Valued By God: John 10:1-21

Focus Passage: John 10:1-21 (CEV)

    1 Jesus said:

   I tell you for certain that only thieves and robbers climb over the fence instead of going in through the gate to the sheep pen. 2-3 But the gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd, and he goes in through it. The sheep know their shepherd’s voice. He calls each of them by name and leads them out.

    4 When he has led out all of his sheep, he walks in front of them, and they follow, because they know his voice. 5 The sheep will not follow strangers. They don’t recognize a stranger’s voice, and they run away.

    6 Jesus told the people this story. But they did not understand what he was talking about.

    7 Jesus said:

   I tell you for certain that I am the gate for the sheep. 8 Everyone who came before me was a thief or a robber, and the sheep did not listen to any of them. 9 I am the gate. All who come in through me will be saved. Through me they will come and go and find pasture.

    10 A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest. 11 I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep. 12 Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don’t own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. 13 Hired workers run away because they don’t care about the sheep.

    14 I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. 15 Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father, and I give up my life for my sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.

    17 The Father loves me, because I give up my life, so that I may receive it back again. 18 No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do.

    19 The people took sides because of what Jesus had told them. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon in him! He is crazy! Why listen to him?”

    21 But others said, “How could anyone with a demon in him say these things? No one like that could give sight to a blind person!”

Read John 10:1-21 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In this passage, Jesus gives one of His more profound and perplexing statements.

It is our tendency when we read this that Jesus is talking to a select group of people, but this teaching was to a crowd where every group and class of people were represented.

John 10, verse 10 is the verse that holds this statement: “A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest.

In this short verse, Jesus contrasts the mission of His ministry with all other “ministries” that would come before and after. In this verse, Jesus challenges the notion that He came to “steal” people away from earth. That idea goes against what Jesus says here. A “thief” steals from the places they have targeted, and Jesus positions Himself on the opposite side of this idea.

Jesus sets Himself on the platform that He came to help everyone have a full life.

This is where things can get a little uncomfortable for some. Jesus clearly says “everyone”. This is not Jesus saying, “Only those who follow Me can have the full life.” That might make sense, but this is not Jesus’ words. Jesus wanted everyone in the crowd to live a full life – regardless of their past, and regardless of where they were in the moment He spoke those words.

The same is true today. Jesus wants you and I, regardless of our past or where we are in the present, to have a full life. His statement is 100% inclusive and not exclusive to anyone.

However, not everyone wants a “full” life. Not everyone believes the truth about what leads to a full life. There are billions of people running across the planet who might say they want a full life, but then they act in ways that cheapens their value to others and themselves. God’s idea of a “full” life does not lead to anyone feeling less than how God feels about them, and if you don’t know what God thinks of you, simply look to the cross – the place where the Creator of the earth died. We see our value in how much God gave up to be with us.

When we get a glimpse of how valuable we are to God, we can begin to live life to God’s fullest!

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 Congruent Life: Matthew 23:1-36

Focus Passage: Matthew 23:1-36 (NASB)

During Jesus teaching, Matthew describes a point where He shares His big issues with the religious leaders of that time period. While Mark and Luke include a brief summary couple of verses, Matthew devotes almost an entire chapter to this section of Jesus’ words.

In this teaching, Jesus describes one of the ways the scribes and Pharisees are hypocrites: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” (v. 25-26)

Jesus then restates this idea with a different metaphor saying, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (v. 27-28)

With these two challenges and warnings, Jesus shares a principle that can help us be wiser. This principle says that our inner lives will ultimately, eventually reflect our outer lives. Applying this principle to these scribes and Pharisees tells us that even though they are putting on a good show and are currently fooling many people, the robbery, self-indulgence, hypocrisy, and lawlessness will eventually come out and taint their outwardly perfect looking lives.

But the challenge Jesus shares with them in this principle is that by fixing their inner lives and getting rid of the sin that his hidden right now, they will be able to keep an outwardly clean life.

It is the same with us living today. While it is easy to fracture ourselves, and show a different side of ourselves whether we are at home, at work, with friends, or sharing online, eventually all the facets of our lives will blend together. If any of the parts, facets, or sides of our lives do not go well together with the other parts, we will have a problem, and the negative parts of our character will bleed over and taint the positive image we are trying to portray.

