The Gift

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

God gave us the best gift of all – His son and the gift of eternal life His son’s death and resurrection provided us. 

God also gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to teach us, give us power to witness and live for God.

Luke 11:13 – If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

As we accept that precious gift of God, we need to understand that, along with life in His Son, God has also given us gifts to use for His glory.

Gift – “charisma

  •  A free gift of grace given by God such as salvation to the believer
  • Special gifts bestowed upon the believer by the Holy Spirit

Matthew 10:7-8 – And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

Romans 12:3-8 – For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.  For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,  so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 – There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.

Gifts God gave to the church

  • Apostles
  • Prophets
  • Evangelists
  • Pastors
  • Teachers

Purpose of these gifts

  • To equip (prepare, arm) the church for the work of ministry of God
  • To edify (to educate, improve) the body of Christ
  • Until we mature (are established, developed) in God’s Word and become like Him
  • That we do not act like children – unstable and constantly being deceived by false teachers
  • Until each one of the body of Christ does its share and cause the body of Christ to grow in love

Ephesians 4:8 – But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Therefore He says:  “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”  (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?  He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,  for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,  till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

What are your gifts?

How well are you exercising the gifts that God has given you?

Royalty

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Isaiah 9:6-7- For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.  Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

2 Samuel 7:16 – And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.

Philippians 2:5-11 — Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Royal Throne Room – The stable

True, a stable is for animals, so a few may have been nearby on the night Jesus was born, although they may have been kept outside.  Still, the smell more than likely included the normal stable scents.  It takes a great deal of time and cleaning for those smells to disappear.  Another distinctive contrast is the construction materials, namely stone and wood.  Definitely missing are marble columns, precious metal inlays and carpets from the Orient.

Yet, this seemingly insignificant location becomes the grand throne room of the promised King, the awaited Messiah.

The contrast continues.  There is no special nursery cradle of expensive materials.  Instead, Mary lays her baby in a rough-hewn manger designed to feed animals.  Totally missing are the fine fabrics of a royal household.  He is bundled in the bands of cloth commonly used for babies of that culture.  Also absent are the attendants who would attentively serve the family’s every need and want.  Only humble shepherds, the lowest in the social structure, came on the night of his birth to celebrate this special occasion.

So once again the question arises, “How can this stable be the throne room of a King?”

The answer lies in the person of Jesus rather than in the stable where He lies in His manger bed.  He IS royalty.

Human Royalty

When thinking of royalty, our attention may be drawn to contemporaries like Queen Elizabeth II of England, Prince William or other European royalty.  In the process of remembering historical royal figures, we may think of Queen Victoria, Richard the Lion-Hearted or Henry VIII.  In the process, we may easily overlook the reality of Jesus’ royal status.

Isaiah’s prophecy of Christ states, “He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom.”  (Isaiah 9:7).  This is a confirmation of God’s covenant with David, made nearly three centuries prior.  Though David is not allowed to fulfill his desire to build a temple for the Lord because of his bloodshed as a man of war, God gives him a very special promise.

2 Samuel 7:16 – And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.

Centuries later, we see the fulfillment in Jesus.  Joseph, the legal father, and Mary, His blood mother, are both descendants of King David.  He is royalty!

Though He was born in a stable and laid in a manger, was raised in humble circumstances, and ministered as an itinerant does not change reality.  Jesus is the descendant of an earthy king.  He is human royalty.

Divine Royalty

Without the reality of Jesus’ identity as divine royalty, the Bethlehem story and His life are nothing more than an unusual human-interest story, and His teachings and claims would be no different from many other charlatans who deceive for personal greed and egotistical ends.

Jesus came to earth as the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) and the “Son of God” (John 3:16).  This points very specifically to His position of divine royalty.

When reviewing this aspect of Jesus’’ identity, we are reminded of His two natures.  He is the God-man.  Although He takes on human flesh, He retains His divinity.  He allows the human aspect to become a limitation, however, thus enabling a true identification with us humans.

Philippians 2:5-11 – Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Royal Identity

Only a few men and women are born into royal families with their titles and inherent privileges.  Yet in marked contrast are the believers throughout the ages and around the world, who because of our belief in Christ, are born into the family of God.  And that means we too are royalty!

