Monday, February 23, 2015

The Cleansing of the Temple

Not considered a miracle - but a sign/wonder

John 2:12-14 - pilgrims came by scores during Passover - a 7 day feast.
Temple was center of Jewish faith - is to this day, and not only to Jews, but Christians and Muslims.

Temple had several courts surrounding temple structure itself.  Outermost - court of Gentiles - as close as a non-Jew could get to the temple.   Then court of women - Jewish women - then court of men - Jewish men - then inside was the holy place where priests ministered, and back third of temple - Holy of Holies where High Priest entered only once a year.  Contained Ark of the Covenant - place where God dwelt

John 15-17
This passage referring to the outer court of the Gentiles where the sellers, vendors, money changers over time began setting up to hawk their wares.  Always was allowed, but started out in the area surrounding the temple courts completely.

Jesus drove the vendors/money changers out of the court of the Gentiles. -   "zeal for your house has consumed me"

John 2:18-22 - Jews asked for sign - Jesus: destroy this temple, will raise it again in three days - Jews scoffed at Him and didn't believe.  Disciples didn't understand at this time, but continued to follow/learn/consider

Question:  Was there 1 cleansing, or 2?  This is not mentioned in Matt., Mark, or Luke, but all four mention cleansing at end of Jesus' ministry - as coming in to Jerusalem for final Passover prior to crucifixion/resurrection.
Option A:  John ordered his material theologically and thematically - purpose "so that you will believe the Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God"
Option B:  there were two cleansings - one at start of His ministry, and one at last week (2 Passovers later)

Mark 11:15-17
Isa. 56:6-7 - "my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples
Mark 11:17-18 - priests now sought a way to destroy/kill Him.
Matt. 21:12-15

John's point = Jesus is LORD!!  
He has authority over temple, priests, worship, sacrifice

Why believe that?  Because He cleansed the temple???? - (any Zealot could do the same if he was "gutsy" enough) - the cleansing was not the sign.
Answer:  because He "rebuilt it in 3 days" - rose from the dead (temple of His body)

Not the Cleansing, Not the claims - Rom. 1:3-4

Ultimate sign = His resurrection

(John's point? - "Jesus is LORD"   John's purpose?  John 20:30-31)

Primary Truth of this passage = Jesus is Lord

Secondary truth(s) = additional truths taught and/or illustrated in the text - ones we can take home and use during the week.

#1.  Righteousness is not always pretty.  Note:  45% of Evangelical Christians think that Jesus sinned while on earth, and they use this passage as primary example.
Jesus is always righteous.  NOT always 'NICE' by our definition of nice.
(let's not forget WHO we serve/represent) - Jesus always gets it right.  We don't!!

#2.  There is no compelling sign - ie;  a sign/wonder - so profound (expressive/revealing) that it FORCES belief.  We still have to decide to believe.

Luke 16:27-31
ie:  not compelling sign until your death, His return - and then it's too late!
(so, now much more 'proof' do you need for the next step?)
You must decide - are you following Him?

#3.  Faith does not always eliminate confusion. - (dissolve uncertainty)
Did the disciples understand His answer to the Jews?
Did thy continue to believe?  follow?  even if they didn't understand what He meant

Compare:  Hab. 3:16-18 - even if not pretty, can be sure it's right!

Monday, February 16, 2015

2nd. Exhibit - Miracle of Water into Wine

John 2:1-11
Vs. 3 - would have caused major damage to groom and groom's family reputation. 

Vs. 11 - to some this was a "wonder" - WOW!!!!   To others a sign that increased faith in who Jesus' was.

"Wine" - in this passage - locally grown, locally pressed, locally "bottled".  Most likely

Then was diluted (with 3-4 parts water) - mixed wine (mixed with water)
Drank with meals - everyday affair - part of regular diet

OTHER WORDS - based (largely) on alcohol content.

Sha Kar - from foot to be, become drunk"
Therefore:  "strong drink" - 1 Sam. 1:15   Prov. 20:1

Hare Keh - spiced wine (stronger still) - Prov. 23:29-33

example:  "wine mixed with myrrh" - Mark 15:23 - drug, anesthetic

On one hand, wine praised and applauded in old testament.  Literally "a blessing" - symbolic of peace, prosperity, affluence

However, repeatedstrong warnings about mis-use - in Old Testament and New Testament
"mocker/brawler - leads to poverty, injustice, abuses, etc."
AND clear, repeated condemnation of drunk/en-ness.  Typically found in "sin list" - Gal. 5:19-21

So, use it But be

Other considerations:  

#1.  Wine WAS part of daily DIET - in that day and time.  (is that true today?)

#2.  WAS a universal, social norm - in that day and time.  These were Jews/Hebrews, part of their culture.
There was immediate change with Gentile Christians!!!  Why???  Because of their background!  Yes, they were familiar with alcohol but with it went drunkenness, orgies, etc.
Example:  1 Tim. 5:23 - Why was he not drinking?  Because he was an abstainer, as were many New Testament Christians - offensive to new Gentile converts.

Today.... - acceptable some places/questionable in others.
NOT acceptable in Southeast Oklahoma.
Answer:  many times - "we're gonna change that!!!"
WHY???    Because it's ALL about ME and what I want!!!!    1 Cor. 10:23-24

#3.  Wine of then is NOT the wine of today. - Then - alcohol by volume - 2-4%
Today:  beer - 2-4%     Wine = 9-16%   liquors= 32-80%
POINT:  It's NOT the same!!!!! 
Example:  compare the dancing in Psalm 150:4 (a) or folk dancing to the sensuous slow dancing found in most bars and honky-tonks.   It's NOT the same!!!

