Faith Is More Than Believing The Signs!

John 2:23-25

As before in human history, signs, wonders, and supernatural miracles that are performed by someone cause people to wonder if there are gods or powers that can make a human more powerful.

Jesus was fully aware that many of the people believed in Him solely because of the works, wonders, miracles or signs He performed. Jesus Christ requires a belief built upon faith alone, and not in the constant need of physical proofs and signs (verses 24-25):

“But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for He knew what was in a man.”

Here the inadequacy of faith built on signs is clearly stated. This does not mean that faith prompted by miracles is inadequate, but rather, it should be a first sep to coming into true faith based on what is not seen, or felt, or understood by the physical senses or mere logic, but rather what is revealed to a person by the Holy Spirit. Accoring to Jesus, people are always looking for signs. Why?

People are always hoping to know something about their future that they cannot know. Oh, if God would just give me a sign. What in our future is hidden from us. How about:

The day of our death,

The day of our great consolation,

The day of the second coming of Jesus Christ,

The day of the coming of God’s Kingdom,

The day of the declaration of the Kingdom of this world,

The day of judgment for Satan and his demons,

The day of judgment for the wicked,

The day of our final judgment,

The day of our reward,

The day of being reunited with all of those who have gone before us marked by the sign of faith.

Faith is not meant to exist in the absence of logic, reasoning, and physical proof. However, these things by themselves are not enough.

What is faith not based on? Faith is more than just our senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch). It is more than our limited human reasoning and logic. Faith is more than the sum of our emotions and experiences. It is more than what is seen, but also what is unseen.. Faith is not merely there to escape something like pain, suffering, tribulation, fear and hell. Faith is not merely used to gain something like joy, healing, prosperity, peace and heaven.

What is the basis of faith? Faith is revelation by the Holy Spirit. We walk by faith, not by sight. Faith is assurance in the Holy Spirit.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” - Hebrews 11:1-3

Fath is conviction and mental integrity:


”The Lord doesn;t see things the way you seen them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart!”- 1Samuel 16:7

Faith is intention and spiritual motive:

But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” - Jeremiah 17:10

Faith is choice in God’s will”

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His Name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of flesh, nor of the will of any person, but of God.” - John 1:12-13

Faith is a decision, a spiritual confirmation. Jesus told Peter that He will build His church on the rock (Peter) and hell will not conquer it.

Let us now make a decision of faith together with this prayer:

“We believe in One God the Father, the almighty, creator of heavenand earth, and of all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Fater, God from God, Light from Light, true God from God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through Him, all things were made. For us and our salvation, He came down from heaven. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He became incarnate in the womb of the virgin Mary and was made truly human like us. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He suffered, died, and was buried. He descended into the place of the dead in Sheol. There He proclaimed the Good News held captive there. On the third day, He rose again from the dead in accordance with the scriptures. He ascended into Heaven and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His Kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, He is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets. He will not leave us orphans, for He remains with us always, even to the end of the age. We believe in one holy and universal Church. We acknowlege one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and the eternal life of the world to come.

Amen

Make Clean! Make New!

John 2:13-22

Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Jewish Passover and found men selling cattle and exchanging money. He made a whip of cords and overturned the tables (verses 16-18):

To those who sold doves He said: “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market! His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’

The Jews asked Him what sign He could show them to prove His authority (verses 19-22):

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days? “ But the temple He had spoken of was His body. After He was raised from the dead, His disciples recalled what He had said. Then they believed the scriipture and the words that Jesus had spoken."

The Passover celebration embodied by the once-for-all sacrifice of the Lamb is what John is talking about. He wants us to understand this. “Embodied” within the person of the sacrifice, Jesus.

The Passover celebration is also fulfilled by a once-for-all offering of the high priest on God, who is Jesus. He became our high priest, our sacrifice, our everything all at once. Now the temple is no longer necessary.

In Judaic understanding, the temple exists to bring sacrifice, especially on the Day of atonement. If you don’t have a temple, you don’t have a faith. Today, since the temple has been destroyed, modern Jews declare that you can simply pray away your sins. What did Jesus say about that temple? Take out all this stuff, because God’s house should be a house of prayer. They pray to God and hope that their sins are forgiven, for over 2000 years now.

What is going on with Jesus’ actions? Jesus had righteous indignation, not anger, not frustration. Pure wrath of God because of pure righteous anger. It was not against those who were leading the worship, and it was not against the sacrifice that was being offered. It was on the financial gain of those who wished to make money in the process. They were supposed to do this outside the temple.

Jesus is angry because He wants all the people who are not part of Judaism, who are actually seeking God, to come to this area called the Court of the Gentiles, to meet God and to understand God, and to pray to God. Instead, all the people who are Jewish are running into a giant farmer’s market. This is a preparation area to go into the inner precinct, where you are washed to go into the temple court to offer. This whole process has been violated by the sale of animals.

