn’t know where Jesus was born. Or they wanted to hide that information. Their comments showed how they didn’t understand what Jesus taught, or didn’t want to hear. Jesus pointed out their ignorance in a way they didn’t understand.

Jesus also pointed out their flawed judgment. It was only human. If those Pharisees were honest, they would have found one point they could agree with Jesus. But their instincts put them on the defense.

Jesus also told them how He and His Father are one and how God is His witness as well as He is God’s witness. This is a new concept for everyone in Jesus’ time. I don’t know why Jesus kept introducing new concepts at such a rapid rate. John chapter 7 and 8 took place over a few days. Over that time period Jesus introduced quite a number of subjects. He told them He brought a message from God. His teaching is from God. God sent Him. He will return to God. Jesus introduced the symbol bread and living water. He also told them to search scripture for proof of what He told them. Then Jesus told them, He is the light.

Jesus could have explained a lot more details about all the subjects He was teaching. If only they would listen. Jesus couldn’t force them and Jesus couldn’t wait for them to decide when they wanted to learn. Jesus was on a tight schedule. Another subject those religious leaders didn’t understand.

Jesus couldn’t make it any clearer. If they didn’t know Him, they didn’t know the God. It was true when Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem and it’s still true today. There is a process with specific steps. God works with people where they are, but the goal is always the same. People have to know Jesus to be saved. They have to know both Jesus and God to get ready for eternal life.

You Cannot Come Where I Am Going

John 8:21-32 NLTse Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” (22) The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going‘?” (23) Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. (24) That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (25) “Who are you?” they demanded. Jesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be. (26) I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” (27) But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father. (28) So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. (29) And the one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” (30) Then many who heard him say these things believed in him. (31) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. (32) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We suddenly see a pattern forming here. As we look back, we can’t help but see the same event occurring. Jesus talks to people and they walk away. A group of Jews and Gentiles sailed across the lake, found Jesus in Californium, listened to Him, then walked away. Jesus’ brothers told Jesus what they thought He should be doing, then left for Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. Jesus went to Jerusalem, talked to one group of religious leaders after another, and many groups of people. Jesus introduced one symbols after another, and one piece of a puzzle after another that would open up their understanding of the plan of salvation, and understanding all the prophecies about the Messiah. They all walked away. They all had one thing in common, none of them understood. They all questioned Jesus because they didn’t understand. Instead of listening to Jesus and learning about the Spirit He was trying to point them to, they walked away and left Him and His message behind. Instead of opening scriptures Jesus sent them to, they shut the door to understanding and God’s Spirit.

The scary part about this whole situation and one of the lessons in this story shows how all those religious factions united against Christ. Something drew them together to destroy and silence Him. This created a new religious movement known as unity. The first man made religious unity put Jesus on that cross.

That man made unity was broken when Jesus rose from that tomb defeating death and the grave. Jesus gave the world a clear and unmistakable view of God’s Spirit. After all those prophecies were fulfilled and Jesus, along side of God’s Spirit explained how and why each of those prophecies were fulfilled on time and to the letter, people could see solid evidence of God in His Word. For the first time in world history since Enoch, people had an understanding of God and how to communicate with Him. The new Christian church grew at a rapid pace because they knew how to teach others how to communicate with God.

Generations later, people began to forget how to listen to God’s voice. They forgot how to understand His Word. Men introduced their own messages one after another. Some groups clung to one message, others to another message. The church became fragmented. The work slowed. It finally stood still. Without God’s Spirit, the work stopped and so did the message which was soon forgotten.

No one knows where it started or who came up with the idea, but it made sense to a lot of men. If people all worshiped the same thing at the same time, God would once again hear us. The world thought a universal church where everyone followed the same course would bend God’s ear to this world once again. It sounded like a good idea, so a central church was formed, approving what they referred to as a unified form of worship.

A committee wrote out a step by step form of worship distributed throughout the world. When the world united in a single form of worship, God would once again hear us. Everyone who agreed followed their step by step worship service and preached the same message week after week. But there was no evidence God heard. So they standardized the way priests dressed, the appearance of the churches, and created new traditions for people to follow. One detail was added upon another in the hopes it would please God and they could find His Spirit once again.

Finally they decided what they really needed was to follow one man. So they elected one man to be the source of communication between Christ and His church. That seemed to work. People were so far removed from God’s Spirit and His word, they thought that one person who they choose could hear. When that one man told them he heard God, they believed him.

To them all of that made sense. After all, God had one service for His Tabernacle in the wilderness. But they forgot how that Tabernacle was arranged so every item, detail, and color pointed to Christ and His ministry. God dressed all the priests alike. But they forgot how that priestly order was abused and Christ died to put and end to it. They borrowed other points from scripture and changed them around to suit their needs and concepts of worship. But without God’s Spirit, all they had was one more man made from of worship. Copying it thousands of times did nothing to please God. What they needed to do was get back to what Jesus came to teach. They also needed to go back to understanding prophecies Jesus fulfilled. The prophecies taught by the early church at Jesus’ command.

Every change initiated under the disguise of unity shut God’s Spirit out of worship and sucked God’s Spirit out of each member of what they called their church. There was no way for people to communicate with God’s Spirit when every facet of worship and study was locked in chains of human control. Men recreated the system Jesus came to abolish.

Jesus warned about a big change about to come. People will search for Him but not find Him. We can’t restrict that search to Jesus’ resurrection. People didn’t stop searching for Him after His resurrection. Common sense tells us, that is when people began searching for Jesus. That was one giant landmark in earth’s history that changed this planet forever.

Jesus told them one important detail about their search. “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not.” There is no way anyone is going to find Jesus if they don’t put away their worldly views and what the world told them about searching for Jesus.

I’ve noticed one thing most preachers have in common. Some are very good preachers. They can cover a lot of good points in their sermons. They tell people not to trust any man, or woman. They tell people to search scripture. They tell people how their lives depend on it. They don’t have a problem backing up what they say with scripture. But what most preachers can’t do is teach people how to study God’s Word on their own. They have no idea how to sit down and show people the step by step process. Most preachers follow a particular process to study but they don’t have the ability to sit down and show people what they do. That is a different spiritual gift from the same Spirit.

They may also have a great relationship with God. They may pray 90-99% of the day. They know how to see God in His Word, see Him in action in this world, wonder about Him in nature, and praise Him in song and prayer. But few pastors are able to preach a sermon telling people the step by step process to read and understand God’s Word.

