Why Did Jesus Breathe the Spirit on the Disciples?

TODAY’S READING: JOHN 20-21

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'” – John 20:22

After his resurrection, Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene on the morning of the first day of the week. Later that night Jesus appeared to the disciples. It was on this night, in his second post resurrection appearance, that Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on his disciples.

The context of this event is fascinating and yields some wonderful insights if we study it carefully. Let’s look at each step of Jesus’ second appearance.

  1. Jesus said to the disciples, “Peace be with you.”
  2. Jesus showed the disciples the wounds in his hands and his side.
  3. Again, Jesus said to the disciples, “Peace be with you.”
  4. Jesus said to the disciples, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
  5. Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
  6. Jesus said, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Jesus’ first words to the gathering of the disciples were “Peace be with you.” He said this twice. But, between his two utterances of “Peace be with you,” Jesus did something very interesting. “He showed them his hands and his.” Jesus showed the disciples his wounds.

But, Thomas was not at this gathering of the disciples. So, eight days later Jesus appeared a third time. This time Thomas was present. When Jesus showed up, he said, “Peace be with you.” And Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side.” Again we have the linkage of the words “Peace be with you” with the showing of Jesus’ wounds.

Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

Jesus is showing the disciples the fulfillment of this scripture. He is showing them his pierced side. He is letting them see the wounds in his hands. The piercing of his side and the nails that went through his hands brought us peace and healed us.

Yes, Jesus spoke the words “Peace be with you” to the disciples, but those words sandwiched the revelation of the act that brought peace to the disciples. Jesus’ pierced side and nail scarred hands brought peace to us because of forgiveness, which we will see as we go on.

Having shown the disciples his wounds, which brought them peace, Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” Earlier this week I wrote about God sending Jesus in “Why Did God Send Jesus?

The first time that gospel of John speaks of Jesus being sent is in John 3:34. “For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.” Jesus was sent to speak the words of God and give the Spirit without measure, without any limit.

What is the Spirit?

The Spirit is life and peace.

Romans 8:6 says, “To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

John 6:63 says, “It is the Spirit who gives life.”

2 Corinthians 3:6 says, “The Spirit gives life.”

Romans 14:7 says, “For the kingdom of God is…righteousness and peace and joy and in the Holy Spirit.”

Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is…peace.”

Ephesians 4:3 says we should be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Indeed, Jesus is “the last Adam” who “became a life-giving spirit.” (1 Corinthians 15:45.

So, God sent Jesus to give life and peace without measure, without limit. Now, Jesus tells the disciples, and us, that he is sending us the same way that the Father sent him.

Having said that he was sending the disciples, and us, the same way he was sent, Jesus breathes on the disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus, as the son of God, is breathing into men.

The first time we see God breathing into men is in Genesis 2:7, which says, “Then the Lord God formed the man of the dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

God breathed in the man he formed from the dust, and Adam became a living creature.

“Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”

We were once living beings like Adam. But, Jesus says he is sending us in the same way he was sent. So, he is breathing into us, not to become living beings again, but to become life-giving spirits just as he was sent to be a life-giving spirit, a spirit which brings peace to you through his wounds.

“The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:47-49)

We are to bear the image of the man of heaven, the life-giving spirit. We are to become life-giving spirits. We are to give life and peace without measure, without any limit. And, like Jesus did this through his wounds, we primarily give life and peace to others through our wounds, through our response to the wounds others inflict upon us.

So, Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

The word breathed, although in two different Greek words, appears just four times in the gospels. All are an action of Jesus. All are connected to the Holy Spirit.

Mark 15:37 says, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.”

Mark 15:39 says, “And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!'”

Luke 23:46 says, “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last.”

In each of these three verses, the Greek word for breathed is ekpneo. It means to expire, to breathe out, to exhale.

On the cross, the place of Jesus’ piercing and wounding, the last thing he did was breathe out.

What did he breathe out?

The Holy Spirit.

What did he say shortly before he breathed out the Holy Spirit?

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

So, Luke connects the breathing out of the Spirit with the forgiveness that Jesus gave.

But, Mark does so in a very subtle fashion as well.

Mark 15:37 says, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.”

The Greek word for uttered in this verse is aphiemi. Aphiemi has a number of meanings, but the most common translation is forgave, forgive, forgiven.

Is it possible to get the sense that Jesus, forgiving with a loud cry, breathed out the Holy Spirit?

They may not be the literal translation or meaning, but I think it is possible to see this in Jesus’ actions, especially given Luke’s account.

While Matthew’s account doesn’t mention breathing, perhaps it is interesting that aphiemi is used.

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded [aphiemi] up his spirit.” (Matthew 27:50)

So, Jesus forgave us and breathed out the Holy Spirit on the cross. The next, and last time, breathed is mention in the gospels is our passage under consideration.

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'”

However, breathed is a different Greek word here. Here the Greek word for breathed is emphysao. It means to breathe into, breathe on, or blow in.

Jesus breathed out his Spirit on the cross. But, after the resurrection, Jesus breathes his Spirit into us.

Jesus forgave us and breathed out his Spirit, who is life and peace. Jesus resurrects and speaks peace showing us his wounds, and breathes his Spirit, who is life and peace, into us. And, he does this because he is sending us the way his Father sent him – as a life-giving spirit to give the Spirit, who is life and peace, without measure, without any limit.

Therefore, when Jesus tells the disciples to “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he gives them a specific instruction.

“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.

Jesus forgave us. Then he breathed out his Spirit.

Now, he breathes his Spirit into us because he is sending us as the Father sent him. Then Jesus tells us to bring life and peace to everyone by forgiving their sins.

In Jesus’ instruction to forgive the sins of any, he uses the word aphiemi. While the most common meaning of aphiemi is to forgive, the next most common meaning is to leave.

“If you leave the sins of any, they have left them.”

 

How did Jesus get us free from our sins, our sins that he bore in his body, our sins of violence that led to his crucifixion?

He forgave us.

Jesus caused our sins to leave us because he forgave us.

We wounded him and he forgave us.

“With his wounds we are healed.”

“Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace.”

How are others to get free from their sin?

We forgive them.

How are others freed from their desire to wound us?

We forgive them.

How are others healed?

Despite their wounding us, we forgive them.

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”

When others wound us and we forgive, death, Jesus’ death, is at work in us. But, the death, Jesus’ death, that is at work in us brings life, brings peace, to others.

There is another interesting connection between Jesus’ instruction to forgive, aphiemi, and peace.

In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.”

The word leave is aphiemi. But, there is no Greek word for with in the original text.

Perhaps a more literal reading, or at least an underlying subtext, of what Jesus said is, “Peace I forgive you.”

How does Jesus bring peace?

Forgiveness.

Forgiving our violent sins against him that led to his crucifixion.

Jesus gives us this peace. He gave us his Spirit, who is life and peace.

But, Jesus doesn’t give as the world gives. The world gives peace through violence and war. War and violence until you were subdued was the peace of Rome, the pax Romana.

Rome, the kingdom of this world, doesn’t forgive sins. It uses sin, war, murder, violence, to subdue you and bring a false peace.

So, while Jesus instructs us that whoever we forgive of their sins has their sins forgiven, if we withhold forgiveness from anyone then they, their sins, are withheld.

The Greek word for “withhold forgiveness” is krateo. It means to seize, arrest, be strong, take possession of. It’s the same word to describe what the Jews and Romans did Jesus. It has the idea of taking control of someone.

See what Jesus is saying?

