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.
Romans 8:3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. NASB
This week an interesting discussion about the word “likeness” became the catalyst for fresh look at Romans 8 and part of a previous Advent post from 2015. We all know what the “Law could not do.” It couldn’t change us and even those first two people couldn’t manage to obey it.
“What a surprise to find myself in my favorite chapter from the whole Bible for my Advent reading today. If you remove the “religiousity” factor of laws you have to admit we can’t live without them. We need laws to create order and some level of security in our society. I’ll bet I’m not the only one that’s broken some of them: ever rolled through a stop sign? That’s an easier-to-swallow version of “weak as it was through the flesh” to own up to. Now that our minds are in the right place maybe we can face the issue of “sinful flesh”…and “in us.”a
Eden was where “weak as it was through the flesh” became a reality. There was only one law but the bad choice to violate it was where the separation between man and God began. [BTW that’s not unlike that stop sign.] The amazing truth of Advent is God chose new birth to fulfill something that one “first” law was unable to accomplish.
Advent is pretty dramatic evidence of the second time God created perfection for all mankind to experience. The birth of Jesus revealed God’s determination to redeem and replace what had been lost in Eden. This time perfection was a person, not a place. That first Advent God chose a baby, His Son…God with us…Jesus, to restore His own “Image” within “the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin.” Advent is our annual reminder that Jesus is the reality of God’s promise to unite the likeness of our sinful flesh with His own Image “in us.”
a Click here to read that original post
I Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
I once had someone ask me “what does born again mean anyway? I didn’t know quite how to answer except using some analogy I’d heard about an airplane and a pilot that I can’t even remember. I could tell my response made no sense to the one who asked and now I understand why. I was trying to explain what someone else understood. It gets more complicated because it’s so personal.
Stories of what God has taught others are good but they are only meant to be a small cell the Holy Spirit plants in you with the possibility what “they” understood might become something more for you…spiritual curiosity. That’s spiritual conception.
It’s the work of the Holy Spirit that leads you to something more over a period of time. Spiritual curiosity develops the desire to “search and find” spiritual answers. That the period of your spiritual gestational development.
Finally curiosity, conceived and developed, gives birth to your own praise to “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” knowing with complete certainty that “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” the Holy Spirit has personally taught you spiritual truths you’d never known before.
That dear friends is your “new birth into a living hope” and an inheritance “that can never perish, spoil or fade.”