Saturday, December 7, 2013

John 20-21 "Follow Me"

The Day is Dawning...
From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised! Psalm 113:3
  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son…"  Galatians 4:4

In God's perfect timing, JESUS was sent to mankind with a mission that would bring PEACE & LIFE. John the Baptist was chosen by God and in the spirit of Elijah he was sent to prepare the way for the first coming of the Christ!  There were many in Israel at the time who were faithfully waiting & looking for the Messiah to come. Even so, the Bible says that many missed HIS COMING. Jesus was not quite what they were expecting. Though He was full of glory and grace, the people's hard fickle hearts refused to believe.

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:3 

Through out the book of John we see the life, ministry - works & Words -  of Jesus Christ. Instead of the warrior Messiah the Jews expected, Jesus was the suffering servant who first came to pay the price for our sins. Jesus was faithful to the end obeying the will of the Father with perfection. There is none like our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ!  

The angels sang in a mighty chorus: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered--to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing." Revelation 5:12 
When the mission was accomplished on that cross, His last words "It is finished!" echoed as a victorious battle cry!  The viel was torn in the temple signifying that a way to GOD had been made! By His wounds we are healed, restored, and redeemed! 

John 20 opens with

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. John 20:1

Mary runs and tells the disciples in which Peter and John take off towards the tomb. Neither predicted that Jesus would rise that day but John said in verse 8 that they "saw and believed"! They went back to tell the others but Mary stayed. She did not understand and was seeking His body. She was seekingand she found HIM!  Jesus appeared and when He spoke her name her eyes were open and she SAW HIM! 


Mary Magdalene is an example of a true committed follower. Her love for Jesus was apparent and showed by her actions. What about us 2000 years later?  

What do your actions reveal about what you are "seeking" or living for in this world? 

Matthew 7:7 says,  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  Keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking!  

“The resurrection of Jesus Christ Christ is the single greatest event in the history of the world. It is so foundational to Christianity that no one who denies it can be a true Christian. Without the resurrection there is no Chrsitian faith, no salvation, and no hope. The foundation of all our hope is expressed in Jesus’s own words, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in ME though he may die, yet he shall live.” John 11:25 and Because I live, you wll live also. 14:19"  - John MacArthur

 Encounters with the risen LORD = LIFE CHANGE:

1.  Jesus first appears to his disciples (minus Thomas) that very Sunday evening.  We see that the disciples are not holding on to the words of Jesus from John 14 to not be troubled!  They were afraid of the Jews and so they had locked themselves in the room where they were meeting. Jesus appeared and stood among them. He spoke, “PEACE be with you” . Note the beauty of His words. Now that His work "is finished" there is PEACE with God.  "Since we have been justified by faith we have peace with God by our LORD Jesus Christ" Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14-17. We have peace with God and are called to walk in His Peace. Jesus showed His disciples His nail pierced hands - they rejoiced & were sure glad to see Him! 
Again Jesus said, “PEACE be with you." PEACE is His will. He provides us PEACE and told the disciples "do not let your hearts be troubled." (John 14:27)  May HIS PEACE reign in our hearts & minds as we trust & follow Him.

In this first encounter, Jesus does an amazing thing as He prepares His disciples for what is next.  John 20:21 reads, "As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. And when He said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Recieve the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld." 
Interesting notes:
  • The greek word for breath here is a rare term emphysao. In  Gen 2:7 the exact same term is used. "then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature."  
  • In Genesis God breathed into Adam and created life -  a living being. 
  • In John we see Jesus breathing on His disciples and we see the symbolic picture of the "new birth" of spiritual Life! This is the new birth Jesus was describing to Nicodemis in John 3 for all those who receive Jesus through faith.
  • Think about this:  God breathed into the first Adam in the garden and created a living being. Jesus, also known as the last Adam, breathed on the disciples with the life giving Spirit. There is new heavenly & Spiritual life through Jesus Christ.  
So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man." 
  • Jesus breaths on His disciples and we see the dawning of a new era! Jesus earthly mission work is finished. The disciples' work was just beginning!  They are chosen and called to declare the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is forgiveness for all those who look to Jesus, repent of their sins, and receive His word in Faith. There is forgiveness in no other way. So if one rejects this way, their sins are not forgiven. The disciples did not decide this, God did. The disciples are called to proclaim and declare the path to peace and forgiveness and peace with God. In Acts, we see Peter & the disicples filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and doing this with great boldness and love! 
"As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you", Jesus spoke to His followers.  We also are called to obey and depend on God as we live on mission here!  Jesus is our example to Follow and He provides the Life giving Spirit!  Jesus sent the HOLY Spirit as our Help!  John 15 speaks on the vital importance of abiding in HIM and the necessity of the Spirit of God in our lives. Apart from HIM we can do NO GOOD thing!