You can forgive and free others from their sins. Give peace as he gave it.

Or, you can take hold of others, control them, and keep them bound in their sins. Give a false peace through violence as Rome, the kingdom of this world gives it.

So, why did Jesus breathe on the disciples?

So, they would become life-giving Spirits just as he was. And, in this way, the disciples could give peace and Jesus gave it. As they were wounded, they could forgive. This would be peace, life, healing, the freeing from sin for others.

What Is the Judgment Seat?

TODAY’S READING: JOHN 18-19

“So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha.” – John 19:13

The judgment seat.

In Greek, the bema.

Christians seem to have a strange fascination with the judgment seat, the bema. Many Christians seem to think the following. Everyone will be brought before the judgment seat of Christ. You better get right with God. Repent. Stop sinning. If you don’t, then God will not give you eternal life. Instead, he will send you to hell, eternal punishment.

But, is this what “the judgment seat of God”, “the judgment seat of Christ” about? Is their judgment seat about life and death?

Or, is it man’s judgment seat that is about life and death?

Do you know that the New Testament has more to say about the judgment seat, the bema, of man than it does of God or Christ?

The word bema is used 12 times in the New Testament. One of the uses (Acts 7:5) is basically a unit of measure, a foot’s length, so we will not look at verse. Of the other 11 verses, nine are used in reference to man’s judgment seat while just two are used in reference to the judgment seat of God and Christ.

The judgment seat, bema, is found twice in the gospels regarding Jesus’ trial.

Pilate was seeking to release Jesus. But the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” If Pilate released Jesus, then the Jews would claim that Pilate was committing treason against Caesar because he would be acknowledging another king other than Caesar. After this threat from the Jews, John 19:13, quoted above, says that Pilate brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat, the bema.

Despite the threat, Pilate says to the Jews, “Behold your King!” But, the Jews responded, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate asked, “Shall I crucify your king?” And, the chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

The scene is harkens back to Israel’s demand for a king when Samuel was old. “Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel Ramah and said to him, ‘Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.'” (1 Samuel 8:4-5) This upset Samuel. But God told Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.”

So, in John 19, we see the prophetic fulfillment of Israel’s rejection of God as king played out in the life of Jesus. Now, the Jews are literally rejecting God as king by demanding Jesus’ crucifixion. The Jews are choosing Caesar, man, to be their king, instead of Jesus, God.

So, we see that man’s judgment seat, for Pilate’s judgment seat had the authority of Caesar behind it, was to judge an individual worthy of life and death. In John 19, man’s judgment seat is used to judge Jesus, and therefore God, worthy of death, crucifixion.

But, not just any man was judged worthy  of death from the judgment seat. For Pilate, “while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, ‘Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.'” (Matthew 27:19) Not only is man’s judgment seat used to determine whether a man should or die, man’s judgment seat will put a perfectly righteous, perfectly innocent man to death.

It’s not apparent because of the English translation, but the word bema, the judgment seat, is used seven times in the book of Acts.

Acts 12:21 says, “On an appointed day, Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne [bema, judgment seat], and delivered an oration to them.” A few verses earlier, Herod had just found the soldiers who let Peter escape from prison worthy of death. This was the type of authority Herod wielded. Now he’s sitting on the judgment seat. And, when the people saw Herod, a man, sitting on the judgment seat, they shouted, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!”

People love to have another man on the judgment seat because he will put other people to death for man loves darkness (John 3:19).

Then, there is Acts 18:12-17. ”

But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal [bema, judgment seat], saying, ‘This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.’ But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, ‘If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, i would have reason to accept your complaint. But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.’ And he drive them from the tribunal [bema, judgment seat]. And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal [bema, judgment seat].”

The Jews, the religious legalists, make a united attack against Paul, a man free in Christ. They bring him before the judgment seat because they want a judgment of death pronounced upon him. But, when the Jews are driven from the judgment seat, the get the ruler of the synagogue, bring him before the judgment seat, and beat him.

See how man’s judgment seat is used to punish and put death men, usually innocent men, because they don’t hold the same beliefs, doctrines, and teachings as the religious?

Then, there is Acts 25:6-11.

“After he [Festus] stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal [bema, judgment seat] and ordered Paul to be brought. When he had arrived, the Jews who had come from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove. Paul argued in his defense, ‘Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.’ But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, ‘Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?’ But Paul said, ‘I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal [bema, judgment seat], where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.'”

In Acts 25:17, Festus uses the word bema, judgment, translated again as “the tribunal,” as he retells the above incident to King Agrippa.

Do you see how man’s judgment once again is used to bring false charges that cannot be proved against a man, Paul, just as it was used to bring false charges that could not be proved against Jesus?

Do you see that Paul equates man’s judgment seat with being judged worthy of life or death?

All the evidence shows that man’s understanding of the judgment seat, the bema, and when man is in control of the judgment seat, the bema, is that the judgment seat, the bema, is for deciding whether other men should live or die.

But, God is not like man. God does not judge like men do.

In John 5:22-24, Jesus said, “For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 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. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

God, the Father, judges no one. He judges no man, no person, the way that men judge. God does not judge men to be worthy of death. God judges men worthy of life. Read all of my previous posts on the gospel of John and God’s commandment to Jesus to speak eternal life.

God judges men worthy of life. It is men who judge God worthy of death, worthy of crucifixion.

A man does come into judgment from God, God passes that man from death to life.

In John 8:15, Jesus said, “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.”

Judging according to the flesh is man using the judgment seat to pronounce life or death on someone. Just life the Father, Jesus says he judges no one. Jesus’ judgment does not pronounce death on anyone because the Father gave him a commandment to speak eternal life (John 12:49-50).

So, what is the judgment seat of God, the judgment seat of Christ?

Romans 14:10-11 says, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother?For we will all stand before the judgment seat [bema] of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue confess to God.'”

Paul has just been speaking about how some esteem one day and others every day, some eat certain foods while others abstain them. Are we to judge each other for this? Do you we judge each other worthy of death based on how we live?

We will all stand before the judgment seat of God. God will take care of these things. These are matters of the heart. Romans 2:16 says, “On that day, when according to the gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” God judges the purposes and intentions of the heart, the secrets, not the men themselves.

Why does God judge this way?

“For it is written…”

Because it is written.

What is written could just as easily, and maybe more appropriately be translated

“I live, says the Lord, that every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall praise God.”

We come to the judgment seat because God lives and gives life to all so that every knee will bow before him and every tongue shall praise. That can’t happen if God sends men to hell, their eternal punishment and death, at the his judgment seat.

God’s judgment seat is about freeing men from the evil purposes and intentions of their hearts so that men can worship and praise God as lord and as their king.

2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat [bema] of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”

Receiving what is due is not life or death, heaven or hell. This is about rewards for what he have done or not done in the body. So, again, we see the judgment seat of Christ is about judging the works of men not men themselves. This is in direct contrast to judgment seat of men, which, as we saw above, judges men themselves and not their works (Jesus and Paul were innocent of the charges brought against them.)

The judgment seat of Christ is akin to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15.

“Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

The works are judged. Evil works are burned up and cause a man to suffer loss. But, the man himself is saved, judged worthy of life.

This is the same thing that Hebrews 4:12-13 says.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom me must give account.”

Jesus, the word of God, judges not us but the intentions and purposes of our hearts. He separates the evil thoughts from the good thoughts. He separates the earthly from the heavenly in us.

If we do not see and know that God and man judge differently, then why do we even need God?

But, man and God do judge differently.

