“I Am the Resurrection and the Life”

“I Am the RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE”

Home Church Devotional 4/19/2020

These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.

Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” John 11:17-27 (ESV)

Our passage opens with Jesus finding out that Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days. Why does John include this bit of information in his gospel account? It was the common belief among ancient Israel that the spirit of a person lingered for three days, waiting for a chance to reenter the body. After three days the body would lose its color and the spirit was locked out. By waiting Jesus is removing any doubt tied to the ancient superstition; the body had been dead and buried four days. As He nears Bethany, Jesus stays outside of town, perhaps avoiding those who opposed Him or the crowds following Him ay have been large and overwhelming for the small suburb of Jerusalem. The energetic Martha is the first to reach Jesus and immediately expresses her heartfelt disappointment at the lose of her brother.

Martha begins to show us something of her faith, an immature faith at this point. Her statement is very telling, “Lord, if You had been here…” Martha has enough faith in Jesus to believe He could heal and keep her brother from dying. The faith Martha is showing here is a complaining faith, but she did not believe to the point where she was resting in faith. Martha does not believe with an unlimited and resting faith; she simply is not entrusting the matter entirely into the hands of Jesus. She tries to make amends for her complaining faith by confessing her faith in Jesus. “Lord, I know You can do anything…I know God will give You” She is still limiting the powers of Jesus even within her confession. She has, effectively, kept Jesus at a level below God.

Martha moves from her complaining faith to a limiting faith before coming to a fundamental faith. When Jesus says her brother will rise again, she confesses her belief that he will rise again in the last days. She cannot grasp that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life Himself! Jesus is making a startling declaration, her brother would rise from the dead, but Martha understood Jesus in light of her fundamental faith, a faith that said the resurrection was far away in the future. A fundamental faith is essential for all believers. We must first believe the truths of the faith, but a fundamental faith is not all there is to faith and our life in Christ. Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly. We need a living faith. A faith that is alive and vibrant; a faith that is dynamic and moving; a faith that is conscious and acting; a faith that that is communicated and fellowshipping with other believers.

Jesus provides comfort, not only to Martha, but all believers of all time, when He states, “I Am the Resurrection and the Life.” Notice that Jesus does not say “I GIVEresurrection and life, but rather He says, “I AM the Resurrection and Life.” Jesus is declaring He is the very essence, the very being, the power and the energy of life! This means that everything – humans, plants, animals – all of life – exists only because of and by the will and power of Jesus. “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1: 3) Because He is the power and energy of life, Jesus is the source of all life. Lazarus is dead, now in the tomb four days; if a dead person wishes to live again, only the source of life can bring them to life once again.

Knowing that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life means three things for the believer; (1) Jesus is alive, living before us in the person of His Holy Spirit. He is in us and around us; our faith is living and alive because we are in constant contact with Jesus. (2) it means that when our believing loved ones die, they are alive with Jesus in heaven. This is Paul’s great teaching in 2 Corinthians 5:8; when the body dies our spirits depart and return immediately to the Lord. (3) it means that because Jesus is alive our resurrection and glorified bodies are assured. This is not just thee resurrection we celebrated last week on Resurrection Sunday; no, this resurrection is the Lord staking His claim to those who believe in His name as the Son of God, the Giver and Maker of all life. Without Him, we have no life in us and no life to look forward to beyond our days on this earth.

“I Am the Good Shepherd” – Resurrection Sunday

“I Am the Good Shepherd”

Home Church Devotional 4/12/2020

These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:11-18 (ESV)

As we celebrate Resurrection Sunday, it may seem an odd selection in choosing John 10: 11 – 18, but in this passage Jesus speaks of His coming death and resurrection, as well as the sheep who will be added to the sheepfold through His sacrificial death. The shepherd and sheep were a common everyday occurrence in the life of those living in and around Israel. Being a shepherd was difficult and dirty work. It involved more than just walking with the sheep as they grazed. Protection from enemies, providing food and shelter as well as guidance taxed the shepherd as well as the sheepfold daily. In this passage, Jesus claims to be the Good Shepherd. This statement comes following the encounter with the religious leaders as Jesus healed the man born blind. Jesus plainly tells the leaders of Israel they remain in sin.

The contrast Jesus makes here is between Himself, the Good Shepherd, and the religious leaders of Israel, the irresponsible shepherd or hired hand. The hired hand thinks only of self and cares little for the welfare of the sheep. When a predator comes around the hired hand seeks for his own safety protecting his own security and position, while the sheep are left exposed to the danger, scattered, caught in danger or worse yet, destroyed by the predator. The Good Shepherd, however, lays down His one life for the sheep. He stands in the face of any enemy of the sheep. He confronts any predator that attempts to scatter or destroy the sheep. He seeks the safety and security of the sheep for the Owner of the flock. He has genuine care and concern for the sheep; He knows the sheep and they know His voice.

The Good Shepherd has other sheep not known to the flock. He will bring those sheep into the sheep fold to make the one flock under one Shepherd granting them all the safety and security afforded the sheep under His care. He will fight against all enemies to the point of giving up His life. He has been sent by the Owner of the flock to protect, care for and maintain their safety and security through all seasons of life.

On this Resurrection Sunday we celebrate the very fact that Christ went to the cross, laying down His life for those who believe in His name as the Son of God. He has brought other believers into His family through the willful giving of His life. He has been sent by God to protect those given to Him from the attacks of an enemy that, at times is unseen and unheard, but stops at nothing to destroy the sheep, scattering them and seeking to devour them. Not only this, but Jesus took up His life again through the authority given Him by the Father. In this He has defeated the work of the enemy and securing life eternal for those who believe in His name, trust in Him for daily provision and know Him as the Son of God.

As the Good Shepherd, Jesus knows His sheep intimately. He knows them by name, individually and personally; He knows their joy and their blessings; He knows their trials and sorrows; He knows their wandering and their stumbling; He knows their lack and their need. And His sheep know Him as well. They know His love and care; they know His mind and Word; they know His companionship and leadership; they know His experience and knowledge; they know His destiny and pasture, heaven. The fact that His sheep know Him so well is proof that Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

A shepherd could do no greater good than to give his life for his sheep. A shepherd who died for his sheep was beyond question a Good Shepherd. But there is something else here as well. The Owner was pleased, deeply appreciative that the Shepherd gave His life for the flock. His sacrificial death was the very reason God loves His Son so much. God naturally loves His Son just as any man loves his child. But God loves Jesus even more, in a much more special way, because Jesus was willing to pay such a price to bring men to God.

