121. King of peace.

[John 12]

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem.

To come to Jerusalem during the time of the Passover took great courage. Jesus knew He was already in big “trouble” with the authorities. Lodgings must have been a problem inside Jerusalem. Bethany was one of the places outside the city to stay when the visiting pilgrims flooded Jerusalem. Lazarus’ story spread fast.

The Romans loved a census. As we all know, Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem for a census when Mary’s time came and Jesus was born in Bethlehem just as the prophecies foretold. The Romans were particularly good at administration and a census made sure that every citizen and resident of the Empire paid the taxes due. In a Roman census taken shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus, of the lambs slain at the Passover Feast, the number came to 256,000. There was usually a minimum of ten people sharing a lamb as sacrificial animal; and if that estimate is correct it means that there must have been as many as 2,700,000 people at that Passover Feast.

The characters in the story of Jesus are always notable. The inspiration of the Holy Spirit gave us so much colourful character shading of the people so that we could, even after so many centuries, identify with the people around our Lord.

Martha served a meal in their home.Maryanointed Him with a very expensive perfumed ointment. She poured out her best for Him.

In serving Martha also expressed her love. She was good at what she did and also gave her best. I can so identify with Martha since I also feel I should serve something for the conversation to flow. I know one of my Holy Spirit gifts is hospitality. I would have jumped at the opportunity to serve Jesus. Still I feel there is a silent criticism on Martha. As Barclay says her best took her out of earshot for His voice. Maybe there were no modern open plan kitchens! I love to cook, but I love to be part of the discussion.

As long as our gifting and even our ministry to Him do not take us out of the range of His voice, we are on the right track. I have often submitted my love of fabrics, decorating, art and fashion to be used in Kingdom service. In short I love beautiful things and I do not want that to keep me occupied. The most important thing in all my life always is to hear the voice of God. I want to hear when I read, hear when I work, hear when I write and hear when I have others around me. I want to hear Him in the ordinary things of my days.

What do you do to express your love for Jesus?

Remember it can be the most run of the mill thing, like caring lovingly for your family. That is our first calling always – to love – and to start with the closest. Jesus said to be His witnesses in Jerusalem(close family),Judaea(extended family and friends), Samaria(the people you do not like) and then the rest of the world (Acts 1:8).

Mary showed extravagance. It was a sign of honour to anoint a person’s head. (Psalm 23) Mary anointed His feet. Her humility shone through. In her own eyes, she was not good enough to honour Him.

Love made her bold. No respectable woman would let down her hair in public. When a girl married her hair was covered. Only prostitutes lured with their hair. May did not even think of that. She was not concerned about what others would think.

Her love filled the house with fragrance. In so many ways the church of Jesus followed her example. Her simple act of worship is recorded and still fills our minds with the lovely fragrance of love.

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledgein every place. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Judas spoke very nobly of the poor and said the expensive perfume should have been sold. Jesus knew he was going to betray him. Jesus probably made him the treasurer to trust him and win him over. He expected the best from him. It was tempting to get more for the moneybox, which he was already misusing. His gift became his downfall because of conceited selfish goals.

The word used here is bastazein, which means to carry or to steal.

Judas missed Mary’s intention. His eye was on his own interests. He could not see beyond his obsession. He missed the timing, the action, and the revelation of love. He also missed Jesus’ words that He is going to leave them.

Judas uses the money and ultimately thinks he can “use” Jesus for his won political ambition. He wanted to get rid of the Romans and thought he could force the hand of Jesus in a confrontation with the authorities.

Timing is so important.

of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, (1 Chronicles 12:32)

What Mary did that day could never be repeated. She took the opportunity to express her love. I don’t think any of the people there realized how imminent the cross was.

Express love to God and to those around you. Grab the opportunity and serve with the best.

To mention the poor was Judas “noble” comment. Jesus quotes Scripture:

“The poor will never cease out of the land;therefore I command thee saying, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in the land. (Deuteronomy 15:11)

Opportunities to serve the poor never cease.

In the next verses (12:9-11) we meet the chief priests and Jewish authorities. The priests belonged to the Sadducees.

The Sadducees were the wealthy aristocratic class and they worked in close collaboration with the Roman government. Any outbreak of civil disorder brought down Rome’s hand heavily and cruelly with complete disregard for life and property. Those responsible for good government were dismissed without debate. The Sadducees saw Jesus as the possible leader of a rebellion.

