Sunday, January 31, 2010

Life of Christ Devotional - Jn 1:35-51

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
John 1:35-51

John the Baptist had been announcing that the Messiah would soon be revealed. And when he witnessed Jesus with his own eyes, he knew who He was. More than that…he knew why He had come. It was for this reason that John says, “Look, the Lamb of God.”
To us, this phrase may seem confusing, but for the Jewish people, it was packed with significance. The reason is because the lamb was used in the sacrificial system for the forgiveness of sins for the Jewish people. Instead of punishing the people for their sins, God accepted a sacrifice of a lamb each time the people came before him seeking His forgiveness. The lamb was a symbol of a substitutionary sacrifice that the Jewish people knew very well. The lamb was substituted in order to cover the payment for the sins due to the people.
And now, John the Baptist says Jesus is the “Lamb of God”. By saying this, John declares that Jesus would be the ultimate sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. It was an amazing announcement that most people would not fully understand at this time. But in time, as Jesus spoke to the people and performed miracles to validate His claims, they would understand more and more who Jesus was and why He came.
And so Jesus began His ministry by inviting men to follow him. These men are known as His disciples.
A disciple is a student and Jesus was the teacher. As the disciples learned from Jesus, they would then teach others so they too could understand who Jesus was and why He came.
The teaching about Jesus would be important because most people found it difficult to accept that Jesus was the promised Messiah. They had come to expect a mighty ruler, a king or someone of great influence who would come to destroy their enemies and make their nation great throughout all the earth. Instead, Jesus was a humble man, the son of a carpenter, from a small insignificant town called Nazareth. Could this truly be the Savior of the world?!
John writes this book of the bible in order to explain who Jesus was and why He came. Without hesitation, he insists, “Yes, Jesus is the Savior of the World!” And now he will reveal the life, the teachings and the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus to give evidence to support this amazing claim.
You be the judge. Examine the evidence and decide for yourself: “Who was Jesus and why did He come?”

Monday, January 25, 2010

Life Of Christ Devotional - Jn 1:19-34

"Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.” They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ” Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”" (John 1:19-34)

The bible consists of an Old Testament and a New Testament. The New Testament was written about the life of Jesus and the early years of the church. The Old Testament dates back some 1500 years before Jesus was born. What is important about these verses today is that they teach us that Jesus coming to live on the earth was not a surprise. The writers of the Old Testament predicted that a Savior, also known as a Messiah or Christ, would come to deliver people from sin and death. They did not know who this would be, when he would come or how he would deliver his people. They just knew he would come when God said it was time. But to help the people know when it was time, the Old Testament also predicted that there would be a person who would come before Jesus to prepare the way for the Messiah. His name, as we learn in these verses, is John the Baptist.

The role of John the Baptist was simple: Tell the people to get ready because the promised Messiah, Jesus, would soon be revealed. This caused quite a disruption among the people because they were living normal everyday lives and now a strange man announces that everything is about to change. John the Baptist goes from city to city making the amazing, almost unbelievable announcement that the One they had been waiting hundreds of years to see, has now arrived.

As you might expect, most people found this announcement hard to believe - especially the religious leaders! The coming of the Messiah would change everything including the power and influence of their leadership role among the people. This power and influence is not something the religious leaders (Pharisees and Sadducees) were willing to give up. They thought that John the Baptist was either a liar, a prophet (teacher), or the return of a prophet who died many years earlier (Elijah). John the Baptist tells them that none of the options are correct. He is only the messenger. He once again confirms that Jesus is, in fact, the promised Messiah - the Savior of the world! And this is not simply his opinion. It’s important to know that John the Baptist didn’t meet Jesus before he began making his announcement. God spoke to John and told him to tell the people, “Jesus is coming!” John simply did what God told him to do. Therefore, this was not simply John’s opinion. The importance of this event came straight from God. God decided…it was time.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Life of Christ Devotional - Jn 1:1-18

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ” From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known." (John 1:1-18, NIV)

The Gospel of John was written by John, a disciple of Jesus Christ. He was able to witness the life of Jesus first hand and he wrote about what he witnessed so that those who read it might believe as he did.

John wants his reader to hear the good news of Jesus. Yet, he also knows, that no one can understand what Jesus says unless they know who Jesus is. Therefore, he starts out by declaring that Jesus is God. Jesus was in the beginning at creation, all things were made through Him. In other words, there was never a time when Jesus did not exist, but only a moment in time (His life on earth) that we were able to witness Him first hand. And John, as one of Jesus’ most trusted friends, writes to tell us about what he witnessed Jesus do and what he heard Jesus say.

John describes Jesus as the light. If you have ever tried to feel your way around a dark room or walk through the forest on a night when there is no moon, this image makes perfect sense. In the dark there is confusion, frustration, danger, and it is easy for people to lose their way. But Jesus is the light in this dark world. He brings answers to the confusion. He gives peace in the midst of frustration. His message of hope saves us from danger and He guides us in the right path so that we will not become lost in the darkness.

Yet when Jesus came to earth as a man, the people did not recognize Him. They were so lost in their religious systems and preconceived ideas about what God would be like, so distracted by the daily activities of their life (too busy to stop and notice) that they thought he was just another Jewish man no different than anyone else. Unfortunately, the same is true today. Even though we have the Bible to tell us about who Jesus, most people are too busy to listen, and so not unlike the people of Jesus’ day, we miss it as well. This is a tragedy since the message of Jesus is the most important message in the history of the world. Jesus has made Himself known so that we can know Him. And for those who take the time to consider and believe in the message of hope that He brings, to these Jesus treats as family. As a Father loves his son, so is the love of Jesus for His people. To know Jesus is to know God. And to know God is to have life. Not by following a law or code, but by believing in the good news Jesus brings. John writes to share this news.