Jesus Paid It All

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You’re listening to the ReDescovering the Bible Online Radio Show with Sam Burton episode 50.

Welcome back.  For those of you tuning in for the very first time, a special welcome to you. It’s been a long time coming.  I’m Sam, I’m your host. I’m coming to you from the Camper and I’m delighted to be here.

I want to thank you for all your support the last couple months. I’m really touched by the number of you who’ve written notes of support or spoken to me about your appreciation for the podcost.  That touches me so much.  I just want to add, for those of you who don’t know, that I’ve had some health issues that have prevented me from updating, I don’t want to go into too much detail, but it was fairly serious. It’s mostly over now and I feel great. So I’m trying again.  It would really mean a great deal to me if you would continue to lift me up in your prayers.

Let’s see, where should we go to keep you updated?  First, Brittan and I are still planning to head to Scotland as soon as we’ve raised enough money. For those of you interested, as some of you have indicated, you can just log onto our website, www.risegroup.us, and go to our giving page for a link to instructions.

Ok, that should catch you up on everything, so let’s get right into today’s text. If you think way back to our last time together, we’re looking at the book of Hebrews as key to understanding the old testament. We looked at how Jesus was superior to angels, to Moses and to Aaron.  Today, we want to look and see that Jesus provides us a better covenant. And we’ll find that in Hebrews 8,9,10.

First, though, I think it’s interesting that the writer uses the Tabernacle, rather than the temple itself as the picture. Remember that while God himself gave instructions for the tabernacle, it was David who envisioned the temple and left instructions for it’s building. Then after it was destroyed by the Babylonians, the new temple was designed and build by Zerubbabel.  They were both accepted by God, but were not authorized by him. It is this temporary structure that is said to be a picture and a shadow. Solomon’s temple was extremely ornate and in second Chronicles we read how God honored this gift from David and his son.  Zerubbabel’s temple was not so lavish, yet God said that it would see God’s glory is greater ways that Solomon’s had ever seen.

Think about that, Solomon’s temple, with all it’s gold, silver, and other precious materials, had seen the glory of God in such a way that the people couldn’t for fear enter it. There was no such display at the dedication of Zerubbabel’s Temple. But God had promised a greater glory for it. The promise of Haggai 2 to be empty. That glory didn’t come when King Saul refurbished it.  There was no sign of such glory. The glory came, when into that temple was carried Jesus of Nazareth, by his mother and step father. It was this temple of Zerubbabel, where Jesus cleared the money changers, it was this temple that had His footprints throughout it. When the Hebrew writer declares the superiority of Jesus to Moses, I’m certain he had this Old Testament promise in mind.

God said He was going to make a New Covenant with the Jews, and we find that New Covenant described in the book of Hebrews.  That’s one of the reasons I just can’t agree with those who are looking for God to bring about a revival of the old temple and sacrificial system. Why in the world would our God want to take the Jews to a picture of heaven, when he can take them to the real deal. A new covenant with and through His Son, Jesus.

The Crucifixion of Jesus, fulfills and nullifies all of the old Covenant. Starting with the sacrifice. The Hebrew writer says clearly in Chapter 10 verse 4, that the blood of Bulls and Goats could NEVER take away sin. Bulls and goats were a messy, gory, picture of how bad sin is. Think for a minute about the millions upon millions of animals sacrificed and whose flesh was burned on the altar. Yet their blood, even the gallons of it spilled, could NEVER cover a single sin.

Jesus blood, though, covers every sin ever committed. Do you get that? Every sin you’ve ever committed and every sin you will ever commit, was covered by His once for all sacrifice. That’s good news.  No, that’s great news.

God is never going to go back to a system that didn’t work. It was temporary. What Jesus did is forever.

So as we study the old testament, let’s look for signs of permanence. Let’s look for promises of Jesus. And when we find them, let’s celebrate.

This week is what’s called Holy Week. The last week of Jesus ministry. It began with his Triumphal Entry into the City of Jerusalem. And it Ended with His resurrection from the dead. In between we have his arrest, and his murder.  Those things are promised in the old Testament. We will see the first promise of Him in the 3rd Chapter of Genesis. And as we weep at what our sin did to Him, we celebrate His willingness to suffer it.

