God-Given Peace: John 14:15-31

Focus Passage: John 14:15-31 (GW)

15 “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. 16 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever. 17 That helper is the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it doesn’t see or know him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you all alone. I will come back to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. You will live because I live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father and that you are in me and that I am in you. 21 Whoever knows and obeys my commandments is the person who loves me. Those who love me will have my Father’s love, and I, too, will love them and show myself to them.”

22 Judas (not Iscariot) asked Jesus, “Lord, what has happened that you are going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?”

23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will go to them and make our home with them. 24 A person who doesn’t love me doesn’t do what I say. I don’t make up what you hear me say. What I say comes from the Father who sent me.

25 “I have told you this while I’m still with you. 26 However, the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything. He will remind you of everything that I have ever told you.

27 “I’m leaving you peace. I’m giving you my peace. I don’t give you the kind of peace that the world gives. So don’t be troubled or cowardly. 28 You heard me tell you, ‘I’m going away, but I’m coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I’m going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am.

29 “I’m telling you this now before it happens. When it does happen, you will believe. 30 The ruler of this world has no power over me. But he’s coming, so I won’t talk with you much longer. 31 However, I want the world to know that I love the Father and that I am doing exactly what the Father has commanded me to do. Get up! We have to leave.”

Read John 14:15-31 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Often when reading a passage from a different translation, I catch new words or ideas that I have never seen before. Perhaps this is the translation’s or translator’s fault, or maybe, the original language used a word that conveyed something more that this translation wants to draw out.

Whatever the reason, this passage includes a word and an idea that I have not ever noticed before.

In verse 27, we read Jesus’ promise, and see this “new” word/idea:  “I’m leaving you peace. I’m giving you my peace. I don’t give you the kind of peace that the world gives. So don’t be troubled or cowardly.

Jesus tells us not to be cowardly?

What does that have to do with the peace He promises?

Some might believe that God gives us peace in situations where we have no power to change the circumstances. This is often the case. But where people go too far in their thinking is that God’s peace excuses them from being engaged. Receiving God’s peace is not a sign that we can now retreat. That would be “cowardly”.

The peace God has promised comes on a deeper level. His peace fills your heart. His peace assures us that we are loved, forgiven, saved, and now empowered to act. His peace says that He will be with us as we face whatever the future holds.

Peace that the world gives is different. This peace is bartered and temporary. It could be the lull in a storm of circumstances. The world’s peace is nice, but it cannot fill our lives like God’s peace. God’s peace is present when things get out of control. God’s peace remains when the world’s peace has expired and left.

God’s peace is peace that I want. When life throws us doubts and uncertainties, with Jesus’ peace, we can be empowered and freed to move forward – and moving forward with God is not cowardly!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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A Greater Testimony: John 5:16-47

Focus Passage: John 5:16-47 (NIV)

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.

33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.

36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

Read John 5:16-47 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

During a response Jesus gave to a group of Jewish leaders, He shares a statement and concept that is incredibly profound when we stop to think about it – and in this statement is something that we can all apply in our lives 2,000 years later.

While giving His response, Jesus told the Jewish leaders, “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.” (v. 31-32)

Perhaps you have known someone who seems to speak highly of themselves and their accomplishments. Individuals like this will brag about things they have done, who they know, what they own, or any number of other things that help them look good in whatever conversation they are having.

However, the principle Jesus shares is that testimony about oneself should always make us cautious about believing it because it is rarely ever true. When someone else says something positive about the individual, it is more believable.

Jesus says that His testimony about Himself, if it were by itself, would not be valid, but there is another who testifies about Him, making Jesus’ claims valid. While we might be quick to point out John the Baptist, who was Jesus’ cousin and forerunner in ministry, Jesus immediately acknowledges but discounts John by saying, “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.” (v. 33-35)

Jesus mentions John the Baptist as a secondary witness that would be someone everyone would know of – including the non-believing Jewish leaders. However, Jesus Himself does not need to rest on John’s testimony. Jesus continues His response by saying, “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.” (v. 36-38)

God the Father is Jesus’ second witness, and God the Father validated Jesus’ ministry by giving Him the power to do the tasks that He had send Him to do. God the Father even spoke from heaven on a number of occasions, but those present who didn’t believe did not understand what was being proclaimed.

The key in Jesus’ words to learning the truth about Him and the key to being able to hear the Father is simply by believing in the One He sent and by paying attention to the truth He has already shared in the past. These Jewish leaders did not believe in Jesus, and because of this, they missed out on seeing, hearing, and experiencing what He was doing during their lifetimes – and their unbelief led them to crucify their own Messiah.

For us, we should focus on the testimony we have been given regarding Jesus and on the truth God has revealed through the Bible, and when we have these two things in place, we can move forward through life with Him by our side directing our steps.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Flashback Episode — Being a Son of God: Luke 22:66-71


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On the morning of Jesus’ crucifixion, as the religious leaders are trying to build the case for execution, the gospel of Luke includes a profound series of statements that the religious leaders use to build their case for Jesus’ crucifixion.

