12.5 John – Real Freedom

John closes chapter 8 with Jesus’ words to us, a new audience of believers. While our reading on the back page starts with John 8:31, I think it should have started with 8:30. “Even as he spoke, many believed in him.” To those who believed him he said…”

What follows are the keys to freedom and a glimpse of the true freedom even as the prisoners all around him continued to argue that their beautifully decorated prison cells were what freedom looked like.

Jesus provides the 3 steps to true freedom in verses 31,32:

  1. Be my disciples. For clarity, he even helps distinguish here between real disciples and false/not-real disciples. Being a disciple of Jesus is not a matter of saying some words or trying really hard to do good or being born a certain way or anything like that. Being a real disciple is letting go of everything else we think we know and holding on to his teaching. That means putting faith completely in Him.
  2. Know the truth. The only path to knowing the truth is to become a disciple. Faith leads to knowledge, not the other way around. Believing is seeing. The truth is the core message of the gospel, the truly good news, that God loves us so much that the Father sent Jesus to become a man and die, even though he had no sin, to pay the price to redeem us from our sin and adopt us to be His children for all eternity.
  3. The truth will set you free.

But what does it mean to be free? We get a small glimpse of it in verses 56 and 58.

“V 56. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” The word translated as rejoiced is the Hebrew word agalliaō. This word, in turn, is a combination of two words, agan and hallomai. Agan mean much or very much. Hallomai means to leap, to spring up or gush up like a geyser of water.

Jesus tells us that Abraham was “leaping very much” at the very thought of seeing Jesus’ coming. This reminds me of the description Elizabeth gave for the reaction of John the Baptist in her whom when she said he skipped at the presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb.

Jesus goes on to say that in faith Abraham experienced (saw it) the promise of Jesus coming to earth and was glad. The word for glad is chairō, which is more commonly translated as rejoiced (42x vs 14x as glad).

One of the few other places in the bible these two words are together is Revelation 19:7, where the great multitude of heaven in a voice that roared like rushing waters cries out “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready”

As Jesus further states in v58, the prompting for both of these events, past and future, was believers standing in the presence of God, the I am. And, yet, on that day, in that temple in Judea, the people stood in the presence of the I am, they did not rejoice and they were not glad. They were dead on the insides and rejected true freedom found only in Jesus.

But I say, not me. I’m looking forward to some leaping. I’m looking forward to rejoicing and joining the multitude in breaking some decibel level records! I’m looking forward to experiencing fully the marriage of Jesus with the church.

My Answers:

11.
a.

physical death is not victorious over those who follow the word of Jesus to believe in Him

b.

Abraham rejoiced in his faith in God and the promises/covenants of God. He saw this day through the eyes of faith.

12.
a.

It is the name of God given to Moses at the burning bush. It means that Jesus is calling himself God

b.

It is all the difference. Jesus was a real man. He either said these things or he didn’t. The argument cannot be made that he was a good teacher or prophet. Teachers and prophets do not claim to be God. He either was God or wasn’t. If he was, then God came to this earth and shed his own blood for the redemption of my sin. That is what makes real life.

 

12.5 John – Real Freedom

12.4 John – Freedom from Sin

Where does sin originate? It is everywhere in the world. It is in every person. It is in the messages we communicate in every forum. It is in music and art. It is in pollution and poison. It is in every person and every person practices in it. It was in our fathers and mothers, grandparents and great grandparents.

But that had not always been the way. Adam and Eve were made in God’s own image. Upon creation of man, God said it was “very good” (Gen 1:31) and afterwards He rested. Adam and Eve walked daily with God and there was no sin. But they made a choice. They chose disobedience. They chose to bring sin into the world. It has been passed down ever sense.

The Jews that Jesus spoke with took great pride in their ancestry. Through birthright, they inherited all the promises and covenants that God gave to Abraham. They were the children of Abraham and he was their father. Their god was the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Their holy scripture was written by Moses.

But all of those ancestors were sinners, just like they were and just like you and I are today. If sin is inherited, then how can one prisoner to sin (one sinner) ever set another prisoner free?

Again, in our passage today, Jesus provides the answer to this problem. He is not of this world. Jesus is from Heaven. His Father is God in heaven. He is not born in to sin, He is free. He is outside of the prison. He, and he alone can set us free.

He offers us freedom through adoption. He offers to make us His brothers, children of the Father God. V35. A slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.

In v 25., the people around him asked the question, “Who are you?”. While it is right to seek to grow in an understanding of God, something we do every week through bible study, this was the wrong question then and it is the wrong question now. The question is not, Who are you, God?, but Who am I? Am I standing on the foundation of sinful men or am I standing on the righteousness of Jesus? Am I defined by my sin or by the holy spirit that resides in me? Am I a body with a soul or a soul with a body? Do I want to be set free or do I want to decorate my prison cell and lie to myself and others that this is what freedom looks like?