Our physical parentage, economic status, education attainments and personal abilities may vary greatly.  But it does not matter.  These things are not the substance of royalty.  We are royalty because we are the children of God, the King of kings.  Spiritually, His royal blood flows through our veins.  As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are heirs of the heavenly Father.  Our inheritance is one not just for the future, however.  We enjoy all the privileges of being in His royal family today, even now.

Royalty!  That is anyone who accepts Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Inferior to Superior

John 2:1-12

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.  And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”  Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”  His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”  Now there were set there six water pots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.  Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.  And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it.  When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.  And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”  This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.   After this He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days.

  • The water made wine
  • The ordinary made extraordinary
  • The plain and simple made special
  • The inferior made to be superior
  • A life of sin, no hope within.
  • Struggling alone, no hope, no joy

INFERIOR

  • A light turns on, the Spirit calls
  • We receive Christ, old habits gone

SUPERIOR

  • Outcast, chained, in bondage torn
  • Tired and lonely, no friend to call our own.

INFERIOR

  • We cry out to God, we bow our head
  • We weep in sorrow for what we have done
  • New hope dawns

SUPERIOR

  • He broke my chains and set me free
  • His banner over me is love

INFERIOR TO SUPERIOR

Psalm 25:4-5 – Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.  Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.  All day long I put my hope in you.

When we find Christ

  • The crooked way is made straight
  • The difficult becomes manageable
  • The storm gives way to sunshine

Inferior to Superior!

Job 13:15 – Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.  Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.

Yet will I trust God anyway. When darkness gives way to light, I have assurance – Even though I’m tried I shall come forth as gold.

When we are in Christ and Christ is in us, we have His promise.  He will be with us.  There will be difficult times, but He will be there.  He is a shelter in the storm. 

John 16:33 – These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Psalm 23:4 – Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

YOU ARE WITH ME

Psalm 23:6 – Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Dwell in the house of the Lord – that’s superior

We live in the inferior now – but the superior awaits!

What Do You Seek?

John 1:35-39

Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples.  And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”  The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.  Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”  They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”  He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).

What do you seek? – What are you looking for from life?

Come and see

Matthew 11:28 – Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

What do people seek for?

  • Riches
  • Houses and lands
  • Education
  • Fancy cars
  • Jewelry
  • Fame
  • Are you seeking for meaning, purpose in life?
  • Are you seeking for self-improvement, fellowship, friends?
  • Are you seeking deliverance from trials, trouble, suffering?
  • Are you seeking approval and acceptance with God?

Isaiah 55:6 – Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

Matthew 6:24-33 – No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.  “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Luke 11:9-10 – So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Matthew 16:24-26 – Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Only Jesus can satisfy your soul. Only He can change your life and make you whole. He’ll give you peace you never knew, special joy and heaven too. Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

Jesus said, “What do you seek?”  Then, “Come and see.”

The Word Became Flesh

John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.  That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word became 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 bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.  For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

The John of the Gospel of John was a disciple of Jesus, brother of James.  Along with Peter, these three made up an inner circle of disciples.  John and Peter witnessed the figuration.  It was these two who healed the lame man in front of the temple who was begging for alms.

Jesus had died, risen and ascended into heaven approximately 33 A.D.  John wrote this Gospel approximately 85 to 90 AD. – Some 50 years later.

Christianity was spreading to the entire world as they knew it.  How would John, a Jew, write about Jewish tradition, history and a messiah that only Jews were looking for?  Through the power of the Holy Spirit John used a term that all the world could comprehend.  The entire world, the learned, the scholar all knew Greek and they understood the power and might of the “word.” 

The “word” was seen as the power that enabled men to think and reason.  It was the power that brought light and understanding to man’s mind and enabled him to express his thoughts in an orderly fashion.  Here in the Gospel of John, the “word” was not just a “word.’  It was the power by which men came into contact with God and began to comprehend the deeper things of God.  John proclaimed that “Jesus Christ was the Word and the Word became flesh.”

Jesus Christ was the picture, the expression, the pattern, the very image of what God wished to say to man. 

“The Word was made flesh” God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, was made flesh and blood; He became a man.  No greater message could ever be proclaimed to man.