The book of Hebrews uses the tabernacle, not the temple, to describe how the Gospel is superior to the Old Covenant. From the sacrifice, now instead of millions of animals and gallons of blood, we have a once for all sacrifice, to the basin of washing, which had to be used over and over to cleanse the priests, to baptism which represents our cleansing, one time we have to be washed, and only once. And finally, the tearing of the temple curtain from top to bottom showing us that Jesus sacrifice is a complete one and not the way to God is open. We no longer need priests and high priests. We all have access to the Creator of the world directly through the sacrifice of Jesus.

As we read the old testament, we must look for promises of Jesus and celebrate. That’s the only way the old Testament makes sense.

Paul wrote in first Corinthians chapter 15, that if Jesus is not raised, we are of all men most miserable. But He IS raised, and that’s the best news ever heard.

That’s all I’ve got this week. Next we’ll start the old testament. Happy Easter every one.

Jesus is still Number 1

Episode 49

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Image result for number 1 imagesFirst, I want to apologize to everyone for last week’s audio problems. I never did figure out what happened, and I’m sorry to everyone who couldn’t get the podcast to play. In the end, I just deleted the file and replaced it. Sometimes, the best fix is just to start over. No fuss, no muss.

This week and next, Brittan and I are out of town, so we’ll have abbreviated shows.  Please pray for us as we’ll be presenting our coming Scotland work to a congregation in Florida.

If you didn’t get to hear last week’s show, we’re preparing for our survey of the Old Testament Books, by having a quick review of the New Testament Book of Hebrews. It is my strong opinion that Hebrews holds the key to understanding the Old Testament. I promise, as I always do, that a good understanding of the New Testament unlocks the Old Testament much better that the other way around.

This book called Hebrews likely began life as a sermon by Paul, that was later written down by Luke and distributed to the Churches. Remember, the early Church didn’t have mp3, or even cassette tapes.  We are very fortunate to be able to turn to podcasts or YouTube for great sermons these days.

Please keep in mind as we see all the ways Christianity is superior to Judaism, is because Jesus FULFILLED the Old Testament. The Church, including this podcaster, has often been guilty of teaching either that Christianity is a continuation of the Old, or, that the New Covenant is a Replacement of the Old One.

The replacement theory is partly true, but it’s more than that. The New One is certainly the one in effect these days, but that’s because Jesus fix, or fulfilled, the terms of the Old Contract, so it became obsolete. The New One is superior in every way. The book of Hebrews explains that better than all the books and doctoral discourses in the world put together.

Today we’re going to look briefly at the superiority of Jesus. Next week we’ll look at our superior contract.

Paul begins his message by claiming that Jesus is superior to Angels or Prophets. In Chapter one we read, that the old covenant was explained and introduced by a variety of methods and prophets, but the New One came via His Son.  As it were, directly from the horse’s mouth. And the rest of the Chapter declares the superiority of Jesus even to mighty Angels.  In fact, Paul declares that even the ancient and revered songs of David declared the superiority of Jesus.

Look closely at verses 1 and 2.  He begins with, In the Past, as it, it used to be THIS way.  Verse 2 begins with BUT. The implication is ‘Now things have changed’ and the rest of the chapter explains the deity and superiority of Christ.

He continues that theme in Chapter 2.  After declaring the Deity of Christ in Chapter 1, verse 14 of Chapter 2, teaches Christ’s humanity. Jesus himself became like them and shared their human nature.

Chapter 3 teaches Jesus is superior to Moses. That’s a really big deal. Check this out. Heb 3:5  Moses was faithful in God’s house as a servant, and he spoke of the things that God would say in the future.

Heb 3:6  But Christ is faithful as the Son in charge of God’s house. We

Beginning in verse 14 of chapter 4, Paul spends several chapters showing that Jesus priesthood is superior to the Aaronic priesthood.

Please consider these two passages as illustrative of  the material in chapters 5,6,7

Heb 7:23  There is another difference: there were many of those other priests, because they died and could not continue their work.

Heb 7:24  But Jesus lives on forever, and his work as priest does not pass on to someone else.