My Answers:

9.
a.

freedom from sin. The only way to receive it is to hold to Jesus teachings, to believe in Him. In his teaching is truth and the truth is what sets us free (not our works)

b.

Freedom from daily worry. This is not to say I do not have concerns and compassion for others challenges, but I firmly know that God has a plan and I trust that plan is for the best.

10.
a.

Abraham. God. Gen 2:24, leave father and mother. They cleaved to a human ancestor, rather than to God. They took the promises of God to Abraham as their own because they were descendants of Abraham, not because of their commitment to God

b.

When the serpent tempted Adam and Eve in the garden and sin entered the world

c.

Freedom of the darkness comes through being in the light. Walking in the light every day, in prayer and faith and study is the way to avoid the path of darkness and being tempted by lies.

 

12.4 John – Freedom from Sin

12.3 John – Light

In John 6 Jesus gave an “I am” statement. I am the bread of life.

In John 8 Jesus gives another “I am” statement: I am the light of the world.

First, what does that even mean? Bread we pretty easily understand. We touch bread, we taste bread, we smell bread, we hear the crunch of breaking bread, we are nourished by bread. It is part of all of our senses. But what about light? It is just, well, kind of “out there”.

Light is the first noun we have recorded to come from God. Genesis 3:1, God said, “Let there be light.” Light provides heat and time, it gives the ability to see. It is complex, both wave and particle. It is constant. It bends. It is a spectrum. It is both visible and invisible. It provides beauty and comfort. It is throughout the universe.

John also begins his gospel with an equation of Jesus and light. John 1:4, “in Him (the word who was the creator) was life and that life was the light of all mankind.” Whether acknowledged or not by man, everything about their life, whether physical, moral, mental, or spiritual, at every level of their life and death, is tied to and comes from Jesus.

But Jesus, in John 8:12, doesn’t just claim this as a description of himself. He offers it as a gift to us. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” We don’t need to search. We don’t need to work. We don’t need to worry or fear or anything else. All we need to do to be free of all darkness (insert all the things that darkness is a stand-in for here), is to follow him. When we do that one thing, then He gives us for our own, the “light of life.” He gives us himself. He gives us the sacrifice of himself as our own sacrifice and payment of our sins. He gives us creation. He gives us new birth.

But all the Pharisees heard were the words, “I am”. There was a precaution built into the law of that time (and still very relevant today), that someone can’t just announce that they are something and that makes them that thing. If I were to say I was an accountant or a lawyer, you might want the testimony of another, such as a school or testing board, to accept my statement.

But Jesus had just announced that He is God. He just offered something that no one other than the creator has the authority to offer. What man could testify that he had that authority. The answer is simple, no one other than God could, and that is exactly what Jesus tells them. The Father speaks for me. The scriptures speak of Jesus time and time again.

Jesus closes with them with the same admonition we need to hear today. This offer that he has made is a limited time offer. You only have one lifetime to accept it. What path are you following today? There is only one path of the light of life.

My Answers:

6.
a.
There is an alternative to walking in the darkness of this world, to becoming truly alive and a light in this world. Jesus alone is the Son of God, it is impossible to know God the Father without knowing Jesus

b.
He had 2 witnesses, himself and the Father. He actually had a third, the scriptures themselves, since He was written into every part and parcel.

7.
a.
You are from below, I am from above. You are of the world, I am not of this world. Without him they’re only future is death. With Him is life/

b.
Jesus is the Son of the Father. Jesus came to earth to be a perfect man to redeem us from sin at the cost of his own life. He defeated death and has risen to heaven. Jesus and the Father and Holy Spirit are one and through Jesus, I am invited to join.

8.
two things, lifted up on the cross and lifted up to heaven after he rose from the grave and ascended. Jesus came to earth to die and be raised from the dead, to pay the price of sin and to be the first reborn

 

12.3 John – Light

12.2 John – Freedom

What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to have freedom?

When we invest time to really think about this, it is difficult to positively define freedom. We relent to describing the absences, the things it is not. It is not imprisonment. It is not slavery. It is not bondage. It is not subjugation. But those are like saying peace is the absence of war or light is the absence of darkness. They are accurate but insufficient.

I believe Freedom is the central theme of John 8 and the words of Jesus open our eyes to a glimpse of what it means to be free.

In our first day, we study the story of the trap the Pharisees attempted to force Jesus into with the conundrum of the adulterous woman. It is a trap because they saw no legal way out of the question. In their way of thinking, Jesus must either endorse adherence to the law of the Torah, which would be a violation of the Roman law under which the Jews were ruled in that day. While they had the authority to hold court and had minor enforcement authority, they did not have the authority to put someone to death (something we see when they had to take Jesus to the Roman courts for an execution of the death penalty). The Romans weren’t against killing people. They just didn’t want their subjects taking matters into their own hands. If, however, Jesus enforced the Roman law, then He, defacto, stood against the law of Moses and the scriptures.

