“Do You Love Me?”

John 21

Chapter 20 is John’s record of events concerning the risen Christ in Jerusalem; chapter 21 is John’s story from Galilee.  Why the disciples had traveled there isn’t given, but it makes sense that they wouldn’t be staying on in Jerusalem after all of the recent events.  I would imagine that the disciples weren’t entirely sure what to do with themselves after following Jesus for over three years…  The scene opens with a cast of seven disciples near the Sea of Galilee when Peter announces that he’s going fishing.

Note that John refers to the “Sea of Tiberius” which is another name for the Sea of Galilee in those days.  Tiberius is the name of a large town, which in those days was a new Roman town located on the shore of the lake.  Today it is the largest city in the area.  The guys all joined Peter in the boat for a night of casting the fishing net, but their results were lacking entirely, and by early morning there was a man on the shore who noticed their bad luck.  John identifies this man as Jesus, although they could not yet recognize Him from the boat.

From the beach, Jesus calls out to them and recommends that they cast their net on the other side of the boat.  A fishing boat of the time would normally remain close to shore and cast on the shore side to get the best catch of fish, so most likely Jesus was telling them to try the lake side instead, and what a payoff!  They caught so many fish that they couldn’t haul it into the boat.  John realizes that it was Jesus who was on the shore, and Peter grabs his clothes and jumps into the water swimming to shore leaving the others to tow the nets to land. When they arrive, it seems that Jesus had a campfire going and was cooking breakfast. Jesus had a menu of bread and fish, something that we’ve seen Jesus do before, but this time, instead of the disciples rounding up fish and loaves that Jesus multiplied, Jesus has fish and loaves and the catch of the disciples will be the multiplier; Jesus has passed the torch, you might say.

Finish Don’s blog at: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2020/07/16/do-you-love-me-3/

Jesus Prays

John 17

This is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus in the entire New Testament.  Jesus is clearly one who prays a great deal, and we can gain a great deal of insight into prayer in this chapter.  For the purpose of these notes, I will attempt to resist the temptation to engage in theological discussion or analysis of what the prayer consists of or what this or that “means” from a theological point of view, instead I hope to focus more on what we can learn about prayer itself.  A good point of beginning is to take notice of Jesus’ posture as He prays; note that He is not sitting quietly with bowed head and closed eyes but rather is looking heavenward with eyes wide open.  In fact, He is most likely standing with the disciples, and if you take note of His language, it might seem that He is not speaking in a very quiet voice at all.  Of course, we might say that our traditional posture results in a contrast because Jesus is the second person of the Godhead while we are not.  Might not this view overlook the fact that we are His co-heirs?  Well, it’s food for thought anyway…

Read the rest: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2020/07/11/jesus-prays-3/

The Way, the Truth and the Life

 

John 14:1-14

We continue today with the “Farewell Discourse” of Jesus with His disciples.  This particular text is one of the most beloved in all of the Scriptures, full of love, hope and reassurance containing some of the most memorable phrases in the Bible, and indeed in all of literature.  In the discussions that have come before it, there has been a challenge in the example Jesus set when He washed the disciples’ feet.  There has been a betrayal and predictions of Jesus’ death and then of Peter’s denial of Jesus.  Now, Jesus seeks to comfort the  disciples and to help them begin to understand that the events which would soon follow are nothing less than God’s Eternal Plan coming to its climax.

This is the transitional verse that takes us from the tension and distress of the latter part of chapter 13 into a new topic.  Jesus is telling the disciples to take heart because He is not going to forsake them, even though He must be returning to the Father.  The key phrase here is “Trust in God; trust also in me.”  It is key because it is phrased not as a suggestion or as advice but as an imperative: Trust!

The rest is at: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2020/07/05/the-way-the-truth-and-the-life-3/

Who is He, and Where did He Come From?

John 7:25-52

We have been looking at Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles, and in this section, we will pick up the story at verse 25, where John shifts the narrative to focus on the “the people of Jerusalem” which are those in attendance who are “hometown” attendees.  It would seem that at least some of them are aware of the plot afoot to kill Jesus.

Where the Messiah would come from is the subject of much discussion and speculation in this passage, and it is a very important question relating to the validation of Jesus in the eyes of many people.  Can a Messiah come from Galilee?  Would a Messiah come from anywhere in particular− or must he come from Bethlehem?  After Jesus’ statement in 28-29, they want to seize Him, but are unable because His time had not yet come to die; the murmuring continues until the Chief Priest orders the temple guards to arrest Him. The question for us to ask is why? They were arguing among themselves about where the Messiah would come from; he should come from a place they don’t know about, but this guy came from Galilee; Jesus set them straight about where He really came from, and they want Him dead…?