And

Heb 7:27  He is not like other high priests; he does not need to offer sacrifices every day for his own sins first and then for the sins of the people. He offered one sacrifice, once and for all, when he offered himself.

Heb 7:28  The Law of Moses appoints men who are imperfect to be high priests; but God’s promise made with the vow, which came later than the Law, appoints the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

The short version is, The point of the Old Covenant was to uncover the sinfulness of sin and that God set places holders, the law, prophets and even Moses, until He sent His Son to fulfil all the holes and requirements of the law. Everything before Christ was temporary, but because of His Resurrection, we have a perfect priest and an eternal messenger.  More than a servant, a Son. One who is perfect and who never dies.

Moses, Aaron, the law and the Priesthood, were sent to show the way. Jesus, the Christ IS the way.

Next week, we’re going to see how we have a superior Covenant. And why that’s a good thing. That episode will impact everything you understand about interpreting the Old Testament, and the way you understand the End Times.  I can’t wait. Until then, Be Blessed. And be a Blessing.

 

Happy New Year – Podcast: Season 2:Episode 1

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Episode 48

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Season 2, Episode 1:

You’re listening to the Rediscovering the Bible online Radio Show, Season 2, Episode 1.

Happy New Year everybody. Welcome back to all you regular listeners and a special welcome for you new comers. My name is Sam, I’m your host, Wow am I glad you’re here. Today, it’s a cloudy, rainy, January 2 and I’m coming to you, as you’ve come to expect, from the camper here at the farm.

Gosh, it’s been a long time since we’ve been together, hasn’t it?  A lot has happened in my life, and I’m sure in your world, too. The biggest news of all, I guess, is that Brittan and I are moving to Scotland permanently later this year. I’ll get you all the scoop as time goes by, but I’m expecting this show will continue, just from another location.

This season, we’re going to spend the bulk of our time in the Old Testament.  We finished the New Testament last season, and I really want to get through a survey of the Old Testament this year. We’re going to change the format, just a little, and look at some things chronologically and others thematically. Don’t worry, it will all make sense later.

First, I want to recommend that our new listeners go back and listen to some or our earlier episodes, particularly those on Luke and Acts. They will really help, I promise.

Now, let’s talk about translations and reading plans. It’s a brand new year, and there are a whole lot of people who’ve made new year resolutions to read the Bible through. If you’re one of those people, Yay, you. Those of you who’ve been listening for a while, or have been through one of my classes or workshops, know that I believe the order in which we read the Bible is very important to understanding it. First, I encouraged you to begin with the New Testament. The Bible will make way more sense that way. Start with the Gospel of Luke, then read the book of Acts. Luke will clearly tell you who Jesus is, and Acts will give you instructions on how to begin following Him. If you’d like to see my entire reading plan, just go to samburtonpresents.com and let me know by leaving your information on the ‘contact’ page.  You can also simply request a copy via the comments section of the show notes which are also at samburtonpresents.com.

One of the questions that comes in regularly is related to which translation to use. The shore answer is, the one you’re comfortable with. This season, I’m going to be using the New Living Translation. I think its simple language is a great way to understand the Old Testament. It’s a fine translation especially if you’re new to Bible reading or if English is not your first language.  On the whole, it’s easier for me to disrecommend  the translations I discourage, than to share the ones I endorse.  I strongly disrecommend the New World Translation. It has been seriously tampered with. Unless you’ve been given one by a Jehovah’s Witness, you probably haven’t ever seen it. It isn’t sold at Christian Bookstores. Yeah, it’s that bad. I would also discourage the Revised Standard Version as it was translated by liberals and skeptics and downplays many important texts.

For those who only have King James, that’s fine. I’m not going to bash it. It’s not my favorite, but it’s still the most used translation in the English language. I it starts to get difficult for you, but you like the way if flows, try the New King James.

Here’s a big money saving tip for you. You can try loads of translations for free by using the internet. For my laptop, I downloaded e-sword.net and several free translations and other Bible Study materials.  I did the same thing with for my smartphone with the free app, YouVersion.   In full disclosure, I haven’t found a free downloadable New Living Translation, but you can read it for free online at BibleGateway.com and via YouVersion for your phone or tablet. You’ll just have to make sure you have internet access.  If you have any questions, ping me and I’ll help any way I can.

