Sunday, April 24, 2022

 Jesus Didn’t Come to Condemn the World

The “Red-Letter Words” of Jesus

Day 34

“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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18 (NKJV)

Robert Wilson was found guilty of murder, kidnapping, and armed robbery in a Georgia courtroom. He received three life sentences, plus seven years, for each crime he committed. Only by the grace of God did he not receive the death penalty.

The jury didn’t condemn Robert nor did the judge who tried the case. His own actions condemned him. It was the judge’s duty to make sure he had a fair trial, and that the resulting guilty verdict was carried out.

Let’s revisit the bronze serpent mentioned in John 3:14, 15. The Israelites were judged by God because of their constant complaining and lack of faith. As a result of their guilt, God sent poisonous snakes to bite the people. Many people died. Once they cried out to God and repented, He gave them an antidote. He had Moses set a bronze snake on a pole. When folks looked up at the snake, they were healed.

God nor Moses condemned the Israelites for their complaining. Like Robert, they condemned themselves by their own actions.

Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We’re all guilty of sin. Maybe we didn’t murder someone, but we’re still marked by our sinful nature.

Romans 6:23(a) says, “For the wages of sin is death.” We receive a sentence because of our sin. Robert’s consequence was three life sentences. Poisonous snake bites were the sentence for the Israelites. Eternal death is our sentence.

Thank God for the rest of Romans 6:23, “…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world. It was already condemned. Jesus came to rescue humankind from the consequences of their sin by being lifted high on a cross.

Through believing in Him, we are pardoned from spiritual death and receive eternal life. Those who choose not to believe in His name are condemned by their own sin. Sadly, since they refuse to look up to the One lifted high, the guilt can’t be removed from their lives.

Father, Jesus didn’t come to condemn mankind. Like Robert, it’s our sinful actions that condemn us. Thank You that Jesus is our Salvation. When we believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God, we are forgiven and eternal life is ours. More importantly, our relationship with Him is restored. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Robert Wilson was twice pardoned…once by his Savior Jesus Christ while incarcerated and a second time miraculously by the state of Georgia. You can find his incredible story of redemption in his book Beyond Hope. Here is a link to his book. Click on the link for direct access: Beyond Hope - Kindle edition by Wilson, Robert. Self-Help Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

 

 http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/barnes/john/3

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/john/3

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/3

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

For God So Love the World...Say What?

 For God So Loved the World…Say What?

The “Red-Letter Words” of Jesus

Day 33

 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:14-17 (NKJV)

Nicodemus probably had a tough time accepting what Jesus said in verse sixteen. “For God so loved the world…” went against everything he believed. Fitting the Pharisaic mindset, Jesus should have stated “For God so loved the Jewish people that He gave His only begotten Son…”

The Jews expected the Messiah to come, not to the entire world, but exclusively to them to save them from Roman domination. That’s why Nicodemus visited Jesus in the middle of night. His thought was, “Could this be The One the scriptures prophesied about?”

It’s easy for me to condemn the Jewish view of exclusiveness, and yet, the truth is at times I’m guilty of the same thing. And I don’t have Nicodemus’ excuse either. According to God’s own law, He consecrated them as His unique people and set them apart from the rest of mankind to fulfill His purposes and plans. God even promised the Messiah would descend from the nation of Israel.

When I arrive in heaven, I’ll probably be shocked at some of the folks who are there. How did the Catholics and Methodists get in? After all, their doctrines pale in comparison to the one for my denomination. I’ll let the Baptist slide because they are strong on salvation and baptism, although I don’t quite buy the “you have to be baptized to get to heaven” part.

Of course, I’m being facetious. I think you get my point. My denomination doesn’t hold the keys to heaven and eternal life, only Jesus Christ does. Even so, I do know when Nicodemus heard Jesus declare that God loved all people, it was a tough pill for him to swallow.

Father, You indeed love the entire world. Your love isn’t exclusive but all-inclusive. Please forgive me where I have judged others and attempted to exclude them from Your love. Or where I have deemed my denomination superior and authoritative compared to other denominations. As a result of Your great love, You have the whole world in Your hands. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/barnes/john/3

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/john/3

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/3

Monday, March 28, 2022

The Bronze Serpent

 

The Bronze Serpent

The “Red-Letter Words” of Jesus

Day 32

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 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. John 3:14-16 (NKJV)

Numbers 21:4-9 tells the account of the bronze serpent. In the wilderness, the Israelites complained to Moses about everything. God punished them for their ungrateful attitudes by sending poisonous snakes to bite the people. Many died. After the Israelites repented, God gave them an antidote. He had Moses make a bronze serpent on a pole. Anyone who looked at the bronze serpent was immediately healed.