Jesus died so that He might arise from the dead. He took the sin of people upon Himself to free people from sin, that is, to provide righteousness for all people, positionally. He arose from the dead to free man from death, that is, to provide eternal life for all people. His death was the supreme act of obedience. It was voluntary; He willingly died. No man took His life; He sacrificed it Himself. The power to take it was His and His alone. For in giving Himself as an “offering to God,” Christ was looking beyond our need to the majestic responsibility of glorifying God.

This means that His first purpose was the glory of God. He was concerned primarily with doing the will of God, with obeying God. God had been terribly dishonored by the first man, Adam, and by all those who followed after him. Jesus Christ wished to honor God by showing that at least one man thought more of God’s glory than of anything else. Jesus wished to show that God’s will meant more than any personal desire or ambition which He might have.

So as we celebrate the remainder of Resurrection Sunday, we give thanks for a Savior who gave His life freely and willingly and glory to the Father to whom He was obedient in all things, even to death on a cross.

Holy Week with Jesus – Good Friday

This sermon was originally given at the Federated Covenant Church in Dowagiac, MI on Friday, April 19, 2019 at the Community Good Friday Worship Service sponsored by the ACTION Ministry Center.

The Foolishness of the Cross

1 Corinthians 1: 18 – 25

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Paul is drawing a sharp contrast between the “wisdom of words” and “the Word of the cross.” The world’s wisdom includes many words, that is, many ways to find the truth and meaning to life. But the Word of the cross is the only way to the truth and meaning of life. For the present, the point is to show that the men of the world who do not come to God through the cross of Christ are in a state of perishing; that the lost do not like the message of the cross, that is, the message that man is saved through a crucified Redeemer. They count the message as foolishness, and finally, that the lost do not like the simple way the message is proclaimed.

By contrast the preaching of the cross is the power of God to those who are saved. No other message on earth can reconcile men to God and put them under His daily care; can give men the perfect assurance of God’s daily love and care and of living eternally with God. No other message has changed lives like the message of the cross of Christ. No other message has revolutionized societies and communities and families like the cross of Christ. The cross of Christ is the power of God to save men.

I invite you to take a walk with me through the gospel accounts of the Cross of Jesus Christ as we examine The Foolishness of the Cross in the gospel accounts. What I am sharing with you tonight are things that I have personally been told by those who do not believe in Jesus Christ and the power of the cross. As we journey, we will also see the Power of God for those who are being saved. And lest we get to excited, we will be reminded that it’s Friday, but Sunday is coming!

1). Foolishness #1: The Empty Cross is a symbol of death and shame.

Our first stop on our journey is the hill outside of Jerusalem called Golgotha, the Place of the Skull. The sixteen-foot climb to the top of the hill brings us to a place known for one thing…death. Many believe this hill to be shaped like a skull and thus the name Place of the Skull; others say it was named so because there were so many skulls found in this place from the many crucifixions. It was a rugged place which stirred thoughts of death, of corruptible and decaying flesh. It was a terrible place to die. Even the very place where Christ was crucified symbolized death itself. Every act seemed to point to His dying for the deliverance of man. Here upon Golgotha was the picture or thought of death, and here upon Golgotha He was to die to deliver all men from the bondage of death.

Matthew provides the details of the shame and humiliation associated with the crucifixion of Christ. Christ was humiliated and made a spectacle in order to save us. Christ was stripped naked and shamedand made to appear ridiculousby being clad with a royal robe. A mock crown was made out of some limbs from a thorn bush and jammed upon His head. The thorns pierced through the skin of His brow and under His hair. Blood streamed down his head and face. A mock scepter was made out of the weak, limber reed and thrust into His hand. They ridiculed His claim to be king by jokinglybowing the knee before Him and mockingly shouting, “Hail, King of the Jews.” They scorned Him as a sham king. It was the custom for subjects to kiss their rulers as a sign of homage and allegiance. The soldiers gave the Lord a mock allegiance by spitefully spitting in His face.

Power of God #1: The Word of the Cross brought victory through His suffering and shame.

The writer of Hebrews, in chapter 12, encourages us “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The phrase author and perfecter carries with it the sense of being a pioneer; Jesus went before His people, opening the way, going where no one had gone before. In John chapter 11 Jesus and the disciples are preparing to eat the Passover Meal, following the meal Jesus sands and removes His outer clothing and wraps a towel around His waist. It is the custom of the day to provide a servant to wash the feet of your guest. However, this time, there is no servant. Jesus is preparing to go before His people once again, this time opening the way to servant leadership. No king would ever stoop to wash the feet of His subjects! This is a task that all of the disciples expected to be done for them but none of them were prepared to do it themselves. And now Jesus goes to the tomb to once again go before His people, opening the way once again for His people.

The cross meant to shame and humiliate the Son of God is our victory!

It’s Friday but Sunday is coming!

2). Foolishness #2: The Empty Cross does not prove Jesus is the Son of God.

As Jesus reaches the place of His execution, He is met with more abuse, humiliation and shame. IFthis is the King of the Jews, why does He not save Himself? IFthis is the Son of God, why does His Father send angels to protect and save Him? They crucify Jesus on the hill known as Golgotha. The crucifixion itself was the most horrible of deaths. The ancient writer, Tacitus, called it “a despicable death.” Cicero called it “the most cruel and horrifying death.” He simply said it was “incapable of description.” There was the pain of the driven spikes forced through the flesh of His hands and feet or ankles. There was the weight of His body jolting and pulling against the spikes as the cross was lifted and rocked into place.

There was the scorching sun and the unquenchable thirst gnawing away at His dry mouth and throat. There was the blood oozing from His scourged back, His thorn crowned brow, His feet, and His stick beaten head. In addition, just imagine the aggravation of flies, gnats, and other insects. There was also the piercing of the spear thrust into His side. On and on the sufferings could be described. There has never been a more cruel form of execution than crucifixion upon a cross. They added shame and reproach by crucifying Christ between two thieves.

Perhaps this was a day set aside for execution. Or perhaps the Jewish leaders pressed Pilate to execute Jesus with other criminals. Such would add weight to their position that He was no more than a mere man, an imposter who deserved to die just as other criminals. Whatever the reason, the fact that the Son of God was executed right along with other criminals added to the shame and reproach He bore. Again, this event had been prophesied. The average persons and the passers-by mocked and abused Christ. There were a large number of passers-by. Golgotha was close to the city, sitting on a hill that was probably close to a main road and a large gate leading into the city.