 Politically they needed to get rid of Him.

 Theologically He was a big problem. They did not believe in life after death and the resurrection of the dead. Lazarus presented a big threat to them. There are theories that they could even have planned to kill Lazarus.

Truth was of no concern especially in conflict with their own interests.

In the meantime Jesus enters Jerusalem (12:12-19) like a king – just what they feared.

The crowds accompanying Him from Bethany and the others from Jerusalem, who heard He was coming, were rejoicing and singing.

The people received Him like a king and the authorities were in panic.

The crowds were made up of a variety of attitudes. Some were spectators only for curiosity; some have heard the rumours and would like to see. Others saw Him as a conqueror and brave enough to confront the church leaders.

Hosanna means save now in Hebrew.

They sang the words of the Hallel (Psalms 113-118), which is sung at thanksgiving in the Temple and part of the Passover. The children memorized it as part of religious training. They also sang it at the Feast of the Tabernacles. They sang the verses triumphantly. They sang it when Nehemiah restored the wall (Nehemiah 8:14-18).

The crowds sang in anticipation for a victory over the Romans, in expectation of the trumpet call to conquer and be restored. They were crowning Him for everything He resisted and refused to be. He had to serve their purposes.

Jesus could not speak.  He would not have been heard.

What He does speak loud and clear. He was riding on a donkey. It was a deliberate claim to be the Messiah.

 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)

 He claimed to be a particular kind of Messiah. The donkey was a noble animal and not at all despised (2 Samuel 17:23; 19:26). Mephiboset, the royal prince and son of Saul, rode on a donkey when he came to David. It was a sign to come in peace.

Riding a horse would signal war; riding on a donkey signaled peace. He was truly the Prince of Peace. The crowd missed the sign and symbolism of the donkey. They wanted war. They wanted their own goals.

Jewish leaders in frustration called out prophetically:

See! The whole world has gone after Him.

Jesus showed magnificent courage. He knew they were after Him and still He enters very publicly in defiance of what they could do to Him.

 

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85. Word, Light, World, Darkness.

We have said it already. It is written in the volumes of history. His words stand firm and unchallenged.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying,

“I am the light of the world.

He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Many people have come and gone, claiming to be God, to be the Messiah, to bring salvation, healing, meaning to life and other benefits. Just Google the list of Messiah-claimants in Judaism, Christianity and Islam – it is long and tiresome. None of those names have endured even a fraction of the time that the name of Jesus has.

No-one in the history of all mankind has ever said: I am the light of the world.

The word light occurs in the Fourth Gospel no fewer than twenty-one times. Jesus is the light of men. The calling of John the Baptist was to point men to that light which was in Christ. Twice Jesus calls himself the light of the world (John 8:12, John 9:5).

This light can be in men (John 11:10), so that they can become children of the light (John 12:36), “I have come,” said Jesus, “as light into the world” (John 12:46).

  • Jesus brings the light, which puts chaos to flight. He is the one person who can save life from becoming chaos.
  • Jesus brings light, which shows things as they are. It strips away the disguises and concealments. It shows people and circumstances in their true character and values. It is light that reveals truth.
  • Jesus brings guiding light – a light that brings certainty and confidence. Doubt and confusion flee when He is crowned the King of your life.

Darkness in the world is as real as the light (John 1:5).

The unconquerable light will in the end defeat the hostile dark. John is saying: “Choose your side in the eternal conflict and choose right.”

It is men whose deeds are evil who fear the light (John 3:19-20). The man who has something to hide loves darkness. Darkness is used symbolically. It also indicates blindness. Jesus says: “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness” (John 8:12).

Without Jesus Christ a man cannot find or see direction for his life.

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came, while it was still dark, John writes in John 20:1. He describes the atmosphere before the news of the resurrection as dark to contrast the magnificence of life.

He tells how Judas dipped his hand in the bowl with Jesus and then went out to do his dark work.  Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night. (John 13:30).

Although men through all the ages did all they could to obscure and extinguish the light of God in Christ, they could not quench it. In every generation the light of Christ still shines in spite of the efforts of men to extinguish the flame.

Darkness will never win. Darkness might be symbolical, but you cannot hide from God. God is also in the darkness. Wherever you may find yourself and may feel it is too dark, too evil, too far away from light – God is there to hear you cry.

