Monthly Archives: October 2016

Jesus’ Seven Signs in John (2)

Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. (John 4:52)

Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. (John 4:52)

This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.  (John 4:54)

Men often boast about their abilities, but when it comes time to show what they can do, they fall far short of even their own expectations. Jesus not only demonstrated His deity by His claims, but He performed inexplicable acts attributable only to supernatural power. In the previous post, we looked at Jesus’ first sign – that of turning simple drinking water into a highly complex solution i.e. wine.[1] The low-key act called no attention to Himself, and He accomplished it by the will of His divine mind. He simply thought it, and it was done.

Jesus performed His second sign in much the same way. His first sign demonstrated His power over matter. The second sign demonstrated His power over life itself.

After the wedding in Cana where Jesus turned water into wine, Jesus went down to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover (John 2:13). This was the first Passover celebrated during His three-year ministry. John, unlike the Synoptic Gospels, records the first time that Jesus “cleansed” the Temple by chasing out the merchants and money changers (John 2:14-17). While there, Jesus intrigued a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Knowing that Jesus was sent from God, “for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2), Nicodemus met with Jesus in secret to learn what He had to say. Jesus gave him the greatest lesson that anyone has ever heard, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, emphasis mine).

When the Passover concluded, Jesus returned to the region of Galilee by way of Samaria. There He met with a Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well (John 4:12), and He gave her “living water” (John 4:10) that became in her “a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). She was “born again” and became an instant evangelist taking the “good news” to her village (John 4:28-30). “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did” (John 4:39).

Jesus remained with the Samaritans two days before returning to Cana of Galilee (John 4:43). There a “certain nobleman” met Him with an urgent request (John 4:46). That he was a “nobleman” indicates that he probably served as a “courtier” or officer in the king’s court. The Greek word translated “nobleman” is basilikos, which means, “belonging to, or befitting the sovereign.” At any rate, he was not of the “common” folk.

His son was deathly ill, and “When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death” (John 4:47). At first glance, Jesus seems somewhat annoyed with the request. “Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48). Although Jesus addressed the nobleman’s request, His response was not directed at the man. After all, the he came a long way from Capernaum down to Cana only because “he heard Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee,” and he believed only Jesus could save his son from certain death.

One of the reasons I appreciate the “old” King James Bible is for the distinction it makes between the singular and plural second person personal pronouns – thee, thou, thine and you, ye, your – as expressed in the original languages (Hebrew and Greek). All the latest modern translations simply use “you” which can be either singular or plural, which adds ambiguity to the text. The distinction is important here, because in responding to the nobleman’s request, Jesus does not address him directly otherwise the text would read, “Except thou seest signs and wonders, thou wilt not believe.” However, that is not what Jesus said. He said, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” “Ye” – in Texas we would say “y’all.” Jesus addressed the crowd around Him.

John reported this as Jesus’ second miracle, but actually, Jesus had already performed many miraculous acts as recorded by the other Gospel writers. The curious crowd followed Jesus because He gave sight to the blind, opened deaf ears, healed the lame, cleansed the leprous, cast out demons, etc. It was in this same region that He entered the synagogue in Nazareth and announced, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19). Applying the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-2 to Himself, the incensed crowd attempted to throw him over a cliff (Luke 4:28-30). “You claim to be Messiah,” they probably thought, “show us what you can do!”

In spite of all He had done, they would not believe. Jesus knew this, but He was not there for their entertainment. The nobleman was not a curiosity seeker nor did he come to be entertained. He had a serious need that only Jesus could meet. He believed this. “The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die” (John 4:49). Only Jesus could save his son’s life. “Jesus [desiring not to perform for the crowd] saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.” (John 4:50, emphasis mine). Unlike the crowd who need to “see signs and wonders” in order to believe, the unnamed nobleman took Jesus at His word, by faith, and returned to his home believing that his son would live.

Capernaum was a day’s journey north of Cana on foot. As the man neared his home, his servants ran out to meet him with the news that his son had recovered and was well. “Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house” (John 4:52-53, emphasis mine). The “seventh hour” would have been around one o’clock in the afternoon.

Interestingly, John remarks that the nobleman “himself believed, and his whole house.” Is it that he was unbelieving until he witnessed firsthand his son’s recovery? Perhaps that was true for “his whole house,” but certainly not for him. In the first place, consider that he believed enough to seek Jesus out in the first place. In the second place, he took Jesus’ word that his son was healed, and he returned home without question. He did not need to “see” to believe. What I believe John is saying is that his faith was confirmed when he realized that his son was healed the very instant that Jesus said, “Thy son liveth.” His “whole house” believed due to his testimony.