But, Jesus was free of their bondage and of sin. He adhered to both laws and turned the situation back to them. The first person to cast a stone would be saying, through their action, they had not sinned. Of course, the very act of throwing the stone was a violation of the law and, thus, a sin. The older men recognized this, and their own sin, first, and walked away. Soon to be followed by all else, leaving only Jesus and the woman.

But Jesus final words to the woman are just as telling about freedom as everything else. Jesus forgives the woman, he says, “then neither do I condemn you.” This brings to mind John 3:17, “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Jesus final comment to her is the probably the most important for understanding the freedom Jesus offers. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” While no one else would execute the law to kill the woman, Jesus tells her to do it herself. Not to commit suicide, but to kill the life of sin that she had lived. The freedom of forgiveness is not a fresh coat of paint on the walls of rotted framework. It is transformation. It is tearing out the old and building on a solid foundation. It is not procrastinating. Jesus tells her “NOW”. And it is not staying in the same spot. As a dear friend and amazing woman of God says to the addicts she works with, if you stay in the same playground with the same playmates, you play the same games. To be free, we need to move OUT of the jail. We need to “Go” as Jesus commanded her. Sometimes this is spiritually going, but other times it is a literal, physical, get up and go. Even if the doors are unlocked in forgiveness, continuing to live in a jail cell is not the freedom Jesus has in store for us.

My Answers:

4.

My response often reflects their attitude instead of paying attention to the words of Jesus. If they are combative or obstinate, then my response is to walk away instead of show compassion. If they are seeking answers to the pain and suffering in their life, then I have compassion and paitience.

5.

Be cautious in the condemnation of sinners, since we are all sinners.

Do not mistake forgiveness for acceptance or rationalization of approval of sin – “go now and leave your life of sin”. We should each day put our own sinful life to death and live in the holiness of the spirit of God

 

12.2 John – Freedom

11.5 John – Offensiveness

In many sports, but in American Football in particular, there are two sides and two particular roles on the field, offense and defense.  This is true in sport, in war, in politics, in many parts of life.  The role of the offense is to move forward, to gain ground, to move from a position into a stronger position.  The role of defense is to stand ground, to hold firm, to not allow things to penetrate.

But what do you do when you have a position that is wrong and cannot be defended?  How to you defend the indefensible?  The normal response is the one that the religious leaders took, they went on the offensive.  They didn’t even try to hold their position.  They didn’t give logic or reason.  They attacked.  Even in the face of testimony from their own guard, they wanted to kill Jesus.  Even in the recognition from Nicodemus that they were violating their own rules and principles, they attacked him as well.

We see this in our day and age as well and it is a factor in people staying quiet.  Speak out for the truth today, and you will face attack.  In some parts of the world that is a verbal attack, one that includes labels and name calling and bullying tactics.  In some other part of the world it means torture, imprisonment and death.  But the response is always the same, attack.

But the response of a Christian is different.  Our response is to love.  To not waver in right and wrong or the principles of truth, but to encourage and listen and give.  When asked directly we speak boldly and with confidence, but more often our actions are prayerful, behind the scenes, patient and waiting and hoping.  We give to the poor.  We aid widows and orphans.  We build communities.  We seek justice and righteousness.  But we do it for the glory of God, not for ourselves.

The overflow of living water is not a firehose that we use to douse others, it is a refreshing and joyful lake and stream, still full of power, but also approachable and comforting and fulfilling.

As we face turbulent times around the world, with attacks and protests and hatred, remember, we already hold the high ground, we already hold the keys to the palace, we are already members of the community with the mightiest King of Kings who cannot be defeated.  We need not attack back nor be discouraged.  Instead, we need to invite the ones who have been deceived by the enemy to come to the feast.  We do not need to become defensive simply because the evil one is and always has been offensive.

My Answers:

11.
The prophet, the Messiah, because of the prophecies about the Messiah in scripture and – BECAUSE HE WAS!

12.
a.
Nicodemus pointed out the rights provided within the law – shouldn’t he get a fair hearing?

b.
I have spoken out against those who bully others and I’ve spoke of the unfairness and inconsistencies and bias in the application of our laws.  The response is the same, it is one of attack against the one pointing out the inconsistencies instead of a response of logic to try to defend.

11.5 John – Offensiveness

11.4 John – Choices

We have choices every day.  Some choices are right, some are wrong.  Sometimes we know something is wrong, yet we choose to do it anyway.  Sometimes we make the wrong choice and, when confronted with the repercussions of our choice, we wish we had made a better choice, but often we blame someone else.