 So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was. (Exodus 20:21)

Within the first five verses of this Gospel we see a culmination of every philosophy, every concept of deity, every confusion of thought as well as logical thought plus all the Roman, Greek, Persian and Egyptian models of gods and their functioning. John states the boldest statement in all of history – Jesus is the One everything points to and the answer to every possible question and argument ever.

John the Baptist was witness to the Light, just as we are witnesses, not the light itself. (John 1:6-8)

For 400 years the prophetic voice was silent until John the Baptist. It seems that certain people were so fascinated by John that they gave him a higher place than he ought to have had.

John denies that he is first and declares that he must decrease while Jesus increased (John 3:25-30). Jesus was more successful in his appeal to men than John was (John 4:1). The people said that John was not able to do the things that Jesus did (John 10:41).

This Gospel warns greatly against the following of a mere man, instead of following the risen Christ. The true prophet will always point to Jesus. He emphasizes that John the Baptist was only a witness.

We know Jesus is the Christ by various witnesses. There is the:

  • witness of Jesus himself. “I bear witness,” he said, “to myself” (John 8:18). “My testimony is true” (John 8:14).What Jesus was in himself was the best witness that his claims were true.

 

  • witness of his works. He said: “The works which the Father has granted me to accomplish … bear me witness” (John 5:36).

“Believe me for the sake of the works themselves” (John 14:11). One of the condemnations of men is that they have seen his works, and have not believed (John 15:24). No man could have done the mighty works that Jesus did unless he was closer to God than any other man ever was.

 

  • witness which the Scriptures bear to him. Jesus said: “Search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me” (John 5:39). “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46). It is Philip’s conviction that he has found him of whom Moses and the law and the prophets wrote (John 1:45).

 

  • witness of the last of the prophets, John the Baptist. “He came for testimony to bear witness to the light” (John 1:7-8).

 

  • witness of those with whom Jesus came into contact. The woman of Samaria bore witness to the insight and to the power of Jesus (John 4:39). The man born blind bore witness to his healing power (John 9:25;John 9:38). The people who witnessed his miracles told of their awe at the things he did (John 12:17).

 

  • witness of the disciples and especially of the writer of the gospel himself it was Jesus’ commission to his disciples: “You also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:27). And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth” (1 John 5:7). Spirit brought God’s truth to men, and the Spirit enabled men to recognize that truth when they saw it.

For us: God will always give us confirmation with a witness. Be aware of unconfirmed prophecy. God will show you. His path is not darkness and uncertainty.

“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. (Deuteronomy 19:15)

1:9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

There are two Greek words for true: alethes and alethinos. The first one means true as opposed to false and the second one means real as opposed to unreal. He uses the second as it is explained: answering to the perfect ideal, and as opposed to all more or less imperfect representations. [Ellicott].

John states his case like a lawyer so that there is no doubt who Jesus is.

There are partial lights and there are false lights; and men follow them. Jesus is the only genuine light, the real light to guide men on their way. Jesus is the dawn in a dark world.

Knowledge of Him could drive away the shadows of doubt. By His coming the people could know God; a mystery no more. When Jesus came men saw what God is like. The guessing was over. The light had come.

A new power came into life. It was the answer to despair. Jesus showed the right way and how to walk in it. The way was made clear. He made the impossible possible.

The darkness and terror of death was engulfed in His promise of life eternal. The ancient world feared death; it was torture by whatever gods there were. Jesus showed that death was only the way to a larger life.

The ancient world was exclusive. The Jew hated the Gentile and held that Gentiles were created for no other purpose than to be fuel for the fires of hell. The ancient prophet, Isaiah, saw that Israel’s destiny was to be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6). The Romans feared Christianity because it robbed them of their exclusiveness.

Our world in confusion and strife has only one solution – to believe in Jesus and be united in love. Any other unity and peace are impossible.

Jesus as a man and His doctrine were unique and a welcome relief from the terrifying uncertainty of ancient gods and the search for knowledge of the mysteries of life.

Where is He today? He is the guiding light, the only source of peace and truth. He is real life. He is victory over the darkness.

By grace and the cross – He is mine! Have you made the step into life – true Life?