Christ dwelt visibly among us

John the Baptist bore witness of the superiority of Christ

Men have received the fullness and grace of Christ

God’s Son alone has seen God

Incarnation – The Son of God was actually made flesh.  He came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ.  There is no doubt about John’s meaning here.  The word “flesh” (sarx) is the same word that Paul used to describe man’s nature with all of its weakness and tendency to sin.  Jesus Christ is fully God, yet He is fully man.  The word “beheld” means actually seeing with the human eye.  There is no room for saying that God becoming a man was merely a vision.  John was saying that he and others actually saw the Word made flesh.

Flesh –What does the Bible mean by “flesh”?

The flesh is corruptible.  Sin has tainted and debased the flesh.  Therefore, the flesh sins and ages, dies, deteriorates and decays.

Galatians 6:8 – For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

1 Corinthians 15:50 – Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.

Christ became flesh to correct and counteract this corruption of the flesh

1 Peter 1:18-19, 23-25 – knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,  but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.  Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.  The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”  Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

The flesh is dishonorable.  It is not what God created it to be. 

Romans 7:18 – For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.

Romans 1:28-32 – And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;  being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,  backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,  undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;  who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Christ became flesh to correct and counteract the dishonor of the flesh

Hebrews 2:14-15 – Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,  and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Romans 5:8-10 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

The flesh is weak.  It is impotent, feeble because of sin.  It has no strength to please God nor to save itself.

Romans 8:8 – So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

John 6:63 – It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

The flesh is a natural body.  It is part of the earth; it is made up of the chemicals and substances of the earth.  It is “the earthly home,” the “tent,” which houses the human soul and spirit.  It is neither spirit nor spiritual; therefore it cannot live beyond the strength of the chemicals and substances that form its flesh.  It cannot live beyond its natural life

1 Corinthians 15:50 – Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.

Luke 24:39 – Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.

Christ became flesh to counteract the natural body of the flesh.  He became flesh in order to become a “quickening spirit,” the Savior who could quicken and make alive all those who would trust Him.

1 Peter 3:18 – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

Romans 8:11 – But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Glory of the Incarnation

Christ was the “Shekinah glory” of god.  This work means “that which dwells” or “dwelling.”  It refers to the bright cloud that God used to guide Israel out of Egypt and that rested upon the tabernacle and above the Mercy Seat in the Most Holy Place.  It symbolizes God’s presence.  John was saying, “We beheld,” actually saw the Shekinah glory, God’s very presence “dwelling among us.”

John said we looked at Him and could tell He was God.  All that Jesus was in His person and being, character and behavior, was so enormously different. 

James, the Lord’s brother in the natural, even called Jesus “the Lord of glory.”  James was reared with Jesus beginning from the earliest years of childhood right on through the years of adulthood.  He had every chance to see some act of disobedience, some sin, something contrary to the nature of God.  But he called Jesus –

James 2:1 – My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.

Christ was full of grace and truth.

Isaiah 9:6 – For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

John 1:14 – And the Word became 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.

1 Timothy 3:16 – And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:  God was manifested in the flesh,

justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.

Hebrews 2:14 – Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.

Grace, as applied to Christ, means far more than it does when men use it.  When man does favors for his friends, he can be said to be gracious.  But God has done a thing unheard of among men.  He has given his very own Son to die for his enemies.  Grace became the favor of God showered upon men – men who did not deserve His favor. 

Fullness and grace of Christ given to us

“Fullness” means that which fills, the sum total.  It is the sum total of all that is in God.

Colossians 1:9-10- For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

“Grace” is His blessing upon us.  Grace enough to meet all our needs, not matter the circumstance.  We cannot earn this grace.  It is a gift of God.

Titus 3:4-7 – But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Romans 3:23-24 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Behold the Lamb

John 1:29-37

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  This is He of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’  I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”  And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.  I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’  And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”  Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples.  And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”  The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

There are nearly 70 references to the Lamb in the Old Testament, most refer to the lamb as a sacrifice for sin.

  • God will provide the lamb

Genesis 22:7 – But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”  And he said, “Here I am, my son.”  Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”  And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”

  • Lamb must be pure and holy – representing Christ

Exodus 12:5 — Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.

  • Christ was pure and holy

1 Peter 1:19 – but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

  • In the Old Testament an offering had to be made as atonement for sin.  It all points to Christ as that offering.  Christ fulfilled once and for all that required sacrifice when He gave Himself willingly.

