John 14.5 John – Do you want there to be a God?

So, here is the deal, if God is God then you are not god. If God is in charge, then you are not in charge.

I know that seems pretty basic and straight forward, but, let’s face it, this is probably the biggest stopping point for non-believers. Sure it gets masked in lots of other excuses, but it all comes down to who is in charge.

The biggest hang up the Jews had with Jesus is that He was not following them. He wasn’t doing what they expected him to do. If he was supposed to be the “messiah”, then he had better quit with all the healing and teaching and get on with kicking some Roman behind and put them in charge of stuff. He needed to get with the program and skip all this eternal life stuff – we’ve got enough things right now to worry about without bringing up eternity. Right?

But, he was the Messiah, the savior, the promised one. And as the good shepherd, his place was to lead not follow. The only one Jesus followed was His Father and He did that flawlessly and consistently.

When they asked the question, it wasn’t to get an answer, it was to get Jesus to get with the program and do his part. They recognized he was “something”, but, obviously, he couldn’t be God, that would be blasphemy to say a man was God, and he sure wasn’t acting like the messiah they had planned for. So what is he, a demon? Something else?

Like too many of us today, they made up their mind and then they asked questions. When the answers to the questions didn’t fit what they had decided, the one providing the answers was wrong, very wrong, demonically wrong. And, the response was not to reconsider their preset mindset, but to attack the one providing the answers.  Because the alternative was to admit that they/we are mistaken. The alternative would be to admit that we are not in charge, we cannot save ourselves. It does not matter how well we know and practice CPR or any type of medicine, we are not going to bring ourselves back to life from the grave. The only one who can offer eternal life, anything other than this temporary few years on this rock in the universe, is someone who has it to give. That rules out every human and leaves only a god. And only Jesus, the son of God, who is eternal himself participating in creation itself, has ever offered eternal life as a gift.

So, here are the two simple questions: Do you want there to be a God? What gift does your god offer to you?

My Answers:

11.

His works, done in His Father’s name, testify about Him – Jesus and the Father are one – He is God. They did not believe because, (1) they assumed they were “in” already, but by not submitting to Jesus they weren’t (2) they expected the Messiah to follow them

 

12.

Eternal life so they shall never perish. No on can snatch them from His hand. We have the confidence in the gift of eternal life and the comfort and reassurance that it cannot be snatched away. We are Jesus’ sheep and Jesus is one with the Father God.

13.

To stone him for blasphemy. He is claiming to be God – by definition he is either God or committing blasphemy. They refuse to consider that He might actually be God because He doesn’t look or act like their view of God. He does not act like them and they believe they are closer to God than anyone else.

 

14.4 John – All sheep

This is not a game. It is not a confrontation. We are not on different teams or different sides.

As Christians, we naturally identify with other Christians. We share common beliefs. We have the same values, rewards, Savior, Guide, Redeemer, God and Word. We operate from the same playbook.

But, non-believers are not on the opposite side or the other team. They, like us, are just sheep. Period. They may be sheep of different color. They may be sheep of different breeds. They may be mountain sheep or wooly sheep. They may be in different pens and they are undoubtedly following another shepherd (even if that shepherd is just another sheep, or even themselves, dressed up to look like a shepherd).

We are not against the other sheep. They are just sheep. We should invite them into the proper pen. We should tell them and show them by the way we live, what it is like to have a good shepherd, one who loves and cares for us. We should help them hear His voice calling their names.

But, they are covered in mud. They have all this sin in their life, these bugs and pests and stuff. Do we really want that in our neat little pen? But, the truth is the only way to get clean is to come through the gate. In a world filled with mud, you cannot clean yourself, you just make things worse. But when someone accepts the call and comes through the gate, that is Jesus, it is like entering through a car wash. Their sins, just like ours, are washed away, we are given new clothes and a new life that last forever.

To the Jews of Jesus’ day, you and I would be the enemy, the other team, the unclean, the ones not to be touched or talked with and avoided if at all possible.  But to Jesus, we are all sheep and, as the good shepherd, even while we were dirty and covered in filth and sin, even then he gave his life for us.

What other sheep in the world are you seeing as opponents rather than fellow lost sheep?

My Answers:

8.

Lay down His life for the sheep (and take it up again, v.17).  His death on the cross.  What will I do? REJOICE, accept the gift (recognizing I did not earn it in anyway and no part of it is up to me) and share the good news with others.

9.

I believe this means the gentiles and any who today do not believe in Jesus. All humans are God’s sheep, since He is our creator we all belong to Him, but He gives us the choice to follow His voice and be in His care or to choose not to follow and be lost and scavenged.

10.

Only God has authority over life and death – Jesus says that “I have authority” – He is God

 

14.3 John – Fullness

What person, who is not a follower of Christ, do you know who is content? Who doesn’t see an emptiness in their life and work and strive for things to “fill it”? Who doesn’t long for a stable eternal relationship? Who doesn’t want more than what the few years of this life offers?

This is a world of emptiness. We are born in sin and we are born with an emptiness in our hearts. We long for things to make us feel better, but mostly better about ourselves because, even though we deny it, we know we are broken and sinful and missing something.