Does that make sense?

Read more: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2020/06/21/who-is-he-and-where-did-he-come-from-3/

The Resurrection and the Life

John 11:1-44

This is a famous story about the miracle that Jesus performs in raising Lazarus from the tomb, but it is much more than that.  Jesus will reveal much about His own death and the hope that we will have as a result.  It probably begins in Perea where Jesus went after the last attempt to stone him, and opens with the news that His dear friend Lazarus was near death.  Jesus’ reaction seems surprising, since one might expect Him to rush off to help, but He delays instead…

Jesus announces to His disciples that it’s time to get on to Judea.  Assuming that He means to return to the temple to resume his teaching, the disciples voice the concern that His safety would be in question.  Jesus uses the metaphor of day and night to tell them that it is still safe for Him to go, but the implication is that the time is short.  Then He tells them that they will be going to see about their friend Lazarus and corrects the misunderstanding about him being “asleep” for Lazarus is dead.  Good old Thomas is optimistic as always…

Verses 17-22 set the stage for the miracle:  Lazarus has been in the tomb four days, Martha comes out to meet Jesus on His way, and there were many people in town who had come because of the death and funeral who would be witnesses for what would happen.  Martha, upon meeting Jesus both scolds and demonstrates great faith.  Whether or not her faith extended to raising her brother from the grave is a matter of interpretation, but she was certainly disappointed that He hadn’t intervened in the illness, which is a thought many of us have had at one time or another…

Continue: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2020/06/30/the-resurrection-and-the-life-3/

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2020/06/14/jesus-and-the-samaritan-woman-3/

Be Transformed

Don Meritt

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2

As all of you know, whenever we see the word “therefore”, we are reading a passage that draws a conclusion from what has preceded it. While that is certainly true here, this one isn’t just referring to the verses just concluded, for this is the beginning of a new unit (12-15) and thus, “therefore” is drawing a conclusion from the preceding unit (1-11), which is a very important distinction. The first unit in Romans discussed grace; the second unit discusses our response to grace. Thus, Paul is telling us that in response to God’s amazing grace, we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God.

Verse 1 is, in a sense, a counterpoint to the Old Testament worship in which animals were sacrificed and rituals were observed. Notice the presence of the words “offer”, “sacrifice” and “worship”, all three of which are terms that pertain to worship in the Old Testament. The old system of worship involved symbols and ceremonies, but worship in the New Testament involves “spirit and truth”. Consequently, the proper and true manner of worship for the Christian is for us to offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices. Please understand: This is no platitude; it is an imperative. A fair question right about now would be, “OK, but just exactly how do I do that?”

Continue reading: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2020/03/04/be-transformed-3/

Living in Unity and Hope

From Don Merrit

The third and final supporting point in this section is found in 15:1-13 and shows us that we are intended to live in unity and hope. Paul has broken this passage into three sections:

First, he shows us that selfless service brings about a unified testimony:

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:1-6

In these verses, Paul seems to be raising the bar to the highest level, the level of Christ Himself. How are we to get through this life of serving others? By having a whole new attitude, that of Jesus, who, in everything that He said and did, put others first so that God’s purpose might be accomplished. Is this too much to ask of us?

No, not at all, for remember what we’ve learned about grace− it provides not only forgiveness of sins, but everything we need to live our lives as followers of Jesus, through the working of the Holy Spirit.

Second, through Christ’s selfless service, Jew and Gentile glorify God together:

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing the praises of your name.”

Again, it says,

“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”

And again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
let all the peoples extol him.”

And again, Isaiah says,

“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.

Romans 15:7-12

Read the blog: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2020/03/11/living-in-unity-and-hope-3/

Christian Liberty

Don Merrit

After his discussion of judging others in verses 1-12, Paul moves onto Christian Liberty and the responsibilities that come with it. He divides this discussion into four points:

First, we should be willing to sacrifice some of our liberty for the sake of others:

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.

Romans 14:13-15

Read the blog: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2020/03/10/christian-liberty-3/

Love one another

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13:8-10

read Don’s blog: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2020/03/07/lesson-5-love-3/