John records this as “the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee” (John 4:54, emphasis added), but as noted above, that is not exactly true. What prompted John to make that statement? Dr. Henry M. Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research, offers an excellent explanation:

Jesus actually had done many miracles in or near Jerusalem (John 2:23; 3:2) since the miracle of turning the water into wine. This is called the second miracle, either because it was the second done in Galilee or else because John was specifically counting only the seven great signs (all of these being miracles of creation) described in detail in order to win men to Christ (John 20:30,31). [2] (Emphasis mine)

I believe the latter to be the case. John’s purpose in writing his Gospel was to testify that Jesus was God in the flesh. He opens his Gospel with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).

As in the miracle of turning water into wine, Jesus performed this miraculous act telepathically, i.e. by the mere power of His mind He made it happen. All it took was for Him to say, “Thy son liveth,” and it was so, even though He was miles away from where the sick lad lay. However, this was a small thing compared to when He called Creation into being by the mere power of His Word, “Let there be … and it was so.” This second miracle was nothing less than an act of God – Jesus.

NOTES:


[1]  Jesus’ Seven Signs in John (1)

[2]  Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Henry Morris Study Bible, (Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2012), 1577.

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Jesus’ Seven Signs in John (1)

jesus-turns-water-into-wine

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.  (John 2:11)

In the past few weeks, I highlighted the seven I AM statements spoken by Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of According to John.  These statements are significant because through them Jesus declared His divine nature. The reason John recorded seven (there may have been more, see John 20:30-31) was perhaps to show the completeness, or perfection of His deity. Seven is the biblical number for perfection or completeness.

Jesus not only proclaimed His deity verbally, He also demonstrated His deity by His “works.” “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (John 10:37-38). As in the seven I AM statements, John records seven major “signs” demonstrating Jesus’ deity. In truth, Jesus performed many miracles, so many, in fact, that John says, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen” (John 21:25, emphasis mine). These “works” or “signs” defy natural explanation and are “creative” in nature.

Dictionary.com defines a miracle as “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause” (emphasis mine). Those who choose to reject God attempt to explain away miraculous events by natural means. When natural means fail to explain the miracle, they simply relegate it to myth. “Pretend it is not real, and maybe it will go away,” they think. Creation is a miracle. John tells us that “All things were made [created] by him [Jesus, the Word]; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Arguably, this was the greatest of all miracles, but it is not included in the Seven Signs. Most likely this is due to the fact that no one witnessed this event. The Seven Signs recorded by John specifically testified to Jesus’ deity to those who witnessed Him during His earthly ministry. “Every one of the miracles shows how the created order submitted itself to Jesus’ authority.”[1]

According to John, the first sign Jesus performed was to turn ordinary drinking water into very fine wine (John 2:11). By this time in His ministry, Jesus had overcome Satan’s temptation in the wilderness recorded in the Synoptic Gospels and chosen His twelve apostles. He traveled up to Galilee to begin His mission. There in Cana of Galilee (distinct from Cana of Ephraim), Jesus attended a wedding probably by invitation of His mother who helped host the party (John 2:1-5). Jewish wedding feasts lasted seven days, and this one was now into its third day (John 2:1). Either due to poor planning or over indulgence of the wine, a terrible faux pas took place; the wine ran out. “The lack of wine involved another embarrassment, in that it rendered the bridegroom’s family liable to a lawsuit. They were legally required to provide a feast of a certain standard.”[2]

Jesus’ mother jumped into action. She knew Jesus could take care of the situation, “And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine” (John 2:3). Jesus’ response at first seems terse and somewhat lacking in the normal affection between a mother and son. “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come” (John 2:4, emphasis mine). While He did not call her “Mom,” the term “woman” was one of respect in the same way that we might say “Madam” or “Ma’am.” Jesus used same term when addressing other women like Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan woman, the woman caught in adultery, and others. However, it is noteworthy that He did not address her as “Mētēr” (Mother). As Son of God and Son of Man, and as her Creator and Savior, her place was now subordinate to Him.