This book is designed to show you patterns in God’s Word so you can learn to use them in your own studies. Like in this section of the book. You can see how I’ve taken my time over these last three chapters. It takes 1-3 days to write a chapter. That gives God’s Spirit a long time to confirm what He is telling me. I’ve had people call me and confirm what I was thinking about or writing at the moment. I’ve chatted with people half way around the world who were influenced at that moment to share details I was just about to write about or had written a few minutes before. None of those people had any idea what I was writing about. God will always confirm His message.

Look at the Old Testament. How many prophets did God send to the Jews when Jerusalem fell? I never counted all of them, but there is a whole list of them. What about the time they spent in Babylon and scattered all over the world? Got sent prophets where they were. God confirmed His messages then and He still follows guidelines He established. And He will continue to do so no matter what men think or say.

That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” Is there a difference between accepting Christ and knowing Him? How can you accept Jesus if you’ve never known Him? How can you know Jesus if you’ve never met Him or His Spirit? How do you meet the Spirit Jesus promised to send?

I hope I’m not getting ahead of God or John’s book at this point, but there are a few details I think we need to cover. God still speaks to us as clearly as Jesus spoke to those crowds. The problem is, we spend too much time arguing or making excuses. In other words, the lack of reception is our fault. God didn’t loose control or have His connection go bad. We’re at fault. Admitting we’re the problem is the first step.

I don’t really think it matters what you do to talk to God. Everyone I’ve talked to about this subject has their personal way of talking with God. All of them are simple. Some people actually use a prayer closet. Other people find a quite place. The key is a quite place to listen. When people begin to listen to God the enemy is there with a thousand demons to shut out God’s voice, which is like a thought, but clear, unexpected, and if you listen to those preachers who back up what they say with scripture, you better get ready to listen to the Preacher who wrote the book. He is going to flood your mind with so many pieces of scripture you’ll think your swimming in it. Every scripture will be related to the others in ways you never imagined. Things you didn’t understand will become so clear you’ll feel like smacking yourself because you didn’t see it before. You’ll hear God’s voice as soon as you learn to shut out distractions from the world. It takes a little practice.

As you progress, scripture will have a new meaning on everyday life. You’ll see connections you never imagined. You are going to places most people never thought about or knew existed. You’ll see how God’s Word lives, breaths, grows, and multiplies, all without leaving the page. Congratulations, you just found Jesus!!! You are finally following Him.

One thing I need to warn you about. Your meeting with Jesus is personal. Like everyone who talks with Jesus, you’ll remember a great deal of the information He shared with you, but you’ll only be able to explain about 10%. But when He gives you a message to share, He will always confirm that message. Jesus will confirm the message in His written Word. When you read the Bible you’ll see the exact same message within a day or two. Jesus will also send His followers, your friends with faith will confirm the message, and you’ll be able to freely discuss it with them.

Keep in mind, almost all the messages Jesus gives you will be close and personal like the examples we’re seen with Nicodemus and the women He met at that well. And don’t forget, some people will immediately understand the message while other people will be like Nicodemus and take years to understand.

I found out writing is a good way to talk with God. It slows me down. He has a way of showing when it’s time to stop. That’s a signal it’s time to pray or go back and read scripture for the day as I read through the Bible in about 6-9 months. I don’t know how He does it, but He always seems to have a part of the lesson I’m working on in the scripture I read that day.

Sometimes life events blend into the lesson God is teaching at the time. So I have to wait to go through a personal experience before I understand what lesson God is teaching at that moment. Or like I’ve mentioned before, God will send someone with that missing piece of the message.

This may all seem strange to some people but I know, this is the way God works and I know why. God’s method of talking to us and teaching us is designed to keep us humble all the time. When I receive one message from 3-4 different sources, it can never be my message. Only God could have arranged all of those events. We can see the events of our lives unfold and pages of our life story turn like pages in scripture. God is perfectly consistent with the methods He uses. If God created the perfect method of teaching in His Bible, how could he improve on it when it comes to teaching us lessons in our own lives?

Now you can see why I keep showing the simple methods of looking back and comparing scripture, and looking for connections. Those study methods aren’t only used to study the Bible, they are used to listen to God when He teaches us about lessons we need to learn in our lives.

I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” Jesus doesn’t condemn, but I have to warn you. When you first begin talking with His Spirit, Jesus can be surprisingly honest. I’m talking about an honesty that cuts to the bone and pierces the heart. Jesus used that method with that woman at the well. He will tell you personal details only you know about.

Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me.” This shows how we won’t understand what Jesus tells us until after we experience it. And like the Gospels tell, Jesus will have to explain those details.

None of those people understood what Jesus was talking about until after His resurrection and He explained all the details to them. Jesus will share details you won’t understand at the moment. You’ll have to be like His disciples and the rest of those people and wait until the event unfolds. Then you’ll have to return for another talk so Jesus can explain all the details in your life.

The one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” All the messages you receive from Jesus will be directly from God and will follow all of God’s laws. This is also why important lessons will be verified with scripture.

Many who heard him say these things believed in him. Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

But remember, only a few understood while many walked away. Not everyone will accept messages you deliver even when your certain they came from God and have been verified a number of ways. Look at the process and learn from it. God put people in your life you can share your success and disappointments with. Look how many times Jesus was disappointed over the past few chapters. Don’t expect your path to be all downhill. The only path up God’s mountain is uphill. God be with you.

We Are Descendants of Abraham

John 8:33-41 NLTse “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” (34) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. (35) A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. (36) So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (37) Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. (38) I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” (39) “Our father is Abraham!” they declared. “No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. (40) Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. (41) No, you are imitating your real father.” They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.”

John showed the selective memory those people had. If we look back a few verses, we see Jesus was talking to the people who believed in Him. We also see an illustration of selected beliefs. People listen to Jesus up to a point. They listen to what sounds good to them and what they agree with. But when something gets a little rough, they change their minds about Jesus.

Those people forgot the Jewish captivity in Babylon. They mentioned Abraham. That goes back generations before the captivity in Babylon when most of the Jews were carried away as slaves. Jesus had to explain, He was talking about being slaves to sin.