In John 3:14-16, Jesus’ predicted His death to Nicodemus. Just like Moses raised the bronze serpent on a pole, Jesus would be raised up too. However, He wasn’t raised up in glory but on a cross where He suffered horribly.

Two provisions were made for all people when Jesus was lifted on the cross:

1.         Salvation

Did you notice in verses 15 and 16 Jesus declared His deity? He claimed Himself to be God’s only begotten Son who could offer everlasting life. His declaration didn’t sit well with Israel’s spiritual leaders, and it cost Him His life.


The Israelites who looked at the bronze serpent were saved from physical death. When we look to the cross of Jesus Christ and believe we’re saved from eternal death. (See page titled "Salvation" for further information.)

 2.         Healing

The Israelites who looked at the serpent on the pole were healed of their poisonous snake bites. When we look to Jesus, His wounded body provides healing for our sick and broken bodies.

             Isaiah 53:5 states:       He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement of our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed.

 

1 Peter 2:24 states:      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.

 

We are saved through Jesus' shed blood. We are healed because provision was made through

the stripes He bore. Receive salvation and healing now in the name of Jesus.

 

 

Father, thank You that through Your resurrection power, Jesus is alive. Thank You we

have eternal life in Him. Thank You for the healing that is ours through His broken body.

In Jesus' powerful and authoritative name, Amen.

 

 


http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/barnes/john/3

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/john/3

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/3




Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Complaining = Rebellion

Complaining = Rebellion

The “Red Letter Words” of Jesus

Day 31

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 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.  John 3:14-16

In Numbers 21:4-9, you will find the story of the serpent mentioned in the above scriptures. In this Biblical account, the Israelites complained to Moses about God delivering them from Egypt. They nitpicked about the wilderness and the manna too. Whine. Whine. Whine.

God became fed up with them and brought judgment because of their angry and rebellious spirits. The Lord sent fiery serpents. “Fiery” references their bodies’ reaction to being bit by poisonous snakes.

The people went to Moses and admitted they had sinned against the Lord and repented of their rebellious attitudes. Immediately, God gave the antidote. He told Moses to make a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. Everyone bitten by a snake who looked up at the pole was healed.

Time to be vulnerable. I’m a complainer. I’m a “my glass is half-empty” kind of person. Even complainers think I complain a lot. Okay, you get my point. I may want to heed what happened to the Israelites.

When I moan and groan about my situation, my eyes are on my problem and not the Lord. When I murmur, I’m letting the Lord know I don’t like what has happened in my life. I’m not happy with the cards He’s dealt me. I don’t like His way; I want my will to be done. That’s called rebellion. When I protest, I lack trust in God.

Anyone else want to raise your hand and say, “Me too.”

Father, I admit I’m a complainer. Instead of looking to You, I focus on my circumstances. I blame you for dealing me a bad hand. I become angry and cling to my ways. I accuse You of not caring about me. Please forgive me. I have sinned against You. You do care…so much so You sent Your Son to take my punishment on the cross. May I choose to trust You. Your ways and thoughts are higher than mine and are for my good (Isaiah 55:8-9). In Jesus’ name Amen.

(In the next devotion, we’ll look at how the fiery bronze serpent typifies Jesus Christ.)


http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/barnes/john/3

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/john/3

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/3

Monday, February 28, 2022

I'm Back


I've been quiet for the last few months refining a manuscript for a children's chapter fiction book and ended up adding several chapters to it. Whew. It may take me a couple weeks to get back into the groove of writing on my blogs again, but I'm looking forward to the change. The nitty-gritty of preparing the manuscript for an editor was grueling but glad I focused on getting it done.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Jesus: Human and Divine

 

Jesus:  Human and Divine

The “Red-Letter Words” of Jesus

Day Thirty

If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.  John 3:12-13 (NKJV)

Nicodemus struggled to understand heavenly things via his human nature (vs. 12). He couldn’t comprehend godly truths with a natural mind. Hence, the reason he needed a spiritual rebirth.