Taken on their own, what Jesus shares in response to the religious leader’s demands is simply countercultural. But when we look at an earlier portion of Luke’s gospel, we see the most rational grounds for who Jesus claimed to be, and in this claim, as well as in the religious leaders’ reaction, we see how far from God’s plan these spiritual leaders had fallen.

Let’s read how Luke describes this event, from the gospel letter that is named after him, using the God’s Word to the Nations translation. Reading from chapter 22, starting in verse 66, Luke tells us that:

66 In the morning the council of the people’s leaders, the chief priests and the experts in Moses’ Teachings, gathered together. They brought Jesus in front of their highest court and asked him, 67 “Tell us, are you the Messiah?”

Jesus said to them, “If I tell you, you won’t believe me. 68 And if I ask you, you won’t answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be in the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne.”

70 Then all of them said, “So you’re the Son of God?”

Jesus answered them, “You’re right to say that I am.”

71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We’ve heard him say it ourselves.”

The religious leaders in this passage build the case for Jesus’ execution on the idea that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. This claim comes immediately after Jesus side-steps the question about whether He is the Messiah that the Jews were expecting.

On the surface, the Messiah question was a much simpler question to answer, except that Jesus knows that they have a narrow view of their Messiah, and Jesus knew that their narrow view had drifted away from what God had prophesied throughout history.

Jesus knows that these leaders are only interested in building a case for His death, and they are not interested in a discussion or a debate, so Jesus gives them something they can build their case on – except that it is one of the weakest foundations for them to stand on.

While the Old Testament law held the death sentence for people who committed blasphemy, the religious leaders had over-extended the definition of what blasphemy actually was. While claiming equality or superiority to God is breaking laws regarding blasphemy, as we will soon see in Luke’s gospel, claiming to be a son of God is completely valid for someone – really anyone to do.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He seemed to gravitate towards the self-descriptive name “son of man” which echo’s back to a prophecy from the book of Daniel. While technically, Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father, it is likely Jesus used this name in a more general sense to describe Himself as a “Son of humanity”.

The reason that these leaders frowned upon the idea of Jesus being God’s Son is that it appeared as though He was elevating Himself into being equal with God – which is wrong for a sinner to do. However, if we look at the last verse in Luke chapter 3, we see that at the very end of Luke’s version of Jesus’ genealogy, Luke tells us that Adam, the first human, was “the son of God”.

Here at the beginning of Luke’s description of Jesus’ adult life, we see a solid, rational case for Jesus being God’s Son because everyone who has ever lived is technically a child of God. Everyone alive at any point in history has breath because God gave it to them, and regardless of whether they use their breath of life to give God glory or to curse God to His face, their existence is directly connected to a gift from God.

The religious leaders foundation for Jesus’ crucifixion, which was them putting words in His mouth about being a Son of God is the weakest foundation for them to stand on. They would have a better case standing on what Jesus had just said in verse 69 when He tells them that, “From now on, the Son of Man will be in the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne.

This statement, which cannot actually be validated in this life, could only be spoken by someone who is delusional, or by someone who actually lived their lives so close to God that God would choose them for the honored position at His side. This statement is one that challenged the religious leaders at their core, because not only was a human unworthy to be even considered honored before God, it would be prideful for someone to place themselves in this position on their own merit.

In this passage, Jesus uses the term Son of Man in His response to the religious leaders, and they shift His words in their reply to Son of God. If Jesus was to avoid lying to the leaders, there was no way around admitting to being God’s Son because of how Luke described Jesus’ ancestry.

By building the case against Jesus on the grounds of being God’s Son, and not on the statement that Jesus would be honored by God, the religious leaders unknowingly set themselves up to be on the side that is against God.

They build their case on the ground that Jesus was merely a human, and not that Jesus was ungodly. They incriminate themselves with their argument and reveal how un-Godlike they really are by rejecting and condemning a person who was clearly helping people in God’s name. Even if Jesus was not directly God’s Son in a first-generation sense, He was the most God-like person living in that culture during the first century, and that in itself builds a solid case for God adopting Jesus as His Son.

No way one looks at this event do the religious leaders come out appearing positive or justified. Instead, their accusation and the foundation they build their case on is the weakest one available – but they pick it because they are blinded by their hatred of Jesus. The leaders latch onto whatever they can easily take a hold of because they want to see Jesus killed.

Which leaves the question in my mind: If Jesus knew that they would use this response against Him as the foundation for His death, why would He still say it?

Critics might argue that Jesus had no way out of this scenario, but all Jesus would have needed to do is simply answer in the same way that He answered before, by stating that they would not believe His response, even if He told them an answer.

Jesus instead chose His words carefully because He knew His path included the cross. Jesus was willing to face death in order to open up a way for new life for each of us. While the religious leaders chose a weak foundation for their case against Jesus, Jesus chose death because He knew His death was much more significant from the perspective of eternity. Jesus’ death opens the way for all of God’s people to experience eternity.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I want to leave you with:

Be sure to intentionally seek God first and make Him the most important focus of your life. Regardless of what others might think or believe, think of yourself as a child of God, if for no other reason than God is responsible for there being life in your body. Because God has given you breath, know that He wants to adopt you into His very literal and spiritual family that will be rewarded with eternity.

