Challenging Our Minds: John 7:25-36

Focus Passage: John 7:25-36 (NCV)

25 Then some of the people who lived in Jerusalem said, “This is the man they are trying to kill. 26 But he is teaching where everyone can see and hear him, and no one is trying to stop him. Maybe the leaders have decided he really is the Christ. 27 But we know where this man is from. Yet when the real Christ comes, no one will know where he comes from.”

28 Jesus, teaching in the Temple, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. But I have not come by my own authority. I was sent by the One who is true, whom you don’t know. 29 But I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”

30 When Jesus said this, they tried to seize him. But no one was able to touch him, because it was not yet the right time. 31 But many of the people believed in Jesus. They said, “When the Christ comes, will he do more miracles than this man has done?”

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering these things about Jesus. So the leading priests and the Pharisees sent some Temple guards to arrest him. 33 Jesus said, “I will be with you a little while longer. Then I will go back to the One who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me. And you cannot come where I am.”

35 Some people said to each other, “Where will this man go so we cannot find him? Will he go to the Greek cities where our people live and teach the Greek people there? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘You cannot come where I am’?”

Read John 7:25-36 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In Jesus’ ministry, it seems that He tried to minimize what He did in secret. The gospel of John draws our attention to this during one of the times Jesus was preaching in the temple during a major festival. While Jesus acted like He wasn’t going to go in order to arrive undetected, when He was ready to teach and preach, He made no secret moves.

In John’s gospel, we catch a glimpse of the crowd’s reaction. Some of the people living in Jerusalem who were in the temple when Jesus got up to preach wondered among themselves, “This is the man they are trying to kill. But he is teaching where everyone can see and hear him, and no one is trying to stop him. Maybe the leaders have decided he really is the Christ.” (v. 25-26)

“If the priests and leaders are not actively trying to stop Jesus from talking, might they believe that He is really the Messiah.” This is the essence of their question.

However, it doesn’t stop there. The people continue analyzing what they know: “But we know where this man is from. Yet when the real Christ comes, no one will know where he comes from.” (v. 27)

We can see a tension growing in the minds of those in the crowd. The tension is wondering if Jesus really could be the Messiah.

Jesus speaks into this tension by drawing out the dilemma the people are wrestling with. He says, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. But I have not come by my own authority. I was sent by the One who is true, whom you don’t know. But I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me. . . I will be with you a little while longer. Then I will go back to the One who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me. And you cannot come where I am.” (v. 28-29, 33-34)

Jesus challenges the crowd’s assumption of His origin, and in doing so, He draws their attention to the truth that He came from God the Father. This heightens the tension because some believed this claim made Jesus worthy of death, while others concluded that this made Him even more worthy of their faith and trust.

What Jesus successfully does in this event is get everyone in the crowd of listeners to think about who He truly is. This tells me that Jesus wants us to rationally choose to follow Him. He doesn’t want blind followers simply looking for insurance from God’s Judgment. Jesus wants followers who are choosing Him because they want a relationship with Him and with God the Father who sent 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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Flashback Episode — One Death for the Salvation of All: John 11:45-57


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When reading the gospels, especially John’s gospel, I am amazed at the themes regarding Jesus’ that are focused on. With John’s gospel, one event stands above the rest as one of the most amazing things that could have ever happened. In my mind, a novelist living during that time period simply would not even think of weaving this sort of thing into their story, and I wonder if, because only John’s gospel includes it, John was given divine revelation into this closed-door event for John to see and hear what had been said.

To set the stage for what we will read, John tells us this event happened immediately following Jesus resurrecting Lazarus from the dead. Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead sent a shock wave of excitement through all of Judea as this had not been seen before, and this was one more reason that supported Jesus being God’s Messiah.

Following learning about Lazarus’ resurrection, John tells us in chapter 11, reading from the Good News Translation, and starting in verse 45 that:

45 Many of the people who had come to visit Mary saw what Jesus did, and they believed in him. 46 But some of them returned to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the Pharisees and the chief priests met with the Council and said, “What shall we do? Look at all the miracles this man is performing! 48 If we let him go on in this way, everyone will believe in him, and the Roman authorities will take action and destroy our Temple and our nation!”