Recognizing her proper place, “His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it” (John 2:5). Jesus instructed the servants to fill six stone water pots with water. Each water pot held two or three firkins apiece (John 2:6).  A firkin equals to about seven and a half gallons, therefore, each water pot contained between 15 and 22 ½ gallons each. If we assume three of each size (two and three firkins), the total capacity would be around 113 gallons. That’s a lot of hooch!

“Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it” (John 2:7-8). One must note that Jesus said no “magic words.” He did not get up and walk over to the water pots or come anywhere near their vicinity. He made no special gestures. Once the pots were full, He merely instructed the servants to draw some out and take it to the host. Only by His thought was the water transformed into wine. For God, this is no feat. On the first day of creation, He called all things into existence only by speaking the words, “Let there be,” and it was so.

Jesus demonstrates His deity by creating something new. Water is a simple compound composed of two Hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom. Wine, on the other hand, contains over 1000 different compounds as demonstrated in the image below.[3] the-chemistry-of-wine-2015 Where did all those different compounds come from? They do not occur naturally in fresh water. Even if that water had a high mineral content, those minerals would not exist in the proper proportions to combine into wine. No, this was an entirely new creation by the One who created it all in the first place (John 1:3).

The skeptic cannot explain this away. He might say that after three days of celebration, the host and guests were too drunk to tell the difference. If that is so, how can he explain the host’s reaction? “… the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now” (John 2:9-10). No, this wine was better than the “good wine” served at the beginning of the festivities. Whatever God does always exceeds what man can do.

John reports, “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him” (John 2:11).  This first of Seven Signs recorded by John exclude some of Jesus’ greatest miracles: Creation, His incarnation, His own resurrection, but perhaps the greatest of all, He creates a new life in the heart of every believer. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

Notes:


[1]  Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of Israel, (Jewish Studies for Christians, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2015), 25.

[2]  Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, Revised, (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995), 158.

[3]  A common distraction arises around this miracle over the alcohol content of the wine. Was the wine simple grape juice, did it contain a low level of alcohol, or was it fully fermented with heavy alcohol content? The question is irrelevant for two reasons. First, the host – the “governor of the feast” – proclaimed that it was better than what had been served at the beginning of the feast. Second, regardless of the inclusion or exclusion of alcohol, the end product was a thousand times more complex than the initial water, and that is precisely the point that should not be overlooked.

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Jesus’ Seven ‘I AM’ Statements in John (7)

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  (John 15:5)

A large sycamore tree grows in my front yard. Its large palmate leaves provide ample shade from the hot Texas sun, but that same Texas heat stresses the tree so that it drops many of its leaves in mid-summer, long before autumn when trees normally defoliate. It also drops limbs constantly making it a self-pruning tree that creates a lot of extra work for me. One thing I have noticed is that the leaves and branches that detach from the tree die. Even though they fall on fertile ground, they do not rejuvenate. Even if I “plant” them in the ground, feed, and water them, they will not take root. They remain dead. They only remain alive while attached to the tree.

Jesus had this image in mind in this seventh and final I AM statement recorded by John. He said, “I AM the vine.” When we think of a vine, we picture the entire plant: trunk or main stalk, limbs, branches, leaves, and (eventually) fruit. However, here Jesus refers to Himself as the trunk or main stalk of the plant. We do not need an advanced horticultural degree to know that the main stalk supports and provides nourishment for the entire plant. Part of the trunk is the taproot that reaches deep into the earth to draw nourishment for distribution to other parts of the plant. Jesus compares Himself to this vital part of the plant.

Next, He says, “ye are the branches.” I like the KJV use of “ye” that distinguishes the second person pronoun as plural as it appears in the Greek. Therefore, in speaking to His disciples, Jesus includes all believers. “You ALL are the branches.” He establishes a vital relationship here. The branches receive their sustenance from the trunk, i.e., “the vine.” The branches cannot live apart from the vine; detached from the vine, they die. Furthermore, the branch attached to the vine has the vine attached to it: “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit” (emphasis mine). In a plant, it is easy to see a branch abiding on a vine, but a vine abiding in the branch is not so obvious. Vein-like vessels made up of xylem cells in the vine grow into the branch from the vine carrying the essential nutrients to maintain the branch alive, so in effect, the vine abides in the branches. Through this mutual attachment, the branches produce “much fruit.” I might be wrong, but only branches produced fruit, never the trunk of the plant; but without the trunk, the branches cannot live to produce fruit: “for without me ye can do nothing.”