Ok, I think that takes care of all the housekeeping for now. The Old Testament can be fun. I know…some of you are giving me that cross eyed skeptical look. I can see you right through the microphone.  But I’m serious. There are two keys to the old Testament that are really important. First is, Read the New Testament First.  How many times have you heard me say that? The second is, right before you begin a study in the Old Testament, go through the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament.

I am totally convinced that Hebrews unlocks the Old Testament and how it relates to the Gospel and The New Testament better than any other tool. So…we’re going to spend a few weeks in Hebrews setting the table for our Old Testament Survey.

Let’s spend just our remaining time today, reviewing the background of the Book of Hebrews, because some people find it controversial. I think those people have way too much time on their hands, but let’s look anyway.

Many conservative scholars consider Hebrews one of the most important theological studies of any of the NT books except possibly Romans. Martin Luther, the Reformer, not MLK the civil rights advocate, on the other hand was not a big fan of Hebrews. I would say, he’s the father of all the Hebrews critics. In the first place, he thought there was too much emphasis on works, though not as much as the book of James.

The other big hurdle for some people to clear is the fact that the author is anonymous. While it has a formal ending, it has no salutation at the beginning. Now, I believe there’s a good reason for that, and we’ll get to it in just a minute.

Frankly, several of the New Testament books, Matthew, Mark, and, John as well as Hebrews are anonymous and all have controversy surrounding them as a result. Church tradition is pretty clear and consistent on the subject, but modern and modernist scholars tend to ignore tradition and history and look for novel hypotheses.  After all, there’s not much notoriety, grant money or name recognition is writing, ‘The Church Fathers were clear on…’  Fame comes from stirring the pot.

Over the years, several alternative authors have been named as candidates, namely, Peter because the closing is similar to his closings in his letters, Barnabas, James, Luke, because the quality of the Greek was good and the style indicated an educated individual, and Apollos.

I must admit that when I was in Seminary, I liked the notion of Apollos, but just because I thought he was underappreciated.  I played with the idea of James for a while, but mostly it was just because I was having fun.

In the end, though, I have come back to the oldest traditions that Paul is the source of the Book. Hebrews indicates a thorough knowledge of the Law and Old Testament. While there are other candidates, James, whose entire ministry was spent in Judea would be one. Barnabas, a Levite, would be another, but Paul, the formally trained Pharisee, would have had the most complete training in the law of any of the early Christian leaders and Biblical writers.

I have come to the conclusion, as have many others, that The book of Hebrews began life as a sermon preached by Paul, and eventually written down by Luke, very possibly after Paul’s death.  This would explain the lack of a greeting at the beginning, the superior quality of the Greek, the similarities to Luke’s other writing, and the very ancient tradition that Paul was the author.  In fact, the matter is pretty much settled in my mind.

Do your own homework. In the end, as I often say, background studies are fun as an academic exercise, but in the long run, don’t help much in understanding the contents.

Hopefully, you’ll do a reading of Hebrews over the next few weeks while we examine it. What you will see, if you do, and the direction I’m going to drive the show, is that Hebrews is an overt attempt to show that everything about the Gospel, including the Giver, is a fulfillment of the old covenant, is superior to it, and has replaced the Old Testament as the covenant in place. These conclusions have a profound impact on our understanding of the end times, of role of Israel and the Church in Prophesy, our understanding of everything from the sacrificial system to the ten commandments.

In the next couple weeks, at least for those of you who are familiar with current trends in Current teaching, I’m going to challenge much of what you probably take for granted. It’s not new teaching, it was standard operational procedure for the first 1800 years of the Church. It just sounds new.  And, it’s going to dramatically, affect the way we look at some of the more difficult and controversial parts of the Old Testament.  We’re going to rock the boat. I love that. It’s going to be FUN.

Please join the investigation.  Next week we’ll look at a Superior Savior. Then, A superior Covenant. After that, A Superior Salvation.  Then we’ll be ready to dig into the Old Testament itself.

And that’s all I’ve got. It’s so good to be back with you. As always, please share your thoughts and/or questions either via the comments section of the show notes on samburtonpresents.com or via email.