49 One of them, named Caiaphas, who was High Priest that year, said, “What fools you are! 50 Don’t you realize that it is better for you to have one man die for the people, instead of having the whole nation destroyed?” 51 Actually, he did not say this of his own accord; rather, as he was High Priest that year, he was prophesying that Jesus was going to die for the Jewish people, 52 and not only for them, but also to bring together into one body all the scattered people of God.

53 From that day on the Jewish authorities made plans to kill Jesus. 54 So Jesus did not travel openly in Judea, but left and went to a place near the desert, to a town named Ephraim, where he stayed with the disciples.

We’ll stop reading here because I don’t want you to miss the significance of what John tells us. Caiaphas, the High Priest that year, which is another way of saying that He was essentially the highest religious figure in the Jewish faith, made a powerfully profound statement – and one that he did not even realize had a double meaning when he spoke it.

Through his position, Caiaphas could have been Jesus’ most powerful ally, but instead, Caiaphas had aligned himself with those against Jesus because he was content with the status quo, living under Roman oppression. This made Caiaphas Jesus’ most influential and powerful opponent from a human perspective.

While there was Satan, who was also Jesus’ enemy, working actively behind the scenes, and the Roman emperor and governors, who didn’t really care for or pay much attention to a single individual who showed no military interest, Caiaphas was the leader that the Jews looked to in order to give the final word regarding spiritual matters.

However, just because someone was an enemy of Jesus doesn’t mean God cannot use them. In this passage, John quotes Caiaphas silencing and uniting the religious leaders by saying to those present, “Don’t you realize that it is better for you to have one man die for the people, instead of having the whole nation destroyed?

Before touching on the big truth John wants us to see, let’s look at another subtle angle on this phrase that deserves our attention. Throughout the Old Testament, an unbroken theme exists that says God will be with and will protect His people. Regardless of whether God’s people are living in the Promised Land, in Egypt, or exiled for their disobedience, God promised to hear them and to be with them.

Time and time again in the Old Testament, nations and evil people tried to kill off the Jewish people, but they were never successful. God always stepped in, whether divinely or through a strategically placed individual and set of circumstances, and the Jewish nation was saved.

Why I bring this detail up is that Caiaphas has just revealed his lack of trust in God by stating that the Romans would destroy their entire nation if they didn’t eliminate Jesus. Caiaphas fell into a trap we all face that minimizes God’s victories for us in the past in light of our present struggles and challenges. In Caiaphas’ frame of mind when he makes this statement, all of God’s protection and guidance over the past 2500 years meant nothing when faced with the Roman threat.

Caiaphas may have not directly believed this statement, but he uses this literary comparison with excellence as a way of bringing out everyone else’s doubt in God. At the end of their meeting, these leaders who claimed to be for God had just replaced their trust in Him with fear of the Romans – and it is worth us paying attention to this because we face this temptation every single day, except for the Roman part. Every day we decide to trust in something, and every day, we are tempted to make the something we trust in not God.

But John brings out a powerful parallel meaning in Caiaphas’ statement. John draws our attention to the detail that while Caiaphas meant this statement to mean that Jesus must die for the preservation of the Jewish nation, God actually stepped in and inspired this prophecy to say that Jesus’ death was necessary for the preservation of all God’s people, wherever in the world they lived, and in whatever time of history they lived in.

This powerful truth tells me that regardless of whether someone, or a group of people, has aligned themselves for or against God, God is still able to use them for His purposes. Even though Caiaphas opened the door in his statement and rhetorical question to unite the leaders against Jesus and undermine their trust in God, God still used them in a powerful way to open the way for salvation as an option for all people, and to guarantee salvation for all of God’s people throughout history.

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

Pay careful attention to where you place your trust each day. If you sense the temptation to trust in someone or something other than God, then resist the temptation. The best way I know how to orient each day for God is by intentionally placing Him first as the first thing I do when I wake up each morning. In my morning routine on most mornings, (hey, I’m being honest with you here), part of the time is spent reading a passage or two out of the Bible and praying for guidance.

Speaking of studying the Bible, be sure that you are doing that as well. While you may enjoy learning everything I have learned from my Bible study time, there is nothing to say that God doesn’t have something He wants to share with you directly. This is why I always encourage you to study the Bible for yourself, because through personal prayer and personal Bible study, you are able to grow a personal relationship with God. And with a personal relationship, He will grow you into the person He created you to be!