 How are you carrying out the call as one who is "sent"?

Do you blend in with the ways of our culture or are you diligent to walk in an opposite manner?

2.  In the second encounter, Jesus reveals himself to Thomas. Thomas was not there on Sunday at the first encounter and he refused to believe the disciples word without seeing for himself. 
Jesus in his omniscience knew these doubts in Thomas.  So 8 days later he shows THOMAS His hands in which Thomas responds,  “My LORD & My God!”  Jesus cares about each one of HIS sheep and intentionally prepared each of them for what the future would hold.  Many would not have the joy of seeing the risen LORD first hand, but Jesus said those who believe by the word alone will be blessed.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29 

At the end of John 20 we see the clear purpose statement of the book from the author:
"...but these are written so that you  may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have LIFE in His name." John 20:31

May your faith and belief be strengthened and perfected as you seek HIM.

3.  Third encounter: A new day as Peter is restored and given a charge to keep.

Peter had already seen the risen LORD, but it seems he was still unsure of what he was to be doing. So he decided to go back to what he did before he met Jesus and went fishing. Six other of the disicples followed.  
Peter & the disciples fished all night catching nothing. 
“...just as the day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore…" John 21:4
Jesus stood on the shore but the disciples did not recognize him. He was about 100 yards away and asked if they had caught anything. The disciples replied, "No", and so Jesus told them to cast their nets now on the right side of the boat in which they found a great catch of fish!  John recognized Jesus now & Peter jumps out of the boat to go to Him. 

In Luke 5:4-7 & Matt. 4 we see a very similar fishing example. This is when Jesus first called Peter to be his disciple.  In the same way, Jesus shows up and tells the "professional" fishermen what to do. Peter obeys and gains a great reward of fish! On this day Jesus told Peter,  “You will now fish for men!” Luke 5:7  

Do you ever get confused or discouraged about what God has for you? 

Have you ever "forgotten" what it is you are to be doing?

It is easy and natural to get off track and even resort to our "old life"(life before faith). Often our flesh, the cares of this world, or/and the enemy can lead us astray. But GOD, who is rich in mercy & steadfast love, will never leave us. He restores our soul. (Psalm 23:3) 

"Come and have breakfast." John 21:12

  Jesus is the Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep. He provides not only spiriutal nourishment but physical as well. Jesus made breakfast for Peter and then spoke into his life. The words and way of Jesus redirected & refueled Peter's longing soul. Jesus gave him the vision and empowerment needed for what would lay ahead. This seemed to be a painful & uncomfortable conversation for Peter but the end result was RESOLVE, PURPOSE, and PEACE.

Jesus told Peter, "Follow me. I will make you a fisher of men. Follow Me. You follow me!" (Matt 4, John 21)

After this encounter and after Pentecost we see a new man in Simon Peter! In Acts Peter proclaims Jesus as the risen LORD with great boldness and power to the Chief Priest & through out the world.

In 1 Peter, we see words of encouragment sent to the Messianic Jews who were scattered throughout the regions. He tells the Christians who they are and what they are called to do: 
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojouners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the gentiles (unbelievers) honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildores, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation." 1 Peter 2:9-12

Not looking to the left or the right we are called to follow with our eyes fixed on Christ!  I'm afraid too many who call themselves "Christians" either do not know or have forgotten that this world is not our home. We have gotten too comfortable here with our pleasure filled, self seeking society and  our convenient American lives. We don't want to get messy or get out of our comfort zones. We prefer things our way and right now!  Many of us don't act much differently than the kids we see around us who demand their way and we wonder where they get it!

When is the last time you gave of your time, resources, or talents until it hurt for the Kingdom of God? We often give out of our wealth and convience verses out of sacrificial love & adoration of the KING & for His beloved Kingdom.

God is ALIVE!  His Kingdom is coming!  He is doing a new thing in me. He is doing a new thing in HIS church. 

 How are you preparing the way?

May this generation be found faithful and true.

In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth. (He spoke and it was.) Genesis 1

In the begining was the Word, and the Word was God and the Word was with God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. John 1:1;14

"Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in[d] blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God." Revelation 19:11-13

Advent - Waiting with expectation for HIS COMING!