Before Jesus was telling them they were going to die in their sins. Now He is telling them they are slaves to sin. Put the two together and you have people dying as slaves. What a life to live. But people don’t feel like their slaves. I’ve heard dozens of people say, “God gives us freedom of choice.” I often wondered what people meant by that. I finally found out when my ex-wife started an affair then filed for divorce. I couldn’t believe people in church thought that cliché took precedence over God’s law. Jesus had another definition for it. He called sin slavery leading to death. Jesus never called sin an option.

Of course Jesus had His own way of explaining this new symbol He introduced. Jesus used the illustration of a family. Some people own slaves who are in their homes but not really part of the family. Slaves are bought and sold. Some owners treat slaves well, other not so well. You can imagine. But children are family. Compared to a slave, family is free. We have to remember, Jesus is talking about being part of God’s family. We can’t confuse God’s family with any family in this world, no matter how good they may be. Jesus used family as another illustration to remind us, we have to leave the world behind when we consider spiritual matters and lessons.

Some of those people in that crowd wanted to kill Him. Jesus was addressing a wide range of personalities. Some accepted His message while others ignored it. What was He supposed to do? Jesus couldn’t make people listen. I guess that was the freedom of choice people were talking about. Jesus summed up that choice in His own way. “I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” You are free to choose who you want to listen to.

It didn’t matter what Jesus said or how He tried to reach them. Those people who made up their minds to kill Him thought they were following God and everyone else was lost. I’m sure you’ve faced the same dilemma. Not much has changed in two thousand years.

Children of the Father of Lies

John 8:42-47 NLTse Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. (43) Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! (44) For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. (45) So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! (46) Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? (47) Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

This is a subject I looked at, and didn’t really want to get into. My marriage and divorce keep coming to mind. I wonder how a woman can be married for six years and live what was nothing less than a split personality. She eventually told me, she never intended to stay married. Her plan was to marry and have me support her while she finished her degree and got a job. She told me it was all my fault it took her six years to finish her degree. She planned on only two years, three at the most. So she blamed me for the delay. And took her anger out on me in ways I never imagined anyone was capable of.

Her mother and sister told me, it was tradition from where they came from. They were never meant to remain married to American men. It was their custom to marry American men until they were ready to move on. Even though my ex-wife had been in the US since she was eight years old. Those traditions were still strong. Stronger than common sense. Stronger than God’s law.

God only wrote ten commandments. One of them tells us not to lie. Since when is tradition an excuse to dishonor God’s law? I was shown how lies lead to breaking all the commandments. Lying dishonors God and parents. In her case, lies led to adultery which led to more and more lies. In her anger, she made twisted attempts to drive me over the edge. To use my emotions against me. She went as far as trying to push me into taking my own life by using more lies. She tried to commit murder. Lies also led to character assassination. She tried to do those things because she had no idea Jesus was a far greater force. I saw how Jesus used truth to battle lies. He brought back to mind all the warnings He sent me before I married her. It was not easy to take, but I could not argue with the truth.

I often look at presidents. They look young or at least normal when first taking office. But after four or eight years in office, they often leave, looking like tired old men. Especially now when I see a president younger than me looking so old. Hair turns gray. Faces develop lines. Their bodies show a distinctive stoop. Many people say it is the pressure from all those decisions they have to make. I wonder if it is pressure from trying to keep tract of all the lies they tell.

I saw my wife once, just before she filed divorce papers. I took a few pictures. I was still deeply in love and as we know, love can be blind. I looked at those pictures after I came to terms with the divorce and saw how old she looked. Those lies took a deeper toll on her than they did on me. I healed, but she still lives with the effects of all those lies.

Jesus called the devil the father of lies. He didn’t call him the father of lies to set up a comparison with His Father. Jesus would never compare the two. Not even in a contrast. Jesus called attention to the way the devil spawns lines. The devil cannot create anything. He doesn’t have power to create. All he can do is manipulate. Jesus referred to his followers as children. This is a contrast to God’s children like life and death are contrasts. But the devil cannot produce children. Looking back a few verses we see, all he can do is change them into slaves. His slaves.

The point Jesus was making is, the more we hear lies, the harder it is to hear God. The difference between lies and truth isn’t like a light switch where we have control to turn one on or off. It’s not like we flip a switch and suddenly our lives are filled with light and truth. It is an uphill battle to get away from those lies. This is the point Jesus was trying to make when He said, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not.”

People can and will get so deep into lies they control every aspect of their lives. One little white lie turns into another. I don’t have to explain the process or effect. What people don’t realize is how the devil uses lies to turn people away from God. How lies make people mistrust God to a point, they are repulsed by God because He is truth. “Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

Anyone Who Obeys Will Never Die

John 8:48-59 NLTse The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?” (49) “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father–and you dishonor me. (50) And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. (51) I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (52) The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ (53) Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” (54) Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ (55) but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. (56) Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (57) The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (59) At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

Those people proved the point. As soon as they were faced with the truth, they were repulsed by it. Notice how they changed the subject? Jesus just told them the devil is the father of lies. They didn’t take it well when Jesus called them his children. That struck a sour cord. They shot back without thinking. They called Jesus a Samaritan devil. A little while ago they said Jesus was from Galilee. Now they claim He is from Samaria. Which is true and which is false? Notice how they jumped into a lie to defend themselves?

Now we see how far lies will draw people away from God and what they do to people. Those people showed they had no concept of eternal life. Those people showed how little they knew about God. In this lesson Jesus told the cold, hard truth. Something few people are able to accept. Lies pull us away from God as well as eternal life and and understanding of both. Lies distort our concept of right and wrong just like they did in Eden.

Satan wasn’t trying to give Eve anything. He wanted her to serve him. Like Jesus pointed out, Satan wanted to make Eve his slave. That tree didn’t do anything for Eve other than show her what it was like to sin and eventually the consequences. It didn’t give any special powers to her to be like God. She knew the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. But one lie from Satan made the sin look more attractive then the consequences.

How far did the truth get Jesus? He tried to tell them He is the living water. They couldn’t go where He was about to go. They would search for Him but not be able to find Him. For that they tried to arrest Him. Jesus told them if they never sinned, they have the right to cast the first stone. Jesus told them He is the light to this world. He has been given the right to judge, but He prefers not to judge people. Jesus gave them one view of His ministry after another using signs and symbols. But those teachers and priests couldn’t understand.