Talk to you soon. Have a happy New Year. Be blessed, and, be a blessing.

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Help, I Just Can’t Make Sense Of The Bible. Oh, By The Way, It’s Boring

Rediscover CoverDoes that headline resonate with you? It wouldn’t surprise me. Nearly every week, I am asked about the best way to read the Bible, or asked why the Bible is so hard to understand. I totally get that. It can be frustrating when your new to it.

One of the reasons the Bible seems so hard is that it’s not in the best order for reading. Say what? I’m serious. If you’re new to the Bible, or have just never seemed to make sense of it, I’m going to clear some of that up for you right now!

The Bible is actually a collection of books; 66 of them to be precise. And they are grouped into categories just like a library. In fact, we should think of the Bible as a library of books in a single volume. Just like we wouldn’t go to a public library and start with the first book and read them in order all the way around the walls, we get the most out of the Bible if we don’t read from beginning to end (Genesis to Revelation) the first time we read it.

If you want to know more about that, I recommend my book, “(Re)Discovering the Bible Vol. 1”. It’s available on Amazon as an e-book, but you don’t need a Kindle to read it.

In the next two paragraphs, I’m giving you a suggested order in which to read the Bible. I am convinced you will get more out of your personal study if you do this.

The Bible is divided into two major segments, Old Testament and New Testament. As you can see, I’ve recommended the New Testament first. If you read the NT first it will help you understand the Old Testament much better than if you begin there. Trust me.

I highly recommend reading the Gospel of Luke first, followed by the Book of Acts. The reasons are two fold and quite simple. The Gospels tell us who Jesus is, which is the most important thing you and I need to know. The Book of Acts tells us what to do about that knowledge. It’s the only book in the Bible that describes how people became Christians.

The second reason I choose Luke and Acts, when there are 3 other Gospels, is that Luke is the author of both books, so they flow very smoothly. See, I told you it was simple.

In the next paragraph, you’ll find a recommended order for reading the entire New Testament. Essentially, I tried to put easier to read books first and the more difficult ones towards the end.

One more thing; I encourage readers to read through the New Testament twice before moving on to the Old Testament. Mainly, that’s because it really will make the Old Testament easier to grasp.

Here’s the full NT reading list in recommended order:  Luke, Acts, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Matthew, James, Mark, 1 and 2 Timothy, John, 1,2,3 John, Galatians, Philippians, Titus, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, Romans, Jude, Revelation.

Ok, now it’s time for the Old Testament. What I’ve done here is simply put the Old Testament books into an order that breaks up the harder to read ones by including some of the easier to read ones in between the harder ones. That gives our brains a rest. You’re welcome.

I do have one more suggestion. Before beginning your Old Testament reading, go through the New Testament Book of Hebrews one more time. I call Hebrews the ‘key to understanding the Old Testament’. It really will help. I promise.

My suggested Old Testament reading plan looks like this: Genesis, Joshua, Psalms, Isaiah, Exodus, Judges, Proverbs, Jeremiah, Leviticus,Ruth, Job, Lamentations, Numbers, 1 Samuel, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel, Deuteronomy, 2 Samuel,Song of Solomon, Daniel, 1 Kings, Hosea, 2 Kings, Joel, 1 Chronicles, Amos, 2 Chronicles, Obadiah, Ezra, Jonah, Nehemiah, Micah, Esther, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

There you have it. Obviously, you can read the Bible in any order you want, but I did this to help those having trouble staying focused and those who were inexperienced with the Bible. As you become more familiar with its message, you may create your own reading plan, or simply go front to back. It’s your call.

I hope this helps; I really do. If you have any questions, please use the comments section and ask.  Again, I refer you to my book, and encourage you to tune into the (Re)Discovering the Bible Online Radio Show podcast.

You can also email your questions to me.  Thanks, as always. You rock.

Trust Me

Episode 47

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I’m coming to you very late, but Brittan and I are safely here in Scotland. It’s Saturday the 15th of October already. It’s raining. Brittan is at the Church practicing the keyboard and I’m home alone. The acoustics are not good in here, but that’s never stopped me before, right?