What is today's alcohol beverage designed to do????
Is it for nutrition?  to strengthen family?  sharpen senses?  enhance your spiritual walk? 

there are numerous statistics - US and Global attesting to alcohol consumption being a primary cause of death - ranks number one in 16 - 50 year olds world wide.

#4.  Restrictions beyond "be careful".
       A.  Priests - Lev. 10:8-10
       B.  Nazarites - Num. 6:1-4 - made highest vow to the Lord
       C.  Kings - (recommended, not statute) - Prov. 31:1-7, 8, 9
       D.  Elders/Pastors - 1 Tim. 3:1-3 - on one hand, not forbidden, BUT clearly spelled out!!!
       E.  Deacons - 1 Tim. 3:8 -              "      "    "       "       "              "         "          "        "

See a pattern?  - Why?  Answer:  people with spiritual responsibility.

BUT - everybody does it!!!!
In a recent Harvard Public Health Study = 50% DON'T.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism = 44% DON'T

Answer:  "I'm a Christian and I'm goon continue to drink responsibly".
Rom. 14:19-22 - context "disputable matters" - vs. Rom. 14:1

Conclusion:    Let's consider:

2)  LORDSHIP - John 2:11  - passage is NOT about WINE/Christian drinking
 It is about Jesus "manifesting His glory", revealing, declaring, His LORDSHIP!!
and that should be the answer to the whole issue!!!!

Whatever your decision, this is where it should be settled. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Calling of the First Disciples

Last week - Exhibit A - John the Baptist's testimony.

The next day:  John 1:35-51 - first disciples from John the Baptist to Jesus - wanted to spend time with Him - find out who He was and what He was teaching.
Next - Andrew and ??? John??? - not named but assumed to be John.  Andrew went and found Peter.
Jesus found Phillip - John 1:51  "I tell you (all)"   Reference:  Gen. 28:10-19 - angels ascending and descending ladder to heaven.  Jacob named place - "Bethel" = house of God.

John 1:51 - (His first statement of Who he Is.)  angels ascending and descending on Himself =
Jesus is the Connection - between earth (man) and God - (the stairway, the ladder)

Jesus is the Communication - John 1:18

Jesus is the Avenue - (roadway, stairway, BRIDGE) - John 14:1-6 - "I am the way".

Common objection to this - not that "Jesus is A way".
Objection is that "Jesus is THE way!!"

When faced with this objection, short answer = this is not a question of preference
                                                                     = this is a question of truth, fact - established NOT by Christians or the church, but by Christ!!   - the one we declared to be the stairway.


1)  Do we need a ladder?  stairway?  etc?

2)  does Jesus serve that purpose?  - God in the flesh

3)  is He THE ONLY WAY??

In our study, John will say, "yes, yes, and yes!!!"

Next Question:  have you decided?  chosen THIS way??

JESUS said,  "I am THE way!!!"  (the only way)

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Testimony of John the Baptist

Apostle John's prologue = John 1:1
What he's trying to tell us = John 1:14

John's purpose = John 20:30-31 - that you might know Christ and have eternal life

In between = Evidence (miracles, fulfilled prophecies, teachings, testimonies, observations, opinions, etc.)

Exhibit #1 = the Testimony of John the Baptist - John 1:6-7, 34- sent from God

Why is John the Baptist's testimony so weighty?  powerful?  important?
Because - John the Baptist was well known by the people, highly esteemed by the people, and considered a Prophet!!  Mark 1:1-5   Last prophet was Malachi - no prophet for 400 years.

So, crowds came, religious leaders took note, even civil leaders feared him!!! -
Political reasons - John the Baptist so popular with the people, that if he started a movement against what was going on, the people would follow him!!  Could cause a huge uprising.

John's testimony so weighty that John the Apostle (writing 60 years later)
A)  made his testimony exhibit #1, and,
B)  spent little time introducing him!!!

John the Baptist's testimony of Jesus:
John 1:19-21 - Elijah - see Mal. 4:5 and Deut. 18:15 - like Moses - John 1:22-23
Isa. 40:3-5
John 1:24-34 - issue was with what authority he was doing these things
This = the testimony of John the Baptist = Jesus is the One.

Now => the Message of John the Baptist - Matt. 3:1-12

Huge deal in the 1st. Century

The Message of John the Baptist

ie:  SELF - (heart, mind, etc.)
for the coming King, Kingdom

How?  - Repent - Be Baptized - Produce Fruit ---- sums up his message

1)  Repent = about face - 180 degree turn around - change mind => change direction
    for non-believer = turn from  _________  TO Christ
    for believer = turn from worldly things to Godly things.  This still an issue -still find ourselves following things shouldn't be following

2)  Be Baptized -
Then this signified - turning, cleansing, identity with coming Kingdom, identity with Christ.
Now this signifies - a public declaration of a PERSONAL decision

3)  Produce Fruit - in keeping with salvation = James 2:17
Reformer's formula = Justification is by faith alone; but not by a faith that is alone!

NOTE:  those who accepted, responded to the message of John the Baptist - were the First to recognize and receive Christ!!  Because they had prepared.

You cannot (in truth, practice) separate the message and the Messiah.

Application in life:  non-believers = come to Christ
                             believers = be strengthened and encouraged in the faith