Man’s judgement seat pronounces death on whoever man deems evil and wicked, even if they are innocent. Man’s judgment seat brings finality.

God’s judgment seat already sees all men as worthy of life. Therefore, God judges man’s secrets, the purposes and intentions of his heart, so that man can come to the full realization of God’s judgment of eternal life upon him and thereby praise God as Lord and King.

Why Did God Send Jesus?

TODAY’S READING: JOHN 16-17

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” – John 17:20-21

Jesus did not ask for just the 12 apostles. He also asked for those who would believe in him through the word the 12 apostles spoke.

Jesus specifically asked that all these would be one. He did not ask that these people would be one with each other. There have been many groups of people that have been one with each other throughout history. And, those groups of people have done many destructive things because while they were one with each other there were others outside their group.

Instead of being one with each other, Jesus asked that they would be one with the Father and himself. For, if these people were one with the Father and Jesus, then there would be none outside of their group and they would be one with all people of the world.

Why did Jesus ask that the 12 apostles and those who would believe in him through their word be on with the Father and himself?

“So that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Was Jesus’ desire that the world would believe God sent him, that he went from point A to point B because God told him to?

Or, does Jesus’ desire that the world believe that God sent him come with a specific meaning?

In other words, why did God send Jesus?

Jesus’ desire for the world is that they know why God sent him not merely that God sent him.

So, why did God send Jesus?

“He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all.” – John 3:31

Jesus is the one who comes. He was sent by God. Jesus comes from above, or heaven. In 1 Corinthians 15:47, Paul said, “The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.” The first man is Adam, the man of the earth. Jesus is the second man from heaven.

The one who is of the earth speaks in an earthly way, that is a way that reflects where he is from. But, Jesus speaks in a different way because he is from a different place. Jesus is from heaven, from God.

“He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony.” – John 3:32

Jesus is speaking, bearing witness to, what he has seen and heard in heaven. This is his testimony.

What is Jesus’ testimony?

1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” In this verse, John directly states that Jesus gave this testimony. In his gospel, John states Jesus’ testimony without saying Jesus gave it. John 1:4-5 says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

What is Jesus bearing witness to?

God is light.

Jesus was “the true light, which gives light to everyone.” (John 1:9) Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12). Also, Jesus said, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” (John 12:26)

What is the source of Jesus’ light? What is the source of God’s light?

Life.

God’s life.

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

Jesus’s testimony is about light, God’s life, coming into the world and overcoming darkness, or death.

What did Jesus say about his own testimony?

“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people [literally, men or peoples] loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

Jesus knew that men would not believe his testimony. He knew that people would prefer darkness instead of light, death instead of life.

But, this would not always be the case. For, God sent Jesus so that the world, men, peoples, would believe why he was sent.

“Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.” – John 3:33

Jesus’ testimony is that light, God’s life, is coming into the world and overcoming darkness, death. If you believe Jesus’ testimony, then you believe in him. If you believe Jesus’ testimony and believe in Jesus, then God is true.

What does it mean that God is true?

“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” – 1 John 5:9-12

God is true means that you believe God gave us eternal life, not death. He gave us eternal life, his life, in Jesus. This is why God gave, or sent, his Son – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Remember, this is all “so that the world may believe that you [the Father] have sent me [Jesus]. The goal is that the whole world, the whole creation, believes in Jesus and why he was sent.

If we receive Jesus’ testimony and that God is true, then we have a seal set on us.

What is the seal of believing this testimony?

The Holy Spirit.

“And who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” – 2 Corinthians 1:22

“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth [Jesus’ testimony], the gospel of your salvation, and believe in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” – Ephesians 1:13-14

“The Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” – Ephesians 4:30

“For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.” – John 3:34

Jesus is the one God sent.

Jesus speaks the words of God.

What are God’s words that Jesus speaks?

“For I have not spoken on my authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father told me.” – John 12:49-50

The Father commanded Jesus to speak eternal life.

Is there any death in eternal life?

Absolutely not.

Jesus not spoke death to anyone. Nor will he ever speak death to anyone. The Father commanded him to speak eternal life.

Why does Jesus speak life?

Because “gives the Spirit without measure.”

What do we know about the Spirit?

“It is the Spirit who gives life.” – John 6:63

“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:2

“To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” – Romans 8:6

“The Spirit is life.” – Romans 8:10

“He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” – Romans 8:11

“The Spirit gives life.” – 2 Corinthians 3:6

The Spirit is always associated with life, never death.

Jesus gives the Spirit. Therefore, Jesus only gives life, never death.

“Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.” – 1 Corinthians 15:45

Jesus gives the Spirit without measure. to give without measure means to give without limit or degree. Therefore, Jesus gives life without limit. He’s not giving life to only a portion of people while he gives death to other people. Jesus gives the Spirit, life, without any limit, which means he gives life to all.

Do you see?

The entire reason Jesus was sent was to give life. Another way to say this is that Jesus was sent to save.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn [judge] the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:17

“In order that the world might be saved.” Not a small group of select people might be saved. No, the whole world would be saved. For Jesus gives the Spirit, life, without measure.

Jesus wants the entire world to believe this.

And, the whole world will believe this. Otherwise, Jesus’ sending was a failure.

If the world does not believe Jesus was sent, meaning that the world believes in Jesus and his message of life, then love will have failed or ended in direct contradiction to 1 Corinthians 13:8, which says, “Love never ends” or “Love never fails.”

If the world fails to believe Jesus was sent to give life, then “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” would never come true. For you can only confess that Jesus is Lord by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). And, because the Spirit is life, you can only confess Jesus is Lord if you have received his testimony of life.

Those that believe in Jesus, in his testimony of life, are to be one in God so that the whole world will believe that the giving of life, life only, never death, is the reason the Father sent Jesus.

What Commandment Did the Father Give Jesus?

TODAY’S READING: JOHN 13-15

“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” – John 14:30-31

Jesus said he did as the Father commanded him.

What did the Father command Jesus to do?

Jesus says that he will no longer talk much with the disciples. He has been doing a lot of teaching. Now it is time for his teaching to end because he is going to demonstrate what he has been teaching.

It is time to stop talking and start doing because the ruler of this world is coming. The ruler of this world is Satan. Satan roams the earth like a lion looking for whom he can devour. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

But, Jesus says, “He has no claim on me.” Other translations say, “He has no hold over me” or “He has no power over me.” But, the most literal translation is “He has nothing in me.”

What does Jesus mean?

Hebrews 2:14 says that Satan, the devil,  is “the one who has the power of death.” So, Jesus is saying that Satan is not able to put death in him. Satan has no ability, no power, and no right to do this.

Why is this the case?

Because Jesus said, “I do as the Father commanded me.”

What did the Father command Jesus?

In John 12:49-50, Jesus said, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

Satan has no death in Jesus because he does what the Father commanded him, which is eternal life.

What exactly is the commandment of eternal life?

In John 13:34-35, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The commandment of eternal life is the new commandment Jesus gives to the disciples. “Just as I have loved you, you also are to one another.” Eternal life is to love one another as Jesus loved us.

How does Jesus love us?

Just before Jesus gave this new commandment of eternal life, he said, “Where i am going you cannot come.”

So, Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”

Peter responded,”Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

On one hand, Peter understood that to love one another as Jesus loved him meant that you needed to lay down your life for the other. On the other hand, Peter did not understand the full extent of that and was not ready to do exactly that.