 

 

 

72. Words of blood for my future.

Oh, the uncertainty, the dread, the misty outlook, the hesitant gaze upon a path covered in the fog of the time span called the future. To us it is not revealed; to God it is known. Like death, the future is a mystery belonging to God.

 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29)

Here we are encouraged to do the words of the law. God’s word is revealed to us and is our refuge regarding the future. He is perfect in His planning. He will never hold back what we need. Our guarantee for provision and protection in the future is the promises of God in the Word of God.

Just like Noah. God invited Noah into the Ark. (Genesis 7) He was called righteous, just like us. We are the righteous of God in Christ. It is not our own goodness, sinlessness or effort towards worthiness that make us righteous. It is the Cross of Jesus and His blood cleansing us from our sin that make us righteous. Any thought of unworthiness to approach God, is a thought planted from the pit of hell. I cannot say it enough and will continue proclaiming it as a core value of salvation.

 God was on the inside. In His Presence there is everything you need – safety, provision, care and protection for as long as you need it until you are safely directed to your next step in life. You have to make the decision to step inside. The ark speaks of a radical life change. The decision to step inside is a complete break with ordinary living and doing. It is kingdom living, in the presence of our loving Dad, settling down in His plan for our lives.

I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity;  (Jeremiah 29:14)

God is present and present. We distinguish between manifest presence and omni-presence. Omni-presence is a fact. It is what the Bible tells us. Our Creator-God is everywhere.

Manifest presence is what we experience when we seek His face in prayer and recognize the change deep within us and in the atmosphere around us.

When I came to Canada the realtor told me the walls of the house were all wood. To me it looked like the walls I know – brick and mortar walls. They are plastered and painted. The wood is concealed behind the facade of paint.

I immediately walked to a wall and knocked. I heard something. My knocking experience was very different from anything I know of knocking on walls. I HEARD the wood. Nobody needed to tell me it is wood.

I was very close to the wall, so close that I could reach out and touch the wall. That is how I knew.

Do you hear the song of the Universe? Just listen to the song of creation, when you walk in nature?

My youngest song loved the old Imperials song by the Gaither Vocal Band. Some of the lyrics go like this:

I listen to the trumpet of Jesus, while the others hear a different sound,

I listen to the drumbeat of God Almighty, while the others just wonder around,

I hear the voice of a supernatural singer that only those who know Him can.

Practice your hearing skills, listen to your inner convictions and submit your mind and thinking to the Holy Spirit in prayer. Read your Bible prayerfully to experience the promise that leaps from the page.

 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. (1 Timothy 4:7)

When I pray, when I seek His face – I experience His manifest Presence. I do not need somebody to tell me He is present. I am clearly and keenly aware of Him and my mind and senses respond to the obvious fullness of the atmosphere. In that atmosphere spontaneous tears flow and the Hoy Spirit ministers amazing restoration and exhortation.

The dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, will show you life and how to make a living. He will bring you the branch of provision.

 Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth. (Genesis 8:11)

In the conversation with Him – prayer – you submit your next step to His guidance and plan. He has a plan for you, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) In His presence His provision is clear.

MOMENT of prayer: Lord, I submit my future to you. I confess all my dread and alarm about the future. I know you are Jehovah Jirah – my provider. Your Word promises that You will never fail me. I now raise my expectation towards to the Holy Spirit and expect a future, exceedingly and abundantly above and beyond I can ever think of or ask in my wildest dreams. (Ephesians 3)

PRINCIPLE for a life of excellence: The content of my future is the promises of God – not world politics, my own circumstances, horoscope predictions or fear.

The way we conceive the future sculpts the present. It gives contour and tone to nearly every action and thought through the day. If our sense of future is weak we live listlessly.

Hope is a response to the future, which has its foundations in the promises of God. It looks at the future as time for the completion of God’s promise. It refuses to extrapolate either desire or anxiety into the future, but instead believes that God’s promise gives the proper content to it.

But hope is not a doctrine about the future: it is a grace cultivated in the present; it is a stance in the present, which deals with the future. As such it is misunderstood if it is valued only for the comfort it brings; as if it should say, everything is going to be all right in the future because God is in control of it, therefore relax and be comforted.

Hope operates differently. Christian hope alerts us to the possibilities of the future as a field of action, and as a consequence fills the present with energy.

 Eugene Peterson: Living the Message.