First, only Christ was mocked and abused; the two criminals were not. No abuse was heaped upon them. The murderers of the Lord were not satisfied with His death; they were filled with enmity and a bitterness that sought revenge and humiliation. Therefore, they sowed the seeds of enmity and mockery among those who passed by, and they too were caught up in the excitement of the sin and shame of the evil crowd.

Second, the passers-by saw Christ hanging there, believing He had claimed to be a King. Being spurred on by His accusers, they reviled Him. They also wagged their heads at Him. This was a gesture of that day which showed insult, contempt, and mockery.The passers-by mocked Christ for two things: His claim to have the power to destroy and rebuild the temple, and His claim to be the Son of God. Note that the crowd used the very same words that the devil had tempted Jesus with at the beginning of His ministry: “If you are the Son of God.”

Power of God #2: The Word of the Cross has power over life and death.

For those who are being saved there are ample examples throughout the gospels of the power Jesus holds over life and death. In John chapter 11 we find Jesus facing His enemy, death and the grave. He goes where no one has gone before; with a mighty cry He calls Lazarus from the tomb. Notice that Jesus has those around the tomb remove the stone. Certainly, the Creator could move any stone He chooses, but Jesus wanted those around the tomb to know and understand that He alone has the power over life, death and the grave. Matthew describes the darkness that came over the earth from the sixth hour till the ninth hour. During this time the gospels of Mark and Luke tell us there was an earthquake and the temple veil was torn from top to bottom.

All of creation cries out as the Creator of heaven and earth hangs on a cross between that which He created. Not only this this darkness a natural event, it also represents the spiritual darkness of the day. The religious elite take part in the shaming and humiliation of the Son of God. They challenge Him as the Son of God, the One who would destroy the temple and restore it in three days to come down of the cross. The centurion in place to guard Jesus as He dies on the cross becomes frightened during these events and confesses, “Truly’ this was the Son of God.”

It’s Friday but Sunday is coming!

3). Foolishness #3: The Empty Cross has changed nothing!

John account of the gospel tells us that Joseph of Arimathea went and asked permission to take the body of Jesus to bury Him. There is nothing, absolutely nothing unusual about this. His body had to be removed, He had to be buried. We all know that these things happened as God had planned them, but for those watching these events it was the normal and natural way to the end of an excruciating death. Luke tells us that the crowd who had gathered to observe the execution, began to return home, beating their breasts. Even Pilate wonders to himself if Jesus has died yet and sends for a centurion to question him about the death of Jesus. Nothing seems to have changed for those in the crowd or those in the household of Pilate. We also learn that the Sabbath was observed as it normally would have been. Nothing seems to have changed.

The sun comes up to begin a new day. The women return to the tomb to complete the burial process which had been done hastily. I can imagine that life in Jerusalem was returning to normal now that the Passover and Sabbath were complete. Fishermen returning to their boats, farmers returning to their fields, tax collectors beginning their money grab, the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees begin another day as the religious leaders of Israel. All in all, another normal day in the lives of people in Jerusalem.

Power of God #3: The Word of the Cross changed the relationship between a Holy God and unholy people.

As darkness fell over the land while Jesus hung on the cross, we read that the temple veil was torn in two, from top to bottom. In that moment EVERYTHING changed. God moved out of the temple built by hands to move into the only temple He ever truly wanted to live in, the hearts of His people. The vision John has in the first chapter of Revelation is the vision of Jesus as our High Priest as described in detail in the book of Hebrews. He forever stands as the intermediary between a holy God and fallen humanity.

We have been given access to the very throne room of God Almighty. No longer do we need to make sacrifice for our sins on a daily basis. No longer to we need to fear death or the grave. No longer are we held captive to sin. Now we come to the Father through faith in the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

It’s Friday but Sunday is coming!

The world’s wisdom includes many words, that is, many ways to find the truth and meaning to life. But the Word of the cross is the only way to the truth and meaning of life. John begins his gospel account by introducing us to the Word – Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is indeed God. Jesus Christ was the Word at creation; He was the Word at the Incarnation when He became flesh and lived among those He created. Jesus Christ was the Word at the Transfiguration when He opened His humanity just enough to allow His glory to peak through; He was the Word that became the Passover Lamb; He was the Word who carried His own cross. Jesus Christ was the Word as He hung between the heaven and earth He created; He was the Word who uttered “Into Your hands I commit My spirit.” He was the Word who lay in the tomb as the cross stood empty.

Tonight’s service has been designed to be a contemplative experience. It has been the desire that each of you would be able to reflect deeply on the cross and the significance of this weekend. The music, the Scripture, the message have all been designed to enter us into a time of personal reflection and application on this day, Good Friday and to keep you focused on the cross until Sunday. In just a moment Jeff is going to come and close our time together in prayer. We would like for you to remain in silent reflection as you leave tonight. And to help you remain focused on the cross, our ushers will release you by row. As you come out the usher will have a basket with a take-away gift for you tonight, a small cross that will easily fit into the palm of your hand and small enough to be carried in your pocket. As you leave keep this cross in your hand until you have reached your vehicle. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring to mind those things that of this service that have touched you the most. Ponder them throughout the weekend and remember…It’s Friday but Sunday is coming!

To the glory of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Holy Week with Jesus – Thursday

Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.John 13:1-4 (NASB)

John chapter 13 – 17 provide the best details of the most intimate time Jesus would spend with His disciples before His death. In the upper room where the disciples have prepared the Passover Feast to be shared together, Jesus shows the extent of His love for His disciples, and by extension, the entire world. We must remember that at His first coming, Jesus was sent to save the world, not judge the world (john 3:17). Judgment will come soon enough, but for now our focus is on the establishment of the Lord’s Supper. During the meal Jesus stood up, wrapped a towel around His waist and proceeded to wash the feet of His disciples. In doing so, Jesus left us a great example of servant leadership for those who choose to follow His teachings and commandments.

However, there are several things we learn about the disciples and ourselves from this passage. First, the disciples entered the upper room EXPECTING to have their feet washed but none of them were willing to do the dirty work for others. It was tradition for the host to provide a servant to wash the feet of His guest. This was usually reserved for the lowest of the household servants. In this case, Jesus is the host for this Passover Meal and the servant He would provide would be Himself. It is little wonder the servants were unwilling to do this menial task when you consider the condition of the roads and who the road was shared with; it is not just people who walk these roads but animals and their droppings as well!

Secondly, the disciples did not understand the need for the cleansing they needed and were about to receive. Jesus plainly tells His disciples that “What I do you do not realize now…” When Jesus comes to Peter, he first refuses have his feet washed by Jesus and then swings to the other extreme by conceding to have his entire body washed! Jesus gently rebukes Peter, so he understands that it is only his feet that are dirty at the moment, the rest is clean and does not need cleansing. Still, Peter did not see the deeper, spiritual meaning Jesus was pointing to, he still saw only the human and physical act Jesus was about to perform.