Jesus is not condemning the old order o worship. He is not saying there is something wrong with the way they worship. There was something wrong with the way they were getting ready to worship. This puts an end to the need of a formal sacrificial system. Jesus is about to do something to transplant all of these other sacrifices. So what is He doing? He is cleaning out the old to make way for the new. That’s the message. Make clean, so you can make new.

Why push all the animals out? Because there is only one Lamb that needs to enter into the Holy of Holies. And the irony is that there He is standing there. Now only are we talking about a rabbi cleaning the temple, we are talking about the Son of God, the Messiah, the very Lamb Himself standing there and asking for order.

Christ’s blood will nullify the entire Old Testament sacrificial system the minute it’s offered, in just five days from the temple visit.

Worship God in spirit and truth is what Jesus is after. Stop worshiping by faulty means, and begin to worship Him from your heart.

The temple building of the old covenent is replaced by the living temple of the Holy Spirit, who is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus IS the temple, just like we are His living temples. Jesus is standing there with the fullness of God, so the Holy Spirit in all of His fullness, is standing there. Jesus is saying, “I am the house of prayer. Jesus was sacrificed as the Lamb of God, not just for that moment, but forever. He died once for all.

Who is with you forever inside you? God the Holy Spirit. Who was standing there before the pharisees? God the Holy Spirit inside God the Son. In Jesus we become living temples of the Holy Spirit on earth, and we are able to offer to the world Emanuel. God forever with us.

How do you now see yourself? As the temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul tells us to treat our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, with incredible respect. Give God glory. You are living temples, and you are able to offer Him to the world. He died to sin once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God.

A Beginning Of Signs

John 2:1-12

There was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, as well as Jesus and His disciples. In verses 3-4:

When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to Him, “They have no more wine.’ “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

Jesus’ mother told the servants, “Whatever He tells you to do, do it. There were six stone pots used by the Jews for purification. Jesus told them to fill them to the brim. He told them to take it to the master of the feast. In verses 10-11 the master spoke to the bridegroom:

“.. Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now. This, the first of His miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed His glory, and His disciples put their faith in Him.”

Why did Jesus perfoms miracles and signs? Let’s look at the Old Testament. What are miracles and signs in the Old Testament?

They are proof of the truth of God’s words spoken by the prophets. In other words, if what the prophet says comes true, he’s truly a prophet. If it isn’t, he’s a false prophet. The punishment for this was quite severe. Stoning immediately!

It’s authentication that he has spoken for God, and not for himself.

It’s a herald of future events, something that is going to occur in the future, especially in relation to end times. In the Old Testament there are two concepts of end times. One end time is when Jesus comes. The Jews thought He would come one time, and one time only. They assumed that, when Jesus came, all these things would come to pass. What Jesus did, though, was inaugurate the Kingdom. He came to introduce an idea that the Kingdom is coming, and the Kingdom is already here, but the Kingdom will come in all of its fullness when you enter into the Kingdom as well.

We live in the tension between the times. It is really important that you feel that tension. God is with us today, just as He always has been and will be with us tomorrow. So we have this ability to stand up to the tension. What is that tension? That we live between the time of the Kingdom coming in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, but it’s still not complete. And we are fighting against the other kingdom of this world, the kingdom of Lucifer, who fights against the Kingdom of Heaven.

Every time in the Old Testament there is something about end times, either when Jesus comes the first time, or the second time, or it has the same meaning twice.

It is a reminder of the Old Testament promise that the Kingdom of God is meant for everyone, the chosen people of the Jews, but for the gentiles as well. God was going to expand who He called when Jesus came, and the call was always there to go out to all.

It’s a revelation of God’s glory manifested specifically in His only Son. Isaiah told us that when these things happen we will see it among THE prophet, the one Moses promised, the prophet above all the rest, the prophet Jesus.

In the New Testament, miracles and signs are a manifestation of the great power and glory of God first. The end sign of the Old Testament is the beginning sign of the New Testament. It is also an anticipation of even greater things. The transfiguration of Jesus, the death of Jesus, the resurrection of the Lord, His ascension into glory, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the end of the age when He returns, final resurrection and final judgment for all of humanity.

In Chapter 2:50 Jesus talks to Nathaniel:

“..You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.”

God the Father is revealed to us through His Son, God the Father does His sovereign will through His Son. God the Father desires to forgive, heal, restore, and bless all of His children through His Son.

What do miracles and signs tell us about the second person of the trinity, Jesus Christ?