Jesus once again told them, they couldn’t follow Him to where He was going because they were going to die in their sins. They already proved they were sinners when they dropped those stones and walked away. But they couldn’t bring themselves to accept Jesus and all He was offering them. A portion of their sins were lies, which led to other sins and more lies. Their thoughts proved they were sinners and in need of healing and a savior. They just didn’t want to be saved in the manner Jesus offered them.

Why do you boast about your crimes, great warrior? Don’t you realize God’s justice continues forever? All day long you plot destruction. Your tongue cuts like a sharp razor; you’re an expert at telling lies. You love evil more than good and lies more than truth. You love to destroy others with your words, you liar! (Psalms 52:1-4 NLTse).

Jesus knew all of those trials and disappointments were coming. They didn’t take Jesus by surprise. Neither did their answers or the way they tried to change the subject. Jesus knew what was behind their lies and mistrust. Jesus knew money and status played a major role. But what could Jesus do? He kept on course and introduced lessons they had to hear. Yes, God gave us freedom to choose. Look at the choices those religious leaders and other people made. We see how they made those choices and if we look a little deeper into those stories, we can see why they made those choices.

Finally those people wanted to pick up stones and kill Jesus. They couldn’t do that to the woman caught committing adultery, but they wanted to stone Jesus. Why? Who was committing spiritual adultery in Jerusalem that day?

John Chapter 7

The story covers Jesus’ first visit to Jerusalem. The question is often asked why John was the only Apostle to record this event. John was the only Apostle to record what Jesus taught about the Holy Spirit. Not many people question those chapters. After reading this study, you should understand why John was the only Apostle to record Jesus’ first visit to Jerusalem. That first visit to Jerusalem was during the Festival of Shelters. Why did Jesus choose that time to go to Jerusalem? There is a spiritual reason behind it.

John 7:1-53 NLTse After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. (2) But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, (3) and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! (4) You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” (5) For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. (6) Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime. (7) The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil. (8) You go on. I’m not going to this festival, because my time has not yet come.” (9) After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee. (10) But after his brothers left for the festival, Jesus also went, though secretly, staying out of public view. (11) The Jewish leaders tried to find him at the festival and kept asking if anyone had seen him. (12) There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, “He’s a good man,” but others said, “He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.” (13) But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders. (14) Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. (15) The people were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked. (16) So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. (17) Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. (18) Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies. (19) Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.” (20) The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?” (21) Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. (22) But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. (Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses.) (23) For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? (24) Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” (25) Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? (26) But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah? (27) But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.” (28) While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. (29) But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.” (30) Then the leaders tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. (31) Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this man has done?” (32) When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were whispering such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus. (33) But Jesus told them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me. (34) You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going.” (35) The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. “Where is he planning to go?” they asked. “Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe he will even teach the Greeks! (36) What does he mean when he says, ‘You will search for me but not find me,’ and ‘You cannot go where I am going’?” (37) On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! (38) Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (39) (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.) (40) When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” (41) Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? (42) For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” (43) So the crowd was divided about him. (44) Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him. (45) When the Temple guards returned without having arrested Jesus, the leading priests and Pharisees demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” (46) “We have never heard anyone speak like this!” the guards responded. (47) “Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked. (48) “Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him? (49) This foolish crowd follows him, but they are ignorant of the law. God’s curse is on them!” (50) Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. (51) “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked. (52) They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself–no prophet ever comes from Galilee!” (53) Then the meeting broke up, and everybody went home.

The Word was God
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Indecision. That word sums up this chapter as well as the last chapter. Why? Why couldn’t people accept what Jesus was saying? Is it really that much different today? People read the Bible. And people seem to disagree on just about every subject, including the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus has been slowly introducing the subject of resurrection one little detail at a time.

Search the scriptures is not repeated in this chapter for nothing. Jesus sent people to scriptures. Did they refer to them? Did they see details we’ve seen? Was this another lesson showing how some people read God’s Word one way while other people say it means something totally different, or the opposite? How do we know which it true? The one thing we never want to do is separate a few verses out of a chapter and try to explain what it means. That is like leaving God’s hand, or leaving His Spirit behind like those people in the previous chapter left Jesus behind.

Jesus’ Brothers Offered Advise

John 7:1-9 NLTse After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. (2) But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, (3) and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! (4) You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” (5) For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. (6) Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime. (7) The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil. (8) You go on. I’m not going to this festival, because my time has not yet come.” (9) After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee.

Jesus went back to his hometown. The town He grew up. Jesus needed to stay away from those religious leaders. Out of their cross hairs. They were hunting Jesus because they wanted to kill Him. Another Jewish festival came up. It was the Festival of Shelters. It used to be a simple ceremony when Hebrews lived in temporary shelters for a time. This was to remind them, this world is temporary and one day God would come to take them to the real promised land. The promised land we refer to as the spiritual promised land.

“Remember that this seven-day festival to the LORD–the Festival of Shelters–begins on the fifteenth day of the appointed month, after you have harvested all the produce of the land. The first day and the eighth day of the festival will be days of complete rest. On the first day gather branches from magnificent trees–palm fronds, boughs from leafy trees, and willows that grow by the streams. Then celebrate with joy before the LORD your God for seven days. You must observe this festival to the LORD for seven days every year. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed in the appointed month from generation to generation. For seven days you must live outside in little shelters. All native-born Israelites must live in shelters. This will remind each new generation of Israelites that I made their ancestors live in shelters when I rescued them from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” So Moses gave the Israelites these instructions regarding the annual festivals of the LORD. (Leviticus 23:39-44 NLTse).


 

All that changed when Solomon decided to dedicate his temple during that festival. It seems like an oxymoron, putting God into a stone temple during a festival when Israel, including the king was supposed to move into a temporary shelter made of sticks and leaves.

A new tradition was born and people loved it. No more camping out every year. People replaced God’s festival with one of their own. An easier one to keep. But the vision of Heaven was lost. How could that happen? If you check back a few chapters before Solomon dedicated his temple, you’ll find Solomon appointed the priests and other religious leaders. The king controlled the church. You’ll also find, David did the same thing. We can’t tell how much of an effect that had on religious services, but we can see how later kings appointed pagan priests, religions, and introduced idols. For generations that temple bounced around from a pagan temple, back to Hebrew, and back and forth. Every change resulted in a blend of pagan traditions and what was left from the instructions Moses recorded. Jesus had His work cut out for Himself. This is why His work was so difficult. The religion those Jews followed was hardly a shadow of what Moses and Aaron followed and taught in the wilderness.