Jesus had a dual nature. Verse thirteen gives us some insight into His dual nature. Jesus’ preferred title for Himself, “The Son of Man,” gives reference to His human nature. And “…who is in heaven” gives reference to Jesus’ divine nature.

I admit the above scriptures confused me when I first started studying them. How could Jesus be in two places (earth and heaven) at the same time? It’s a head scratcher of a question, for sure.

Let’s look at John 1:51 to help us understand Jesus’ statement. “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Jesus’ body was limited by the laws of His humanness. That’s why He couldn’t perform miracles until the Holy Spirit, like a dove, lit on Him. However, His spirit, not limited by the laws of nature, knew no bounds. Heaven was wide open to Him. He had connection in the spiritual realm allowing Him readily access to His Father and home.

In John 3:13, Jesus explained to Nicodemus that heaven was His eternal home (long before His Bethlehem birth). Who better to teach spiritual truths than someone who had come from there? It’s true Enoch and Elijah ascended to heaven, but they never returned to earth. Jesus, being the only one who descended from there, understood its ways and glory.

Jesus makes it clear heaven is open to us today. Through rebirth our spiritual eyes can be awakened to its activities, warfare, and dynamics. He gives us first-hand knowledge of its funtionality and splendor. The Holy Spirit helps us to comprehend those heavenly things which were previously hidden to Nicodemus and us.

“But as it is written:  ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”  1 Corinthians 2:9-10  (NKJV)

 

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/ellicott/john/3.htm

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/john/3.htm

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/3.htm

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/barnes/john/3.htm


Monday, October 11, 2021

Nicodemus Understood Religion, Not Spirituality

 Nicodemus Understood Religion, Not Spirituality

The “Red-Letter Words” of Jesus

Day Twenty-Nine

 

Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”  John 3: 9-12 (NKJV)

I’m encouraged by Nicodemus’ question. It seems to me he wanted to push through the confusion he experienced to some type of understanding of what it meant to be born again. He became the humble student instead of the well-renown teacher.

I like what Charles John Ellicott has to say:  The answer to the previous question has spoken of a spiritual birth and a spiritual life and a spiritual kingdom, but all this is in a region of which the Rabbinic schools knew nothing. They were the authorized exponents of Law and Prophets; they knew the precise number of words, and the shape of letters; the form of a phylactery, and the width of a fringe; the tithing of garden herbs, and the manner of washing the hands; but spirit, life, a man’s soul born again!—“how can these things be?”

Nicodemus understood religion all too well. Spirituality, not so much.

Jesus “called him out” since Nicodemus was more than a common teacher…he taught in the Sanhedrin…the governing, religious authority. Nicodemus’ words carried weight and power. It became imperative for him to teach the truth; but, first, he had to understand the truth.

The interpretation of the “We” and “Our” in the above scriptures vary with each Bible scholar I studied. Some say they were plural references to Jesus; others say they referenced the presence of some of the disciples with him; and still, others say they referenced Jesus’ and John the Baptist’s teachings. The one thing they all agree on is Nicodemus didn't accept Jesus' teachings right away. They believe he eventually did, although he remained in darkness that night.

"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."  John 1:4,5 (NKJV)

Nicodemus lived in darkness and only through rebirth could he understand the truth of Jesus’ words. Being born again brought him into the light and helped him comprehend “heavenly things.” 

That's true for all of us. It wasn’t until I gave my heart to Jesus that I could say, “Ah, now I get it.” It took the Holy Spirit to illuminate my understanding to spiritual truths.


http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/ellicott/john/3.htm

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/john/3.htm

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/3/htm

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Understanding the Spirit

Understanding the Spirit

The “Red-Letter Words” of Jesus

Day Twenty-Eight


“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:7, 8 (NKJV)

What was true in Nicodemus’ time isn’t true today. Advancements in meteorology have helped us to know from where the wind comes and where it goes. Hurricanes can now be forewarned thanks to Doppler Radar and satellite imagining. Understanding Low- and High-Pressure Systems help predict the direction of the wind and its velocity

Nicodemus didn’t have the luxury of modern science to help him predict wind or weather. Even with all the sophisticated meteorological equipment we have today, science still can’t control the direction of the wind. Just like in Nicodemus’ time, the wind blows where it wishes.

