Jesus The Gardener

John 20:15 
“She, supposing Him to be the gardener, .
 . .”

Mary saw Jesus, but the circumstance she was in, and the experiences she was facing, caused her to conclude that He was a gardener. It was not until she heard His Word, that she clearly understood who He really was.

It interests me how many different, even opposing views, people develop regarding Jesus. These views have two things in common. First, they are usually forged as a result of personal experience, and second, they are always formed without the illumination of Scripture. Some consider Jesus to be a good person who was misunderstood; others, a mythical figure; while till others, use portions of Scripture to develop a hybrid Jesus, who bears little resemblance to the Jesus of the Bible.

This is not only true of the unbeliever or the seeker, it is also true of the Christian. How often do we allow the circumstances of life to shape our view of Christ? When we are facing hardship, we think of Him as unloving, distant or even weak. While blessings cause us to think of Him as loving and kind. It is not our circumstances, but His Word, that defines Him. When we will listen to His Word, we will see who He truly is, and how He wants to work in our circumstances.

Never limit Jesus to what you understand of Him; He is so much greater than that. Let His Word define Him as you worship Him.

Pastor Jim

Questions for John 20

  1. In verses 1-9 a body is missing from the tomb, but no risen Savior, yet. What three individuals examine the tomb?
  2. Read verse 9. Although Jesus had taught them that He would die and rise again in the fulfillment of the Scriptures, they didn’t understand. Does not understanding something mean that it is not true? Have you ever had 20/20 hindsight (spiritually speaking) on a circumstance that was difficult to understand while you were going through it?
  3. Read verses 10-11. Where do the disciples go? Where does Mary go? Why do you think she did?
  4. As Jesus begins to talk with Mary, she doesn’t recognize Him. What reasons could there be for that? Read Luke 24:15-16 for a possibility.
  5. Why were the disciples hidden in a locked room? What changed when Jesus arrived? (Verse 19-20)
  6. Read verse 22. Compare this with John 14:16-18. Did Jesus make good on this promise?
  7. How did Thomas respond to the news that Jesus had risen? (Verse 24-25)
  8. How did Jesus respond to Thomas’ doubt? (Verse 26-29)
  9. In verse 29 Jesus talks about how blessed those are who have not seen and yet believe. Who falls in to that category?
  10. According to verse 30-31, why was the Gospel of John written? Do you think this would be a useful book for a person to read who did not yet know Jesus?Old Testament:
    Deuteronomy 21- The Curse
    Deuteronomy 22- Torn Apart

Silent Success

John 19:9
“But Jesus gave him no answer.”

Jesus is facing the battle of His life. We could even say it was the battle for His life. All the political power of Israel was manipulating the power of Rome, to execute the Son of God. Yet Jesus remained silent. We know He wields the power to overcome these attacks. We read that He calmed the storms, healed the sick, cast out demons, and even raised the dead. Yet now, when it seemed to matter the most, He refused to lift a finger or say a word.

Why? What possible benefit could be gained by not using His divine power to overcome this political onslaught? The answer is two-fold. First, it was the plan of God for Christ to go to the cross as a substitute for me and you. He, the innocent, would take the place of us, the guilty, in order to pave the way to heaven. I think there is a second reason. In facing the battle of His life, Jesus is teaching His followers how to fight. Battles for the kingdom of God will not be won with carnal measures. A few years later, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote,

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds . . .” 2 Corinthians 10:4

Jesus knew that His followers would soon, and forever, face the threats of world governments opposed to the kingdom of God. In His silent submission to the will and ways of God, Jesus not only set an example of how to fight, He also showed us what winning really looked like. When that dark Friday came to an end, the tally sheet would seem to declare “World Governments: one, the Kingdom of God: defeated.” But what really happened? In the silent, submission of Jesus, the kingdom of Hell was conquered and the way to heaven paved.

It is not wrong for Christians to use their voices when politics oppose righteousness. It is wrong for us to use the world’s methods, while neglecting the ways of God. In the human mind, going to battle against the forces of unrighteousness with silent, steadfast prayer, is like fighting an armored tank with a slingshot. Let’s keep in mind that the cross looked like a massive defeat, yet turned out to be Heaven’s greatest victory.

In the battles you are facing today, follow the example of Jesus. Surrender to the will and ways of God, then go to your knees and seek God to bring about victory. The same God of great exploits in history, wants to work in and through us today.