Finally, even those who have been cleansed can betray Jesus. Judas was among the twelve disciples that Jesus called to follow Him. He spent three years with the Lord listening to His preaching and teaching; he watched as Jesus healed the sick and lame; he saw the miracles of Jesus in towns and cities around the countryside and yet, he still betrayed Jesus because his heart was filled with worldly greed and ambition. It is important to note that Jesus DID NOT choose the one who would betray Him. Jesus was broken hearted over the act of Judas.

Sadly, there are many in the church who profess Jesus as Lord and Savior who come to be served rather than serving others. We complain bitterly about the needy who come to our food pantry or worship service who look and act differently than we do, all while professing to do the work of the Lord. How many of us have come into our prayer time with a long list of requests for things we feel we need to live the Christian life we have been “called to live?” Our prayer time sounds more like a shopping list than a conversation with our heavenly Father. There is little time to spend learning the heart of the Father when our wants and wished fill our prayer time.

The same remains true for believers today when it comes to the cleansing Jesus offers to give us. The spiritual cleansing we receive is meant to wash our souls, the old person dying away and the new person arising to live a life for Christ. We forget or don’t understand that we have died to the old person, meaning our old habits, language, thinking, actions and reactions have been done away with. We can no longer watch as a person tears a brother or sister apart and say, “Oh well, that’s just Jane.” Or “That’s just the way he is. You get used to it.” If w have died with Christ in baptism and rise alive in Him we are a NEW CREATION!!! You are not as you were when you first came to Christ.

Finally, even those who have been cleansed betray Jesus. Yes, this include believers today. You and I included! Every time you walk past a hurting soul and avert your eyes, you betray Jesus. Every time you turn a deaf ear to a cry for help, you betray Jesus. Every time you berate a brother or sister in Christ, you betray Jesus. Every time you withhold the gospel message from the lost and hurting…YOU BETRAY JESUS. I understand that we must use wisdom and discernment when dealing with people. There is a fine line between helping and enabling. But as the body of Christ we are to carry about within us the power of the Holy Spirit for just such cases.Time is short and we are out of excuses. The final Passover Meal is at hand. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world will be sacrificed in a few hours. We must get right and get prepared for His soon coming return. So, where are you in this passage? Are you here to be served or to serve in the name of Christ? Do you understand the cleansing Jesus has provided for you? Are you that new creation born out of baptism or does your old self still dominate your daily life? When was the last time you betrayed Jesus? Who have you bypassed not wanting to deal with dirty work of serving others?

This Holy Week is meant to be a time of personal reflection and examination. These devotionals have come out of those times for me. What about you? Are you ready for the King to return?

Holy Week with Jesus – Wednesday

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people. And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them. They were glad and agreed to give him money. So he consented, and began seeking a good opportunity to betray Him to them apart from the crowd. Luke 22:1-6 (NASB)

The final betrayal of Jesus is set in motion as Judas, one of the twelve disciples, approaches the religious leaders of Israel. Like many in Israel, Judas was looking for a different kind of Messiah, one who would come and remove the oppression of the Roman empire and return Israel to its past glory. It is likely that Judas had disillusioned thoughts after the Triumphal entry when Jesus failed to establish His kingdom right away. Perhaps it was this disappointment that drove Judas to seek out the religious leaders and betray Jesus. However, Judas is not the only enemy of Jesus in the above passage. There are, in fact, three enemies at work against Jesus this Wednesday of Holy Week.

The first enemy at work were the unbelieving religious leaders. While the people were in the streets openly preparing to praise God for His delivering power and the saving of life, the unbelieving religious leaders were behind closed doors plotting to murder the very One who had come to be their great Savior. The unbelieving religious leaders plotted to use deception and lies in order to kill Jesus. The unbelieving religious leaders sought to get rid of Jesus because they feared the people. This means that they feared both losing the support of the people and the reaction of the people against them if the people knew they were killing Jesus.

The second enemy at work is the work of Satan. Satan is the spiritual being who is out to destroy the relationship between God and men. In wrath and bitter hostility, he opposes God. Satan is seen entering Judas, stirring him to strike up a bargain to betray Jesus. Later Satan will enter Judas again and urge him to go ahead and finish his work of betrayal. The point is, if Satan could destroy Jesus, keep Him from fulfilling His work on earth, then man could never be saved. Satan, of course, had no idea that God was going to save the world through the death of Jesus.

And the final enemy at work is, of course, Judas. There are some important details we must take note of concerning Judas. First, he was a professing disciple. Judas has spent the past three years traveling with Jesus, listening to His preaching and teaching, seeing firsthand the miracles of Jesus and had been taught and warned about sin by Jesus Himself. Secondly, Judas communed with the world. In short, Judas was worldly. His heart and mind were upon acceptance, position, recognition, prestige, influence, power, and wealth by and withing the world system. Judas approached and communed with the world, the chief priests of the world. He thought they who were of the world were the winning side and could offer much more than Jesus

.Judas coveted the world and its money; his gnawing sin was the love of money and his greed was a growing sin! His heart was set on greed and worldly ambition. He felt that wealth, power, and position would be his when Jesus set up his kingdom. Judas filled his heart with the need for more and more greed, rather than filling it with Jesus. Finally, Judas made a covenant with the world. He promised the religious leaders to find an opportunity to betray Jesus and hand Him over to them. Peter warns us to be aware of our enemy, the devil, because he prowls around looking for whom he might devour. This is the picture of Judas, that of being on the prowl, searching and seeking, looking here and there for the right moment. Judas’ heart was set, full of intrigue, plotting evil and planning its strategy. He did not believe, but unbelief was not enough. He willed to do evil against Jesus, to hurt Him, to destroy Him. And he sought opportunity to do so. Just how deceitful Judas was can be seen by noticing that immediately after bargaining with the authorities, he sat down to eat with Jesus. He sat at the very table where the Lord’s Supper was being instituted.

As we grow closer to the Passover, we must examine ourselves. So, where do you see yourself in this picture of Judas? As a professing Christian, where are you betraying Jesus? Is your heart set on worldly goods, wealth, position and recognition? Have you made a covenant with the world, filled with the promise of wealth and position? Are you filling your heart with the need for more and more greed, rather than filling it with Jesus? Take some time this Holy Week and ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you are betraying Jesus, repent and ask forgiveness and turn from your sins, returning to the arms of Jesus, the Lord and savior of the world.