Thus, Jesus invites us, the branches, to attach ourselves to Him, The Vine. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4, emphasis mine). What kind of fruit should a branch of The Vine produce? The Apostle Paul lists several. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance …” (Galatians 5:22-23), and add to that “righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9, emphasis mine). “Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:23). We cannot produce such fruit unless we are firmly abiding in and drawing nourishment from The Vine.

As I walk around my front yard picking up dead branches from my living sycamore tree, I gather those branches up and throw into the trash. If I lived outside of the city, I would throw them into the fire. In the same way, Jesus said, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6, emphasis mine). Here Jesus refers to the final judgment where those who reject Him will be cast into hell for eternity (Revelation 20:14-15). In His sixth I AM statement, Jesus said He was The Life. By this, He meant “eternal life.” Apart from The Vine, there is no life, and Jesus said, “I AM The Vine.”

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Jesus’ Seven ‘I AM’ Statements in John (6)

narrow-way

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  (John 14:6)

Many today reject exclusivity when it comes to God and the heavenly realm. “If” God exists, and “if” heaven exists, then any “good” person, who “sincerely” believes, regardless of what they believe, should gain entrance into heaven. So, a sincere Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Tao, Jew, or Christian can go to heaven as long as they are good and sincere in their belief. The only problem with that is that everyone defines “good” differently.

The idea that everyone (except for really “bad” people) goes to heaven is known as “universalism.” This popular belief attracts many because it relieves one of any obligation, responsibility or guilt.  Even the current pope, Pope Francis, publically embraces “universalism.” In his position, he can simply declare all religions under the umbrella of the Catholic Church. Bingo! Everyone goes to heaven, so now let us all just try to get along. The problem with this (besides the fact that it is unbiblical) is that it strips God of His authority and places that authority in the hands of fickle men. Furthermore, it insults God’s wisdom in determining man’s fate, and ultimately creates God in man’s image.

Today, anyone who does not buy into the Universalist “group think” gets labeled as intolerant, narrow-minded, a xenophobe, a hater, or all of the above. If Jesus walked the earth today, He would fall into this same category. No doubt that Jesus died for ALL, Indeed, the Bible clearly teaches: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine). “Whosoever” includes ALL – “the world” – and excludes NONE. However, one may be tempted to overlook the “qualifier” – belief in Him, i.e., Jesus, the One who was “lifted up” (John 3:14) for the sins of “the world.” “Belief” is the prerequisite. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18, emphasis mine). The Pope can pontificate all he wants, but he cannot abrogate the Word of God.

In His sixth I AM statement, Jesus said, “I AM the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, emphasis mine). As the Creator God, the I AM of Creation, Jesus emphatically imposes extreme exclusivity for access to the Father. No one comes to the Father except through The Door that is the Lord Jesus Christ. No other options are provided. That makes Jesus’ claim anathema to Universalists.

Note that Jesus makes this I AM statement threefold. First, Jesus is The Way. The “way” may be thought of as a “method” to achieve a goal or destination. The “way” is a “road” – the conduit from one place to another; it is the conveyance from one place to another. Jesus is that way that leads to the Father. Jesus urged, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14, emphasis mine). Quite clearly, Jesus narrows “the way” to the few that find it. On the “broad way” that “leadeth to destruction” can be found many Universalists proclaiming to know “The Way,” but Jesus says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21, emphasis mine). The Way is exclusive!

Second, Jesus is The Truth. He is not “relative truth;” He is unequivocal truth. Not only that, but the definite article assures us that He is the “only” truth. At His trial, “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (John 18:37, emphasis mine). Pilate, perhaps waxing philosophical, retorted, “What is truth?” (John 18:37), when The Truth was standing before him. The incarnate I AM, the eternal Word of God (John 1:1), cannot lie (Titus 1:2). All truth abides in Him, and outside of Him, there is no truth. Apart from The Truth, God is unknowable.

Third, Jesus is The Life. As Creator, I AM authors life. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:3-4, emphasis mine). The Life offers more than bios, i.e. biological functionality. The Life gives zōē, the essence of life eternal. In the Garden of Eden, when “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground” He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7, emphasis mine). On final inspection of His creation, God looked upon His finished work “and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Death had no part in God’s “very good” creation. Man was created to live eternally until he broke God’s one and only commandment (Genesis 2:17). At that point death entered into the world (Romans 5:12), and man began to die (Genesis 3:19). Death opposes The Life. It has no place in the presence of The Life, subsequently death cannot enter into the presence of the Father. Only The Life can reverse the curse of death. Jesus is The Life.