The symbols used in the Tabernacle were also lost. Little if anything in the stone temple pointed to Jesus. Herod’s temple was based on a grand and glorious design aimed at showing the world God’s greatness. The meekness and simplicity of Christ was gone. Even the sacrificial system had been so distorted, no one had any idea there was a connection between the lamb and Christ. The system was so broken, God’s plan was to start from scratch by introducing new symbols. But was the world ready for the change?

Jesus’ brothers summed up what the world wanted to see and understand about Jesus. All they cared about was His miracles. It’s pretty much the same today. Go to a church with a prayer and praise portion in their service. What do you hear? People asking prayer for this, that or the other thing. Does anyone praise God? Does anyone stand up to tell what God taught them that week? Not too often. For the most part, the few minutes is filled with people asking for things – asking God to prove Himself with another miracle.

Business was good in Galilee. People were making money selling lodging, food, water, and care for travelers animals. Believe it or not, Jesus’ ministry became a windfall for every business in Galilee. His brothers didn’t want Jesus sitting around. They wanted Him to go out and do some advertising to bring in more business. What better place to advertise than Jerusalem during a major festival.

All Jesus could tell them is, it wasn’t His time. Time for what? Most people look at the surface and think it wasn’t His time to go to Jerusalem to die. Although that may be true, it is far from the whole story. Jesus had to give God’s Spirit a little more time to set up details so some people would actually listen and understand. The best Jesus could hope for was a few people to listen and understand. Jesus knew the message He had to deliver would aggravate a lot of people. The message would aggravate a lot more if He moved too quickly.

We see how Jesus repeated the phrase about not being the right time. Jesus called it His time. When the time was right, it would be Jesus’ time to teach and continue His ministry. Everything had to be done on time, according to God’s plan, and according to every prophecy recorded about Himself. This was a vital key to Jesus’ success. One of the major conditions of Jesus’ ministry was to point people to the prophecies He was fulfilling, when He was fulfilling them. This is also a vital part of Christianity today, but a sadly neglected major portion of the ministry and message Jesus gave to take to the world.

Jesus Goes to Jerusalem

John 7:10-13 NLTse But after his brothers left for the festival, Jesus also went, though secretly, staying out of public view. (11) The Jewish leaders tried to find him at the festival and kept asking if anyone had seen him. (12) There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, “He’s a good man,” but others said, “He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.” (13) But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.

First Jesus told His brothers it wasn’t His time. About three days later, Jesus went to Jerusalem. Why did His brothers leave halfway through the festival? That shows how seriously they treated the festival and how much it had been changed. Why did Jesus wait for His brothers to leave before going to the festival? The obvious answer would be, He didn’t need their advise or influence. Jesus also didn’t need them asking for more miracles in front of the crowds, or using Jesus’ influence to get more people to visit Galilee. The influence in Galilee didn’t paint a proper picture of Jesus.

Jewish leaders were looking all over for Jesus. They expected Him to visit Jerusalem during the festival. It wouldn’t be a big deal for them to arrest Jesus during the Festival of Shelters. Jesus didn’t have the large following He did at the end of His ministry. John told us how people were leaving Jesus. We can assume reports to the priests were greatly exaggerated. Walking among the crowds showed those Jewish leaders how split Jews were when the talked about Jesus. As we know, little attention is paid to anyone supporting someone you despise, while the emphasis is placed on people agreeing with your view. It didn’t matter what the actual numbers were, the priests looked at any indicator in their favor as a victory.

Numbers didn’t matter to God either. Of course He wanted everyone to turn to His Son and be saved, but human numbers would not be of any consequence to any part of God’s plan. It never was and it never will be.

Jesus Taught in the Temple

John 7:14-24 NLTse Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. (15) The people were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked. (16) So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. (17) Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. (18) Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies. (19) Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.” (20) The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?” (21) Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. (22) But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. (Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses.) (23) For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? (24) Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”

 

God’s Spirit told Jesus when the time was right to go to Jerusalem. God had to make sure everything was prepared. Just before Jesus entered Jerusalem, He saw a few temporary shelters constructed outside the city gates. He stood and watched people pass those shelters and listened to them. People didn’t recognize Jesus. He was hidden from them like the message those shelters carried. People passed those shelters without giving them a though. A few people hurled insults and some threw a few stones.

Some of those shelters housed only individuals while others housed an entire family for a week, So many people passed them thinking it was some sort of long lost religious cult. Others thought it was some kind of misled movement. A few people stopped to ask why they chose to honor God’s festival this way. Those inside were more than happy to explain, and point them back to scripture. That was the only way people could see the message in the pattern. Passover, to harvest, to trumpets and atonement, then finally the shelters.

Jesus watched those people for some time. Then He went from shelter to shelter to listen to them and share a few words. Once inside the city gates, Jesus only saw a few more shelters. He stopped and talked to them on His way to the temple. A few people followed Him to the temple, but not many. Mostly they were people curious about those shelters. Something inside told them there was much more to learn about those shelters and Jesus seemed to know more than anyone they’ve ever met.

Once inside the temple court, Jesus and the few people following Him could see how the Jews celebrated the Festival of Shelters. What a contrast to those few people outside the city gates. People were busy exchanging money, buying lambs, goats, and birds, then standing in another line to have them sacrificed. It was clear all those animals were being sacrificed to honor the temple. The sudden impact of reality made people think and wonder how things could have changed. Jesus knew how.

The Festival of Shelters does more than serve as a reminder this life is temporary. It is also one illustration showing how people pick and choose which parts of the Bible to accept and which to reject. The festival also showed how easy it is for religious leaders to hide scripture from people to get their way. Jews concentrated on one part of scripture while hiding another.

“Five days later, on the fifteenth day of the same month, you must call another holy assembly of all the people, and you may do no ordinary work on that day. It is the beginning of the Festival of Shelters, a seven-day festival to the LORD. On the first day of the festival, you must present a burnt offering as a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the LORD. It will consist of thirteen young bulls, two rams, and fourteen one-year-old male lambs, all with no defects. Each of these offerings must be accompanied by a grain offering of choice flour moistened with olive oil–six quarts for each of the thirteen bulls, four quarts for each of the two rams, and two quarts for each of the fourteen lambs. You must also sacrifice a male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its accompanying grain offering and liquid offering. “On the second day of this seven-day festival, sacrifice twelve young bulls, two rams, and fourteen one-year-old male lambs, all with no defects. Each of these offerings of bulls, rams, and lambs must be accompanied by its prescribed grain offering and liquid offering. You must also sacrifice a male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its accompanying grain offering and liquid offering. (Numbers 29:12-19 NLTse).