Pastor Jim

Questions for John 19

  1. Verse 1 is a very short “matter of fact” statement. But the reality is that Roman scourging was a long, brutal, grisly affair. The amazing thing is that the scourging Jesus took was not part of the payment for our sin (He paid for that by His death on the cross). In Isaiah 53:5 we read that His stripes (the bloody wounds of scourging), are for our healing and peace. What areas of your life do you need Jesus to bring healing to? Ask Him to do so, and thank Him that He so bravely took that beating for us.
  2. Scourging was intended to elicit a confession, and the scourging would stop when the confession came. Yet Jesus had no sin or wrongdoing to confess, and so took the full scourging. Pilate had already interrogated Jesus in chapter 18 and found no fault with Him. What is his conclusion after the scourging (verses 4 and 6)?
  3. Jesus wears a crown of thorns that the Roman soldiers cruelly put on Him. Read Genesis 3:17-18. Where did thorns come from? Now read Gal 3:13.
  4. How did Pilate feel when he found out that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God? (verse 8, 12)
  5. How does Jesus respond to Pilate when he tells Him that he has power to crucify Jesus?
  6. Read the end of verse 5 and the end of verse 14. What is Pilate telling the crowd to do? Now read Isaiah 45:22 and Hebrews 12:2. What are we to do to be saved and to continue as Christians?
  7. The author of this Gospel is the apostle John. He often refers to himself in the third person, and does so in verse 26. Read verses 25-27. What is Jesus commissioning John to do in these verses?
  8. Read verses 28-30. Did Jesus see His earthly mission through to completion?
  9. Read verses 21-24, 31-36. If Jesus were just a man, and not God, could He have arranged for these things to happen?
  10. Who are they people who take responsibility for Jesus burial?
  11. Read Isaiah 53:1-12. Take time to love and thank Jesus for all that He did for us on that day.

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 19- City Of Refuge
Deuteronomy 20- Join The Fight

His Cup

John 18:11 
“Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus spent hours in prayer. The portion of the prayer recorded for us had to do with a cup. The event is recorded in Mark 14:35-36,
“He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said,  ‘ Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’” 

Earlier that evening Jesus had taken a cup and distributed it to His disciples, explaining that it was the Blood of the new covenant.

“Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,  ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’” Matthew 26:27-28

It is clear, the cup that Jesus referred to was the cross, and the impending judgment He would face as He bore the sins of humanity. That cup, that judgment, was so great that it caused Him to sweat blood as He faced the reality of it in the garden. The judgment would include all the weight, penalty, and guilt of sin; as well as being forsaken by the Father, as He became sin for us.

Because Jesus tasted that cup bearing our sin, Paul declares,

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Righteousness is the standard for entrance into Heaven. The level of righteousness required is God’s perfection. What a wonderful truth, that He bore our sin so that we might be made righteous.

For any who reject the provision made possible because Jesus drank the cup of Calvary, Revelation declares,

“. . . he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation…” Revelation 14:10

Jesus tasted the cup of wrath so we would never have to. If you have not believed and received Christ, why not do that right now. Pray, “Jesus, thank you for taking my sin and providing me with Your righteousness. I receive You as my Savior and Lord”

If you have questions contact us at http://www.ccvb.net

Pastor Jim

Questions for John 18

  1. Judas comes to betray Jesus in the garden. Who does he bring with him? What do they have with them?
  2. Read verses 4-9. Although the soldiers come with military force to arrest Him, what phrases in these verses show that Jesus was the one who was really in command of the situation?
  3. Peter does not understand that Jesus is in charge of this situation. How does He respond to them coming after Jesus? What does Jesus say to him to correct him?
  4. Who did the soldiers lead Jesus to? Who was he related to?
  5. Who else manages to get in to witness this unlawful interrogation of Jesus?
  6. Read verses 17-18, and 25-27. How is Peter’s witness for Jesus in this chapter? Did Jesus already know that Peter was going to be this way (John 13:38)?
  7. The Jews would not enter into the Praetorium because they felt it was an unclean Gentile place that would defile them, preventing them from being able to eat the Passover. While they were worried about the ceremonial, symbolic Passover, the Living Passover Lamb that the ceremony represented was right in front of them!   Read Exodus 11-12 to learn more about the Passover.
  8. Because they were a Roman province, the Jews had to abide by Roman law, and no longer had the authority to execute capital punishment. The Jewish method of execution was by stoning; the Roman method, by crucifixion. Read Matt 20:17-19, and compare it with John 18:29-32. Even though it was the Jews who were trying to kill Him throughout the gospels, Jesus knew all along how He would die.
  9. In verses 36-37 Jesus claims to be a king of a kingdom. Although there are many aspects to the kingdom He rules, what are the things that this passage teaches us about His kingdom?
  10. What is Pilate’s conclusion upon interrogating and examining Jesus? (verse 38) Compare this with Hebrews 4:15 and 1Peter 1:18-19.