Later in this same conversation, Jesus makes the commandment of eternal life explicitly clear. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one that this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13)

So, Satan had nothing in Jesus, that is no power of death in Jesus, because Jesus did the commandment of eternal life that God gave him. That commandment was to manifest love by laying down his life for his friends.

Why did Jesus lay down his life?

“So that the world may know that I love the Father.”

And so it is with us. The world will know that we love God when we love as Jesus loved us by laying down our lives for each other. Then the world will know that God sent Jesus to save it.

What Must Happen for Us to Understand Scripture?

TODAY’S READING: JOHN 11-12

“His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remember that these things had been written about him and had been done by him.” – John 12:16

Jesus entered Jerusalem a few days before the passover and his crucifixion. The crowd took palm branches and praised Jesus as coming in the name of the Lord and as the king of Israel. John says that Jesus rode in on a young donkey just as it was written in the scripture.

However, the disciples did not understand these things at first. The disciples did not understand the scriptures and what they truly meant.

Mark 9:32 says, “But they [the disciples] did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.”

What did the disciples not understand?

In verse 31, Jesus said, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”

The disciples did not understand the very purpose, the very reason, that Jesus came. They did not understand that he delivered over, betrayed, and crucified but rise three days later.

Luke 18:34 says, “But they [the twelve specifically] understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.”

What did the 12 apostles not understand?

In verses 31-33, Jesus said, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”

What did the 12 apostles no understand?

The prophets. The scripture.

They did not understand anything that was written about Jesus in them. Therefore, they did not understand anything that was about to happen. They did not understand that Jesus would be delivered over, betrayed, to the Gentiles, that he would be mocked and rejected, that he would be beaten, that he would be crucified, but that he would rise three days later.

This means that the 12 apostles and all the disciples understand nothing, not a single thing, in the scripture. Luke 24:25-27 says, “And he [Jesus] said to them [the two disciples on the road to Emmaus], ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Further, Luke 24:44-47 says, “Then he [Jesus] said to them [all the disciples gathered together], ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.'”

No one, not the disciples, not the 12 apostles, understood anything that the scriptures said. Jesus had to explain it to them. He had to open their minds to understand the scriptures.

What was the actual meaning he opened their minds to?

Jesus, the son of man, came to suffer, to die, and to rise three days later. This is the meaning of the scriptures.

Why did Jesus do this?

So that repentance and the forgiveness of sins could be proclaimed to the whole world.

Jesus did this so that the whole world would change their mind about God. The world believe that God came to strike you down, to kill you. But, Jesus showed that God not to kill you but to suffer and die for you.

Jesus did this so that the whole world would receive the forgiveness of sins. The whole world believed that God condemned people to eternal death because of their sins. But, Jesus showed that God came not to condemn but to forgive, to save.

So, what must happen for us to understand the scriptures?

“His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.”

In order for us to understand the scriptures, we must see Jesus glorified.

What does it mean to see Jesus glorified?

John 12:27-28 says, “‘Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour?” But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven: ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.'”

Jesus came in the name, the image, the likeness of the Father. Hebrews 1:3 says, “He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.”

So, how God already glorified his name in Jesus?

The first time God glorified his name in Jesus was on the mount of transfiguration. The account is found in Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36.

On the mount, “his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light,” “his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them,” and “the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white.” Luke says that this was Jesus in his glory.

Jesus’ glory, his brightness, his shining forth, was so great that even though Moses and Elijah appeared with him for a moment, that his glory made Moses and Elijah disappear. A voice from heaven cried out, “This is My Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”

Jesus’ glory eclipses Moses and Elijah. Therefore, we are to listen to Jesus and Jesus alone. Jesus alone, in his glory, is what is needed for us to understand the scriptures. We cannot, we must not, listen to Moses and Elijah. Jesus’ glory is the only interpretation necessary.

So, God glorified his name in Jesus. How would God glorify his name in Jesus a second time?

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14)

Jesus, the word of God, became flesh. He became a man. And, he dwelt among us. The Greek word for dwelt literally means tabernacled.

“And we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

In the tabernacle, where did God’s glory reside?

Behind the veil.

So, in Jesus we saw God’s glory we he tabernacled among us. Therefore, God’s glory was behind Jesus’ flesh.

Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls in the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:23-24)

God would glorify his name a second time when Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected. For, this is the moment that Jesus was the grain of wheat that went into the ground and died yet was resurrected and bore much fruit.

When Jesus died on the cross, Matthew, Mark, and Luke say that “the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” God’s glory was behind the curtain of the temple. But, when Jesus was crucified, his flesh was torn so that we could see God’s glory.

Philippians 2:8-11 says, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Jesus was glorified and glorified the Father by dying.

Jesus was not glorified and did not the glorify the Father by killing.

It is only when we Jesus in this glorified state that we can understand the scripture.

The only way to understand the scripture is to know that Jesus, and therefore God, dies.

You will never understand the scripture, and therefore you will never know God, if when you read the scripture you see God killing. To read the scripture this way is to not see Jesus glorified.

In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul uses the Greek word for glory 13 times. The chapters closes, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

The veil has been removed. We can now see God’s glory.

We see God’s glory through the crucified Christ.

We God’s glory in that he suffers rather than tortures.

We God’s glory in that he speaks tender words rather than mocks.

We see God’s glory in that he dies rather kills, is crucified rather than crucifies.

We see God’s glory in that he resurrects and lives rather condemns to death.

As we behold Jesus glorified, and only when we Jesus glorified, we are able to see God, his true nature and character in the scripture.

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

If you are reading the scripture with the view, with the mindset, that God causes suffering, tortures, condemns, and kills at all, ever, then you are reading the scripture through a Satanic lens. You are blinded by Satan.The veil over the scripture has not been removed. You are not reading the scripture through the glorified Christ. Therefore, you cannot and will not understand anything that is written about Jesus, and God, “in Moses and all the Prophets,” “in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms.”

It is the glorified Christ, the crucified Christ, the God who dies and does not kill, that opens up the scriptures for our understanding.

When God spoke that he had glorified his name and would glorify it again when Jesus was crucified and resurrected, the crowd said the voice had thundered. Som though it was an angel. “Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.'” (John 12:30-31)

When Jesus is glorified, the ruler of this world, Satan, the devil, is cast out.

So too, when we read the scripture through the glorified Jesus, the crucified Christ, Satan is cast out of our understanding of God in the scripture. Satan is the one that steals, kills, and destroys. Satan is the one with the power of death. So, reading the scripture through the glorified Jesus, the crucified Christ, removes all stealing, killing, destroying, and the wielding of the power of death from our image of God.

Therefore, we need the glorified Jesus to understand scripture.

Did Jesus Come to Judge the World or Not?

TODAY’S READING: JOHN 9-10

“Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” – John 9:39

“For judgment I came into this world.”

Jesus’ statement seems to clearly the answer the question “Did Jesus come to the judge the world of not?”

Or does it?

In John 5:22, Jesus said, “For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son.”

Okay, so Jesus did come into the world to judge it.

But, wait.

In John 8:15, Jesus said, “I judge no one.”

And, in verse 16, Jesus said, “For it is not I alone who judge, but and the Father who sent me.”

Okay…So, Jesus judges. And, now the Father judges too? But, Jesus said the Father judges no one.

In 12:47, Jesus said, “For I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”

Jesus, what is your problem?

Can you not give me a straight answer as to whether you are going to judge the world or not?

First, you say that is for judgment you came into this world. Then,  you say, “For I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”

Jesus, can you stop contradicting yourself?