John 10:17-18 – Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.

  • Exodus 12 tells us of the first Passover when the Israelites applied the blood of the lamb to their homes and were saved when the death angel slayed the first born in every home where the blood was not applied.  Symbolically, the Passover pictured the coming of Jesus Christ as the Savior.  The lamb without blemish pictured His sinless life and the blood sprinkled on the door posts pictured His blood shed for the believer.  It was a sign that the life and blood of the innocent lamb had been substituted for the firstborn.  The eating of the lamb pictured the need for spiritual nourishment gained by feeding on Christ, the Bread of Life.  The unleavened bread pictured the need for putting evil out of one’s life and household.  It was the blood of the lamb that saved the people.  The lamb was sacrificed.  Its blood was shed as a substitute for the people.  The lamb symbolized Christ our Passover who was sacrificed for us.  If we believe and apply His blood to our hearts and homes, He saves us.  If we do not believe and do not apply the blood to our hearts and homes, we are destroyed.  It is the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for us; it is His blood which saves us.

John 1:29 – The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

1 Peter 1:18-19 – knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,  but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

  • Historically, two lambs were sacrificed “day by day continually…the one in the morning and the other at even.

Exodus 29:38-39 – Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs of the first year, day by day continually.  One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight.

  • The people knew their sins had separated them from God and that their sins had to be removed before they could be reconciled to God.  Thus, symbolically, the sins of the people were removed from the people and placed upon the two animals.  The animals, without blemish, had the sins of the people placed upon them; and, symbolically, they bore the judgment of sin, which was death.  They were sacrificed for sin, and by their death, they symbolically set the people free by redeeming them from their sins.  Note:  It was not the deed that caused God to remove the sins, but the faith of the person in God’s Word that He would remove the sins.

Isaiah 53:6-7 – All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.

1 Corinthians 5:7 – Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

1 Peter 2:22-24 – Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

Revelation 5:6; 6:1; 7:9, 12:11; 13:8; 14:1; 15:3; 17:14; 19:9; 21:22

Jesus Christ is

  • The perfect Lamb of God, without sin
  • The One upon whom the sins of the people were placed
  • The One who bore the judgment for sin, which was death
  • The One who was sacrificed for sin
  • The One whose death sets people free by redeeming them
  • The One whose blood is counted precious both by God and believers

It should be noted the Christ willingly offered Himself as the sacrificial Lamb, as our substitute and God willingly accepted the offering and sacrifice of His Son for us.  God is satisfied with the settlement for sin that Christ made.  If any person really believes the blood of Christ to be precious, really believes that the blood of Christ covers his sins, God will take that person’s belief and count it as righteousness.  That person is counted righteousness by God.

John 10:17-18 – Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.

Romans 5:1 – Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 2:1-2 – My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

The “Lamb of God” is not of men but of God.  The idea is that the Lamb belonged to God, that God gave, supplied and provided the Lamb for Abraham as a substitute for Isaac.  This speaks volumes about:

  • The unbelievable love of God for man

John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

  • The great sacrifice and humiliation Christ underwent for man

Philippians 2:6-8 – who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

  • The forgiveness of sins and salvation which came from God’s grace and not from man’s resources and works

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

The “Lamb of God” takes away the sin of the world

The phrase “takes away” (airon) means “to lift away, to carry off, to bear in behalf of one, as one’s substitute.  Jesus Christ was the Lamb of God who bore our sins.  He lifted our sins off of us and carried them away.

1 Peter 2:24 – who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

John the Baptist was simply pointing out the “Lamb of God” to the people – Here is the Lamb of God we have been waiting for

We must point the Lamb of God to others – fulfill the Great Commission

  • It is not the great exception
  • We cannot leave it to somebody else to do
  • When people are lonely – “Behold the Lamb”
  • When people are in turmoil – “Behold the Lamb”
  • When people are sick, in pain – “Behold the Lamb”

Behold

  • To perceive through sign or understanding
  • To see
  • To gaze upon
  • To observe
  • To call attention to
  • We need to do more than just behold
  • More than see
  • More than observe
  • More than call attention

We need to

  • Receive the Lamb of God for our self
  • Receive the Lamb of God as our Lord and Master
  • Serve and glorify the Lamb of God in our own life
  • Point out the Lamb of God to others

A Voice in the Wilderness

John 1:19-23

Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”  He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”  And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?”  He said, “I am not.”  “Are you the Prophet?”  And he answered, “No.” 

Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”  He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:  “Make straight the way of the Lord,”’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

A voice in the wilderness

  • What kind of voice? – Loud, clear and commanding
  • To whom is the voice speaking? –  He that has an ear
  • What was the message?  –  Repent, turn to Jesus
  • What was the character of the voice? –  Recognized his purpose was to draw attention to Jesus, not himself.  “I must decrease, He must increase.”

Isaiah 40:3-5 – The voice of one crying in the wilderness:  “Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

We are also called to be a voice in the wilderness

Matthew 28:19-20 – Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

John 20:21 – So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.

  • What is our voice?  Are we speaking without fear of man, are we clear in our message?
  • To whom are we speaking?  Are we really to speak to all we meet, to all who show an open heart?
  • What is our message?  Are we promoting our church, our doctrine, or Jesus Christ?
  • What is our character?  Are we trying to be noticed, to have our self-admired or looked up to?  Are we lifting up Jesus, not our self?

Sharing the “True” Light

John 1:1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.  That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word became 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.

One of the great themes of the Gospel of John is “light.” 

John 1:4 – In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

John 8:12 – Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Matthew 4:14-16 – You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

John 3:19 – And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Jesus is the true light.  While others talk about enlightment, we know and believe that Jesus IS the Light of the World.  Even though the true light has come, yet much of our world remains in darkness.

1 John 1:5-7 – This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

The darkness is great

  • Darkness by birth
  • The sins of our “first parents – Adam and Eve” passed down to all of us.

The Psalmist David states Psalm 51:5 – “Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”

  • None of us chose our parents, and one of us chose to be born in sin, but we do have a choice as to whether or not we will continue to live in that state of sinfulness.

Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”

  • Darkness by choice

John 3:19 tells us, “…men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.”

  • Much of the evil done in the world today is done as a matter of choice.
  • The Burnhams, missionaries in the Philippines, were held captive by a terrorist group for ransom money to fight a war of their own choosing.
  • The terrorists who flew into the World Trade Center buildings on 9/11 did so as a matter of choice.
  • The man/woman who kills their spouse or abuses their own children have made a choice.
  • The man who rejects Jesus is also making a choice to live in darkness.
  • Darkness by neglect
  • Even after Jesus told His disciples to “Go into all the world,” they wanted to stay in Jerusalem
  • It took the persecution found in Acts 8:1 to get the church moving out of Jerusalem with the Gospel.
  • The Church has had the Gospel for 2000 years and yet the majority of our world is still not evangelized.

What will it take for us to truly get serious about carrying the Gospel to the whole world?

The light is needed in our world

Matthew 5:14-16 – You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Light, life and freedom are found in Jesus

John 14:46 – I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.

Acts 4:12 – Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Romans 10:13-17 – For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:  “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

2 Corinthians 4:6 – For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The Price God Paid for Christmas

John 1:14

And the Word became 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.

A mountaineer got lost while climbing in the Alps – or so the story goes.  After days of stumbling around in a blizzard, he found a mountain pass that led to a valley that no one from the outside world had visited in centuries.  In this valley he discovered a community of people who had survived for generations with no eyesight.

When he tried to describe to these people the beauty of the night sky, the color of a sunset, and the joy of seeing someone smile, the valley people were first confused, then convinced that he was insane.  Because no one they knew could see, the experience was beyond their understanding.  They did not even have the vocabulary to understand what he described.

Then the mountaineer met a young woman of the valley, and they fell in love.  When they told the villagers that they wanted to be married, the leaders foresaw that the mountaineer’s descriptions of the joys of seeing and of the outside world would disrupt their community.  They told him that he could stay and be married only if he agreed to have his eyes blinded so he would be like everyone else.  Torn between his appreciation of his sight and his love for the young woman, the mountaineer finally agreed to meet their condition.

The night before the wedding and the ceremony that would blind him, the mountaineer took a walk to enjoy the night sky one last time.  He climbed higher and higher on the mountain that rose above the community.  Eventually he noticed that he had come to the mountain pass through which he had entered the valley.  Keeping his sight would be a simple matter of climbing through the pass and returning to the outside world.