So does the Spirit of God. We can recognize the effects of the Holy Spirit; however, we can’t control Him any more than we can control the wind.

Jesus wanted Nicodemus to know that, although he couldn’t control the Spirit of God, he could discern the things of God by being born again. The truths Jesus shared with him fell on confused ears since he hadn’t experienced spiritual rebirth yet.

Look at Nicodemus’ response in verse nine, “How can these things be?” He tried to see spiritual truths through carnal eyes. As a footnote, the above scripture was a play on words. The word “Spirit” means “breath” or “wind.” Nicodemus simply didn’t get it because he was spiritually dead.

Being born again helps us discern godly things. Even then, we can’t always understand the purpose of the Spirit’s comings and goings, but we can see the effects of it. We can give personal testimony how the Holy Spirit impacts our lives as He lives in us.

Let’s face it, we can’t control the wind. We can’t control the Spirit of God either. But we can become intimately acquainted with Him. It begins with being born again.

 

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/homiletics/john/3.htm

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/john/3.htm


http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/3/htm

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Born of the Spirit

 Born of the Spirit

The “Red-Letter Words” of Jesus

Day Twenty-Seven

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” John 3:5-7 (NKJV)

When Jesus told Nicodemus he had to be born again, it shocked him. Hence, the “Do not marvel” part. Nicodemus thought his religious pedigree and good works were sufficient to earn him entrance into God’s kingdom. They weren’t because his spirit man was dead and needed to be revitalized.

Newborns of my generation have something in common which isn’t practiced today. We got our butts spanked. If a baby didn’t immediately cry, the doctor would hold the baby upside down and give him or her a smack on the butt. The doctor believed the shock of the smack helped jump-start the baby’s breathing. Must have worked. I’m here.

When God created man, He did something unique that He didn’t do for other creative beings. Adam’s first breath came from God. Of course, Adam was a grown man so holding him upside down and giving him a good smack on the butt wouldn’t have been dignified. However, God did literally breathe life into Adam.

God then created another human being to be a helpmate to Adam. The Bible doesn’t say if God breathed life into Eve but, obviously, something happened. Perhaps a first kiss from her husband?

Adam and Eve had perfect communion with God until the dreadful day they disobeyed Him and ate the forbidden fruit. Sin came into the world like a fatal sucker punch to the gut. Man’s spirit died that day. Direct communion with God was severed and needed to be restored. Spiritual rebirth became necessary.

Thankfully, Nicodemus came to understand his need to be born again. Jesus so impacted his life that, after His death and prior to His resurrection, Nicodemus risked his reputation and life by helping Joseph of Arimathea procure Jesus’ body for burial in the tomb. (John 19:38-42)

Jesus’ declaration to Nicodemus still holds true today. You must be born again. Just like God breathed life into Adam, the Holy Spirit can breathe life into your spirit. This comes about through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and commit your life to Him. Your spirit being will leap to life within you as you take your first spiritual breath.

 

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/ellicott/john/3.htm

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/3.htm

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/john/3.htm

Monday, April 19, 2021

Born of the Flesh

 

Born of the Flesh

The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus

Day Twenty-Six


Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”  John 3:5-7

Let’s set the scene one more time:

It’s nighttime and Nicodemus seeks out Jesus. He’s hoping Jesus is the Messiah but he’s not for sure. He does know He’s a man sent from God because of His miracles and teachings. What he doesn’t bargain for is that Jesus messes with his theology and everything he thought he knew about God and the Law.

I like what is written in the Pulpit Commentary regarding verse six. “That which hath been born of the flesh, is flesh” is not the physical as opposed to the spiritual or immaterial, nor is “flesh” necessarily sinful, as we see from John 1:14 but as it often appears in John’s writing and Paul’s, “flesh” is the constituent element of humanity as apart from grace – humanity (body, intellect, heart, conscience, soul, spirit) views on its own side and merits and capacity, without the Divine life, or the Divine supernatural inbreathing. The being born of the flesh is the being born into fallen humanity.”