The Jewish leaders emphasized one description of the festival while hiding the other. Tradition turned the festival into an endless stream of sacrifices to honor the temple. They had no evidence to prove God existed inside the temple. That was all the more reason to combine the long list of sacrifices on the Festival of Shelters with Solomon’s dedication of his temple when he sacrificed so many animals, blood ran into the streets like a river. The more sacrifices, the more money the priests made. Another well hidden scripture is found in Isaiah.

Listen to the LORD, you leaders of “Sodom.” Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.” “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the LORD. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting– they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. (Isaiah 1:10-19 NLTse).

The Festival of Shelters showed how religious leaders separate and segregate certain parts of scripture to benefit themselves and their beliefs. In the example of the Shelters, one section pointed to God’s prophets. The other was used to only point to profits. How was Jesus going to get them to look at all of God’s Scripture so they could see the truth for themselves?

At first the people were surprised at what Jesus taught. They heard much of what He had to say for the first time and were amazed at how simple it was, and how much they missed. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked. Everything was going great until Jesus mentioned the law.

“My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.” The message Jesus refereed to was not something new, but scripture recorded generations before He came to this world. Jesus pointed them back to scripture. He didn’t need to prove Himself. Everything He taught came from scripture, a full view of scripture.

Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies.” People speak for themselves by taking little bits and pieces of scripture then telling people what they think it means. They don’t back it up with scripture, nor do they allow scripture to explain itself. They rely on themselves to glorify themselves.

Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.” Jesus pointed them back to scripture. In particular, everything Moses wrote about the festival they were celebrating. It was time to put away man made traditions and look at what God gave them. It was time to put aside man made interpretations for the symbols and learn how scripture revealed the spiritual meaning for every symbol.

People didn’t like Jesus bringing up the subject of the law that had been twisted and remolded by men to become a burden people would just as soon avoid. Their reaction showed their distorted concept of the law. The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?” More often than not, people will attack someone they don’t agree with by changing the subject. After listening to Jesus for a while, they all knew, they wouldn’t stand a chance debating the law with Jesus. They could see He understood a lot more than they did. So they accused Jesus of being possessed by a demon. Did that every happen to you?

It happens to me all the time. If you engage in online discussions about the Bible, it doesn’t matter what subject is being discussed. Chances are the group consists of one or two people who want to appear like they know everything. They feel threatened by anyone who introduces material they don’t know about. If they feel out matched in scripture, they change the subject by accusing you of being possessed, or a false prophet, a member of a church they consider an enemy, or something along those lines. This is what happened to Jesus.

It’s not hard to see who changed the subject. Jesus went right into an example showing how they chose one part of the law over another, and in His own way, asked them how to explain it. With the same question, Jesus asked them to explain why it was okay for them to circumcise a baby, but it was wrong for Jesus to heal an old man or woman on the Sabbath. When Jesus told them to, “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” He pointed them back to scripture. Not to read it by themselves, but with God’s Spirit who could explain everything below the surface.

Could Our Leaders Believe

John 7:25-29 NLTse Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? (26) But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah? (27) But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.” (28) While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. (29) But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.”

We can see God’s Spirit was hard at work and another reason why Jesus had to wait for the right time. Some of the people began questioning their religious leaders. “Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah?” God’s Spirit opened up a door. But that door wasn’t open long. The enemy quickly went in and slammed that door shut for some of those people. They only wanted to believe what they saw with their eyes and interpreted with their own minds which was controlled by what they’ve been taught. “But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.”

This showed how people can be misled when they decide to take the easy way out and let someone read and interpret scripture for them. This brings us to the worldly concept based on reliance upon gifted worldly leaders. We can see this was a problem in Jesus’ day. They were taught the wrong concept on the Festival of Shelters. God used this to introduce a lesson which expanded in verses 26 and 27 to include views on the Messiah. Once again we see how the subject is changed to avoid the subject at hand. Now we can see why Jesus had to keep repeating Himself in the previous chapter. The same pattern kept occurring here. Jesus was trying to teach one subject, but people who felt threatened kept changing the subject. Jesus had to repeat Himself to get them back on the lesson at hand. The enemy uses the same pattern today.

Religious leaders shared only what they wanted people to hear. Those religious leaders knew how Herod’s priests told him the Messiah was born in Bethlehem. But after Herod verified the Messiah’s birth by killing every child in Bethlehem, they needed to hide other scripture, another detail about the Messiah. Call it a political cover up or a conspiracy. Those priests were working with Herod to cover up a massacre. Something that never should have happened. But God wouldn’t allow it to be covered up. People still talk about it today. Most just can’t see all the spiritual implications. Talk about secrets being shouted from roof tops.

Jesus didn’t enter into another debate on scripture. He told them where they needed to go by telling them where He came from. “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.” But did those people really know Jesus? He wasn’t about to argue with Him. Jesus knew they could only go so far to criticize Him. They were restricted by their reliance on the money flowing into Galilee from people visiting Jesus’ hometown. We see a parallel between those religious leaders and the people who grew up with Jesus. Both were profiting from the Messiah but couldn’t see the real Messiah in front of them.

I Will Be With You Only a Little Longer

John 7:30-36 NLTse Then the leaders tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. (31) Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this man has done?” (32) When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were whispering such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus. (33) But Jesus told them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me. (34) You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going.” (35) The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. “Where is he planning to go?” they asked. “Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe he will even teach the Greeks! (36) What does he mean when he says, ‘You will search for me but not find me,’ and ‘You cannot go where I am going’?”

As soon as the priest’s saw Jesus gaining an advantage, they tried to arrest Him. When it looked like people were leaving Jesus, the priests didn’t think they had much to worry about. But once they looked a little deeper, they saw the number of Jesus’ followers beginning to increase in front of their eyes. The priests wavered to say the least. But once they made their move, they reached a point of no return. People believed in Jesus’ miracles and those priests couldn’t deny them. They tried to deny the miracles but that and it didn’t work.