I wish I could show you how beautiful this little village of Buckie is, but, alas, we’re on audio, not video.  If you’d like to see some pictures and have not already liked our facebook page, please do so. Just search FB for Scotland Rising and hit like. It’s that simple.

I’m realizing that I have no place to properly record, so I’m going to keep our time together short for you ears’ sake, but I do want us to get together while I’m here. Once we get back to the camper, programming will return to normal, whatever normal is.

This week and next week, we’re going to remain in John’s Gospel. After that, we’ll look at the Old Testament as a whole, then we will begin our survey of the Old Testament books.

Now before we jump into John 14, I just wanted to let you know that I have run into a few listeners all the way over here.  Ok, they are people who already knew me from years ago, but still, it’s great to know we’re international. Thank you, social media.

Ok, enough already. Lets grab a glance at the first 6 verses of John chapter 14.

Joh 14:1  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

Joh 14:2  In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

Joh 14:3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Joh 14:4  And you know the way to where I am going.”

Joh 14:5  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

Joh 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

Let me set the scene. Jesus and his disciples are in what we call, the upper room, preparing for the Passover meal. It is during this meal that they share what we refer to as ‘the last supper’. Later that night, Jesus will be arrested and the next morning, crucified. He is aware of what’s coming, but the Disciples are not, so Jesus is preparing them for a future without His physical presence.

He starts with Let not your hearts be troubled. Now I know some of you associate that phrase with a certain right wing radio host, but it didn’t start with him.

In chapter 13, Jesus has been preparing the disciples for His betrayal, arrest and execution, now He tells them not to panic. Don’t let your hearts be troubled.Relax. Trust me.

He tries to encourage them with the promise that His departure is temporary and their future is glorious.

He says heaven is real. He would have told us, if it was just a fable or fairy tale.  The thought of eternal life while hopeful, is mysterious and can make us skeptical.  We can’t see outside of these few dimensions that hold us in, so Jesus says trust me. His resurrection will establish His final authority.  As a side topic, but not to be missed, Jesus says there’s plenty of room .

Whoever you are, whatever you’ve done, there is room for you, just trust him.

One of the most important and controversial things Jesus ever said, is recorded in verse 6 as a follow up to Thomas’ question, How can we know the way?

First there is hope, “I am the way”. Thomas, you know me. Trust me. I’ll get you home. Stay close.

The controversy comes with the second statement, no one comes to the Father, except through me.  He’s made that statement, or very similar before. In chapter 8 He declares Himself to be the great I AM. In chapter 10 He declares that the other ‘saviors’ were thieves and robbers. He is the good shepherd, the door to the sheep fold. Now He is THE Only way.

Millions simply don’t like that declaration and reject it. But what if He’s telling the truth. We love His other teaching, why not trust Him with this one. After all, His way is awfully easy and attractive. Others say, ‘work’, He says, ‘Trust’. Others say, ‘earn’ He says, ‘come’. Others say, ‘do’, Jesus says, ‘done’.  Others say, ‘hope’, Jesus says, here are my scars, ‘Trust me.’

Now is the time to return to the simplicity of the Gospel.  The Bible is much simpler than we make it. Its not hard. Church sometimes makes things hard, but Jesus says, ‘Trust me.’

Hey, that’s all I got. Frankly, that’s all there is. If you’ve already trusted Him, take some time to rejoice and rest in the knowledge that He’s coming again to take you to a brand new Home. One with no mortgage or insurance premiums. His gift to You.

If you haven’t yet done so, I wish with every fibre of my being that you will do so, right now. Let go and let God.

If you’ve finally said Yes, Jesus, I trust you, let me know so I can put some material in your hands and help you find a good Church home if you don’t have one.  Email, message, or tweet me. I might be in Scotland, but I’m here for you.

Next week we’ll be in Chapter 19, “It is finished”  Until then. Be blessed and be a blessing.

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Fish Dinners and Good Wine – How John Uses Jesus Miracles To Prove Both His Deity And Humanity

Episode 46

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It’s another gorgeous autumn morning here at the farmstead. I thought last week that I would wait until we got to Scotland to do this weeks show, but at the last minute I’ve decided to record a brief broadcast before we leave tomorrow since I’m not exactly sure when I’ll get a chance to record over there.

