Sunday, November 10, 2013

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life John 13-14

In our study so far we have seen Jesus interact with a multitude of people, performing all kinds of miracles. John calls them signs and he specifically mentioned 7 of them.

Here is an entry from The Tyndale's Bible Dictionary about the significance of the number 7.

In Scripture, seven symbolizes completeness or perfection. On the seventh day God rested from his labors and creation is finished (Gn 2:2). Pharaoh in his dream saw seven cattle coming from the Nile (41:2). Samson’s sacred Nazirite locks were braided in seven plaits (Jgs 16:13). Seven devils left Mary of Magdala, signifying the totality of her previous possession by Satan (Lk 8:2); "seven other devils" will enter the purified but vacant life of a person (Mt 12:45). However, on the positive side, there were the seven spirits of God (Rv 3:1). In the seventh year the Hebrew slave was to be freed (Ex 21:2), having completed his time of captivity and service. Every seventh year was a sabbatical year (Lv 25:4). Seven times seven reiterates the sense of completeness. In the Year of Jubilee (at the completion of 7 x 7 years = the 50th year), all land is freed and returns to the original owners (Lv 25:10). Pentecost, the Feast of Weeks, is seven times seven days after Passover. "Seventy," which is literally "sevens" in Hebrew, strengthens the concept of perfection. There are 70 elders (Ex 24:1) in Israel. Israel was exiled to Babylon for 70 years (Jer 25:12) to complete its punishment. "Seventy times seven" (Mt 18:22) reiterates this still further. The Lord was not giving Peter a mathematical number of times that he should forgive another person, but rather was insisting on limitless forgiveness for a brother’s sin.
The seven signs were:

  1. Changing the water into wine (CH 2)
  2. Cleansing the temple (CH 2)
  3. Healing of the nobleman's son (CH 4)
  4. Healing of the lame man (CH 5)
  5. Feeding the multitude with 2 fishes and 5 loaves of bread (CH 6)
  6. Healing of the blind man (CH 9)
  7. Raising of Lazarus (CH 11)
 Along with the 7 signs John mentions 7 I AM statements. The significance of those statements goes to prove the deity of Jesus. I AM means YAHWEH. When Moses asked God in Exodus what he was to call Him, God answered
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14
So far we have seen 5 I AM statements which were:

  1. I AM the bread of life (CH 6)
  2. I AM the light of the world (CH 8)
  3. I AM the gate (CH 10)
  4. I AM the good Shepherd (CH 10)
  5. I AM the resurrection and the life (CH 11)
If you go back to your notes and reading, you will quickly noticed that the statements are linked with a sign.
Bread of life = feeding the mutitude
Light of the world = healing the blind man
Resurrection = Lazarus
 In John 14 Jesus makes a new bold statement
I AM the way
the truth
the life

We are in the Passion week. The time is near for Jesus to be betrayed and suffer the punishment for our sins. He is now spending time with his disciples (the ones that were still believing) and imparting in them some important wisdom. Jesus, their teacher, friend, mentor, the son of God takes off his outer garments and washes their feet, showing them THE WAY.

I am sure that you could have heard a fly drop. The whole situation was shocking, embarrassing, surreal. Foot washing, a ritual that dates back to Abraham (see Genesis 18), was to be performed by the lowest servant. For Jesus to wash their feet was similar to the disciples to the Queen of England coming to your house to clean your toilets. Unthinkable.

But there is a lesson here - a two fold lesson.

Repentance of sins

The way means to be cleansed from sin. When you have been cleansed you belong to Christ. This cleansing is not a simple outward cleansing but an inward one. Jesus DID wash Judas' feet. He lowered himself to wash the feet of the person who was going to betray him in a few hours.

Let me say this again:
He lowered himself to wash the feet of the person who was going to betray him in a few hours.

Let this sink in. The way means being clean, having a relationship with Jesus and NEVER assuming that you are too good to serve those who do not believe. Jesus knew that Judas was unclean, yet he still served him. Jesus did physically wash Judas but Judas was not clean because he did not accept Jesus. A person can be baptized every single Sunday and go to church every day of the week and still be unclean if they do not accept Jesus. It means accepting Jesus even when it does not look like we think it should look like. Remember: they expected a king and instead saw someone washing feet and about to die like a lowlife criminal.

 After Judas left, Jesus goes on and talk about the truth. The truth is very simple and at the same time very complicated. The disciples did not realize that Judas was about to betray Jesus. The impact of what he is about to tell them will have much much more impact after the arrest.

We, on the other hand, are reading this lesson knowing what has happened, knowing the heart of men (and women) who days after hailing Jesus will be shouting "crucify Him". We are the ones fortunate enough to live in a time and a place where reading the Bible is easy, free and strongly encouraged. We are lucky enough to have the freedom to proclaim that we love Jesus.

truth or dare: do we?
Jesus tells them "“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

A new command
Love one another
by this........

Jesus LOVES. Period. Jesus loves the Judases of this world. He loves the sinners. He loves the lost. He loves the outcasts. He loves until it hurts. He loves and died.

As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Do you?

 Jesus is the life. How can you have life?

 “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—" John 14:15-16

Love is a choice. Love is THE choice we need to make every single day. Love is really the ONLY choice we should consider.

Love is not always easy. It is a choice.

But Jesus is right there. This is a simple math equation

Jesus loves me = I love Jesus + I love others

I love Jesus + I love others = I obey His commandments

I obey His commandments + Jesus loves me = Holy Spirit
Romans 8:4-7 instructs us to live by the Spirit which is the opposite of living by the flesh. When we choose to live by the flesh, we let ourselves be controlled by our own selfish desires and also by standards put forth by the world. Those standards rarely conform to the teaching of Jesus.  In order to have life we have to live by the Spirit.

The Spirit lives in us when we love Jesus, obey His commands and love others. This can only happen when our hearts belong entirely to Jesus. The Israelite were set aside by the ritual of circumcision. We Christians also need to perform a circumcision. Circumcision of the heart to remove the foreskin aka hardness.

Take time time today, this week to ponder the following verses and ask yourself what is making the foreskin of your hear? Bitterness? Jealousy? Anger? Depression?

Pray over these verses and remove the foreskin, let your heart be freely all for Jesus. Allow the Holy Spirit to be your helper. Allow Jesus to fill you with life.

You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Acts 7:51

Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. Deuteronomy 10:16

Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
    circumcise your hearts,
    you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire
    because of the evil you have done—
    burn with no one to quench it. Jeremiah 4:4

Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? Ezekiel 18:31

Great peace have those who love your law,
    and nothing can make them stumble.

I wait for your salvation, Lord,
    and I follow your commands.  Psalm 119:165-166

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18