And speaking of growing into the person God created you to be, I also will conclude this set of challenges by telling you to never stop short, back away from, or chicken out of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Season 3 – Episode 32: Cam discusses a statement and question that unites the religious leaders against Jesus, while also revealing their lack of trust in God for protection from the Romans.

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

Life is a Parable: Mark 4:30-34

Focus Passage: Mark 4:30-34 (NCV)

30 Then Jesus said, “How can I show you what the kingdom of God is like? What story can I use to explain it? 31 The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, the smallest seed you plant in the ground. 32 But when planted, this seed grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants. It produces large branches, and the wild birds can make nests in its shade.”

33 Jesus used many stories like these to teach the crowd God’s message—as much as they could understand. 34 He always used stories to teach them. But when he and his followers were alone, Jesus explained everything to them.

Read Mark 4:30-34 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

One of Jesus’ foundational methods of teaching people was through stories and parables. The goal of these stories was to help those listening understand truths and ideas that might otherwise be too big or abstract to understand.

The gospel of Matthew draws our attention onto this method of teaching when Matthew adds the footnote that: “Jesus used stories to tell all these things to the people; he always used stories to teach them. This is as the prophet said: ‘I will speak using stories; I will tell things that have been secret since the world was made.’” (Matthew 13:34-35)

While Jesus used stories throughout His ministry while teaching, not all of them were understood by those listening. However, since Jesus using stories and metaphors was prophesied, I wonder how much of life and the physical world is a metaphor for the spiritual world. In other words, I wonder if God purposely created parallels between the unseen spiritual world and the visible physical world to help us connect the two together and to help us understand Him better.

If this is the case, our whole lives become a learning tool. With every action we make or avoid, we are learning something positive or experiencing the results of something negative. However, not everyone is able to comprehend or understand everything.

Mark’s gospel draws us to this point when he tells us that “Jesus used many stories like these to teach the crowd God’s message—as much as they could understand. He always used stories to teach them.” (v. 33-34a)

The stories Jesus shared were intended to help people learn God’s message, but since God’s message is so big and overwhelming, the stories were designed to share small details, pieces, and segments of God’s message – as much as we could understand. By sharing many stories that helped describe the different parts of God’s message, Jesus was helping expand His audience’s mind to what God wants for them as part of His plan.

However, since not everyone understood every story Jesus shared, Mark follows up by saying, “But when he and his followers were alone, Jesus explained everything to them.” (v. 34b)

Jesus made it a point to explain all the parables to His followers while they were alone. Jesus’ stories were not meant to hide truth but instead to remind us of His truth. When the gospel writers share parables Jesus shared with them, it is to help them remember the big spiritual truths that Jesus taught them, and it is to help remind them about how our physical lives reflect our spiritual lives.

Similar to how it was in the first century, not everyone living today will understand everything that Jesus taught. However, while the temptation for us living over 2,000 years later would be to ignore and dismiss Jesus’ truth, the best way to test whether it is still relevant for us today is to prayerfully study it and try it out in our lives. If the truth that Jesus taught is still valid today, then it is also still relevant for our lives.

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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Sent Into the World: John 17:1-26


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After Jesus had finished sharing with His disciples, John’s gospel records Jesus praying a prayer that is both powerful and profound. While I was tempted to split this prayer up into multiple episodes, I decided not to. Instead, let’s read Jesus’ prayer with minimal interruption, to get an amazing picture of Jesus’ heart. Afterwards, I’ll share one or two things that stood out to me during the brief bit of time we have left.

This passage and prayer is found in John’s gospel, chapter 17, and we will read it from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 1, John tells us that:

After Jesus had finished speaking to his disciples, he looked up toward heaven and prayed:

Father, the time has come for you to bring glory to your Son, in order that he may bring glory to you. And you gave him power over all people, so that he would give eternal life to everyone you give him. Eternal life is to know you, the only true God, and to know Jesus Christ, the one you sent. I have brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you gave me to do. Now, Father, give me back the glory that I had with you before the world was created.

