Last week, we studied Jesus' human love for the family of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. This week, we will look at how He ministered to His 12 disciples during this crisis.
In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul discusses the necessity of maintaining relationships in Christ so a robust gospel effort can be achieved by the local church. This gospel effort is first individual, disciples of Christ making disciples.
The timing of this text is during the end of the week of the Feast of Tabernacle, about a half year before Jesus goes to the cross. Jesus is in a debate with religious unbelief, confronting their own sin. He identifies for them what true belief is and what saving faith looks like in the believer’s life. Jesus presents three tests of genuine saving faith for unbelief to consider: the test of fatherhood, the test of the use of God’s Word in a believer’s life, and the test of the works of God’s children.
John 8:31-59 focuses on the truth of the Word of God. The second test of genuine saving faith and of true discipleship is evidenced in our relationship with and responsibility to the Word of God in our lives.
John 5 demonstrates the attribute of God’s mercy in Jesus Christ. Jesus remains merciful to all those in unbelief, offering His hand of spiritual help as long as each person lives. We also see the enemies of the gospel in this passage, who they are, what they say, and how they act. Religious people who remain in unbelief are reminded by Moses in Exodus 34:6-7 and Deuteronomy 7:9-10 that the Lord God is both compassionate and just, extending lovingkindness to all and punishment to the guilty who reject Him. We learn from David that God will show Himself merciful to the merciful (2 Sam. 22:26), and all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to those who keep His commandments (Psalm 25:10). Paul teaches us more about the rich mercy of God in Ephesians 2:4-5. We are made alive by Christ because of the great love by which God loved us even when dead in our transgressions.
Jesus modeled for us perfectly how to trust and obey the Father with divine purpose. Philippians 2 explains how Jesus was obedient even unto death on the cross. Even the beginning of His public obedience had as its aim His duty on the cross of Calvary. This model of obedience unto gospel purpose is for each believer to follow from the moment of conversion until the point of heavenly transformation.
Old Testament and gospel narrative is the product of inspiration, revealing historic accounts inerrantly and infallibly. In these accounts, God is always the hero, and Jesus is the heroic representative of the Godhead in the Gospel of John. We are reminded in 1 Corinthians 10 that these accounts are given to us as examples. Jesus’s atonement, accomplished and applied, dramatically changes life for the coming new faith community, the church.
2 Timothy 4 gives reminders by way of command of how to nurture that which has been established at Grace Church of Mentor these past seventy-five years and how to maintain it for the next seventy-five years. Timothy is instructed by Paul to preach the Word (2 Tim. 4:2). Through the preaching of the Word, that which has been established for the gospel is nurtured, cared for, and maintained. The necessity of caring for each other is understood by Paul’s encouragement to Timothy to make every effort to come to him by winter (2 Tim. 4:9, 21). That which has been established is nurtured by the interdependent, mutual care of the flock. Galatians 6 teaches that we need to sow exceedingly in caring for one another so that we can reap what is eternal.
Written to people who need to know Christ, the gospel of John is clear about God’s initiating love towards each of us. John desires for us to understand God’s amazing love so we would surrender our hearts to Him as Lord and Savior.
John introduces the reader to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, in John 3:1-2. The name Nicodemus is a common, proper Greek name in history, and during the time of Jesus, it was also a common, popular Jewish name. The Pharisees were a sect of the Sanhedrin, the highest-ranking Jewish school of the time.
In John 1, Andrew and Simon Peter are introduced to Jesus, the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. Though both follow Jesus, they have not yet officially left their nets to follow him as seen in the other gospels. After spending time with Jesus, Andrew hurries to find his brother, Simon Peter.
The earliest of the five books written by the Apostle John, the gospel of John was written primarily to a Greek-speaking, Jewish audience, highly influenced by the Greek culture. Most of the people in John’s audience would have been unsaved, needing to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. John omits many of the words, parables, actions, and miracles of Jesus which the other three gospels include. John’s themes are different than the other gospel writers. The material in chapters 1-5 of the book of John is unique and not found in the other gospels. The healing miracles in chapters 9 and 11 are also exclusive to John. Similarities between the book of John and the other three gospels include the Spirit's anointing of Christ, Jesus feeding the five thousand, Jesus walking on water, Jesus’s sonship to the Father, and Jesus’s authority over nature to name a few.
John is known as the most theological gospel writer, though his name is never mentioned in the book as the author. Luke calls John an apostle in Luke 6. Polycarp, a direct disciple of the Apostle John, testified to knowing that John had written this fourth gospel while in Ephesus. Six times within the book, John is referred to as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Matthew tells us that John and his brother James were known as the sons of Zebedee. Jesus named them "sons of thunder" in the book of Mark. One of the three most intimate associates of Jesus during His earthly ministry, John writes of his own spiritually close relationship with Christ (1 John 1:1-4). After Christ’s ascension, John became a leader in the Jerusalem church (Gal. 2) and ministered with Peter all through the book of Acts. He was living in Ephesus when the gospel of John was written before Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70. The Roman government exiled John to the island of Patmos where his final work, Revelation, was written.
Paul says we are God’s workmanship created for good works (Ephesians 2:10). The Bible is clear that salvation is never through our good works but through Christ alone, the lamb of God sacrificed on the cross for the sins of the world (Titus 3:4-7). Scripture is also clear that our faith in Christ is put on display through good works, the divine acts of love done by God’s redeemed. These good works allow others to learn more about our Savior, Jesus Christ. James teaches that we show our faith by our works which are inseparable from saving faith. Faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).
Church research has revealed that before the pandemic, only three percent of churches in our country were experiencing measurable numerical growth. This growth was in churches bent on making disciples and spiritually reproducing. Ninety-seven percent of churches were in some form of plateau, decline, or process of closure. When the pandemic hit, these churches struggled even more.
Paul continues to call the Corinthian believers alongside himself to participate in protecting the church. Every believer has a role to build up and protect the church, not destroy.
Last week, we looked at the first two of four virtues found in 2 Corinthians 10:1-6. Passion is seen in calling others to work alongside oneself for Gospel progress. Being principled requires courage to be godly rather than worldly.
2 Corinthians 10:1-6 cover several spiritual virtues that protect both churches and the Gospel upon which the church is founded. These virtues should be owned and lived by every believer.
In Luke 19:11-27, Jesus is approaching Jerusalem and His crucifixion. The following crowd was anticipating Jesus to establish the Messianic Kingdom. He tells this parable to explain the coming delay before His reign.
Too many pastors have been measured by worldly standards of success in this past year in the midst of all the distractions life and culture have brought our way. The real measure of successful ministry is what the all-powerful grace of God is doing in people's lives. Only Jesus Christ can transform a life so completely.
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