The chief priests and Pharisees wanted Jesus to go away.  They saw him as blasphemous because he said that He came from God, that He was God, that He was the path to God.  They looked forward to a Messiah, the one promised sent from God.  But evidently they did not expect this promised one to acknowledge that He was the one sent from God because anyone who professed to be sent from God would be considered to be in sin and thus could not be the one.

With this approach, is it any wonder they could not find Jesus wherever he was, especially in the glory of heaven.

But, to those who came to Him, who sought Him, He promised living water, overflowing to share with others, the power of the Holy Spirit, the power to understand and interpret the scriptures, the power to heal and raise the dead, the power of life of joy of peace.  The fact that some would not come to him was their choice.  The fact that they would not find Him did not mean that He was hiding, but they refused to look in the place that He was, instead insisting that they knew best and He could not possibly be in that place.

My Answers:

8.
Jesus said, “I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”  They failed to lay a hand on him because it was not yet time (his hour had not yet come).

9.
He would be in heaven, they would not find him because they would not look to heaven and they would not come there because He alone is the door to heaven.

10.
a.
The holy spirit

b.
I received it on the day I accepted Jesus.  I receive it still every day in scripture and in prayer.  It overflows to others in peace and joy, in prayer and forgiveness.

11.4 John – Choices

11.3 John – Feast of the Tabernacle

There is a richness of the events of John 7 that we have lost by our lack of understanding of the Jewish Festivals.  The Feast of the Tabernacle was a fall time of great joy.  The three feasts were Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of the Tabernacle.  Many of us now understand the Passover.  Pentecost was a festival of the first grain harvest.  But “The Feast” as it was referred to in 1 Kings 12:32, was the final fall harvest.  This came just days after Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.  The sins of Israel were forgiven and the people came together.  They lived in booths (small tents) to commemorate the time of the exodus, but they gathered in a time of joy and celebration.

There were readings for each of the first 3 days from the Torah (the first 5 books) and the Haftarah (the other books of the old testament), but on days 4-7 there was only readings from the Torah.  The final reading from the Haftarah was the book of Ecclesiastes.  It was on these days, 4-7, that Jesus began his teaching in the temple.

If you haven’t read it recently it is worth a quick read through Ecclesiastes.  Vanity of vanities, all is vanity is the start of this book by Solomon.  Vanity is defined as “excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.” Vanity of vanities would be pride in being a proud person.  (can you think of a better description for the religious leaders?)  It also contains the words that there is a time for everything (an admonition to his brothers?)

But in Chapter 9 of this book is a small story told by Solomon about a poor wise man who saved his village, made up of only a few men, from the onslaught attack of a mighty king with great weaponry, but, despite this, “nobody remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.”

And, it was the day following this, that Jesus began to teach in the temple.

The final day of the feast, there are 2 readings from the Torah.  The first is the final blessing of Moses given to the tribes at the end of Deuteronomy.  The second is from Genesis 1.  Keeping in mind that the Torah was a scroll, this got them to the very end of the scriptures, only to rewind and start over from the beginning, something they had done year after year after year for hundreds of years.  But it was in the middle of this that we find Jesus in v37 when he stands and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink”.  The entire point of the Torah was to point to this very moment, the promise of the greatest blessing of all, the blessing of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus announces there is a sequel, more of the story, that the first book of the trilogy points to, and it is available to them right now, right in that place, all they have to do is come to Him and drink!

From the scriptures, some thirsted for more.  They recognized that Jesus was the Messiah, the prophet, the promised one.  But others simply wanted to rewind and do it again, forever cycling through the things that give them pride in themselves for following, the pride of the proud.  They consider themselves to be rich because of their birth as Hebrews and the schooling they have received.  Jesus offers them salvation and they seek only to kill him and forget him.

 My Answers:

5.
He taught in the temple courts with great wisdom.  Jesus explained that his teaching came from God.  He advised to look to the reasons why someone speaks, if to bring glory to themselves, then be cautious.  If to bring glory to God, then there is nothing false about him.

6.
a.
He healed the lame man on the Safbath at the pool at Bethesda, the command of circumcision

b.
Their hypocrisy and the darkness in their heart.  It is ok to have some exceptions to the law (no work on sabbath, but ok to circumcise) but not others (heal someone, carry a mat).  They professed to follow the commands on one hand, but had murder in their hearts on the other.

7.
He spoke from the authority of God the Father who sent Him.  They refuse God because they refuse Jesus (no one comes except through Jesus).  They do not know Him because of bible illiteracy, they avoid the word of God as being “too hard.”

b.
It makes all the difference.  Who else is there who offers eternal life and has the authority to provide it?

11.3 John – Feast of the Tabernacle