Holy Week with Jesus – Tuesday

On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him, and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?” Luke 20:1-2 (NASB)

According to Luke, Tuesday is one busy day for Jesus! As is their standard mode of operation, the religious leaders confront Jesus about His authority. In this passage the religious authorities are the perfect picture of people throughout the world today. We must make one of three choices when it comes to Jesus and His authority: (1) He came from God; (2) He came from man (3) remain silent and do nothing. In this passage Jesus is found teaching the people and preaching the gospel in the Temple. The unbelief of the religious authorities causes them all to turn a deaf ear to the TRUTH of Jesus’ teaching, and their unbelief then causes them to begin questioning His authority. In response to their question Jesus asks a question of His own and in the denial of a response by the religious authorities we can clearly see ourselves.

The first possibility to the question of “By what authority” Jesus is teaching is by the authority of God. John the Baptist points the way to God. John the Baptist is on record as having said of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God…” (John 1:29) and a few verses later he testifies to the Spirit landing and remaining upon Jesus (J0hn 1:34). John’s testimony is clear…Jesus is from God. If they acknowledge that John is from heaven, then it is clear that Jesus too must be from heaven sent by God. That makes the message of Jesus the message of the kingdom of heaven, straight from God the Father. This also means there is great hope for all people, hope to be saved from sin, death and hell.

The second possibility is that the authority of Jesus comes from man. Once again, whatever is true of John must then be true of Jesus. If John comes from man, then Jesus too must have come with the authority of man. However, if this is true, how would one explain so many changed lives? Thousands have repented and been transformed, turning their lives around and following God with a renewed zeal and vigor! To say that John was not from God and received his power and authority from man would be foolish and absurd, for the religious leaders know the people would rise up against them.

The final possibility when answering the question of the authority of Jesus is to simply remain silent and remain indecisive. For the religious leaders this was a no-win situation. To admit that Jesus is from God threatens the position and power; to say He is working under the authority of man is to cause an uprising that would once again, threaten their power and position. So, they choose to remain silent and indecisive. In fact, they only discuss the matter between themselves, never searching their own hearts nor are they seeking the truth. Their minds are already made up. They will not set aside what they have already decided in their minds, the are willfully and intentionally rejecting Jesus.

And now comes the time we must take for self-examination. Where are you in this passage? Are you fully accepting that Jesus acts on and with the authority of God? Or do you believe Jesus was simply a good teacher, filled with wisdom having no authority other than what He found from those around Him? Or do you find yourself being silent and indecisive about Jesus? This is, by far, the most dangerous position for anyone to find themselves holding to. If you find yourself being silent and indecisive to save face with your friends and family, afraid to seek the truth, then let me encourage you to know that Jesus accepts you where you are, as you are, with whatever baggage you might be carrying with you. However, know this as well, Jesus WILLNOT leave you where you are. His love for you is far deeper than your finite mind can understand.

As we sit in quarantine, practicing social distancing this Holy Week, now is the perfect time to open your heart and your mind to the truth of Jesus, the Son of God. He alone is the Way to salvation, the Truth of God and the Life-giving source for all people. People…get ready! Jesus is coming soon!

Holy Week with Jesus – Monday

Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling, saying to them, “It is written, ‘AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” And He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him, and they could not find anything that they might do, for all the people were hanging on to every word He said. Luke 19:45-48 (NASB)

According to Luke, Jesus was anything but laid back during holy week. As He entered Jerusalem for the Passover Feast, Jesus looks to the Temple as the place of worship and becomes dismayed with what He sees. Driven by holy zeal Jesus cleanses the Temple for three reasons.

First, the greed that has entered into His Father’s house seen in the selling of animals and other materials needed for sacrifice as well as the exchanging of money. Originally God had commanded that each family bring their own animals for sacrifice. This would make it a more personal experience. With the distance some worshipers traveled this became near impossible, so the religious leaders set up a system of exchanging foreign money for Temple coins and selling animals and the materials necessary for sacrifice. The problem with the system was the exchange rate of the money and the location.

Exorbitant fees and inflated rates of exchange made the religious leaders wealthy but did little to enhance the worship experience of those who traveled from great distances to enter the presence of God. Add to this the cost of the animals needed for sacrifice and worship became an expensive experience as the religious leaders took full advantage of travelers and their need for materials. Jesus quotes two Old Testament prophets, Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11, as His righteous anger drives Him to remove sin from the Temple.

Second, the exclusion of people from the act of worship in the Temple. The money exchangers and those selling animals had set up shop in the Court of the Gentiles. This is as far as gentiles were allowed to enter into the Temple if they wished to worship God. Imagine the noises, the smells and the general chaos Gentiles must endure if they wished to worship God. The bleating of sheep, the snorting of bulls and the fluttering of wings as animals are pushed, prodded and sold would do little to enhance the worship experience for the Gentiles.

Finally, Jesus cleansed the Temple because of His relationship to the Father. Jesus uses the possessive “My” as he exclaims “My Father’s house is to be a house of prayer!” The Temple belongs to the Lord and His relationship to God, My Father grants him full authority to cleanse the temple from sin. This symbolic act foreshadows what is to come at the end of the week when Jesus will go to the cross and remove sin from the world as the Lamb of God. Once again, His Father will grant Him full authority over life and death as He is raised from the dead.

This Holy Week I challenge each of you to look within yourself and ask some very tough questions. How do I bring greed into the church? How do I exclude others from worship? What is the status of my relationship with God the Father? Each of us brings greed into the church when we come to a worship service seeking only for what we can GET from worship rather than what we can GIVE in worship. Yes, corporate worship is a time to recharge and prepare for another long week ahead. But if we seek only to receive, we miss out on being a blessing to our Father in recognizing who He is rather than simply focusing on what He has done for us.

Secondly, we exclude others from worship every time we look at the exterior of a person; what he or she is wearing; how someone wears their hair or heaven forbid, if they are wearing a hat! God has stated clearly, simply and plainly NOT to look at the outside of a person, for God judges the heart of a person. By our standards today I doubt that David would stand little chance of being named king of Israel. He just doesn’t measure up to the clean-cut all-American, well put together hero we envision a king should be! And yet, God overlooked the much more handsome brothers of David stating, “Do not look at his stature.”

Finally, examine your relationship with God and His Son Jesus Christ. You must first accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God before you can begin to call God your Father. If your relationship with Jesus is cut off then you have NO relationship with the Father. What do you seek in your worship? Are you seeking to spend time on the mountaintop in praise or are you prepared to spend time in true worship, drawing near to God so He can examine your heart and prune dead limbs from your life?