You have given me some followers from this world, and I have shown them what you are like. They were yours, but you gave them to me, and they have obeyed you. They know that you gave me everything I have. I told my followers what you told me, and they accepted it. They know that I came from you, and they believe that you are the one who sent me. I am praying for them, but not for those who belong to this world. My followers belong to you, and I am praying for them. 10 All that I have is yours, and all that you have is mine, and they will bring glory to me.

11 Holy Father, I am no longer in the world. I am coming to you, but my followers are still in the world. So keep them safe by the power of the name that you have given me. Then they will be one with each other, just as you and I are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them safe by the power you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost, except the one who had to be lost. This happened so that what the Scriptures say would come true.

13 I am on my way to you. But I say these things while I am still in the world, so that my followers will have the same complete joy that I do. 14 I have told them your message. But the people of this world hate them, because they don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t.

15 Father, I don’t ask you to take my followers out of the world, but keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They don’t belong to this world, and neither do I. 17 Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours. 18 I am sending them into the world, just as you sent me. 19 I have given myself completely for their sake, so that they may belong completely to the truth.

20 I am not praying just for these followers. I am also praying for everyone else who will have faith because of what my followers will say about me. 21 I want all of them to be one with each other, just as I am one with you and you are one with me. I also want them to be one with us. Then the people of this world will believe that you sent me.

22 I have honored my followers in the same way that you honored me, in order that they may be one with each other, just as we are one. 23 I am one with them, and you are one with me, so that they may become completely one. Then this world’s people will know that you sent me. They will know that you love my followers as much as you love me.

24 Father, I want everyone you have given me to be with me, wherever I am. Then they will see the glory that you have given me, because you loved me before the world was created. 25 Good Father, the people of this world don’t know you. But I know you, and my followers know that you sent me. 26 I told them what you are like, and I will tell them even more. Then the love that you have for me will become part of them, and I will be one with them.

The prayer Jesus gives in this passage is amazing. One verse in particular stands out in my mind because it describes future followers of Jesus, including you and me. Verse 20 tells us Jesus prayed, “I am not praying just for these followers. I am also praying for everyone else who will have faith because of what my followers will say about me.” Those of us living today have faith because of what Jesus’ original followers told the world, and because the message of Jesus spread through the centuries moving forward in history. In this verse, Jesus extends His prayer to include Christians throughout the last section of history.

The other verses that stood out to me have to do with what Jesus prayed immediately before verse 20. Verses 15-19 say that Jesus prayed: “Father, I don’t ask you to take my followers out of the world, but keep them safe from the evil one. They don’t belong to this world, and neither do I. Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours. I am sending them into the world, just as you sent me. I have given myself completely for their sake, so that they may belong completely to the truth.

In this part of Jesus’ prayer, He tells us that God’s word is truth, and that when Jesus’ followers accept God’s word as truth, we don’t belong to the world but to God. Jesus isn’t praying for God to remove us from the world, even if that would be desirable, but that He will keep us safe as He sends us into the world.

This passage contains a commission for Jesus’ followers. In this section of Jesus’ prayer, we see a challenge for Jesus’ followers to take God’s truth and share it with the world. Jesus gave Himself completely for us, and through Jesus’ sacrifice, God was able to grant us the gift of eternal life that we don’t deserve because Jesus took the punishment that He did not deserve. Jesus gave His life for His followers and for God’s people who have chosen to follow Him over what the world wants to pressure people to believe, and through Jesus’ death and believing God’s truth, we are God’s while here in the world and forever into eternity.

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

Choose to follow and obey God’s truth over whatever “truth” the world wants to pressure you to believe. We can know God’s truth through what the Bible teaches. The Bible remains consistent even when every generation in history decides to change the definition of truth.

Also, be sure to pray and study the Bible for yourself to discover what it actually says. While people in history have taken verses and ideas from the Bible to make them fit with their own beliefs, God has called us to build our beliefs with the Bible as the foundation, and to reject the lies of the world. Don’t let me or anyone else dictate what you should believe. Instead, build your belief through prayer and personal study.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of the Cross – Episode 32: The gospel of John records a prayer Jesus prayed that focused on Him receiving glory and on God giving protection and direction to His followers throughout history. Discover how this prayer was relevant for the disciples and for us living 2,000 years later!

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