I AM The Way, The Truth and The Life.” There is no other access into the presence of the Father and eternal life except through the Lord Jesus Christ. Universalists may not like that idea, but they do not get to make the rules. Only the Creator owns the right to make the rules. In the Garden of Eden, there was only one tree from which man could not eat. Now, after Eden, there is only one way to eternal life. Jesus is the only way. It is up to you to choose wisely.

 

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Rosh HaShanah

feast-of-trumpets

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.  (Leviticus 23:24)

Today, October 3, 2016, is Rosh HaShanah, the first month and day of the Jewish civil year. It is the seventh month (Tishri) of the ecclesiastical year which begins on Nissan 1, sometime in early spring.

Rosh HaShanah is also known as the Feast of Trumpets, and it is celebrated by the daily sounding of trumpets leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, ten days later. This year, that day begins on the evening of October 11, 2016.

Most Christians are unfamiliar with the Jewish feast days that are observed in keeping with the Law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. These are not your run-of-the-mill festivals. They were ordained by God and are collectively known as the “Feasts of the Lord;” therefore, they are solemn observations. The first four feasts occur in the spring beginning with Passover, and the last three take place in the fall ending with Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles (or “Booths”).

For the Christian, these feasts offer a picture of Christ. Jesus “fleshed out” the first four feasts at His first advent. Arguably, He has yet to fulfill the final three. Consider the following and how these feasts represent the ministry of Christ:

  1. Passover – Jesus is crucified as the Lamb of God taking away the sins of the world.
  2. Unleavened Bread – Leaven represents sin. Jesus, with the sins of the world on Him, is removed from the “house” (Jerusalem) and buried outside the city walls in a tomb.
  3. First Fruits – This feast celebrated the “promise” of the coming harvest. It was observed by waving the first sprouts of the fields before the Lord. Jesus rose from the dead on this day with the promise of a great harvest to follow.
  4. Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) – Fifty days after First Fruits celebrated the barley harvest. Jesus ascended into heaven 40 days after First Fruits, and 10 days later the Holy Spirit fell upon “the Church” – the disciples – and 3000 souls were saved that day (Acts 2:41) – truly a great “harvest.”
  5. Rosh HaShanah – The Feasts of Trumpets was a “Holy Convocation” and a gathering in of all of God’s people. Christians may see this as the “Rapture” where “the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
  6. Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement was the day when the people of God repented of past sins and the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies, into the very presence of God to pour the blood of the sacrifice for the whole nation on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark contained the tablets of God’s Law that was violated, and the blood covered the infraction. Each Christian, being a “priest” (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6), now enters into the very presence of God offering the blood that was shed for them by Christ. Through His blood, our sins are covered, i.e. atoned for.
  7. Sukkot – The Feast of Tabernacles was a seven-day celebration remembering the time when God’s people were wandering in the wilderness dwelling in tents. Now they have come into the Promised Land and live in permanent dwellings. For the Christian, who are in the world but not of the world (John 17:14-16), this represents Christ’s reign on earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords beginning with His millennial kingdom on earth and beyond into eternity.

I’ve said this before. Each year around time, I start looking up and listening for the trumpet to sound. Yes, I know that the Rapture can occur at any time, but to me it seems logical that it would be consistent with God’s calendar. Of course, God is not obligated to follow my line of reasoning. At any rate, this time of year causes me to pray ever more earnestly that God would call us home and fix this really messed up world once and for all.

However, at the same time, it causes me even greater concern because I know that those who are left behind will literally experience hell on earth for the next seven years, not to mention for eternity. I have two sons with their wives that are lost and hell bound. My youngest son has two daughters, my granddaughters, that by now have reached the age of accountability. My heart aches for them knowing what is ahead unless they repent and turn to Christ as their personal Savior. I have nieces and nephews and other relatives who are lost. I have friends and acquaintances who are doomed to an eternity in hell. That is not a pleasant thought. So, on the one hand I long to go and be with the Lord right now, but on the other hand, I am deeply concerned for those that will be left behind. The longer the Lord delays His return, the more time and opportunity they have to alter their course.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:9-10, emphasis mine)

On the other hand, the longer He delays the more time for unbelievers to scoff: “And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:4).

Even so, come Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

Shanah Tovah!

