Tag Archives: John

An Ending Far Too Soon – John 19:41

Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus, And rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed (The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, Thomas Jefferson).

The end. Really, that’s it. Jesus died and then they put him in the tomb and went home. Roll credits. There is nothing else to see here. You can all go home now. That is the end of the story of Jesus of Nazareth as believed by Thomas Jefferson. An ending which comes far too soon.

Jefferson_BibleThe image shown here is taken from the very bottom of the last page of Jefferson’s work (you can see the whole book as restored by the Smithsonian). Thomas Jefferson created his own version of the Gospels by cutting, reordering and pasting together the parts that he liked and throwing out all the others. The result was a Jesus who did not perform miracles and was not resurrected from the dead. A Jesus who cannot save you from your sins. How utterly sad and pointless if the story of Jesus ended with a corpse. As the Apostle Paul said:

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14).

Thomas Jefferson’s faith was in vain. Now, we are not always as bold as Thomas Jefferson in creating a God, a Jesus, and a Bible to our own liking. However, if we do not view all of the Bible as being God-breathed, the result is still the same: a God, a Jesus, and a Bible shaped to fit to our own liking. No amount of faith placed in something false, no matter how incredibly sincere, will save us from our sins. We need a real savior. We need the real Jesus of Nazareth as revealed on all the pages of the real Bible, not the Jesus imagined by Thomas Jefferson.

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Jesus was not Christ-like! Huh?

Everyone likes to slap the Pharisee label on anyone who makes any sort of value judgment on anything these days. The Barna group recently conducted a survey trying to determine if Christians were more like Christ or more like the Pharisees. Respondents were asked to rate themselves according to how they agree with various statements. One of the supposed “Pharisee-like” statements was:

I like to point out those who do not have the right theology or doctrine.

Now, the “I like to” portion of this statement makes it a loaded question from the beginning. For example, I do not necessarily “like” to discipline my children, but it is both necessary and commanded by the Bible. But more importantly, Jesus could be considered a Pharisee (and therefore not Christ-like) by this metric. Since he “liked” to be obedient to the Father that means he, in one sense, “liked” to point out people’s theology and doctrine errors. Often he did this using very strong language. For example:

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? (Matthew 23:16-17).

gavel

That is a judgment of the Pharisees’ doctrine. Shame on Jesus! Or, how about this:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others (Matthew 23:23).

Would this judgmental Jesus be welcomed in our churches today? How about telling people to stop sinning? Yep, Jesus did that too:

Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you” (John 5:14).

Jesus even pointed out when people had the incorrect view of God (i.e. bad theology):

“You are doing the works your father did.” [The Pharisees] said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father–even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. (John 8:41-42).

Tell people to stop sinning? Check! Tell people they have incorrect doctrine? Check! Tell people they worship a false god! Check! What a judgmental Pharisee that Jesus of the Bible was! I do not want to sit at his table at the next church potluck.

Now, of course, we can push the pendulum too far in both directions. We do need to address sin. We do need to correct false doctrine and bad theology. But, we also need to do that out of a desire that our hearers repent and come to saving faith in the real Jesus. It needs to ultimately come from a love for others. It is often a difficult, but necessary, balance to strike.

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Jesus is Lord and God – Jude 1:5

The little book of Jude packs quite a wallop into its 25 verses. While most of it is focused on calling out false teachers, there was one little word that really caught my eye when looking through it this week:

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe (ESV, Jude 1:5).

Can you guess which word it is? I know that every preschooler at church would guess the word because they shout it out as the answer to 90% of all questions – JESUS! Take a look at that verse above again. We usually do not think of Jesus being the one leading the people out of Egypt a few thousand years before his birth. But, Jesus himself affirmed his existence prior to that event:

Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am. (John 8:58)

ClockNow, depending upon your translation of the Bible, you may have either “Lord” or “God” in place of “Jesus” in Jude 1:5 as there are ancient textual variants on this verse. The modern translators have to decide which ancient version is most likely the original. But, ultimately it does not matter much since we Christians, like Thomas before us, proudly declare Jesus to be both our Lord and our God:

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

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The wrath of God – John 3:36

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him (John 3:36).

One of my favorite modern hymns is In Christ Alone. The second verse concludes with the lines:

‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

Recently, the liberal Presbyterian Church USA decided including the “wrath of God” was unacceptable and wanted to change the lyrics before including it in a new hymnal they are publishing. Thankfully, the song writers, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, refused.

If there is no wrath, why did Jesus have to die? It would have just been unnecessary bloodshed. And, if that wrath has not satisfied by Jesus’ death on the cross, our situation is hopeless. The Bible makes it clear that we have been saved from God’s wrath:

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9).

It is unfortunate that these pseudo-Christian groups find the clear teachings of the Bible to be offensive and embarrassing. Praise God for the song’s authors who not only write wonderful, God-honoring, doctrinally sound songs, but also stand behind the convictions of their faith.

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They are all red letters – John 8:58

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58).

Here in John 8:58, and in many other places, Jesus made it clear that he was the God of the Old Testament. This means that all the words of the Bible are his words. Don’t be misled by the Bibles which highlight in red the words from Jesus’ earthly ministry. Those red letter words are no more and no less the words of Jesus than the rest of the Bible. Remember that “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), not just the ones in red.

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No One Actually Means No One – John 1:18

No one has ever seen God (John 1:18).

If anyone is teaching that someone has seen the Father, they are teaching a lie. It makes no sense for people to proclaim that they believe the Bible and also believe that they or one of their prophets have seen the Father. The text of John is very clear here. There are no problems with translation or interpretation. No one has seen the Father. Not you. Not me. No one.

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The Holy Spirit, He – John 15:26

If you believe in Jesus, then you must also believe what Jesus taught about the Holy Spirit.

When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me (John 15:26).

Jesus teaches that the Holy Spirit is a person, not a mysterious force, power, or energy. Jesus says that the Spirit is a ‘He’ who is sent and who will testify.

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