Jesus Christ is the full revelation, and the full presence of God in human form. He has the full power of God residing in Him. All of the Godhead was fully present. He was all God, and He was all man, the mystery of all time. It’s in veiled form, yet it comes through. Where does it come through most? In the forgiveness of people, the restoration of people, the healing of people, and in signs and miracles. These are where we get the glimpes of the glory of God.

Let’s look at the scripture. On the third day. What is that referring to? The resurrection. It is always looking forward. When Jesus died, the scripture tell us that everyone had lost hope. They thought everything was over. When did the sign come? On the third day. What is the meaning of the third day? First, the promise made to Nathaniel. The time elapsed after calling the first six disciple was three days. The third day after Jesus’ baptism. Calling the first disciples happened for three days after Jesus’ baptism. When you are baptised you are baptised into Jesus’ death. Therefore, when He comes again, you will be raised in His newness of life. We see Jesus ceremoniously going into the water, showing us that He is about to die, and on day three He makes wine. What is the wine the sign of? The blood.

Both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. They are viewed as family in the culture of Jesus’ day. Some rabbis wold not marry for years, so their children were their followers in Jewish culture. To some degree, pastors have for extra children, all of you. We are responsible for taking care of you.

When they ran out of wine in verse 3, Jesus’ mother told Him they had no more wine. Notice something that is highlighted here. Mary did not force the hand of God. What she did was start a sequence of events to allow her Son to fulfill His earthly obligation to the young couple, for the rabbi was supposed to bring a special gift. Jesus came that day with no gift. He was quite impoverished. He had not yet drawn a group of followers who could support the ministry. This was an allusion to the heavenly wedding feast for all those who will sit with Him at the great wedding reception, where all the gifts will be given to us. So when Jesus says, “My time has not yet come,” what is He referring to? The hour of His death.

Jesus Christ self-limited Himself on earth. At times, He would limit His powers of God to be omniscient to know everything. Jesus Christ remained at all times obedient to His father God, but He also remained obedient to His earthly mother. He is a man, as well as God. Jesus Christ chose to honor and bless His children at that wedding then, and He chose to bless you His children now. God always wants to bless. Jesus Christ chose to show His honor and glory then at the wedding, and He chooses to do it today by the Holy Spirit. Look into one another’s eyes, and see the image of the invisible God.

The Witness of Jesus' First Followers

John 1:40-51

One of the two disciples who followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.  So he found his brother and told him that they had found the Messiah, the Christ, God's anointed and chosen One.  When Andrew brought Peter to Jesus in verse 42;

...Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John.  You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter).

Andrew brought Peter to Jesus.  And Jesus told Peter he would be His rock.  Jesus was calling him to be the head of His Church right there, built on solid rock.  "Rock" literally means faith built on a strong foundation, the bedrock.  It becomes unmovable.   John the Baptist knew this quite well.  He said that he must decrease, so that Jesus could increase.

Look at the enthusiasm that Andrew has. This is often called the "Andrew Effect."  What is this effect?  It is wanting to witness to everyone the good news of finding Jesus in your life, and hoping they will find it in theirs.  It's the reason we talk to people about the Lord.  It's the reason we get excited.   How do we get the Andrew Effect?  We don't get it by chance, or by osmosis.  We get it by setting ourselves apart for God from the getgo.

The next day Jesus went to Galilee and found Philip.  Now Philip was from Bethsaida, where Andrew and Peter were from.

Philip called Him Jesus of Nazareth, a person.  Nathaniel called Him the Son of God.   John weaves those two ideas into the words of two different witnesses.  The Philip Effect is the same as the Andrew Effect.  When you find out who Jesus is, you tell somebody right away.  Those to whom the Son wishes to reveal the Father come to know Him right away.  Jesus has to reveal it, or you will never know.  The person has to witness.   One is sovereign, the other is of the free will.  Both are necessary. 

One little village, Bethsaida, produces six apostles.  This is a very pagan spot.  Jesus is calling true believers from the darkest places. 

Philip found Nathaniel and told him they had found the One Moses and the prophets had spoken about in the entire OldTestament, in verses 45-46; 

"...We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."  "Nazareth!  Can anything good come from there?" Nathanial asked.  "Come and see," said Philip.

Jesus and Nathaniel spoke in verses- 47-49;

When Jesus saw Nathaniel approaching, He said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false."   "How do you know me?" Nathaniel asked.  Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you."  Then Nathaniel declared, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel."

Nathaniel, like David, was a man after God's own Heart.  Nathaniel had gone under the fig tree to pray alone, and he had a vision of heaven with God talking to him.  When Jesus said, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false," the voice was the same one from the vision.    

One of the two disciples who heard John the Baptist say to follow Jesus was Andrew.  The other one is the mytery disciple. 