In other words, “apart from grace” we are separated from God as a result of sin brought about by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Nicodemus struggled to understand the rituals of the law (including the strict ritual of washing the hands and body) weren’t enough to give him access to the kingdom of God and renew his relationship with God. Even John the Baptist’s teachings of water baptism and repentance didn’t open the portals of heaven.

Although he adhered to the Law, Nicodemus’ flesh was as lost as the worst heathen of his time. He probably thought Tiberius, the Roman emperor known for his partying ways and murderous insecurities, was evil personified. He had to come to a point where he understood his flesh was as lost as Tiberius’. This new teaching confounded Nicodemus. No wonder he stood there, in the middle of the night, with a shocked look on his face.

Like Nicodemus, I can go to church my entire life and still be separated from God. My flesh (body, intellect, heart, conscience, soul, spirit) is lost apart from God’s grace. Thank God, His grace is sufficient for all humanity, including me.

 

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/ellicott/john/3.htm

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/3.htm

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/john/3.htm

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Born of Water

Born of Water

The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus

Day Twenty-Five


Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  John 3:4-6


Let me set the scene:

It’s nighttime. Something (or Someone) is drawing Nicodemus to Jesus and he secretly seeks Him out. He believes Jesus is a teacher come from God. He’s hoping for more. Is He the promised Messiah? And yet, there he stands with his mouth wide open. It’s so obvious he's stunned by Jesus’ words that Jesus says to him, “Do not marvel.” (See John 4:7)

That’s okay. My mouth is hanging open too as I attempt to wrap my mind around the above scriptures. After I studied what several different commentaries had to say about John 3:4-6, I found myself as confused as ever. All three commentaries had a different perspective on the verses, especially the “unless one is born of water” part.

I asked my friend, Bible Scholar Dr. Rick Wadholm, Jr., for his input on what “born of water” referenced. Here’s what he had to say: “Some say birth. Some say water baptism. It seems to me that Jesus may be referring to the ritual washings that included John’s baptizing mentioned in the first chapter of John. It pertains to repentance and preparation.”

Nicodemus felt he was spiritually okay because of the ritual washings and adherence to the letter of the law. Then Jesus told him it was only a preparation. Even repentance wasn’t enough to gain access into the kingdom of God. Flabbergasted, he struggled to understand what Jesus meant.

Nicodemus thought being “born of water” (ritual washings) deemed himself holy and pure. He thought wrong. In the kingdom of church, I can say all the right things and do all the right things, however, those alone won’t grant me entrance into God’s kingdom either. It’s a good start, a preparation for the next step but I must be born of the Spirit to gain access.

  

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/ellicott/john/3.htm

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/3.htm

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/john/3.htm

Friday, February 12, 2021

Born Again

 

Born Again

The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus

Day Twenty-Four

 

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”   John 3:1-4 (NKJV)

There used to be a television show hosted by Robin Leach titled “The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Only the privileged made it on the show…entertainment personalities, famous athletes, filthy-rich businessmen, best-selling authors…those on the A-list. The truth is Nicodemus could’ve been featured being a well-known spiritual leader, born of God through Abraham, a respected teacher, and insanely rich.

When Nicodemus went to Jesus to scope Him out, he at least knew Him as “a teacher come from God,” although he hoped for more. His unasked questions hung in the air. “Are you the Messiah? The One who will deliver us from the tyrannies of Rome dominance?” If Jesus was the Messiah, he probably assumed his privileges gave him access to the Messiah’s kingdom. After all, his name appeared on the religious A-list.

Skillfully, Jesus turned Nicodemus’ inquiry around and put the focus on him. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus understood what it meant to be born again. The Jews had a saying, “One that is made a proselyte is like a child new born.” In other words, a Gentile who converted to Judaism had to die to their old way of life and take on a new lifestyle. If they refused to do this, they couldn’t convert.

What Nicodemus didn’t understand is that Jesus saw his heart. Like all humans, it was sinfully wicked. Position, privilege, obedience to the law and stringent ceremonial cleanings didn’t qualify him for the kingdom of God. He thought he was secure; however, his inward nature, his spiritual nature, was dead. His spirit-man needed to be “like a child new born.”

Nicodemus had to grapple with the shocking reality he didn’t qualify for the Messiah’s kingdom. It’s the same for us. The only way to inherit His kingdom is through rebirth. To be born again means I must repent of my sins, die to my old lifestyle, ask Jesus for forgiveness of sins, commit my life to Him and invite the Holy Spirit to live within.

