Light Shining In Darkness

Speaking later with the Pharisees in the temple treasury room (110), Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world.  Anyone who follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.”

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The Pharisees replied, “You’re testifying on your own behalf; that proves nothing.”

Jesus answered, “What I testify is true, because I came from heaven and will return to heaven. You’ve never been to heaven; you judge as humans.  I judge no one now; when it is time for me to judge, my judgment will be true because God is with me.

“It is written in your law that whenever two witnesses agree, their testimony is true.

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“So, I testify for myself, and God also testifies for me.

“You don’t really know me, and you don’t really know God.  If you really knew me, you would really know God also.”

Although Jesus said all this publicly in the temple, no one arrested him because his hour had not come.

 

(110) John 8:12-20

Living Water Flows

When everyone left the temple & went home, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to pray (109).

Early the next morning he went back to the area of the temple. People gathered around him, and he sat down and began to teach them.

Then the teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman who had been caught committing adultery, and they made her stand before them all. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In our law, Moses commanded that such a woman must be stoned to death. Now, what do you say?” (They said this to trap Jesus, so they could accuse him of something & get rid of him.)

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But Jesus bent down and began to write in the dirt with his finger. Then he stood up and said to them, “Any one of you who has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her.” Then he bent down and wrote in the dirt again.

When they heard this, the older accusers began leaving, one by one, and then the rest followed.

Finally, Jesus was left alone with the woman.

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He stood up and said to her, “Where are they? Is there no one left to condemn you?” “No one, sir,” she answered. “Well then,” Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Get up, go on your way, but do not sin again.”

 

(109) John 7:53-8:11

Living Water

On the last and most important day of the Festival of Booths, Jesus stood up in the temple (108).  He proclaimed boldly, “Whoever is thirsty should come to me and drink. The inspired scriptures say that if you believe in me, streams of life-giving water will pour out from your heart & into the lives of other people.”

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Jesus was speaking of God’s Spirit, which those who believed in Jesus would receive after he returned to heaven. But, at that time, the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet returned to heaven.

More people in the crowd began to say, “This man really is the promised prophet.” Others said, “He is the Messiah.” But others said, “The Messiah won’t come from Galilee. The inspired scriptures say that the Messiah will be a descendant of King David & will be born in Bethlehem, the town where David lived.”  So the opinion of the crowd about Jesus was divided. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.

When the guards reported back, the Jewish religious leaders asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” The guards answered, “Nobody has ever talked the way this man does!”

“Did he fool you, too?” the Pharisees asked them. “Have you ever known one of the authorities or one Pharisee to believe in him? It makes no difference what that crowd thinks about him; those cursed people don’t know the law of Moses!”

But one of the Pharisees there was Nicodemus, the man who had previously met with Jesus under cover of night. He said to the others, “According to our law we can’t condemn a man before we have a hearing to find out what he has done.”

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“Well,” the others answered sarcastically, “are you also from Galilee? Study the inspired scriptures and you will learn that no prophet ever comes from Galilee!”

 

(108) John 7:37-52

From God, To God

Some of the people of Jerusalem were confused about Jesus (107).   “Isn’t this the man the authorities want to kill? But here he is talking in public, and they’re saying nothing against him. Do you think they believe that he’s the Messiah?  But that can’t be, because when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he’s from.  And we all know where this man comes from.”

Jesus responded boldly to the people at the temple, saying, “Do you really know me and where I’m from? I’m not here on my own authority. God sent me, and God is truthful. You don’t really know God, but I know him because he sent me.”

Jerusalem

Some of the people in the crowd were offended & tried to seize Jesus.  But they couldn’t lay a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.

Other people in the crowd believed in Jesus and said, “This man’s miracles have convinced us that he is the Messiah.”

When the Pharisees learned that more people were acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah, they petitioned the chief priests to send guards to the temple to arrest him.

But when the Jewish authorities arrived at the temple with the guards, Jesus simply continued teaching: “I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I shall return to God who sent me. You will look for me, but you won’t find me, because you cannot go where I will be.”