Why didn't John ever tell us the identity of this mystery disciple?   Maybe, John wanted those who read his gospel to insert their own name.  Think about it.  He is saying that there were these people who were always seeking, always wanting to know when the Messiah came, wanting to be close to the Lord.  If you put your name in the place of the mystery disciple, you will always hear Jesus calling your name to believe in Him and follow Him.   What was Jesus trying to do?  He was trying to seek and to save those who were lost. 

I am so glad I was lost!  Are u glad you heard Jesus calling your name?  Everyone who responds in faith, even though we have never seen Him, will be given the title of the disciple who Jesus loved.  Is that encouraging or what?

I think that John purposely writes this masterful gospel so that every person will come to a living, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  The entire gospel is written as a one-on-one personal encounter.  Everything Jesus says is personal.  "I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Light" - (John 14:6)."   How many of you have a friend that you wish knew what you have?  It is the tendency of every new Christian to be excited about the joy, the hope that they have.   Who remembers being a new Christian?  

Andrew knows immediately, the minute he knows it's Jesus the Messiah; he immediately knows it's his mission in life to speak to everyone, but he wants his loved ones to come first.  He has found the greatest gift, he has found the pearl, the Christ.  And he must tell everyone, so he starts with his brother.  I think God is saying this to us about the Andrew Effect.  Oh, that My people would be new Christians every day.

Christianity is about being a new Christian every day, not in our growth with the Lord, but in our recommitment, our willingness to renew, our willingness to get up in the morning and start over again, and say "To you I give my life all over again, to you I commit this day."  

 

 

 

Every single apostle has made a declaration that Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man.  Nathaniel's testimony is synonymous with John the Baptist.  The rabbi John calls Jesus the Son of God, and the apostle Nathaniel calls Jesus "Rabbi."

At some point in our lives, we hear Jesus call us by nqme.  In that moment, we have God revealed to us by His Son, and we see what we could never see before.  Our blinded eyes are finally opened, and the Light shines in the darkness.  We now have a choice.  Will you place your faith in Him?  If you do, immediately, you become that new Christian, and immediately, the Andrew andPhilip Effect takes place.  You are so excited, you have to tell somebody.  Let's continue to witness every day of our lives.  Become His disciplel, be transformed every day of your life, and we are called His beloved.

John's Witness To His Followers

John 1:35-39

This reading takes place on the third day in the gospel of John.   What do you think of as Christians when I say "third day?"  The resurrection was on the third day. 

Looking at Jesus as He walked, John said, "Behold, the Lamb of God."  There is no crowd this time, only two of his disciples.  John says to them, follow Jesus.  In verse 38:

Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?"

What do you want in Me, from Me, to Me?   What are you really seeking in life?  Do you remember a time in your life when you heard Jesus call you by name?  He asks us to reaffirm the call every day. 

What should I consider every time Jesus calls me?  I must be honest when I hear His voice, honest about what He is truly asking of me.  I must be honest about what I truly desire to do, my commitment that I am willing to give.  I must be honest about my answer to Him.  I must be honest about my daily life, my witness for Him.  

This is what Jesus wants us to think about every day.  The call.  We should be so happy that we were called, not because we can gain heaven.  We should be so excited that it was He who called.  We should want to say, "Hallelujah, yes!" 

Jesus gave us everything.  I will give you everything in return.  Today.  I make this response with all of my heart, mind and soul.  I love you (the first commandment).  And when I go out to see other people, I will tell them you are calling, you are forgiving, you are loving.  This will be my witness to them.

Question: Am I growing closer to my Lord?  Introspective; looking inside the heart, the mind, the soul.  Am I spending enough time today in His presence?

Now comes a very unusual response by Jesus.  Jesus frequently does not answer with what you expect.  Jesus replies to the question of where He was staying.  He replies in verse 39:

"Come," He replied, "and you will see."

Jesus is saying, everything you ever wanted, you will find it in Me.  No wonder these two wanted to stay.  Jesus' words have a context of seeing Jesus taste death for our salvation.  Along with it comes a promise that we will not taste death.  Of course, we will live forever.  We have this hope that, just as He was raised, we will be raised on the last day.   

And what will we see?  His glory, His wounds in the flesh, and the glory of the kingdom that is coming.  Taste and see.  Every time you think about heaven, what do you see?  You see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering and death, crowned with glory and honor, that He by the grace of God might die for every one of us.

The disciples were about to taste the death of God, the grace of God, the bitterness.  They were about to taste the joy of the Resurrection, the sorrow of fairwell in the Ascension, the greatness of the coming of the holy Spirit.  Their whole life was changing in a moment, and they had no idea other than that this was the One.

I encourage you to draw close to the Lord, to see for yourself the Lamb of God who tasted death to forgive our sins, and who was raised again that you and I might live eternally with Him.  Taste and see today that the Lord is good.