Jesus was trying to teach the people what the priests couldn’t see. Jesus was trying to teach how to understand how God’s Spirit worked and how to properly understand scripture. Jesus wanted more than a bunch of people following Him around to see miracles. Jesus wanted more than people looking for physical healing. Jesus wanted to spiritually heal them.

Jesus introduced a new subject in the from of a parable. That parable was also a prophecy because it hadn’t taken place yet. Jesus told them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me. You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going.” We know Jesus was talking about His resurrection, but the Jews had no way of knowing what He was talking about. They didn’t know because they didn’t study scripture. They wouldn’t allow God’s Spirit to lead.

John introduced another important subject. John showed how the religious leaders were confused at that point during the event taking place. The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. “Where is he planning to go?” they asked. “Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe he will even teach the Greeks! What does he mean when he says, ‘You will search for me but not find me,’ and ‘You cannot go where I am going’?”

People today are still confused. Jesus wasn’t referring to people physically looking for Him. Jesus referred to searching scripture. Jesus wasn’t using miracles to prove who He was. What was written in scripture should have been proof enough. It should be proof enough today. But how many people have the ability to open scripture and prove Jesus is the Messiah from the prophecies?

Those priests had the opportunity to either prove or disprove Jesus’ claims with scripture. They had years to search scripture for an answer. But their pride kept them from opening God’s Word. Ambition kept those priests from accepting guidance from God’s Spirit. What’s your excuse?

Rivers of Flowing Water

John 7:37-40 NLTse On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! (38) Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (39) (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.) (40) When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.”

Jesus didn’t introduce a new subject to the previous conversion but introduced this subject on another day. Jesus left those religious leaders wondering where He was going and why they couldn’t follow Him. Jesus told them to search scripture. Which brings us to our next subject.

Jesus quoted scripture, but I can’t find where He quoted this from. ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” There are a few possibilities, but I can’t find an exact quote or anything that stays within the complete context of this chapter. Maybe that was done by design. What could be better than sending people back to scripture with a verse that requires them to examine a dozen or more texts to find a match. I wonder how many people looked for what scripture Jesus quoted and found lessons they hadn’t expected. Even though the particular texts Jesus referred to can’t be located, something Jesus told them impressed the crowd. When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” Did the crowd that day finally make the connection Jesus was using living water to symbolize? Many people think living water refers to Jesus. Is there scripture proving that? John tells us living water points to the Spirit just as Isaiah wrote. “For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children.” (Isaiah 44:3 NLTse).

He is the Messiah

John 7:41-44 NLTse Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? (42) For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” (43) So the crowd was divided about him. (44) Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him.

John didn’t record a mistake, nor a contradiction. We have to look at who said what. In this meeting, people said, “the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” Earlier in this chapter someone else said, “When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.” Look at the context of this conversion. Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee?” John is showing us the confusion Jesus had to face.

We have to remember, much of John’s book centers on showing us methods Jesus used to reach out to people. John has been adding another important lesson, the confusion Jesus faced. Don’t we all face a bit of confusion when we spread the word, share what we know about Jesus, and try to lead people to Christ? We have an advantage. Most of the world has already heard about Jesus. They know something about Him. Most people we encounter consider themselves one type of Christian or another. Why is it we see the same problems Jesus experienced?

So the crowd was divided about him.” This about sums up what Jesus experienced as well as what many of us, soldiers of Christ experience when we enter that spiritual warfare. Life is not easy. We know finding someone who wants to learn, who wants to dedicate themselves to understanding is rare. I wish there was an easy answer. If there was one, I’m sure John would have recorded it. But look at John’s life. He spent his last days exiled on an island. Not just any island but one the Romans dumped the worst criminals. A barren wasteland where life was difficult to say the least. No one cared if those prisoners on that island killed each other off. Talk about needing protection. John needed God’s protection everyday. That’s where God gave John a vision of a better life. He needed it more than anyone.

Have You Been Led Astray

John 7:45-52 NLTse When the Temple guards returned without having arrested Jesus, the leading priests and Pharisees demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” (46) “We have never heard anyone speak like this!” the guards responded. (47) “Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked. (48) “Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him? (49) This foolish crowd follows him, but they are ignorant of the law. God’s curse is on them!” (50) Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. (51) “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked. (52) They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself–no prophet ever comes from Galilee!” (53) Then the meeting broke up, and everybody went home.

It didn’t look good for the temple guards sent to arrest Jesus when the returned empty handed. Those guards are some of the few people who listened to Jesus. We can see God’s hand in protecting Jesus. The Pharisees were not happy at all. They made fun of the guards, asking how they could have been deceived by a man all the religious leaders could see through.

Those guards returned as witnesses. Nicodemus brought up a good point, “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” It was Nicodemus’ simple way of telling them to go back to scripture and checking some of those prophecies. The Pharisee’s reply was as simple as their thinking. “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself–no prophet ever comes from Galilee!”

That was the third time Jesus’ birthplace was brought up. Or shall we say, where He came from. Jesus never claimed to be born in Galilee. At least we can see the Pharisees knew where the Messiah was born according to prophecy. John wanted to leave the hint, they knew prophecy told the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. But notice how the Pharisees refused to speak the name of the city. It is their way of showing they don’t agree with, or want to avoid a subject. They’re displaying their human nature – which is a hard thing to figure out.

If there was an easy way to reach people, John would have recorded it. Instead, John gave us a list of conflicting personalities. Notice how John concentrated on personalities that opposed Jesus. Look at the variations. Do we learn anything from them other than the fact, there are a lot of reasons and excuses people don’t want to listen to Christ, much less follow Him.

Then we have to consider the fact, Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand much about the plan of salvation until a major portion of it was fulfilled. Maybe that’s recorded to show all of us have problems listening. We all make mistakes. We all have a lot to learn. The disciples experienced a time when they thought they knew enough. They had their moments when they thought they didn’t have to listen, or didn’t want to listen. At least they were man enough to record their mistakes instead of covering them up. They recorded their mistakes for us to learn from. Are we?