So, in the words of Sherlock Holmes, ‘Let’s crack on.’

Last week I announced that we would look specifically, and in depth, at John’s account of Jesus feeding the 5,000. As I studied, my direction was altered a little bit, so I’m calling an audible.  We ARE going to look at the feeding of the multitude, but we’re going to look at it in the context of some of the other miracles John writes about, including Jesus turning water into wine, the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda in chapter 5 and the raising of Lazarus in Chapter 11.  I’m doing it, because after 60 years on this planet, I finally see that John chooses these miracles, because they are perfect illustrations of Jesus’ humanity as well as his deity.

Joh 6:1  After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.

Joh 6:2  And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.

Joh 6:3  Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.

Joh 6:4  Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.

Joh 6:5  Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”

Joh 6:6  He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.

Joh 6:7  Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.”

Joh 6:8  One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,

Joh 6:9  “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”

Joh 6:10  Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number.

Joh 6:11  Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted.

Joh 6:12  And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”

Joh 6:13  So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.

 

Jesus performed a lot of miracles during His ministry. In fact, John writes in his last chapter that if all of them were written down, the entire world wouldn’t hold the volume of books about it. So with all Jesus deeds to choose from, all 4 Gospel writers chose to record this one. It obviously had a profound effect on them.

First, it establishes Jesus as lord of Creation. He somehow manages to make 5 loaves of bread and two small fish stretch to feed a crowd of up to 25,000 people.  Secondly, He is the Lord of Abundance. There is not only enough to eat, but there are leftovers. It reminds me very much of the old testament story of the widow’s oil. He is the Lord of provision.

There is no doubt, this act of creation and multiplication is evidence of Jesus’ Deity, but the similarities to his miracle of water into wine, showed me evidence of His Humanity as well.  So I looked at some of the other Miracles recorded in John’s Gospel and realized that each one, as well as many of His encounters with people, note the woman at the well in Chapter 4, the woman caught in adultery in Chapter 10 and Jesus’ conversation with Mary and John in chapter 19, show clearly Jesus compassion and humanity. Remember, John’s purpose to persuade others to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Everything he writes is to demonstrate Jesus dual nature as the Word who became flesh.

Why did he turn water into wine? On the surface, it could be interpreted as showing off. At least until you think about the event for more than a few seconds. With a deeper look, we see not only His creative power, but how much He cares for the potential embarrassment of the ‘master of the feast’, the newlyweds, and His own mother.  Jesus is not just interested in the Big things, like sin and salvation, His humanity shows His care for the little things, the mundane, the ordinary. He is paying attention, and it matters.

At the pool of Bethesda in chapter 5, Jesus is knee deep in needy people. Some of them pious, some probably profane.  But He finds an individual in the mass of humanity and interacts with him, changing his life forever.

Jesus doesn’t miss the forest for the trees. He cares about the tree in the forest. He sees you. He knows your name. And He cares deeply for you.

The story of Lazarus shows us that Jesus has friends. He tenderly interacts with both Martha and Mary, and before he raises Lazarus, he weeps. He raises Lazarus in part to show that death is an illusion and under His control. But also because of His deep love for two grieving sisters.

It’s as clear as crystal for me that each of these events are obvious, intentional stories John includes to illustrate both the divinity and humanity of Jesus. And it makes me Love Him more and more. I hope it inspires you to dig deeper into who Jesus is, and ultimately to follow Him, if you don’t already.

That’s it for now. I need to catch a plane. Next time we’re going to look at Jesus’ promise of Eternal life from John 14, in an episode I’ll just call, “Trust me.”

Talk to you soon. If you want to follow some of our Scottish adventures, simple join our Facebook group, ‘Scotland Rising’ and you’ll get all the photos and updates during our time there. Have a great week. Be blessed and be a blessing.

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Nic At Night

Episode 45

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Once again, John tells us Nicodemus was a Pharisee.  From this we can infer that he is a well respected member of the community.

Why at night? – Down through the centuries, scholars, lay people and skeptics alike have debated why Nicodemus came to see Jesus under the cover of darkness. Many have speculated that this was because Nic was unwilling to risk being seen openly praising Jesus because of the risk to his status and reputation. While this interpretation cannot be discounted, I tend to reject it because in chapters 7 and 19, Nicodemus is overt in his support of Jesus. In my opinion, it may very well be nothing more than the Pharisee wanting some private conversation which was unlikely to happen during the daytime.

