John 7:1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.”
The voices in these verses are different but they are reminiscent of that “snake” in the garden assuring Adam and Eve to take that first step that would change the created mindset of man from contentment with, and dependence on, the glory of God to the tempting awareness of self. “No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” Thank God that Jesus the man had heard it all before.
John 6:28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
Every person of faith is told we should read the Bible, pray, love, serve and meet together. We’ve prioritized those more tangible expressions of our faith as requirements God has given that will lead us to Jesus. Many of us could truthfully confess at times we’ve experienced those foundations of faith as the burden of works, the “shoulds.” Even the faith that is a gift of God does not make us immune to the flaws of a human nature that wants an answer to the wrong question; “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
It’s entirely possible the purpose of the struggle we have with those foundational parts of our faith is to help us recognize we are unable to do the work God requires. The right question for us to ask is: WHO must do “the works God requires?” And the answer is right there for us…”The work of God is this: to believe in [Jesus] the one he has sent.”
John 5:44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
Glory: high renown or honor won by notable achievements.
This one verse is part of Jesus’s fairly long indictment of the brokenness of human nature. As hard as it is to read, it’s also encouragement to respond. From the moment of our birth we begin to understand “notable achievements” can make people respond positively to us. Even a toddler can enchant us with their response to the right encouragement. We clearly have a built-in nature that still recognizes “notable achievements” can result in glory for this life.
Jesus is determined to remind us it’s our remembrance of what glory is meant to be that is broken. Our glory will not be complete until we “seek the glory that comes from the only God” who’s most “notable achievements” were to create mankind and this world so His glory might become part of our shared glory that would honor Him.
How can you believe, when you receive “high renown or honor won by notable achievements” from one another and do not seek the “high renown or honor won by notable achievements” that comes from the only God?
John 5:26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.
Is this one verse saying God granted a self-contained life to Jesus similar to what He did for Adam? OR Is this verse saying Jesus’s life was “God in himself?” That is a bigger truth worth pondering.
The repetition of “in himself” slips by so quickly it’s easy to read it without questioning if there might be something more. It’s easy to accept Jesus being the living example of the perfection of God, His emissary if you will, sent to be like an extension cord that would connect us to the power of God. That is the truth of experience but words are gifts I believe God uses to direct devotional thoughts. The idea of “in himself” identifying Jesus as both the extension cord and the power made me think about Jesus as the sacrifice God made for our life on earth even before His sacrifice on the cross.
God “in himself” as Jesus was sacrificed on a cross to assure us there was a connection that would lead to eternity. Heaven is surely a blessing to look forward to but we live life our life on earth. The first sacrifice of God “in Himself” was Jesus living on earth to become the connection of this life and eternity. God “in himself” as Jesus on earth could teach us by example how to experience a connection to God that would turn every day of life, here and now, into the beginning of an eternity to come.
John 5:13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
How many people’s lives have been changed by Jesus and they don’t know it? I wonder how often Jesus has stepped into someone’s life with an act of unrecognized mercy that was attributed to luck or fortune? Why did healing happen to someone who had no apparent knowledge of Jesus? This is such an unusual story to me. A body had been physically healed but it was only later that Jesus “found” the healed man to wake up his mind to the source and the purpose of what had happened to him. That’s the message of this one verse. The mercy of Jesus doesn’t come with strings attached but it’s an incomplete blessing until it becomes the wake-up call for our mind to recognize Jesus as the source of all mercy.
John 4:1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples)… ESV
“You can learn more from a book if you stop and
ask it questions than if you just read it passively.”
John Piper on Bible reading
Why would John have side-noted “Jesus himself did not baptize?” John knew what his purpose was; to use baptism with water to point to “He who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” He clearly wanted to protect Jesus from the Pharisees and establish the difference between his external baptism and what Jesus was doing. “Jesus himself did not baptize” because His greater purpose was to accomplish an internal transformation with a new birth and “living water” that would become “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
It was “living water” that would make new birth a possibility for Nicodemus. It was “living water” that took Jesus to the place Jews believed was a mix of spiritually corrupt Israelites and pagan foreigners to offer that new birth to a Samaritan woman. “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” of “living water.” It was “living water” that revealed true worship doesn’t happen because of an external ritual or a place, but because “the Father is seeking true worshippers to worship him in Spirit and in Truth” in the most unexpected places.
ESV 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 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.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”…16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Born again is an intangible idea. There is no document that can verify its reality or prove it has happened. Every detail of that new birth is internally stored in you. You are the safekeeper of your salvation through Jesus. I wonder if that’s exactly what this Word from Philippians 2:12 is speaking about? Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Born a second time is a mysterious internal awareness that allows our heart to “see” the Kingdom of God has been placed within us for safekeeping. That awareness is the gift of the salvation God has worked in us. Our new birth is confirmed to us by personal growth and discovery that equips us to live a life of faith, despite our fear and trembling, because…God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 2:23 Now when he [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
When Jesus was a man, “many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people.” It’s so easy to assume Jesus’s perfect response to His in-the-flesh life was a foregone conclusion. He was fully God and still retained His shared knowledge with God but make no mistake about it, Jesus’s life in-the-flesh wasn’t a pretend life, set up to create a pretend identity with man. It had real risk and a real purpose. The reality of Jesus in-the-flesh life was risking the suspension of all His Sovereign rights to complete His identity with all people. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [to ease the anger or disturbance of a superior being] for our sins.”a
God felt the painful reality of what Jesus would endure in-the-flesh as if it were His very own…because it was. He was watching a part of Himself struggle to cope with living in a broken world trying to overcome the very flesh that had given Him life without those Sovereign rights. God did not miss the effect of fear, hunger, fatigue and temptation on His Son. The real purpose to Jesus’s life in-the-flesh that bears witness to His complete identity with all people is “Although he [Jesus] was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.”b
Obedience to God in the circumstances of life completes our identity with Jesus and still has the power to move God’s heart from Law to Grace on our behalf.
a 1 John 4:10
b Hebrews 5:8
John 2:9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. ESV
God’s Word about this wedding began way back in Genesis, with a rib.a One rib that turned one flesh into two people that completed the image of God, “male and female He created them.” Then God set up a condition, a promise and a blessing.b The condition was the agreement to each set aside others in order to be joined together. The promise was there would be a unique new “oneness” that would strengthen their own individuality. The blessing was, in that joining each would become more fully themselves [naked] before one another. That’s the ideal. This wedding is the next act of God’s story.
It’s about introducing Jesus into the marriage. All the expected trimmings of a celebration of family and friends with food and drink aren’t enough to make God’s ideal a reality without Jesus attending the party. God’s intent for the marital relationship was that it would flesh out the relationship He desired to have with His people. God is the bridegroom and his church, you and I, are His bride, but it takes Jesus to keep the party going. “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now…And his disciples believed in him.”
a Genesis 2:22
b Genesis 2:24-25
John 1:14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. NLT
What does the glory of Jesus look like in real life today? The dictionary defines glory as magnificence and beauty. “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”a
There is STILL glory in that broken image I see in the mirror. It may be puzzling but I have seen the magnificence and beauty of Jesus in the unfailing love and faithfulness of others with perfect clarity this last month simply because…
The Word became human and made his home among us so even brokenness would not be able to hide “His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”
a I Cor 13:12 NLT