The conflict between his love for his fiancée and his love of sight raged fierce within him.  But finally his love for the woman won out.  He returned to the valley and to the community where he would be married – and where he would be blinded for the rest of his life.

What a conflict!  What a decision!  What love the mountaineer had!

Of course, it is only a story – and an unlikely one at that.  But I know a similar story that is true, a story in which the hero accepts a handicap that will restrict him through eternity – all for love!

Divine and human

Supposed that 2,000 years ago God the Son looked at the sacrifice He would have to make to be born in a manger and die on a cross and had decided that the price was too high.  Imagine the consequences to you and me if, at the mountain pass of His decision, Christ had turned His back on us and returned to the glories of heaven that He was so familiar with.

Fortunately, He did not consider the price too high.  So Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who was 100 percent God and became 100 percent human.  Do we really understand what that means – what it meant for God, and what it means to us?

God’s problem

Consider God’s problem.  During the thousands of years people had been exposed to sin, their view of him had become distorted.  Every deviate interpretation of His character had been made the object of worship.  Some of those who believed Him to be an overbearing tyrant had come to believe they must appease Him by sacrificing their own children in their worship rites.  Others, who viewed Him as a weak, permissive being interested only in a good time, worshipped Him with acts of prostitution, bestiality, or gluttony.

In the names of their gods, the strong overwhelmed the weak, and the rich dominated the poor.  Apathy and greed flourished, and love and generosity withered away.

God realized that to salvage the situation, He could not simply speak to people in overpowering tones, as He did from Mount Sinai.  No, to teach human beings what He was really like in a way they would not soon forget, He would have to give a living example of His character in terms people would understand.  In a world where God was an unfocused reflection of humanity’s own selfish desires.  He would have to be focused into a being who was the essence of both humanity and divinity.  He would be as man without all the sin, selfish desires.  How could He be man, yet at the same time be God?

The community of blind people in that legendary Alpine valley could never understand what the mountaineer’s loss of his sight meant to him or how that loss demonstrated the profound love he held.  Similarly, our limited experience keeps us from fully comprehending the price Jesus paid to become human.  Because of that, we tend to trivialize the love His sacrifice reveals.

Christmas, the time when we celebrate Jesus’ birth, offers us the opportunity to take another look at His incredible history-changing life, a chance to recapture the sense of awe that many of us have lost.  It reminds us of His death and the hope of life that sacrifice provided for us.

The difference it makes

We recognize that Christ’s death on the cross made heaven possible for us.  But what of Christ’s life?  What differences did it make? 

By living on earth as a human being, Jesus challenged the conventional judgment and even the moral values of the time. 

Greed, selfishness, and lust for power influence our judgment more than we realize.  The concern for others that Jesus’ life reflect was just as disturbing to the status quo at His time as it would be for you and me to reveal to a community of blind people what it is like to see.  Jesus’ example turned conventional judgment on its ear.

Jesus taught us that motive rather than performance is what counts. 

Remember the story about the emperor’s new clothes?  They were “sewn” by a clever tailor who, aware of the King’s vanity, claimed that fools would not be able to see them.  Afraid of being recognized for the fools they were, everyone, including the king, went along with the charade.  It took a young boy to state the obvious and draw attention to the king’s lack of both britches and good sense.  Living in sin is like that.  We are all inadequate; we all have selfish motives.  Yet we go through our lives desperately seeking to ignore the obvious.  Let a little honesty creep in, and we are suddenly presented to the rest of the world as the emperor without his clothes, no longer regal but in desperate need of something to cover us up.  Jesus exposes our dishonesty, our spiritual nakedness. 

Jesus showed us that a positive approach is most effective at bringing out the best in people. 

Jesus did not need to condemn men and women as miserable sinners.  His mere presence revealed to them their moral shortcomings.  When we stand openly and honestly in the presence of Almighty God, He does not condemn; our sin condemns us.  Then He called them to look at the world from a different perspective, to center their lives on God instead of on things or on themselves.  This message led some people to seek spiritual wholeness.  Others, in turning from it, headed down a path of anger and resentment that eventually led them out of His presence and even into conspiring to get rid of Him. 