Jesus being obscure….again. – After Nicodemus pays Jesus a nice compliment, Jesus takes over the conversation.  He goes right into, ‘unless a man is born again…’  There are a few times in the Gospels where Jesus comes across like one of the old Shao Lin masters in 1970s Kung Fu movies. He makes these obscure declarations that blow up the conversation and take it in a direction He wants it to go.

In this case He says, Unless a man is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God, which naturally confuses Nicodemus. This idea of Rebirth is new. It’s not an extension of the Mosaic covenant.

Jesus clarification is just as cloudy, even 21 centuries later. He reply, Unless a man is born of the water and spirit, he cannot ender the Kingdom of God.

Jesus words born of water and Spirit…. Have thrown generations into bewilderment. Several, though not all, scholars have tried to make born of water refer to physical birth , as in the amniotic fluid that accompanies a baby during birth, while Spirit refers to rebirth.  For the life of me, I cannot see it that way. Both contextually and grammatically, both water and spirit refer to the second  or rebirth. I read this passage in multiple translations and even went back to the Greek and translated it myself.  Admittedly, my Greek skills have atrophied over the years, but fortunately, verse 5 is in rather simple Greek so it wasn’t difficult. It is clear that a natural reading suggests water and spirit and are a phrase in themselves.  There are no definite articles separating the nouns, or any other differentiators. Also,  the human birth experience called born of water does not exist in Greek literature. This is an invention of the Church to try and explain a very difficult and obscure declaration.

It is my conclusion that Jesus is foreshadowing conversion, which would not be fully understood until Pentecost.  The conversion experience, called here a birth, refers to our human response to the Gospel which is summed up in our obedience in Baptism while Spirit refers to what is unseen, the hard part, as it were, that can only be performed by the Holy Spirit. In Romans 6, Paul also uses baptism as the picture of the human response to the Gospel and describes it as death, burial and resurrection. Here Jesus is foreshadowing conversion by comparing baptism as birth rather than death.  In light of the Book of Acts, the understanding is simplified.

Jesus explanation of New Birth does not clear up Nicodemus’ confusion. The Pharisee asks, How can this be?  At first, Jesus reprimands him for his lack of understanding, then He shifts gears and makes simplifies the subject by going way back to basics. He spends the verses 11-21 by saying, it’s all about me, Nicodemus. Just like Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:9), so the Son of Man will be lifted up.  Again, this is a foreshadowing of His crucifixion, that Nicodemus would simply not understand at this time.

But He makes it a bit easier by saying He came as an expression of God’s love rather than His Judgement. He has come to bring light to the world, but in our attraction to sin, and it’s associated darkness, many will reject him. But there will be others, and revelation tells us it’s a multitude that cannot be numbered, will literally come to the light.

And with that, the story ends. Abruptly, and to some degree incomplete.

That’s because at this point in the Gospel, the whole story is not yet known. It’s not until after the resurrection that the story is complete and the pieces of the puzzle can be fit together.

We have the benefit of the Bible. We can figure these things out. Salvation requires a conversion, a new birth than can only be achieved by coming to Christ, the light of the world. He came to offer light and light in place of darkness and judgement.

You don’t have to understand all of it to get started. You can simply start with John 3:16-18

Joh 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Joh 3:17  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Joh 3:18  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God

Probably most of you listening, have already accepted that promise and followed him, but there might be a few who are sitting on the fence. My challenge to you today is JUMP. Take Jesus at His word and ‘Believe in Him.’

I’m going to pray for you right now.

If you took that first step into Jesus arms, well done. I’m so excited. Please let your Pastor know right away so he can guide you into your next steps. If you don’t have a good Church, email, tweet me or  use the comments feature on the website with the show notes and I’ll get back to you right away with some material and with the name of a good Church in your area.

Next week, we’re going behind the curtain of one of Jesus most remarkable miracles and what it means in a lesson called, ‘Fish Sandwiches all round, no coupon required. No limit.’

Until then, be blessed and be a blessing.

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