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Jesus’ Seven ‘I AM’ Statements in John (5)

resurrection-and-life

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life… (John 11:25)

“And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Jesus knew that the culmination of His earthly mission had arrived, and He was determined to see it through to the end. His journey up to Jerusalem took Him by way of Jericho where He healed the blind man, Bartimaeus (Luke 18:35-43), and “saved” the publican (tax collector), Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10).

While there, possibly in Zaccheaus’ home, Jesus received word that His good friend, Lazarus, had fallen deathly ill. “Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick” (John 11:3). Bethany (John 11:1), where Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, lived, was just up the road from Jericho about a day’s walk. Answering the call would not have distracted Jesus from His determination to face the cross. Bethany was on the way up to Jerusalem, but “When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was” (John 11:6, emphasis mine). That seems like a strange reaction for the compassionate Jesus to take with regard to a “friend.”

“When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4). In reality, Lazarus probably died shortly after the delegation departed Bethany. It took them a day to arrive in Jericho. Jesus remained another two days before making trip up to Bethany, plus the day to travel there – four days. When Jesus arrived in Bethany, He was informed that Lazarus had been dead four days (John 11:39). Did Jesus err in His assessment that “This sickness is not unto death”? No, Jesus, in His omniscience, knew the situation perfectly. The delay would glorify the Son and bring glory to God. John points out that “Jesus loved Martha, and her sister [Mary], and Lazarus” (John 11:5), yet He delayed His departure.

When the day came to depart, Jesus’ disciples, vaguely knowing what awaited Him, tried to dissuade Him from going up to Jerusalem. “His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?” (John 11:8), but Jesus knew what He was doing. “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep” (John 11:11). The disciples took this as a good sign. “Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead” (John 11:14).

As He approached Bethany, Martha rushed out to meet Him. “Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (John 11:21, emphasis mine). How many times have similar sentiments been expressed at the death of a loved one? When the Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2001, many demanded to know, “Where was God?” He was where He has always been – on His throne and in command. Even so, Martha expressed remarkable faith. “But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” (John 11:22, emphasis mine). What could she have been thinking? Did she indeed believe that Jesus could raise her brother from the dead? This would not be something new. Jesus had raised the dead before: a widow’s only son (Luke 7:12-14), Jairus’s daughter (Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:22-43; Luke 8:41-56),  and unnamed others. Nevertheless, this was different. Lazarus had been dead four days “when it was believed that resurrection was no longer possible.”[1]

“Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:23-24). Sure Lazarus would rise again, but not today. After all, he had been dead four days; his spirit had long departed. The resurrections Jesus had performed before where shortly after the victim had died. Common thought was that the person’s spirit lingered around a few days before finally departing. Raising the dead shortly after death was consistent with their tradition, but after three days, the spirit departed, and Lazarus had been dead four days. Sure he’ll rise again – at the resurrection!

I AM the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25, emphasis mine). Ego Eimi. I, I AM. As explained in recent “I Am” articles,[2] this phrase expresses the deity of Christ. Jesus was saying, “I, Yahweh, am the resurrection and the life.” The Greek word translated “resurrection” is anastasis and it means to “stand up again,” and “life” is the Greek word zōē meaning the very essence of life – that animating energy or force that goes beyond biological function. It is that “breath of life” given to man by God at the moment of creation (Genesis 2:7). That Jesus incorporated both “resurrection” and “life” recalls Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37). He preached to the dry bones and they came together. Flesh and skin formed upon their frame, but they did not stand until the breath of life came upon them, and they stood up.

Jesus, the Creator (John 1:1-3) not only has the power to create biological life, but He gives the very essence of life. All of it comes from the Great I AM. Because He is “the resurrection and the life,” “he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:26, emphasis mine). “Never die?” Jesus here referred to eternal life. We all will die physically as a result of the curse (Genesis 3:19; 1 Corinthians 15:22); however our “life” will continue in one of two destinations, either with God or apart from God. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Revelation 20:14, emphasis mine). There are two deaths: one we all experience as physical death; the other death is eternal life in hell, apart from God. Those who believe in the Great I AM, will never experience that second death, i.e. “never die.” “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8, emphasis mine).

Jesus is “the resurrection and the life.” “In him was life; and the life was the light of men …  He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not … But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:4, 10, 12, emphasis mine), and they shall never die.

Notes:


[1]  Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel, (Tel Aviv, Israel, Jewish Studies for Christians, 2015), 190.

[2]  See esp. the 3rd paragraph of https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/08/28/jesus-seven-i-am-statements-in-john-1/

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