Jesus was anything but laid back this week. He is moving forward with intentionality toward the cross of Calvary where He will complete the work His Father has prepared for Him. Perhaps during this time of quarantine, rather than complain because the church doors are closed and locked, we as Christians, the body of Christ, can begin to cleanse our temple of the sin that has separated us from God the Father; perhaps we can remove the barriers that exist between the church and those who do not yet know Jesus; and perhaps we can reconnect with God the Father through prayer and personal worship so that when the church doors do open, we can return with a renewed heart and passion for worship every Sunday morning.

“I Am the Door”

“I Am the Door”

HomeChurch Devotional 4/5/2020

These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowedto meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.

So Jesus again said tothem, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of thesheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. Iam the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and outand find pasture. The thief comes only to stealand kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

 John 10:7-10 (ESV)

The shepherd and sheep area common and beloved image in Scripture, especially in the New Testament. Shepherds were considered to be among the undesirables of society because theywere “spiritually unclean” and there was not much opportunity for them to becleansed. Being a shepherd was a 24/7 proposition and required close contactwith the sheep herd. And yet God chose this group of undesirables to announcethe birth of His Son, Jesus Christ and they were the first to discover andworship the newborn King. In Scripture, we, the body of Christ, are often describedas the sheep of His flock. And there is little wonder we are associated withsheep, a hardheaded, stiff neck animal that simply seeks their own desires andselfish ambitions.

When Jesus claims to bethe gate of door of the sheep He is likely referring to the community sheep penwhere sheep were kept at night for safe keeping. This sheepfold had a singledoor/gate through which all the sheep and shepherds must enter or exit. When astrange and unfamiliar shepherd would enter the sheepfold most of the sheepwould scatter and run for cover, However, as the shepherd called his flock theywould emerge from the chaos and focus on him and follow him out the door/gateand enter the pasture and begin their journey to their home range. No othershepherd could claim sheep that were not his for they would flee from the soundof his voice and the only way to claim them was to steal or kill them.

However, there is another application to this statement that many do not know about or do not fullyunderstand. Psalm 23 is, perhaps, the most well known and beloved of allScripture passages. This Psalm actually walks us through a year in the life ofa sheep following his shepherd to the lush grazing lands atop the mountains,through the valleys and ravine, harsh weather and perfect sunny days and backhome again to the safety of their home range. On this journey, when the sheepwere to bed down for the night, the shepherd would find or have prepared aravine that formed a sheepfold from the natural lay of the land. This wasusually rocks and boulders from the land or streams that formed a protectivebarrier. In this sheepfold, once again, there would be a single door and theshepherd himself would lay across the opening and become the gate. This is theapplication for the body of Christ today, Christians.

As we celebrate theTriumphal Enter of Jesus into Jerusalem on this Palm Sunday this statement takes on a new and added importance in the life of believers. Jesus entered Jerusalem as the humble king riding on a donkey. The crowd following Him came from Bethany where He has called Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead. The crowd had a sense of the kind of shepherd that Jesus came to be. But Jesus had a far deeper understanding of the shepherd and sheep. His journey had not yet reached the climax and as the people began to cry out “Hosanna” Jesus turned His face to the cross and the work that awaited Him.

When Jesus says “I am the Door,” not only is He referring to the sheepfold but there is a far deeper meaning for believers today. Jesus is the Door into God’s presence; the Temple veil will be torn from top to bottom allowing access to God’s presence. Jesus is the Door into God’s acceptance; by removing our sin through His shed blood Christ makes us able to stand before God justified and redeemed. Jesus is the Door to salvation; it is through Christ and His work on the cross that gives us eternal life. Jesus is the Door into heaven; no one can come to the Father but through Jesus and no one can enter into heaven or the Kingdom of God without believing that Jesus is the Son of God. Therefore, if we wish to be with God, enjoy His kingdom and have eternal life and fellowship with the Father and Sonwe must enter through the Door, Jesus the Christ.

All others who claim to bethe door are thieves and robbers. There are some who claim to be the door and to have the way to God. They claim to know the right way and to have the newest ideas and the latest truth and knowledge. They claim to have the right teaching,religion, works, maturity, philosophy, psychology, ideas, and novel concepts.They claim to be the door that opens into God’s presence. But Jesus says that they are thieves and robbers. They are out to steal the sheep, both their wool,in the case of believers, their possessions as well as their lives or their loyalty. They want both their wool and their lives, for if they have both they have the sheep’s permanent loyalty.

The proof that Jesus is the only Door and that all others are false doors is the sheep themselves. Thesheep do not hear the voices of false doors, not if they are the real sheep of theShepherd. The real sheep of God know the Shepherd’s voice and have the abilityto discern it. If they hear the voice of a false shepherd, they know that he andhis sheepfold are false. His voice and message are not the voice and message ofthe true door, the Son of God Himself.

The thief, like falseleaders or teachers, has evil intentions. Jesus pictured a heartless individualwho began by taking all he could and then killing what he couldn’t have.Anything else he destroyed. God’s people, Israel, had suffered through morethan their share of evil leaders, false prophets, and false messiahs. Bycontrast, Jesus gives life in all its fullness to his sheep. This speaks of thegift of divine, eternal life, a life which becomes the possession of everybeliever for now and for eternity. Jesus would provide his sheep with thiseternal life, and it would cost him his own life.

And so it did! Like thesheep within the sheepfold in the hill country, the shepherd literally becamethe door to the sheepfold. As he stretched out across the opening to become theDoor, no sheep could leave the fold without going over the shepherd and noenemy could enter without going THROUGH the shepherd! In Luke22:31-32 (NASB) Jesus warns Peter of what is to come  “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permissionto sift you like wheat; but I have prayedfor you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again,strengthen your brothers.” Satan stillhas access to believers today but he must first seek permission and as we learnin Job, he can only go so far before Jesus steps in! Our Shepherd, Jesus Christstands as our door through which our enemy MUST enter if he wishes to “sift uslike wheat.”

“I Am the Light of the World”

“IAm the Light of the World”

HomeChurch Devotional 3/29/2020

These devotionals werewritten during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowedto meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of afull sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, butwill have the light of life.”

          John 8:12(ESV)

Light plays a prominent role in the introduction of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. In the prologue to his gospel account, John introduces the Word as the Light of men and the true Light. This Light is the life of all mankind. Light shines in the darkness and darkness cannot comprehend or overcome the Light. In contrast those who hate the light will remain in darkness and reject the Light.

It is possible for the Light, Jesus Himself, to be in men,and for men to become children of Light.