Imagine a cluster of flowers struggling to grow in a deep, junk-strewn ravine in which trees hide the sun.  Then a landscaping crew cleans out the ravine and thins the trees, allowing brilliant sunshine to pour down on the plants.

Overwhelmed by the powerful sun, some plants wither and die – perhaps wishing that everything had gone on as it was before.  Others, still shaded by the trees that remain, continue on much as they had in the past.  But a few of the plants withstand the initial shock of their exposure to the full light of the sun.  Soon they are basking in its light and flourish and multiplying beyond all previous guesses as to what their potential was.

Such is our relationship with Christ.  As we spend time with Him, we realize that His power is overwhelming.  If we welcome it and let it change us, we will grow to a degree we never before thought possible.

Jesus teaches us a proper appreciation of the power of love

Jesus revealed that most of us love selfishly and limit our love to a chosen few.  He showed that the most important thing any of us can do in life is to reflect the love God has shown us, to reflect it by loving our fellow humans.

Modern society talks a great deal about love and how it can change the world – or one’s personal life.  But society’s attempts at loving have merely resulted in increases in divorce rates, child pornography, incest and homosexuality – making it obvious society does not have any idea what love is.

We can never truly understand love until we learn where it comes from.  It comes from God.  He did not create it; He is love.  When you read 1 Corinthians 13 – the Love Chapter – you are reading about God. 

1 Corinthians 13:1-10 – Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.  Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When we learn to show this kind of love to those around us, we will reflect the character of God.  

What it would be like

Imagine being not being limited in time or space, able to know everything, to be everywhere at once, with limitless power available to you at any time.  Imagine then giving all that up to be restricted to one place at a time in the body of a man.  Then you can see how being born in Bethlehem as Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, changed God the Son forever.  At His birth, Jesus took human nature upon Himself.  He willingly shared in our world – knowing what it was to be hungry, tired, to suffer pain and humiliation.

Before the Son became human, we could only hear about God.  When He became a man, we could actually see who God is.

John 14:9 – Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’

Wake Up! The Answer is Right in Front of You

Luke 24:13-27

Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.  So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.  But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.  And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”  Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”  And He said to them, “What things?”  So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,  and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.  But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.  Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us.  When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive.  And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”  Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”  And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Wake up!

The command “Wake Up!” indicates that perhaps someone is not awake yet, is troubled and/or perplexed, or perhaps their mind is not really on what is before them.

Cleopas and a traveling companion, another disciple perhaps his wife, were traveling and a stranger suddenly began to walk with them and talk to them.  Of course, we know the story.  The stranger to them was none other than Jesus who had risen from the grave.

In the context of this story and similar stores in other Scriptures we can readily see that these two traveling the road were not the only ones that did not recognize Jesus after His resurrection.

John 20:14 – Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

John 21:4 – But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

The answer is right in front of you

Was Jesus’ appearance or countenance different as He appeared to the disciples, to Mary or to Cleopas and his traveling companion?  Why did they not recognize Him?  What was their problem?  How could it be that those who had been around him, some almost daily for three years, knowing His movements, His speech, His mannerisms not comprehend who He was?

Luke 24:36-38 – Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.”  But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.  And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?

Luke 24:25 – Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!

When Thomas actually saw Jesus with his own eyes, then he believed

John 20:24-29 – Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”  And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”  Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”  And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

When Mary heard Jesus call her name, she believed

John 20:14-16 – Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”  She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary!”  She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

Wake up!  The answer is right in front of you!

How is it in times of extreme frustration, sorrow, pain, sickness, loneliness, joy, trouble…Jesus is there, working His way and will in our lives, yet we do not see or recognize who He is?

  • Is our faith weak?
  • Are we failing to trust Him?
  • Are we simply ignoring the tug on our heart, the knock on our door?
  • Are we so preoccupied with the cares of this life and the situation at hand that we cannot see Him in our situation?
  • Is our life so hopeless or full of despair that we cannot see Jesus at all?
  • In the sadness and despair of lives, hopes for family, our profession, school, acceptance, meaning and purpose of life, we must remember that Jesus does care. 

Even though we have feelings of hopelessness and despair, Jesus is there.  He said He would not leave us nor forsake us.  He said to not be troubled or afraid.  Wake up!  He is there!