Actually, Jesus is not contradicting himself. It only appears that way because of our English translation and the word “for.”

Let’s start with the passage from today’s reading, John 9:39.

“For judgment I came into this world, that those who not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

Every single English translation I checked says, “For judgment I came into this world.” But, this is a problem.

Why is it a problem?

The Greek word translated “for” is eis. According to A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible, eis means to or into. Eis is used 1,634 times in the New Testament. It is translated to, into, or in 1,066 times. These are three most common translations of eis, and in that order.

Let’s use these meanings of eis in John 9:39.

“To judgment I came into this world.”

“Into judgment I came into this world.”

“In judgment I came into this world.”

In John 9:39, even though every English translation gives us this idea, Jesus is not saying that he came into the world to judge it. Rather, Jesus is saying that he came into this world to be judged. In other words, Jesus came into this world to be condemned on the cross.

John 18:31-32 says, “Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.’ The Jews said to him, ‘It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.’ This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show what kind of death he was going to die.”

Moses’ law did allow to the Jews to put someone to death. However, it was only to be done by stoning. The Jews were not allowed to crucify though. Therefore, the Jews took Jesus to Pilate so that Jesus could be crucified. And, as Pilate said, the Jews wanted to a judgment, a judgment of death, upon Jesus.

In Matthew 26, Jesus was brought to trial before the high priest. So, the high priest asked the rest of the scribes and the elders, “What is you judgment [more literally, your opinion]?” They answered, “He deserves death.”

So, in Matthew 27, they take Jesus to Pilate. Pilate is sitting on the judgment seat, which is both interesting and ironic. Verses 22 and 23 say, “Pilate said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?’ They all said, ‘Let him be crucified!’ And he said, ‘Why? What evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Let him be crucified!'”

Who is doing the judging?

Man.

Who is sitting on the judgment seat?

Man.

Who is being judged?

Jesus.

What is man’s judgment?

Death.

“Let him be crucified.” “Crucify him.”

“Into judgment I came into this world.”

Why did Jesus come into this world to be judged?

“That those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

Jesus came to the world to be judged to alter our perception of, to change how we think about, power and wisdom.

“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'” (1 Corinthians 1:22-31)

Now, let’s look at what seems to be the contradictory passage, John 12:47.

“I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”

In this verse, the Greek word translated “for” is not eis. Instead of eis, Jesus uses the Greek word gar in this verse. This word assigns a reason, a cause, or a purpose for something. Gar means for, since, because. It is used 1,009 times in the New Testament and is translated “for” 966 of those times. Gar is the Greek word that we would most associate with the English word for and as being the reason something happens.

Here, Jesus is saying he does not judge because he did not come to judge the world. Instead of coming to judge the world, Jesus came to save the world. If Jesus had come to judge the world, then he would have condemned the world and put it to death, crucified it. But, Jesus did not come to condemn and crucify the world, he came to save it. Therefore, he did not come for the purpose of judging the world.

Let’s look at verse 47 in its fuller context.

“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” (verse 46)

What is the relationship between light and darkness?

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1:3-4)

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)

Light shines in the darkness. Light drives out and casts out darkness. God uses light to create by separating darkness from the world.

“If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” (verse 47)

Jesus is speaking about those who hear his words and do not keep them. He is talking about the disobedient. He is talking about those who do not see the light and are still blind. He is talking about those that love evil.

Jesus said in John 3:19, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

What does Jesus say to those who hear his words but don’t do them, the disobedient, the evil, those that love darkness rather than light?

“I do not judge them.”

Did you get that?

Jesus does not judge

  • the disobedient
  • the sinner
  • the evil
  • those that love darkness rather than light

Jesus does not condemn these people. Jesus does not crucify these people. Jesus does not put to death these people.

Not then.

Not now.

Not ever.

Why does Jesus not judge them?

“For [because] I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”

“The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (verses 48-50)

God gave Jesus a commandment. This commandment what was what Jesus was to say and speak. The commandment God gave was Jesus’ word.

What was this commandment?

What was Jesus’ word?

Eternal life.

Eternal life is what Jesus has to say and speak. He says it just as the Father told him to say it.

Those that reject Jesus, those the judge him worthy of death and crucify him, and those that are disobedient, preferring darkness and evil rather than light and good, have a judge.

What is their judge?

Jesus’ word.

“The word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”

What is Jesus’ word?

Eternal life.

How are we to understand this?

How did God create with light?

By separating.

The Greek word for judgment is krino. It has the idea of separating and distinguishing.

Jesus is making all things new. Everything in him is a new creation. He does this by separating light from darkness in everything. Jesus does this separating by his word. And, as the word of God, the word spoken in Genesis, Jesus himself is the one that does the separating.

Hebrews 4:12-13 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him whom we must give account.”

Jesus is the word of God that every creature, every created thing, every man and woman, must face. And, Jesus speaks eternal life to them, separating out light and darkness, good and evil, out of every thought and intention of their heart.

Jesus says his word of eternal life will judge the disobedient on the last day. In Romans 2:15-16, Paul says, “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

What does God judge?

The secrets of men. The hidden and concealed things of men.

What are these things?

The thoughts and intentions of our hearts.

God judges the thoughts and intentions of our hearts, separating out, casting out, the darkness within us. It is these evil thoughts and intentions that are God’s enemies that he destroys. God’s judgment is against these things, not men themselves.

In John 8:15, Jesus said, “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.”

We saw above how we judge according to the flesh. Our method of judgment is just how we judge Jesus – worthy of death and crucifixion.

Jesus does not judge this way. He does not judge the flesh. His word of eternal life judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

So, why did I say that Pilate sitting on the judgement seat was both interesting and ironic?

Because from the judgement seat mankind pronounced his judgement of God. Mankind judged God worthy of death and crucifixion.

But, Jesus is going to sit on his judgment seat one day, the last day. From his judgment seat, Jesus, God, is going to judge mankind. However, Jesus’ judgment will not be that we are worthy of death and crucifixion. Jesus is going to judge us with his word, the word that was the commandment his Father gave him, that which he says and speaks – eternal life.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Who Is Jesus?

TODAY’S READING: JOHN 7-8

“So they said to him, ‘Who are you?'” – John 8:25

The Jews asked Jesus, “Who are you?”

Who is Jesus? is the question that dominates John 8:12-59.

Jesus definitively answers this question in John 8:58 when he says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

Who is Jesus?

I am.

Jesus declares that he is the God who revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush. Further, Jesus says he was I am before Abraham.

Sadly, it does not come through in the English translations, but Jesus’ definitive answer to the Jews’ question of who he was is not the first time that Jesus declares “I am” in John 8:12-59.

In John 8:24, Jesus said, “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

There is no Greek word for he in the original text. And, supplying the “he” takes away from the force of what Jesus is saying.

What Jesus really said was, “For unless you believe that I am you will die in your sins.”

I checked numerous English translations. All of them add the “he” or something else after “I am,” detracting from the force of Jesus’ statement about who he is.

It’s important to leave Jesus’ statement of who he is as he said it – “For unless you believe that I am” – because this is what leads to the Jews’ question. It is immediately after Jesus says “I am” that the Jews ask “Who are you?” It’s as if the Jews are saying, “Wait a minute. Who did you just say you are?”

In John 8:28, Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he.” But, again the “he” is not in the original text.

Jesus actually said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am.”

 

Therefore, in John 8:58. Jesus’ definitive answer to who he is starts “Truly, truly.” He’s already told the Jews several times, but they can’t hear the answer.