Jesus used the word light often. John uses the word twenty-one times. So what, exactly, is meant by calling Jesus the Light? First, Jesus, the Light, is light by nature. Light is what He is within Himself, within His being, His nature, His essence, His character. Scripture tells us that God is Light; that Jesus is the image of the invisible God; therefore, “Jesus is Light.” He is “the Light of the world.” Secondly, Jesus, the Light, tells us that He is holy, righteous, and pure. Light is the symbol of purity and holiness. Light means the absence of darkness and blindness; it has no spots of darkness or blackness, nor of sin and shame.

Thirdly, Jesus, the Light, reveals. His light shows clearly the nature, the meaning, and the destiny of all things. His light shines in, spots, opens up, identifies, illuminates, and shows things as they really are. The light of Jesus Christ shows the truth about the world and man and God. The light of Jesus Christ reveals that He loves and cares forman and wants man to love and care for Him. Fourth, Jesus, the Light, guides. His light allows a man to walk out of darkness. People no longer have to grope,  grasp, and stumble about trying to find their way through life. The path of life can now be clearly seen. Finally, Jesus, the Light, does away with darkness and with chaos. His light routs, wipes out, strips away and erases the darkness. The empty chaos of creation was routed by the light given by God. Jesus Christ is the Light that can save man from chaos.

Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the Light of the world at the great Feast of Tabernacles. The very first ceremony of the Feast holds great significance for Jesus’ claim. It was called “The Illumination of the Temple” and was held in the Court of the Women. The center of the Court was surrounded by large sections of stadium-like seats. In the open space of the Court sat four huge candelabra. When darkness fell the candelabra were lit, and the elders danced and led the people in singing psalms before the Lord all night. The brilliance and glow from the burning flames of the huge candelabra were said to be so bright that the light could be seen throughout the whole city. It was against this background that Jesus cried out,”I am the Light of the world.”

By contrast, darkness is used in Scripture to describe both the state and the works of man. Darkness is very real in Scripture. First, darkness refers to the world of the natural man who does not know Jesus Christ. The natural man walks in ignorance of Jesus Christ; of God as revealed by Jesus Christ; of the real purpose and destiny of life as shown by Jesus Christ. The natural man stumbles and gropes about in this world. He knows nothing other than the things of this world as he sees them. His only hope is the hope of living a long life before death overtakes him. He walks in darkness, ignorant of real life now and hereafter.

Secondly, darkness symbolizes unpreparedness and unwatchfulness. It symbolizes the time when evil occurs. Thirdly, darkness is loved by men. Sinful men do their evil deeds under thecover of darkness. Men therefore hate the light because the light uncovers their evil behavior. Finally, darkness is hostile to light.

Not only does Jesus make a greatclaim by stating “I Am the Light of the world” He also made a twofold promise .First, all who follow Him will not walk in darkness and secondly, they will have the light of life. None of us possesses light, not within ourselves, not by nature. By nature, we are darkness. We are delivered out of darkness by following Jesus Christ. The Greek word indicates this is a continuous action. We must continue to follow Christ in order to receive light. John continued this theme in his first epistle:

In 1 John 1:5-7(ESV) John writes –

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Those who claim to follow the Son must be living in thelight of God’s presence. They must be illumined by the truth of God’s character. To “live in the light” requires constant contact with God and no tolerance for dishonesty, hypocrisy, or sin. Living in the light comes from continuous effort to take on Christ’s qualities. This involves complete transformation from within.

Living in the light leads to fellowship with each other. This fellowship among believers results from each believer’s having fellowship with God. True spirituality manifests itself in community fellowship. One cannot say that he or she communes with God and then refuse to commune with God’s people. Such was the case with some of the false teachers of John’s day, and this situation exists among false cults today. Often their followers and leaders claim to have special relationships with God, but they don’t affiliate with other believers. They stay isolated and withdrawfrom everyone else. John’s point is that the natural result of living in the light (in fellowship with God) should be joyful relationships with other Christians.

Another result of living in the light is that the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin. John emphasized that the death of Christ saves people, not the false teachers’knowledge. The verb cleanses also means “purifies.” Sin is not only forgiven,it is erased. How does Jesus’ blood do that? In Old Testament times, believers would symbolically transfer their sins to an animal, which they then would sacrifice. The animal died in their place to pay for their sin and to allow them to continue living in God’s favor. God graciously forgave them because oftheir faith in him and because they obeyed his commandments concerning the sacrifice. Those sacrifices anticipated the day when Christ would completely remove sin. Real cleansing from sin came with Jesus, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

Those who “live in the light,” the true believers, will still find themselves at times in sin. Christians will notbe made completely perfect until Jesus returns and brings them into his Kingdom. When they do sin, however, God has already made provision to deal with those sins through the blood of his Son. That provision allows God’s people to continue to walk in the light—dealing with sin through confession and receiving his forgiveness so that fellowship with God and with others can remainunhindered.

In claiming to be the light of the world, Jesus defined his unique position as the one true light for all people,not just the Jews. Death brings eternal darkness; but to follow Jesus means not stumbling through the darkness but having the light that leads to life. Believers no longer walk blindly in sin, rather his light shows sin and the need of forgiveness, gives guidance, and leads into eternal life with Christ.

“I Am the Bread of Life”

“I Am the Bread of Life”

HomeChurch Devotional 322

These devotionals werewritten during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowedto meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of afull sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.

So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes tome I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”                                                                                                                                   John6: 30 – 40 (ESV)

Bread is an important symbol throughout the life of Jesus. Jesus was born in Bethlehem which means House of Bread. In the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4:4 Satan attempts totrick Jesus into turning stones into bread. Jesus replies that “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”The word of God is our spiritual nourishment at all times. In Matthew 6:11 Jesus gives the disciples a pattern for prayer, what has become known as “The Lord’s Prayer” where he teaches the disciples to ask God to “give us this dayor daily bread” as we acknowledge God as provider for all of our needs. Andfinally, we have today’s passage, “I Am the Bread of Life.”

This passage comes after the feeding of the 5,000 in which Jesus has takes a few barley loaves to feed those who are following Him. Afterwards the disciples collect twelve baskets full of the leftover bread. As the people seek for yet another sign that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah, Jesus speaks in spiritual terms the people cannot and will not understand.

Jesus had just made some phenomenal claims. He claimed to be the Son of Man; the One who feeds man,who gives man bread which issues forth eternal life; the One whom God hadsealed; the One whom God had sent into the world; and the One upon whom menwere to believe. The people demanded proof. Note two revealing things about thenature of man.