 

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/2.htm

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/expositors/john/2.htm

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/john/3

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/ttb/john/3

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/wes/john3


Monday, February 1, 2021

Say, What?

Say, What?

The "Red Letter" Words of Jesus

Day Twenty-Three

 

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”   John 3:1-4 (NKJV)

Nicodemus saw something unique in Jesus. Being drawn to Him, he felt compelled to meet with Him in the middle of the night. He needed answers. He, along with the nation of Israel, believed a coming Messiah would be their savior and deliver them from the tyrannies of Rome. His statement to Jesus was a question without being a question. “We know by Your miracles that you are sent from God.” His unasked question: “Are You the One?”

Jesus was the One but not in the way Nicodemus perceived.

Nicodemus intended to confirm Jesus was who he hoped Him to be: The One who would overthrow the Roman government. Since Jesus and His kingdom are not of this world, Jesus knew Nicodemus had to see Him through spiritual eyes.

After Jesus explained to him that to be a part of His kingdom he had to be born again, Nicodemus’ response came down to, “Say, what?” He didn’t understand Jesus’ words. He needed to discern them spiritually; however, he couldn’t since he was spiritually dead.

To be honest, sometimes I don’t get Jesus. He doesn’t do things according to my expectations of who I want Him to be or what I want Him to do. In those moments, I find myself frustrated because things aren’t going the way I planned. When I take a step back and look at the situation through His eyes, then comprehension comes with an “Ah, now I get it.”

The good news is Nicodemus went from a “Say what?” to an “Ah, now I get it” moment. It may not have happened that night but it did happen. Through a spiritual new birth, he became intimately acquainted with Jesus and a devoted follower. Besides this passage, John 7:45-53 and John 19:38-42 give evidence of Nicodemus’ relationship with Jesus.

(In the next devotion, we’ll take a closer look at what it means to be “born again.”)

 

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/2.htm

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/expositors/john/2.htm


https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/john/3

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Without Judgement

 

Jesus Met Nicodemus Without Judgement

The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus

Day Twenty-Two

 

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.” John 3:1-7 (NKJV)

Nicodemus, a wealthy, well-educated, highly respected member of the Sanhedrim, snuck around at night to meet with Jesus. Why? Perhaps fear caused him to do so since he had much to lose. According to John Gill’s commentary,* history proved Nicodemus ben Gorion was a man of great wealth and reputation.

Probably then, he did visit Jesus at night because of fear. He understood how his colleagues felt about Jesus and His miracles. He knew they were furious with Jesus for disrupting temple life when He threw out those who degraded His Father’s house (see John 2). He knew it could cost him everything, if his peers were aware of his clandestine meeting with Jesus. And yet, he also knew Jesus was called of God. Did he recognize Him as the Messiah? At that point, I don’t know. He did recognize Him as someone who came from God.

I love Jesus’ response to Nicodemus. Or maybe I should say lack of response. Jesus didn’t reprimand him for coming to Him at night. He didn’t scold him for his fear. Jesus saw the hunger in his heart as he sought out the truth of who Jesus was. Jesus’ response showed compassion toward a man who desired to draw closer to God.

Even though he snuck around at night to find answers to the longings of his spirit, Jesus met him there without judgement. Jesus saw the sinful condition of his soul and offered him hope without condemnation. You must be born again.

God meets us right where we are at too. We don’t have to get our act together to meet with Him. In fact, when I come “just as I am without one plea,” He changes me.


https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/2.htm

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/expositors/john/2.htm

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/john/3 *

Monday, August 31, 2020

Jesus' Authority

Jesus' Authority

The "Red-Letter" Words of Jesus

Day Twenty-One


So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.       John 2:18-22

“So the Jews” – referring to the religious leaders – challenged Jesus’ authority. He had just cleared the outer courts of the temple throwing out those who had abused His Father’s House. (See John 2:13-17.) To be honest, the leaders had a right to question His destructive behavior. They didn’t know Him or what motivated Him to do such a thing. As overseers of the temple, it fell within their responsibility to protect the integrity of the temple. Unfortunately, they didn’t so Jesus did.

“What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” they asked. In other words, “Who do you think you are and what do you think you’re doing?” In their minds, He was out of place in their realm of religious dominion and rulership.