In John 8:12-59, Jesus says “I am” (ego eimi) seven times. The seventh time is Jesus’ definitive statement of who he is in John 8:58. John is a very symbolic writer. Therefore, this should catch our attention. Seven is the number of spiritual perfection.

Why is the answer “I am” to the question of who Jesus is so important?

Knowing that Jesus is “I am” is the word and the truth that sets us free, leading to our spiritual perfection.

How so?

Jesus’ reply when the Jews ask Jesus, “Who are you?” after his first “I am” declaration is interesting. Jesus said, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning.”

What beginning is Jesus referring to?

Perhaps he is alluding to the beginning in Genesis.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:1, 3)

The first act of God’s creating was to call forth light. This is fascinating in light of (pun intended) how the whole conversation of who Jesus is started.

John 8:12 says, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

“I am the light of the world.”

This is the second of Jesus’ “I am” statements in John. Altogether, he makes seven “I am” statements in the gospel of John.

  1. “I am the bread of life.” – John 6:48
  2. “I am the light of the world.” – John 8:12
  3. “I am the door of the sheep.” – John 10:7
  4. “I am the good shepherd.” – John 10:11
  5. “I am the resurrection and the life.” – John 11:25
  6. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” – John 14:6
  7. “I am the true vine.” – John 15:1

All of these “I am” statements have to do with life.

As the bread of life, Jesus is that which gives and sustains life.

As the light of the world, it is Jesus’ life (“In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”) that lights the world, shining in the darkness, taking the world from death to life.

As the door, Jesus is the entry point to life and where life is protected.

As the good shepherd, Jesus lays down his life to protect life.

As the resurrection and the life, Jesus is the making all things new, taking those that were dead in their trespasses and making them alive to God.

As the way, truth, and life, Jesus is light, love, and life, which are the three invisible attributes of God clearly perceived since the creation of the world. (See my post Creation: A Witness to Jesus.)

As the true vine, Jesus is our connection to life, the vehicle through whom life passes from God to us.

The whole passage is about who Jesus is.

Jesus is I am.

Jesus is life.

In John 12:49-50, Jesus said, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life.”

1 John 5:10-12 says, “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

God’s testimony is that he gave us eternal life and that life is in Jesus.

God commanded Jesus what to say and what to speak. God’s commandment to Jesus was to speak life.

This is what Jesus did.

He spoke life.

This is Jesus’ word.

Four times in John 8:12-59 Jesus says “my word.” (The fifth time is the Jews repeating what Jesus said as a question.)

In John 8:31, Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We are to abide in Jesus’ word – life.

If we are abide in Jesus’ word – life – then we are truly his disciples.

We will know the truth – that Jesus speaks and gives life.

Knowing that Jesus speaks and gives life, the truth, will set us free.

Free from what?

Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

The fear of death has had all of us in lifelong slavery.

But, Jesus’ word, the truth, that Jesus speaks and gives life, set us free from the fear of death.

Therefore, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.”

Because of our fear of death we have been in lifelong slavery. Because of our fear of death, we go about bringing death to others in order to stave off our own death that we are so afraid of. We practice sin, meaning we bring death to others. Because we practice sin, bringing death to others to protect our own life, we have become a slave to sin and the fear of death. So, we continually, over and and over, resort to death as a way to protect ourselves.

However, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” If you abide in Jesus’ word, the truth, which is that Jesus speaks and gives life, then you will be truly free. The word free literally means a free person, not a slave. When Jesus sets you free, you are free from slavery to sin brought about by the fear of death. You no longer need to resort to death – war, murder, oppression, injustice, covetousness, etc. – to protect your own life. Instead, you are free to die to bring the same life that Jesus spoke and gave to you to others.

But, Jesus said, “Yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you.”

When the word of life that Jesus speaks to us does not abide in us, we seek to kill. We first seek to kill God. Then, we seek to kill others. All because we are enslaved to sin due to our fear of death. We are trapped in an endless spiral of death if Jesus’ word of life does not abide in us.

The Jews did not know Jesus as I am. Therefore, while they Abraham’s physical offspring, their true father, their spiritual father, was the devil. Therefore, they did their father’s desires. The devil is a murdered and a liar. So, that Jews murdered and lied. This is in complete contrast to what one does when they know Jesus as “I am.”

So, Jesus asks, “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear to my word.”

If you cannot understand Jesus because it because you cannot hear his word, which is life. If you cannot hear life it is because you are of your father the devil. These are sobering words from Jesus.

“If I tell you the truth, why do you not believe me?”

If Jesus speaks and gives life, following the commandment his Father gave him, then why do we not believe Jesus’ word?

“Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Why do you not believe Jesus’ word of life?

You are not of God.

Again, this is a very sobering word from Jesus. It should cause us to stop and think hard about what we believe about God.

For we hear life from Jesus, his word, the word from God, if we are of God.

How are we of God?

We know the answer to the question “Who is Jesus?”

The I Am.

The resurrection and the life.

The way, and the truth, and the life.

Do You Really Believe Jesus Defeated Death?

TODAY’S READING: JOHN 5-6

“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should eternal life, and i will raise him up on the last day.” – John 6:39-40

Christians are quite fond of saying that they have read the end of the Bible. Therefore, they know who wins in the end – God.

However, I’m convinced most Christians do not believe their own words. I’m convinced that most Christians do not actually believe that God wins the victory in the end.

I say this because most Christians seem to believe that because the way is narrow only a small, select group of people will be saved and therefore have eternal life. Everyone else will be damned to eternal and burned up in the lake of fire forever. In other words, in the end, death will claim the lives of millions, even billions, of people.

In the end, on the last day, if death claims the life of even one person, then did God truly win?

No.

In John 6:33, 35, Jesus said, “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…I am the bread of life.”

The Greek word for world in verse 33 is kosmos. It means the world, the created world, the universe, all created things.

Hmm…all created things.

Yesterday, I wrote about “What Happens to All Things?” All things are summed up, reconciled, made to be in harmonious friendship with God through love.

Jesus says that he gives life to the world, all created things, everything in heaven and on earth. Over and over, scripture says that God and Jesus give life, specifically to the dead. The dead are all people that walk according to the ways of this world, which means everyone is the dead.

Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Jesus also said, “For I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” (John 12:47)

The mission of Jesus was not just for you as an individual. His missions is for the world, all created things – to save them, to give them life.

Jesus said, “For I have not spoken on my authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 12:49-50)

The commandment the Father gave Jesus is to speak eternal life. Jesus speaks life to everything. If he does not speak life to everything, then Jesus will not fulfill the command of his Father. But, Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing and only said what he heard the Father speaking. So, we know that Jesus fulfills the Father’s command to speak eternal life.

Also, we know that God’s word does not return void. What God speaks actually happens. So, if Jesus, who is God, speaks life to all things, then all things will have life. If all things, even just one created thing in heaven and on earth, does not have eternal life, then death will have scored a victory.

However, scripture says and Christians proudly proclaim that God wins not Satan, who brings death because he has the power of death.

Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

If Jesus destroys Satan, the one who has the power of death, by his own, then can there be any death left?

No.

The one who wields death has been destroyed.

“‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?'” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

Death gets swallowed up in the victory of Jesus.

What is the victory of Jesus?

He gives life to the world, every created thing, all things.

If one thing dies, then death is not swallowed up in victory.

“For he must reign until he has put all things in subjection under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26)

Can death be destroyed if anything, anyone, dies?

Would not something, someone, still be in death?