The Bronze Snake Numbers 21

Numbers 21:1-9 NLTse The Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that the Israelites were approaching on the road through Atharim. So he attacked the Israelites and took some of them as prisoners. (2) Then the people of Israel made this vow to the LORD: “If you will hand these people over to us, we will completely destroy all their towns.” (3) The LORD heard the Israelites’ request and gave them victory over the Canaanites. The Israelites completely destroyed them and their towns, and the place has been called Hormah ever since. (4) Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, (5) and they began to speak against God and Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!” (6) So the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. (7) Then the people came to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take away the snakes.” So Moses prayed for the people. (8) Then the LORD told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” (9) So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed!

This is another one of those stories most Christians are familiar with. Most Christians know how that bronze snake on a pole pointed to Jesus.

John 3:11-17 NLTse I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. (12) But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? (13) No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. (14) And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, (15) so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. (16) “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (17) God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

This portion of John’s books also contains a well known verse. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” I’ll bet you never realized how close the two stories are related. Jesus placed those stories together for a reason. One of the most important rules of Bible Study is to always look up and read the entire story referenced by an inspired writer. Is there anyone more inspired than Jesus?

How are those stories related? We have to look at how the introductions to each story are related.

Numbers 21:1-3 NLTse The Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that the Israelites were approaching on the road through Atharim. So he attacked the Israelites and took some of them as prisoners. (2) Then the people of Israel made this vow to the LORD: “If you will hand these people over to us, we will completely destroy all their towns.” (3) The LORD heard the Israelites’ request and gave them victory over the Canaanites. The Israelites completely destroyed them and their towns, and the place has been called Hormah ever since.

John 3:1-6 NLTse There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. (2) After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” (3) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (4) “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” (5) Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. (6) Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.

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What do those two introductions have in common? They are more of a contract. But do they teach the same lesson? Nicodemus couldn’t comprehend how a person could be born again. He had absolutely no concept of a spiritual birth. We could apply this to the Canaanite king of Arad. He must have heard stories about how God freed those slaves from Egypt. Israel had been traveling throughout the region for more than two years, and nothing escapes the ears of a king.

What about applying the lesson to the people God was trying to train as priests? Nicodemus was a religious leader. Or so he thought he was. Still, Nicodemus had no concept of a spiritual birth. Neither did those people wandering through the wilderness. Is that where the connection lies?

When we look a little further in the story, we see how God handed over the Canaanites to the Israelites, who completely destroyed them. Then the unexpected happened. Poisonous snakes began attaching the people in the camp. There was no doubt in their mind God sent those snakes because they were complaining again. Of course they complained about the manna again. It seems after a few years they grew tired of the same diet. But to those people who were slaves all their lives, wafers that tasted like honey should have been a delicacy.

There is no reference to food in John chapter 3. But Jesus did use wind and light as symbols to explain how God’s Spirit works. It’s not likely Numbers 21 and John 3 are parallel chapters. But Jesus did choose that particular time, person, and lesson to link with the story about that bronze snake in Numbers 21. Why?

Jesus referenced that scripture because He wanted Nicodemus to go back and review the entire story. In that story, the people complained about the manna. They had a better idea. Nicodemus thought he followed a religion with a better idea. They thought they had everything all figured out. But Jesus saw straight through Nicodemus and used a subject he knew nothing about to illustrate a very important point. How could those people know anything if they didn’t understand how God’s Spirit worked? How could they interpret one line of scripture without God’s Spirit?

Sad to say, we have thousands of preachers and teachers in the world millions of people follow. Few of those religious leaders are able to explain how God’s Spirit works. Sure they have one or two explanations. And they are masters at bending the truth to make it appear they are experts. But the acid test is, are they able to explain how to have a personal relationship with the Spirit?

I’m not sure why they can’t. The answer is there in black and white on the same page, spoken by the same person, almost in the same sentence. We first have to learn to look up to Jesus. Do they really know the God who used the symbol of a serpent to represent himself? These stories hit the use of context smack dab in the center of the bulls-eye. There is not a better example of understanding context then these stories.


 

Look how Jesus tied them together when He spoke to Nicodemus. Jesus tied that serpent to His sacrifice. This is the only time anyone can say, “a serpent is a symbol pointing to Jesus.” Anyone familiar with scripture knows a serpent is a symbols pointing to Satan. That’s true in most cases, but not in this particular situation. Jesus just proved, symbols are useless when taken out of context. Jesus proved, symbols must be interpreted within their proper context. Jesus used an expert in religion to illustrate another point. How many religious experts are capable of explaining those simple rules of context?

Now apply that knowledge to a wilderness journey to the promised land. When people cut and paste God’s Word in ways it was never meant to be used, aren’t they complaining about the spiritual food Jesus provided? Think about that. If they are not learning from God’s Spirit within the context lessens were recorded, what are those religious leaders teaching? This lesson is so obvious.

What’s the cure for such a spiritual deficiency? They have to first look at Jesus. They have to look up to His life, ministry, and service He is performing in the Heavenly Sanctuary. But do they do that? Let’s admit, most preachers don’t know Jesus any better than Nicodemus knew Him before that night. They heard about Jesus. They read about Him. They heard rumors about Jesus, But do the really know Him? What about God’s Spirit? If the did, they’d have no problem telling people all about God’s Spirit, or how He communicates with people and speaks through His living Word. Like we see here. Stories are woven together to teach lessons other people easily miss.

People have to learn to look up to Jesus for the same reasons the world He lived in rejected Him. Look at how Numbers 21 and Jesus’ ministry agree. People in Israel asked for one thing but expected another. So they complained. Don’t we hear the same messages today?

We hear all about how Jesus saves people by forgiving sins. About the only other message we hear about Jesus is He is about to return. That is about the extent most Christians are able to teach about Jesus. But what about that sequence of events Jesus has to perform before He returns? My guess is less than 10% of all Christians know any of those details. I know for a fact, many demonstrations refuse to learn anything about that process. Most of them who know about the process Jesus has to go through ignore it. All of them are too busy trying to guess what’s gonna happen to this world next. Almost all of them have the prophetic sequence all messed up because they only know how to read proof text. So they jump from one sentence in one story and try to tie in into another story because it agrees with their theology, that doesn’t agree with the theology of any other denomination. And people wonder why. Did they ever stop to think, God recorded everything in order, because He knew how everything was going to follow a particular sequence? God never needed any of those self proclaimed prophets to rearrange what He had recorded. See the connection between modern day prophets and those people in Israel complaining about the physical food they received? See the connection between those people bitten by those physical serpents and modern day prophets who cannot explain a relationship with God’s Spirit?