This completely confused the Jewish authorities — supposedly the wisest & most godly men in Jerusalem.  They said among themselves: “Where is he going that we won’t be able to find him? Will he go to teach Jewish people living in far-off Greek cities?

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“And when he says that we’ll look for him but won’t find him, and that we can’t go where he will be, what does he mean by that?”

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(107) John 7:25-36

To God Be The Glory

When the Festival of Booths was nearly half over, Jesus went to the temple and began teaching (106). The Jewish authorities were greatly surprised at his wisdom and said, “How does this man know so much, when he’s never been to school?”

Jesus answered them:  “I’m not teaching you things I just make up; I’m teaching you what God wants me to teach you.  When you’re willing to do what God wants you to do, then you’ll know that I’m telling you exactly what God wants me to say.

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“If I was teaching you things I just made up, I’d be seeking glory for myself. But since I want God to get the glory, you should understand that I’m telling you God’s truth; there are no lies in my teaching.

“Moses gave you God’s law, didn’t he? But you don’t obey that law.” Then Jesus asked a question to gauge the people’s awareness of their relations with God: “Why are you trying to kill me?” People in the crowd answered, “You must have an evil spirit in you; no one is trying to kill you!”

Jesus continued, “I did one miracle here, and you were all offended because it happened on a Sabbath.

Sabbath Healing

“Yet you don’t hesitate to circumcise a baby boy on the Sabbath. If a baby boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath, and that doesn’t violate Moses’ law, why are you angry with me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?”

Jesus concluded, “Stop judging by worldly standards, and start judging by God’s standards.”

 

(106) John 7:14-24

Brothers Not Brothers

After this, Jesus returned to Galilee (105).  He didn’t want to travel openly in Judea, because he knew that some of the Jewish authorities there wanted to kill him.

The time for the Jewish Festival of Booths was near.  During this annual festival, many faithful Jews made booths from branches on their roofs, and devoted themselves to extended periods of prayer & praise to God in those booths.

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Jesus’ brothers told him he should go to Jerusalem for the big festival.  “Go to Judea, so your followers will see the things that you do. No one hides what he does if he wants to be well known. Since you insist on doing all these things, let the whole world know about you!” (At this time, his brothers didn’t really believe that Jesus was the Messiah.)

Brothers

Jesus said to them, “This isn’t the right time for me to go to Jerusalem, but it’s alright for you. People don’t hate you, but they hate me because I keep telling them that they are sinning against God. So you go on to the festival. I’m not going with you, because this isn’t the right time for me.” So Jesus’ brothers left him & went to Jerusalem.

But after his brothers had gone, Jesus went to the festival, too, but by a different route so he wouldn’t be noticed.

In Jerusalem, the Jewish authorities were looking for Jesus at the festival.  People’s opinions of him were divided.  “He is a good man,” some people said, but others said, “He’s scamming people.”  However, most people shared their opinions privately; people didn’t talk about Jesus openly, because they were afraid of punishment by the local Jewish authorities.

 

(105) John 7:1-13

Leading By Following

Jesus then set out on his way to Jerusalem, travelling through Samaria (104).

He sent messengers ahead of him, who went into a village in Samaria to get everything ready for him. But the people there wouldn’t receive Jesus; they told him to keep on going to Jerusalem!

When James & John saw this, they said, “Master, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them, like Elijah did?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them, saying “You still don’t understand God’s heart.  I’ve come to rescue people from sin, not to destroy them.”

Rescue

As Jesus & his students went on their way, various people considered following him.  In response to them all, Jesus repeatedly stressed the necessity of  total devotion to God.

One man came to Jesus & said, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus questioned whether he had truly counted the cost of his claim: “You know that foxes have holes and birds have nests, but do you know that I & my followers have no such home here on earth?”

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Jesus saw that another man wanted to commit his life to serving God, so he said to that man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Sir, first let me go back and bury my father.” Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t be overcome by physical death. Call people to submit their lives to God; that’s the only way people can overcome physical death.”

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Another man said, “I will follow you, but first let me go and say good-bye to my family.” And Jesus said to him, “Anyone who becomes a member of God’s family, and then keeps looking back at his worldly family, is of no use to God.”

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(104) Luke 9:51-62