If so, then death would still be existing and not destroyed.

So, for the last enemy, death, to be destroyed, everything, all created things, the world, must have life.

The problem is that most Christians have a short-term focus.

Notice that Paul said the last enemy to be defeated is death.

The word last is the key to understanding that, in the end, everything will have life.

Let’s look at John 6:37-40, 43-44 to see the importance of the word last.

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

What does the Father give to Jesus?

John 3:35 says, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.”

The Father has given Jesus all things, everything in heaven and on earth. Therefore, all things will come to Jesus. And, everything that comes to Jesus he will never cast it out. If he did cast them out, then they would not have life. So, for Jesus to receive everything that the Father has given him means that everything will have life.

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

Remember, Jesus came down from heaven as the bread of heaven to give life to the world. This is the commandment the Father gave to Jesus – to speak eternal life.

“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he given me, but raise it up on the last day.”

The Father put all things in Jesus’ hand. Jesus is to lose none of the all things that his Father put in his hand. Therefore, he is to give life to all things, every created thing, the world. Jesus will give life to all things on the last day.

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Everyone who looks at, beholds, Jesus and believes in him will have eternal life.

What does it look like when you truly behold Jesus and believe in him?

Philippians 2:9-10 says, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Every knee bowing and every tongue confessing is everyone beholding Jesus and believing in Him.

“No one cay say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3)

“It is the Spirit who gives life.” (John 6:63)

“The Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)

If everything, all things in Jesus’ hand that have been given to him by the Father, bow the knee and confess that Jesus is lord, then everything has the Spirit. And, because the Spirit gives life, if everything has the Spirit, then everything has life.

“Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him on the last day.”

Why does Jesus say “do not grumble?”

Jesus and the Jews have been talking about Moses, Israel, the manna, and the wilderness journey. The Jews grumbled and complained throughout their wilderness journey but particularly about the manna. Speaking of the wilderness journey, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:10, “Nor grumble as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.”

So, Jesus says do not grumble because the Destroyer, Satan, will destroy you. You will have death.

To come to Jesus, to be drawn by the Father, we need to stop grumbling, stop complaining about what God is or isn’t doing. The sooner we do this, the sooner we have life. Otherwise, we will have to wait until the last day.

While it may look like death is all around us and that God is causing, or at least, allowing death to take place, we must know that this is not the truth. We know it’s not the truth when we change our focus to the last day. For on the last day, everything we will have life. It’s on the last day that Jesus raises everything up.

The last day refers to the last day of the feast of booths or tabernacles. In the Old Testament, the only day we see the phrase “the last day” is in reference to the last day of the feast of booths (see Nehemiah 8:18). Interestingly, the people set up their tents in the square at the Water Gate.

In John 7, Jesus comes to Jerusalem on the feast of tabernacles. John 7:37-39 says, “On the last day, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”‘ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

The feast of tabernacles speaks of Jesus’ second coming. We have already seen that on the last day all things come to Jesus because they are drawn by the Father and have put in his hand. Jesus loses none of these things.

So, on the last day of this feast, symbolic of his second coming, Jesus gives living water, the Spirit, life, to everything.

“God, who gives life to all things.” (1 Timothy 6:13)

“For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…I am the bread of life.” (John 6:33, 35)

“The last enemy to be defeated is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26)

Jesus gives life to the world.

This is good news. This is the gospel.

As Christians, we are to know this beyond doubt. It is to be our hope so that we live and preach life to the world, becoming ministers of reconciliation with Jesus.

It’s high time Christians start believing and living the words that come out of their mouth.

In the end, God wins.

Death is defeated.

Death is swallowed up in victory.

Life reigns.

For the world.

Every created thing in heaven and on earth.

All things.

What Happens to All Things?

TODAY’S READING: JOHN 3-4

“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 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 3:35-36

God loves Jesus.

God gives all things into Jesus’ hand.

Whoever believes in Jesus has eternal life.

Whoever does not obey Jesus will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

SO WHAT HAPPENS TO ALL THINGS?

Do some things, some people, live forever?

Do other things, other people, get destroyed?

I think most read these verses in John and say those that believe in Jesus are going to live forever while those that don’t believe in Jesus are not going to live forever and instead will suffer from the wrath of God, burning forever in the lake of fire.

But, what if the whoever believes and whoever does not obey is more about this life or this age?

What if the whoever believes and whoever does not obey is about the process of all things being given into Jesus’ hand?

For something to be in your hand is for you to have authority over it.

So, what if, instead of the eternal state of all things, we are being told the process of Jesus having authority over all things?

Some will believe in Jesus and have eternal life now, in this age, and in the age to come.

Others will not obey Jesus. They will not see life now, in this age. But, the wrath of God, which is in truth a furious love that burns away all impurities, a love that cleanses, will remain on them until they can come under the authority of Jesus and be in his hand, whether in this life or age or the next.

Because of what you have been told and taught, you might think what I just wrote is wrong and heretical.

But, let’s read about all things.

WHAT ARE ALL THINGS?

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.” – Colossians 1:16

All things are everything in heaven and on earth that have ever existed. They are everything visible and invisible, material and immaterial, physical and spiritual.

WHERE DID ALL THINGS COME FROM?

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” – John 1:3

“For as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.” – 1 Corinthians 11:12

“God, who created all things.” – Ephesians 3:9

“He [Jesus], for whom and by whom all things exist.” – Hebrews 2:10

“The builder of all things is God.” – Hebrews 3:4

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” – Revelation 4:11

God created all things. It is by God that all things exist. He builds and creates all things. And, all things were made through Jesus.

WHY DO ALL THINGS EXIST?

Read through the verses above again. All things exist for Jesus.

WHAT DOES GOD GIVE TO ALL THINGS?

“God, who gives life to all things.” – 1 Timothy 3:16

Therefore, “he who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.” – Ephesians 4:10

Jesus fills all things with life.

Therefore, this is how “in him all things hold together.” – Colossians 1:17

This is why Paul said, “Since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything…for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.'” – Acts 17:25, 28

WHERE DO ALL THINGS LIVE AND RESIDE?

All things have been handed over to me by my Father.” – Matthew 11:27

All things have been handed over to me by my Father.” – Luke 10:22

“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.” – John 3:35

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands.” – John 13:3

WHY ARE ALL THINGS IN JESUS’ HANDS?

“For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘all things are put in subjection,’ it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him whom put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.” – 1 Corinthians 15:27-28

All things are in Jesus’ hands so that can be made subject to him. Jesus has authority over all things. Jesus has this authority so that God may be all in all, everything in everything.

IN THE END, WHAT HAPPENS TO ALL THINGS?

“And he who is seated on the throne said, ‘Behold I am making all things new.” – Revelation 21:5

Remember, all things are everything that has ever been made in heaven and on earth.

“In him we have the redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” – Ephesians 1:7-10

It’s the mystery of God’s will.

It’s according to his purpose.

It’s his plan for the fullness of time.

That in Christ all things would be united in him.

The Greek word for unite means to sum up. In particular, it means to sum up an argument or a train of thought.

What is the argument that started in the heart of God and has been building for all time?

That God may be all in all.

This is the argument being made in the creation account in Genesis 1. And, it is culminated with man made in God’s image and likeness. It is a physical creation filled with the Spirit. It is heaven and earth being joined together as one. It is God’s rule, his love, in the earth through man.

This is the argument for all things that gets summed up in Jesus.