People focus upon the physical and material. They ignore all the signs, even the miracles of God which surround them. Christ had just miraculously fed the crowd, yet the crowd ignored the witness of that particular sign. It was not enough. They were so attached to the earth, to its physical pleasures and material goods, that they wanted more and more. To them Moses had fed Israel for forty years in the wilderness. Christ had fed them only once. Moses had fed Israel with manna falling out ofthe sky from heaven. Christ had merely multiplied bread from a few loaves in His hands.

People demand that they first see, then they will believe. This is contrary to true faith. It is not the way faith works. A man must first believe God, then he sees. However, faith is not fate; it is a matter of the heart, a matter of how the heart must relate to others. God relates with us just as we relate to others. If a person does not believe in us, they do not see; that is, they may ask all they want but it is unlikely that we will do what they ask. But if they believe and trust us, we usually do whatever they ask, and they see their desires and requests fulfilled by our hands. Repeating the above, a man must first believe God, then he sees. Faith must precede sight. Believe God and He will fulfill the desires of your heart.

The people’s complaint was twofold. Christ had not fed them enough—not enough to prove that He was who He claimedto be.  Christ had not fed them in the right way, not given”them bread from heaven to eat.”

People never have enough. They crave and crave, never beingfully satisfied. They experience a gnawing hunger, a restlessness, emptiness, loneliness, vacuum, and a lack of purpose, meaning, and significance. Even indealing with God, they never have enough evidence or proof to believe—not within their human nature. People always wants to tell God how to act and dealwith them and their life. People wants their needs met in certain ways. It isnot enough for God to meet their needs; people want their needs met as they will and desire. They try to dictate how God is to act and behave toward them.So much human religion is nothing more than this, nothing more than peopletrying to spell out how God is to act and behave toward them.

Christ is the true bread. Man cannot provide true bread,that is, true satisfaction. Only God can. Moses was not the one who gave Israel the manna from heaven; God was the One who gave the manna. A man has to do something if he wishes to have his hunger met; to be truly filled; to be completely satisfied; to be content; to be comfortable; and to be at peace. A person must look both beyond other people and beyond the things of this world. People and things cannot meet the gnawing hunger of mankind; they cannot provide true satisfaction, for they do not possess the true bread.

God alone provides true bread, that is, provides true satisfaction. Notice three things. First, Christ called God “My Father.” Second, The bread God gives is “true” bread. Finally, the “bread” or “manna” of God is not physical and material bread: it is spiritual. God may provide and actually does promise to provide for the physical necessities of His followers, but physical and material bread is not what Christ was talking about in this passage. Physical and material bread lasts only for a short while. Once consumed, it is gone. Its satisfaction passes and man’s gnawing hunger arises again. But the bread God gives is spiritual bread, that is, spiritual food for the soul. It is the bread that man really needs more than anything else on earth. It is the only bread that can feed and meet the need of man’s hungers, loneliness, restlessness, lack of purpose, emptiness, meaning and significance.


Christ is the Bread of God. In saying this, Christ made at least two points. The origin of the true Bread is God Himself. It is bread which came down from or “out of” heaven itself. This means several things. First, the bread of God is not bread which comes out of the clouds above earth. Rather, it is bread which comes “out of” heaven itself, out of the spiritual dimension of being, from the very presence of God Himself. It is bread which comes from the very household of God. Second, the bread of God is not physical bread. It is of the nature of God Himself, spiritual and eternal bread. Third, the bread of God is possessed by God; therefore, only He can give it, and man cannot have the Bread of God unless God gives it to man. Finally, the Bread of God was a person. Note the personal pronoun “He,” and the word “bread” which is masculine. Note that “He,” the Bread of God who feeds and nourishes man, came down or “out of” heaven. He was not born of the earth. He came from the very presence of God Himself.


The Bread of God gives life to the world. That is the purpose of bread is to give life. Bread gives life by nourishing and sustaining; satisfying; energizing and creating desire (the need) for more and being partaken on a regular basis.  Christ and the Word of God gives life to the believer by doing the same five things as bread. The Bread of God came from heaven to give life to the whole world. It was not just to one person or to one nation that He came. He came to the whole world. He came to sacrifice Himself, to feed and save a starving world.

When Christ said I am the Bread of Life, there are four significant points here. First, the people requested the Bread of God. The people called Jesus “Lord,” but how much they understood of His deity is not known. So, this is apparently just an address of respect. However, the point is clear in the Bible. When a person asks for the Bread of God, he must call Jesus “Lord” and be ready to submit to Him as Lord, serving Jesus day by day.

Also notice that the people requested: “give us this bread always.” This was a once-for-all request. The people wanted this Bread of God once-for-all, so that they might have a permanent provision. The Bible is again clear on this point. Salvation, that is, partaking of the Bread of Life, is to be a permanent experience. It is to be a once-for-all experience.

Secondly, in making the phenomenal claim of “I am the Bread of life” Jesus Christ made the claim: He was the true Bread; the Bread of God; and the Bread of Life.

Third, if a person comes to Christ, the Bread of Life, they will never hunger. People have a starving, craving need for life. People crave a life that is full and satisfying; is nourishing and sustaining; is energizing and has its desires fulfilled. If a person comes to Christ, they will never hunger. The gnawing of starvation, the craving for life will be fully satisfied.

Finally, if a person believes, they will never thirst. The picture (symbolism) is switched from hunger to thirst. Aperson’s need is more than met; not only is their hunger satisfied, but their thirst is quenched. Every need of life, of nourishment, and of growth is met. Nothing is left out or lacking. When a person comes to Christ and believes, a continuous action, meaning continuing to believe, every need of their life andgrowth is met. Of course, this does not mean they will never hunger after righteousness. They will, but their hunger and thirst will never gounsatisfied. They “shall be filled.”

In the end Christ was seen but rejected. The point is that the people were without excuse. They had every opportunity in the world. The Bread of God had “come down from heaven.” The Bread of God had come to give life to the world. The Bread of God had been seen. The Bread of God was being seen and proclaimed that very moment. Any of the people could have easilycome to Christ, yet sitting there and hearing the glorious news, they still did not believe.

Seeing the panic buying and hoarding as word of the coronavirus spread is an example of people seeking comfort and peace in the material rather than the spiritual. Bread was one of the first things people began to hoard. Bread shelves were emptied before meat, milk and disinfectants which soon followed suit. None of these will bring any relief from the coronavirus should anyone who has hoarded them become infected. It will still run its course; it will still cause some damage and it will still cause pain and heartache to those who lose a loved one. This is why it is so important to show your faith and have a ready answer for the hope you carry with you.