Jesus’ challenge for everyone listening to Him (including us 2,000ish years later) is to focus on cleaning up our inner, hidden lives, because only by doing this first will we better able to keep the public sides of our lives congruent and clean.

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Flashback Episode — Intentional Surrender: Matthew 26:36-46


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On the night Jesus was arrested, all four gospels describe how He goes with His eleven remaining disciples to a place just outside of Jerusalem called Gethsemane. While there, during the last moments Jesus has before His arrest, and following His last big teaching opportunity with the disciples, Jesus does something that is worth paying attention to.

For our episode this week, we’ll be focusing in on Matthew’s version of this event, though the idea we’ll be focusing in on is found in more than just Matthew’s gospel. This event is found in Matthew, chapter 26, and for our time together, we will be reading from the Good News Translation. Starting in verse 36, Matthew tells us:

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee. Grief and anguish came over him, 38 and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 He went a little farther on, threw himself face downward on the ground, and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.”

40 Then he returned to the three disciples and found them asleep; and he said to Peter, “How is it that you three were not able to keep watch with me for even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 Once more Jesus went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cup of suffering cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 He returned once more and found the disciples asleep; they could not keep their eyes open.

44 Again Jesus left them, went away, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look! The hour has come for the Son of Man to be handed over to the power of sinners. 46 Get up, let us go. Look, here is the man who is betraying me!”

During the last hours, or maybe even minutes, before Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, arrives with the mob to arrest Jesus, Jesus spends the last moments in prayer regarding the mission and trial He is about to undertake. While some people might read Jesus’ prayer and believe that He is pushing back on God’s mission for Him to face the cross, I think that this is not the essence of Jesus’ prayer here. While the cross was coming up on the horizon not even 24 hours later, I believe Jesus was praying for something happening that was much more present than a fear of the cross.

In Jesus’ first prayer, found in verse 39, He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.” Chances are that His prayer was a little longer than two sentences, but perhaps this was all these three disciples heard before falling asleep.

This prayer contains two important ideas for us to consider.

The first idea is that Jesus conditionally asks for a cup of suffering to be taken from Him – specifically only if it is possible. This implies that Jesus was already facing suffering of some kind. Never before in Jesus’ ministry do we get the idea that Jesus was fearful, but perhaps this was the moment fear entered His life. However, following the mob’s arrival and the trial, we don’t see Jesus display any fear, so this is unlikely to be a moment of fear.

Part of me wonders if the arrival of Jesus and His disciples to Gethsemane marked the start of the Father pulling His presence away from Jesus, while Jesus was emotionally and spiritually taking on the sins of everyone who had ever lived. If this were the case, I could see Jesus’ time in Gethsemane before His arrest being much more difficult than the road of pain and abuse leading to the cross.

However, there is a second idea in Jesus’ first prayer that deserves our attention. Jesus finishes off by saying, “Yet not what I want, but what you want.

In the midst of a trial so big that we cannot even begin to imagine it’s total size, Jesus asks the question about if there was another way, but He frames the response He wants to receive as simply God’s will being done and not His own. While God could have swept Jesus up to Heaven at that very moment, and wiped the universe clean to start over from that point, it wasn’t part of God’s plan to give up at the most difficult moment the Godhead had ever faced. We might think that it was difficult for Jesus but not for God the Father or the Holy Spirit for that 24-48 hour period, but that would be a mistake.

If God truly is known as a Father, watching His Son face death would be one of the hardest things He could do, especially knowing that while He could stop it from happening, any delay would progress the pain Jesus was in, and abandoning the mission would prove Satan’s case against God that said God was unfair and unrealistic.

In this prayer, we see Jesus submitting to God when the times get tough, and while I know the Father wanted to help Him, God knew that any help would validate Satan’s charge against the Godhead.

After Jesus returns, wakes the disciples up, asks them again to keep watch, He returns and prays a second prayer, which is similar to the first. In verse 42, Jesus prayed, “My Father, if this cup of suffering cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.

Jesus’ second prayer includes more courage and strength than the first. God the Father had probably answered Jesus’ prayers much more quickly than it appeared to be on this night, and because of this, I wonder if Jesus, who hadn’t seen or heard anything change following His first prayer, then shifted His prayers towards accepting the mission of suffering.