“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross.” – Colossians 1:19-20

All things will be reconciled to God. This is why the fullness of God was pleased to dwell in Jesus. This is why Jesus died on the cross.

However, it is critical to understand that the end of all things is not that some would live forever and others be destroyed forever. This is not what it means to reconcile all things.

To reconcile means to restore to friendship or harmony.

In the end, all things are going to be brought into a harmonious friendship with God. God is all in all. You cannot reconcile all things by destroying some of them.

To reconcile means to make consistent or congruous as in making an ideal consistent with a reality.

Jesus is the image of God (Colossians 1:15) and the exact imprint of his nature (Hebrews 1:3). All things are being made consistent and congruent with his ideal, with God. You cannot make all things consistent with the ideal image of God by destroying some of them.

HOW ARE ALL THINGS SUMMED UP AND RECONCILED TO GOD?

Love.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” – 1 Corinthians 13:7-8

God is love.

God bears all things.

God believe all things.

God hopes all things.

God endures all things.

God never ends, never stops, never fails.

He continues until he is all in all.

Until all things are made new.

Until all things are summed up in him.

Until all things are reconciled in him.

This is what God, what love, does.

Jesus Gives Life. Period.

TODAY’S READING: JOHN 1-2

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:4-5

We are surrounded by death.

The literal, physical death of friends, family, loved ones.

The metaphorical death of plans, dreams, desires, even our selves.

We are surrounded by death to such an extent that we believe that God is responsible for all the death in this world. We believe he uses war, and the death it brings, to judge nations and peoples. We believe he uses all sorts of natural disasters to judge nations and peoples. We believe men are appointed a time to die so God takes the lives of men whenever he feels like it, often as some sort of judgment.

Because of these beliefs, we further believe that when Jesus returns he is going to judge all those who sinned, all those who failed to believe in him. And, as Jesus judges these people, he is going to throw them in a lake of eternal fire, utterly destroy them, kill them.

We believe that Jesus, and therefore God, is going to condemn people to death.

This is antichrist.

This is Satanic.

This is an evil belief of the highest order.

This is the worst maligning and blaspheming of the character of God I can think of.

The first chapter of John is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It is glorious. Much attention is drawn to John 1:1-2. Many Christians can rattle off those verses without even having to think about them.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”

Beautiful. Wonderful. Truly an amazing statement about Jesus.

But, I believe we have short changed John 1:4-5.

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

It is equally beautiful and wonderful. And, if we truly meditated on the full import of John’s words, then we would see that Jesus gives life.

Jesus gives life.

Period.

Full stop.

End of story.

Jesus does not kill.

Jesus does not murder.

Jesus does put people to death.

And what we know to be true of Jesus we know to be true of God. “No one has ever seen God; the only God [Jesus], who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (John 1:18)

Behold what John 1:4-5 is saying.

“In him was life.”

This is speaking of Jesus. Life is in him. This is not just any life. It is the life of God.

In John 5:26, Jesus said, “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.”

In John 11:25, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

“The life was the light of men.”

This life, the life of God, that was in Jesus was the light of men. It is the life of God that shines forth to men. It is the life of God that is the light that allows us to see clearly. Light reveals. And the light that shined forth from Jesus to reveal was the life of God.

In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”

John 1:9 says, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”

Is the light that shines forth and reveals the life of God for a select few?

No.

Jesus is the light, the true light, of the world, giving light to everyone. This light is coming, continually, ever brighter, into the world.

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” (Proverbs 4:18)

Who is “the” righteous but Jesus?

Who is it that shines brighter and brighter until full day but Jesus?

Jesus is the light that emanates forth from life that shines brighter and brighter, make God’s life clearer and clearer, until the full day that he returns.

“The light shines in the darkness.”

This is so much more than physical light shining in physical darkness.

This is so much more than light, which is truth, shining in, revealing, darkness, which is everything that is false.

Light emanates from life. Life is the light.

Life is shining in the darkness. The eternal, unchanging, undying, ever present life of God is shining in the darkness.

Yes, darkness that represents evil, wickedness, and sin.

But, even more darkness that is death itself.

Speaking of Jesus, Matthew 4:14-16 says, “So that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a great has dawned.”

People dwelling in darkness.

The same as the people dwelling in the region of death.

Darkness and death are one and the same.

“The light shines in the darkness.”

The life of Jesus, the life of God, shines in death, all the death that is in the world.

In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

You will not walk in death. Rather, life will be the light that leads you.

In John 12:46, Jesus said, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”

Jesus came into the world as light. But, the light comes forth from the life, the life of God in Jesus. And, if you have the light you will not remain in darkness, in death. The light removes darkness. Therefore, the life of God that comes into the world removes death.

Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit is now at work in the sons of disobedience.”

We were dead. We existed in death, in darkness.

We walked according to the course of this world, following the ruler of the world. The ruler of this world is Satan, And, to walk, to follow after his course, in his way is to walk in death. Hebrews 2:14 says that he, Satan, the devil, has the power of death.

“But God…even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” (Ephesians 2:4, 5)

We walked in death. God makes us walk in life.

Colossians 1:13 says, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”

From the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.

From the kingdom of death to the kingdom of life.

“And the darkness has not overcome it.”

The darkness could lay hold of the light. It could not grasp it, seize it. Darkness could not defeat light.

Light overcomes darkness. Light defeats darkness.

Go back to the first chapter of the Bible, the creation story, which John continually references in the early chapters of his gospel.

“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.” Darkness, that is death, was pervasive.

“And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” The Spirit was brooding over the earth and the darkness and death upon as if to give birth to life.

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Light coming into the world of darkness. “The light shines in the darkness.” Life coming into the world of death.

“And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.” Light is good. Life is good. God is good and only good. Life came in and darkness was separate out.

What do we see in the rest of the creation story?

The ever greater expansion of life, day after day, until the full day when the life of God, his very image and likeness, was in mankind.

Life overcomes death. Life defeats death.

Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through the fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

Jesus, in whom is the life of God, came to defeat death by destroying the one who had the power of death.

Who had the power of death?

The devil. Satan.

Not God. Not Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:54-56 says, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The perishable puts on the imperishable.

The mortal puts on immortality.

Darkness puts on light.

Death puts on life.

Darkness is swallowed up in light.

Death is swallowed up in life.

This is the victory that comes through Jesus Christ. This is what all creation is groaning for.

The Greek word for darkness in John 1:5 is skotia. It is used 17 times in the New Testament. Everywhere you look in the Bible the number 17 is associated with victory and overcoming the enemy. Therefore, it is quite appropriate that skotia, darkness, which symbolizes death, it used 17 times.

Have you noticed that Satan is always the one associated with death. Not Jesus. Not God.

Jesus, and God, is always associated with life.

Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Satan gives death.

Jesus gives life.

1 Corinthians 15:45 says, “The last Adam [Jesus] became a life-giving spirit.”

Jesus is a life-giving Spirit. He cannot give death. He can only give life.

Jesus gives life.

Period.

This is everywhere in the Bible. This is the witness that the Bible gives. We only need to get our eyes off the death in this world, which we then map on to God, and look to Jesus to see that it so.

Not only is it the witness of the Bible, the testimony of men, that Jesus, gives life, but it is the testimony of God.

God’s testimony is that he gives life, eternal life, and the life is in Jesus. Jesus gives life.

If you don’t believe this testimony, the you make God a liar.

1 John 5:9-13 says, “If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not beleive in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Jesus gives life.

Period.

Don’t believe me.

Don’t believe men.

Don’t believe the Bible.

Believe God.