Jesus’ answer to their question was prophetic. He understood the darkness in their hearts (John 2:24-25). He saw their self-righteous attitudes, their jealousies, and their indifference to the sufferings of the people. He knew that just like they abused the temple, they were going to abuse The Temple. The ironic part is that, in killing Jesus, they destroyed the temple. When He died, He revealed His authority when the temple’s veil tore in two.

In the above scriptures, Jesus didn’t try to prove or justify Himself. He simply stated what He knew would happen. I think He did it for the benefit of the disciples. After His resurrection, they remembered the Old Testament scriptures prophesying His death and resurrection. But they also recalled this incident which strengthened their faith in His Word.

People today still question Jesus’ authority. However, as Christians, we comfort ourselves knowing He’s in control. He was in control then and He is now. Like the disciples, His authoritative Word builds our faith. Amid the world-wide turmoil we are experiencing, we find resolve and strength in His Word.

 

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/2.htm

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/expositors/john/2.htm

https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-thebible/john-2-1.html

https://www.bibleref.com/John/2/John-2-18.html

https://www.bibleref.com/John/2/John-2-19.html

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Zeal for His House/Part Four

Zeal for His House/Part Four
The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Twenty


Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”  John 2:13-17 (NKJV)

“My Father’s house.” Right from the start of His public ministry, Jesus made it clear who He was and what He was about. He proclaimed Himself to be equal to God. Even as a child He said He must be about His Father’s business. According to the Hebrew Law, those words could’ve earned Him the death penalty. Eventually they did.

Obviously, He never read Dale Carnegie’s book How to Make Friends and Influence Others. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus enraged the spiritual leaders of His time (mainly the Pharisees and Sadducees) whenever He declared Himself God. Statements such as “My Father’s house” and “My Father’s business” and “I AM” (as in I AM the Bread of Life; I AM the way, the truth and the life) made it clear to everyone He claimed to be God. He then backed up those words with miracles, signs and wonders.

Declaring Himself God was one of the reasons the spiritual leaders began to plot Jesus’ death (along with the fact they were jealous of His popularity among the common folks).

Jesus could’ve done good, healed the sick, raised the dead, and kept His mouth shut. The mobs of people would’ve continued to follow this remarkable Rabbi. His popularity would’ve soared. However, He chose not to remain quiet. He came for a specific purpose. Affirming His divine nature was a part of the plan.

If God called me to serve others but I knew for sure it would lead to persecution and death, would I continue down that path? I don’t know. My self-preservation is alive and well. 

Jesus knew His words would lead to death on the cross. That truth didn’t bother Him one bit. He stayed the course. He didn’t hesitate to declare and fulfill His divine destiny.


https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/2.htm
https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/expositors/john/2.htm
https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-thebible/john-2-1.html

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Zeal for His House/Part Three

Zeal for His House/Part Three

The "Read Letter" Words of Jesus

Day Nineteen


Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”  John 2:13-17 (NKJV)

The only remarkable events in Jesus’ life up to this point were turning water into wine at a private wedding and recruiting a few disciples. (Well, not including His miracle conception and birth.) That all changed when, in his first public display of authority, He declared Himself to be God. He also took ownership of what was rightfully His to take. His actions didn’t win Him any followers among the spiritual elite either. It did guarantee He’d be the talk of Jerusalem for a long time to come.

“My Father’s house.” What a bold statement. There’s a lot to unwrap here. First, He declared Himself to be equal to the Father. As far as the spiritual leaders (and the law) were concerned this blasphemous statement was worthy of the death penalty.

Second, He took ownership of the temple. His Father’s house belonged to Him too giving Him the authority to keep it pure. His soul grieved to see it mistreated. After all, the temple was the dwelling place of God’s presence; a sacred place of prayer and worship. Sadly, sacrificing its holiness, folks turned it into an opportunity for financial gain.

Third, Jesus expressed zeal toward His Father’s house. So much so that He created a huge scene when He saw it abused.

For the next couple of devotions, we’ll continue to dissect these scriptures. We’ll look at what He meant when He said, “My Father’s house” and why He was zealous for His Father’s house.

  

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/2.htm

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/expositors/john/2.htm

https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-thebible/john-2-1.html