Both times Jesus frames that what He wants is God’s will do be done, and in both cases, Jesus says these words knowing that it will bring suffering into His life. While Matthew doesn’t quote Jesus’ third prayer, he tells us that it was similar to the first two prayers.

We can learn from Jesus in what we see in Gethsemane. While all the disciples were facing temptation in those hours with Jesus, I believe the greatest temptations were being pressed towards Jesus Himself.

The temptations likely centered on the ideas that Jesus’ sacrifice would not be worth it, it wouldn’t be accepted by God, no one on earth would care that He had died, and His life would ultimately be wasted.

In these moments of temptation, Jesus surrenders, but while we might surrender by doing whatever thing we are being tempted to do, Jesus surrendered into doing God’s will. It was not God’s will that Jesus would abandon humanity when things got tough, so regardless of Jesus’ prayers, as long as He framed Himself wanting to stay within God’s will and the plan they had set up, no help from Heaven would come.

When we face temptation, the best place for us to surrender is into doing God’s will. While this is clearly easier to say than it is to do, our prayers for help should always be prefaced with God’s will being done.

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

Continue to seek God first in your life and intentionally submit to His will. When temptation comes, choose to surrender to God and let Him direct and protect you as He sees fit. Sometimes relief will come, but other times, it may feel like we are facing temptation alone. However, God will not abandon us like He never abandoned Jesus. Jesus was raised from the dead at the perfect time, and this is proof that even if we experience feeling like God is silent, He is never truly absent.

Also, be sure to always study the Bible for yourself in order to strengthen your connection with God. While not every study time will be filled with insights or feelings of closeness with God, the only way to ever get any personal insights or to feel close with God is through intentionally drawing near to Him in personal study. Prayer and personal study are much more important for each of us than simply listening to a pastor or podcaster.

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 45: Cam discusses some things we can learn from Jesus praying in Gethsemane on the night He was arrested.

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

Looking Towards Forever: Luke 22:31-38

Focus Passage: Luke 22:31-38 (NIV)

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

Read Luke 22:31-38 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

On the night of Jesus’ arrest, Luke includes an interesting instruction that Jesus shares with His disciples during their supper together. In this instruction, Jesus echoes back to an earlier challenge He gave to the disciples.

Luke tells us Jesus sets up this statement by asking the disciples, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” (v. 35a)

The disciples responded by saying, “Nothing.” (v. 35b)

Then Jesus adjusts and updates this earlier command by telling them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” (v. 36-37)

On the surface, this seems pretty practical. Earlier, it was safe to be associated with Jesus, but from this point forward, being one of Jesus’ followers could potentially be dangerous.

Jesus intended His instructions for each disciple personally moving forward, but they seemed to understand His words as transitioning His ministry into a military one. In this statement, the disciples excitement was felt because Jesus seemed to be preparing for the conquest against the Romans that tradition at the time said would happen. The disciples eagerly tell Jesus, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” (v. 38a)

It’s as though the disciples heard Jesus’ instructions to buy a single sword, and they are excited because they doubled His expectation with two swords. But Jesus, realizing that they have missed His point simply responds, “That’s enough!” (v. 38b)

Jesus was not interested in taking a military role for His ministry. The swords He recommended the disciples purchasing were not intended for offensive action. The swords were simply to be a deterrent for someone else deciding whether or not to attack. One is less likely to attack someone who is armed than one who is not armed.

Following Jesus after His death has been more physically dangerous at some points than at others. Early on, Christians were crucified and fed to lions for sport.

However, following Jesus at this time is less physically dangerous in most places of our world, but the growing danger is one that is a social danger. It is unpopular to associate with Jesus openly, and while the pendulum is swinging away from Christian spirituality, it will only become more unpopular to hold to a Biblical worldview.

But Jesus has called His followers to take the harder, unpopular path – the one that gives glory and honor towards the Father. What Jesus predicted came true. He was numbered with those who broke the law, and He was crucified – but His crucifixion opens the way for us to have eternal life. When we put our belief, faith, hope, and trust in Jesus, we are safe to save for eternity – and eternity lasts longer than today’s popular opinion.

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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