Also, study the Bible for yourself to learn, grow, and know God better. Prayerfully study and ask God to teach you what He wants you to learn. While a pastor or podcaster such as myself can give you ideas and insights from what we have learned, God wants your relationship with Him to be personal and not dependant on any third-party intermediary.

And as I always end each set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Season 3 – Episode 46: Cam discusses the case the Jewish leaders build against Jesus, which centered around the claim that Jesus was the Son of God.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.

Choosing to Doubt: John 6:22-59

Focus Passage: John 6:22-59 (NCV)

22 The next day the people who had stayed on the other side of the lake knew that Jesus had not gone in the boat with his followers but that they had left without him. And they knew that only one boat had been there. 23 But then some boats came from Tiberias and landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 When the people saw that Jesus and his followers were not there now, they got into boats and went to Capernaum to find Jesus.

25 When the people found Jesus on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Teacher, when did you come here?”

26 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you aren’t looking for me because you saw me do miracles. You are looking for me because you ate the bread and were satisfied. 27 Don’t work for the food that spoils. Work for the food that stays good always and gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give you this food, because on him God the Father has put his power.”

28 The people asked Jesus, “What are the things God wants us to do?”

29 Jesus answered, “The work God wants you to do is this: Believe the One he sent.”

30 So the people asked, “What miracle will you do? If we see a miracle, we will believe you. What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the desert. This is written in the Scriptures: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven; it is my Father who is giving you the true bread from heaven. 33 God’s bread is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 The people said, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Then Jesus said, “I am the bread that gives life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you before, you have seen me and still don’t believe. 37 The Father gives me the people who are mine. Every one of them will come to me, and I will always accept them. 38 I came down from heaven to do what God wants me to do, not what I want to do. 39 Here is what the One who sent me wants me to do: I must not lose even one whom God gave me, but I must raise them all on the last day. 40 Those who see the Son and believe in him have eternal life, and I will raise them on the last day. This is what my Father wants.”

41 Some people began to complain about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that comes down from heaven.” 42 They said, “This is Jesus, the son of Joseph. We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

43 But Jesus answered, “Stop complaining to each other. 44 The Father is the One who sent me. No one can come to me unless the Father draws him to me, and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the One who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 I tell you the truth, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread that gives life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but still they died. 50 Here is the bread that comes down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give up so that the world may have life.”

52 Then the evil people began to argue among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

53 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, you must eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood. Otherwise, you won’t have real life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day. 55 My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me, and I live in them. 57 The living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father. So whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 I am not like the bread your ancestors ate. They ate that bread and still died. I am the bread that came down from heaven, and whoever eats this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said all these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Read John 6:22-59 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Periodically throughout the gospels, we catch glimpses of doubt winning in people’s minds over whether to believe Jesus’ claims about Himself and His role – and when we find these places, we also find incredible lessons we can learn about ourselves and some of the things that might challenge our faith as well.

During one of the more unique conversations Jesus ever had during His ministry, we see a significant reaction from some of those present who were doubtful about Jesus. John records this by saying that partway through this discussion some of the crowd began to complain about Jesus because Jesus had said, “‘I am the bread that comes down from heaven.’ They said, ‘This is Jesus, the son of Joseph. We know his father and mother. How can he say, “I came down from heaven”?’” (v. 41-42)

This short, two-verse reaction highlights one of doubt’s traps that we all can fall into. This trap says that the closer we are to a situation causes us to doubt how God is moving within it. Those who knew Joseph, Mary, and Jesus’ brothers on earth had a more difficult time believing God was His Father than those who knew nothing about His childhood.

It is the same with us. The closer we are to someone who God sends our way with a message, the less likely we will believe it was from God. This doesn’t mean that we should avoid growing close to others or even opening up, but it does mean that we should be more open to looking for God’s words spoken in places we might not expect it – perhaps even by those closest to us.

The closer we are to others, the clearer we can see their flaws, and the clearer they can see our faults. We are all fallen people with flaws and room to grow – and if we are to grow fully into the people God created us to be, we will grow into relationships with others who are also growing towards God.

This set of verses also tells us that there will always be room for doubt. We can look at the fact that Jesus had a mother and father on earth in Mary and Joseph, and conclude that His claims of divinity were dreamed up by those who wanted to start a movement against the Jewish religion. There are plenty of reasons to doubt Jesus’ claims about Himself and His role. If we choose to doubt and our lives end before being shown the error of our choice, it will be too late to change.

However, if we place our faith in Jesus, and choose to delay needing answers to all of our questions, an amazing reality opens up around us – and it is a reality that shows us evidence of God’s hand everywhere, working through all the events in history, leading His people towards a perfect future life with Him!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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