Dear Student of the Word,
We continue to work our way through John's gospel, this week finishing up John 8. In this chapter, Jesus' intent was to reveal the truth in the heart of the Jews who were secretly plotting to kill Him. In order to do that, Jesus confronted them and declared that they were liars and that the devil and not God was their Father. As you would expect, this infuriated the unbelieving Jews. The chapter ends with Jesus' claim that He is the great "I AM," at which point the Jews tried to stone Him. I wrote on day seven of this seven-day study:
When they reached the place God had told him about [Mount Moriah], Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided." (Genesis 22:9-14).
When Abraham saw the ram in the thicket, and he was on Mount Moriah where Jesus was talking with the Jews in John 8, he realized that one day God would provide a sacrifice for man, just as God provided a substitutionary sacrifice for Isaac. Abraham saw the reality of Jesus and he put his faith that Jesus would act to save man from his sins. It’s not just that Abraham saw it but that he saw it and rejoiced!
This should not surprise us. God is able to open our eyes to see spiritual realities to which we would otherwise be oblivious. Why not ask Him to open your eyes? You don’t know what you may be missing. I will follow my own advice.
v. 57 – The Jews were out of touch with everything Jesus had said so far, so we would expect that to continue. The Jews understood that, if Jesus could talk so authoritatively about Abraham and what he saw, then Jesus was saying that He was there when Abraham did what Jesus was reporting to them. The Jews were correct, but they could not comprehend how that could have been true. For this statement to have been true, Jesus had to have been an eyewitness, plus know the reality of Abraham’s heart. In other words, only God could know what Jesus was reporting.
v. 58 – Then Jesus delivered the decisive blow. He claimed to be the great “I am” of the Old Testament. This was the “name” or description that God Himself gave to Moses:
Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:13-14).
Jesus was declaring that He was the same God who dispatched Moses to Egypt. Can there be any more clear statement of who Jesus was? There was never any ambivalence on Jesus’ part about who He was or what He had come to do. He has now provoked the Jews into revealing what He contended was there all along: murder.
v. 59 – The Jews picked up stones to hurl at Him, considering Jesus a blasphemer. They were ready to show their true colors as murderers. Of course, it was not Jesus’ time to depart, so He slipped away through the crowd. Jesus did not stay around, for His time had not yet come.
That is a good example for anyone to follow who faces that kind of persecution. If you can escape, do so. When you have no escape, you will know that you are in God’s hands, and He will either protect you or not. You must trust Him for whichever decision He chooses to make. Can you trust the Lord for your well being and safety? If you can, then are you still afraid to fly, afraid of water, fearful of traveling, concerned about avoiding missions work?
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. You can write them or find the studies to Corinthians, Colossians, First Timothy, and Matthew's and Mark's gospels on the site where this week's entry is posted. You can also go there to sign up to receive each week's study.
Plus my website archives contains a complete collection of all
my verse-by-verse Bible studies from Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, Romans,
1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2
Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy, Hebrews, James, 1&2 Peter, Hebrews
and Revelation, along with the unpublished Faith Files.
REVELATION: I need your help. I urgently want to publish my next book, this time a devotional from the book of Revelation. I wrote about this project in my blog last week and encourage you to read what I wrote there. In that post, I explain my urgency in wanting to get it out for people to read. Then please consider if the Lord wants you to help me to restore an important book of the Bible that has been obscured by so many weird interpretations. If you have any questions about the project, please don't hesitate to contact me.
THE SOPHIA FUND UPDATE: Last
week, $335 came in for The Fund. As I promised, every
penny you send is going to feed the poor in Zimbabwe
and Kenya (We wired $1000 to Kenya two weeks ago, with another $500
slated to go to Zimbabwe this week).
Nothing goes to overhead or administration. Won't you
consider helping orphans and widows today? You can read about my
rationale for The Fund here (named after my late mother) that will help feed
widows and orphans in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Please consider a contribution of at least $5 toward the fund and hopefully more. You can use the "Chipin" widget on the Monday Memo site to contribute, or go directly to my website to contribute there through PayPal, or send a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 91099, Pittsburgh, PA 15221. Make sure you let me know it is for The Sophia Fund. Don't delay; give today and make a difference in the world.