False shepherds have always offered the same thing, they have offered paths that you can purchase something to fill that void with. For the Jews, that something was adherence to the law. If you just follow it closely enough, devoutly enough, you will be filled. But, no one was. They longed for something more. They waited for a Messiah.

False shepherds today do the same thing. Religious leaders, government leaders, teachers, scientists, business leaders, you name it, all are “selling” something for you to do or earn or acquire to fill the whole.

But, Jesus takes a different approach. Remember John 7? On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and called out in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. To the one who believes in Me, it is just as the scriptures have said, ‘streams of living water will flow from within him.’”

Jesus offers to fill us up to over flowing. Not by something we earn or do or acquire, but simply by accepting His gift of the spirit.

If you have accepted that gift, do you drink it in to overflowing or are you still trying to make room to be like the non-believers and run after fulfillment from other things? If you have not accepted the gift, how full are you filling today?

My Answers:

5.
a.

Ezek: only care for self not flock, did not search for lost sheep, ruled harshly and brutally

John: climb into the pen not by the gate, thieves and robbers, strangers to the sheep, not followed

b.

11-16. I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. I will rescue them and bring them into their own land, tend to them in good pasture. I myself will tend my sheep, bind up the injured and strengthen the weak. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

6.

He is the only bridge between a world of sinful man and an eternal life with a Holy God. His death and resurrection opens the gate that otherwise is closed.

7.
a.

Know the voice of the true shepherd. Read, Hear and Heed His word in scripture. Study, pray, fast, teach, live under His authority.

b.

There is a peace and joy that is greater than anything else. It does not make sense if viewed through a physical world, but it is one that give comfort and compassion for others.

 

14.2 John – Blind Sheep

As we begin our lesson this week, it is important to include the perspective from the previous chapter and the events that revolved around Jesus’ healing of the man who had been blind from birth because it is all part of the same dialogue.

The Pharisees, the religious leaders of the community, had just expelled the now sighted formerly blind man from the temple. Jesus goes to the man (with some Pharisees following and eaves dropping) and asks him if he believes in the Son of Man. When Jesus identifies Himself to the man, he responds with “Lord, I believe” and worships Jesus. Jesus says, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” At which point the Pharisees take offense and confront Jesus, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus responds to them, if you were blind you would not be guilty of sin, but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” He then continues that dialogue into the beginning of John 10.

In this light, we see the contrast between sheep and shepherds and between the good shepherd and the false shepherds is a continuation of the difference between the blind man and the Pharisees. The blind man didn’t claim to be anything other than blind. He functioned as a blind man. He had neighbors and family who all recognized him as blind. And He was healed not because of what he did, although it did require listening and obedience, but for the glory of God. But the Pharisees were different. They claimed to not only see but to know and to know enough that they judged others. They called themselves leaders, but they did not lead by example, they led with accusation and punishment. Remember, this is the group who, in their “compassionate leadership”, accused the blind man of being blind because “You were steeped in sin at birth. (John 9:34)” They did not only look for what others were doing wrong, but they reveled in it and loved the power it gave them.

But, Jesus, pulling from the one thing they supposedly know, the word of the scriptures, reminds them of the type of leadership God expects pulling forward the analogy of the Shepherd from Ezekiel. While we may not have immediately thought of Ezekiel in a discussion of Shepherding, the Pharisees would have or at least should have. But, according to John 10:6, they didn’t.

But how could that be? How could the highest trained biblical scholars of the day not understand the reference to the scriptures they devoted their life to study? Context, perspective and closed mindedness.

They knew the words of Ezekiel, but for them it was a past event, not a foreshadowing. They placed themselves in the narrative of the story as the shepherds, the ones in charge, not being able to see themselves as anything else, especially not a sheep. They were higher than the others, especially the like of this sinful blind man and it was an insult to have to be associated with such a person, especially if he gets so uppity than he now thinks he can look them in the eye and lecture them, doesn’t he know his place. And this “healer”, who broke the law to heal him, why is he confronting them and questioning their authority, shouldn’t he submit to their authority and accept his punishment, too?

When we read the story as Christians, we know Jesus is the good shepherd, but to the Pharisees, as to non-believers today, the question they have is what does that make me? We know that we are sheep. We do not have the ability to guarantee our safety and security for eternity. Without a shepherd we are simply prey. But other sheep in the world, like the Pharisees, have convinced themselves, they are the shepherds.

My Answers:

3.
a.

The pharisees, the religious leaders who rejected Jesus, entered by a “different way”. Jesus is the true shepherd and people, like the blind man, who believe in Jesus, are the true shepherd’s sheep

b.

Jesus is the shepherd to any and all who believe in Him. He is the only true shepherd, the only one who cares for sheep. All the sheep (us) are rightfully His (since He is the creator), but He allows us to come when He calls our name)

4.
a.

called by name, lead by Jesus, follow Him, know His voice, never follow a stranger, run away from strangers

 

b.

through the bible, prayer, teaching, study, discussions and the presence of the Holy Spirit