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 17- Lessons For Leaders
Deuteronomy 18- Avoiding A Shipwreck

He Is Praying For You

John 17:9
I pray for them.”

Perhaps the best title for John 17 is, “The Lord’s Prayer.” As the hour of His betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion approaches, Jesus takes time to pray for His disciples. His prayer, while encompassing many things, seems to focus upon three thoughts.

First, Jesus prays for His followers that they may be one. Division within the body of Christ has been one of the most confusing things for the unbelieving world. If Christians all believe in the same God, are washed in the same blood, and filled with the same Spirit, then why is there so much division in the church? Some division is good. Worship styles are different. It is good to have lots of variety within the church in order to provide an atmosphere where people are able to connect with God. Also, cultures are different, and to some degree, the church should be relevant to the culture, in order to win souls to Christ. That being said, much of the division in the church is wrong and harmful. The church fights with itself over petty differences and misunderstandings. It is as if we believed that our church is the only real church. Thank God, Jesus is praying for us.

Second, Jesus prays for His followers, that we might be kept from evil. Christianity would be so much easier if the moment we made a decision to follow Christ, we were translated from this life into eternity. It would be easy to know who the true believers were, because they would be gone. It would be easy to give up the temptations of life, because we would be in Heaven. It would, however, make evangelism very difficult, because there would be no one left to share Christ. Jesus prays for us, that we would withstand the temptations of life. It encourages me to know that He faced what we face, and He overcame through the power of the Word of God, and the Spirit of God in His daily life.

Finally, His prayer is like a commission. In it, He makes mention of the fact that He is sending us into the world. We, His church, are His solution for reaching the lost. Later, He makes it clear that we are fully equipped when He states,

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:18-19

We are sent into the world with the authority of Jesus, the blessing of the Father, and the empowering of the Spirit. As you go forth today, keep in mind, Jesus is praying for you, that you might be kept as you go.

Pastor Jim

Questions for John 17

  1. Chapter 17 is one long prayer by Jesus to the Father. In verse 1, Jesus says to His Father that “the hour has come”. Looking ahead to the next few chapters, what is He speaking about?
  2. According to verse 3, what is the definition of eternal life?
  3. Read verses 5-8. These verses talk about Jesus’ relationship with the twelve. In these verses, what did He do for them? What did they do in response?
  4. In verse 9, Jesus does not pray for the world in general, but for specific people. Who are you praying for, specifically?
  5. In verse 11 and 21-23, Jesus prays for an oneness among His followers. How does He describe this oneness in these verses? Also read Phil 2:1-11.
  6. In verses 13-18, Jesus describes some of the elements of our relationship with this current world system. How does He describe this relationship in these verses?
  7. In addition to the twelve, who else is He praying for? (verse 20)                                                             Is this verse relevant to you and me?
  8. In verse 24, what two things does Jesus pray for?
  9. Highlight all of the uses of the words related to “glory” in this chapter. Make a list of what each use is teaching us. Especially note verse 22.
  10. According to verse 26, Jesus is praying that the Father loves us as much as ______________?

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 15- Freedom
Deuteronomy 16- Retreats

Better Off

John 16:7
“It is to your advantage that I go away; . . .”

Much of what Jesus said was shocking to the ears of the disciples. He spoke with a wisdom that was otherworldly. They may have become used to the fact that Jesus was going to say things that surprised them, but I do not think anything could prepare them for the statement Jesus made here. Earlier, He had been speaking about His betrayal and death, He now declares they will be better off without Him. For over three years, these men have been with Jesus. They have watched as He transformed lives, and listened as He declared truths about the Kingdom of God. Now He is speaking about leaving, and declaring they will be more effective with Him out of the way. I know Peter is the one who is known for objecting to Jesus, but I find myself objecting on His behalf. I cannot think of a single scenario where it would not be better to have Jesus around. If I were fishing, boating, preaching, visiting the sick, feeding the hungry or facing the Pharisees, I think it would always be better to have Jesus there, than to be by myself. How could Jesus say such things? What conditions could make it better to have Jesus absent, rather than present?

First off, things are better because of the way Jesus will depart. No one could take His life, He would instead, lay it down as a sacrifice to provide the cure for man’s sin problem. His death makes it possible for each of us to have eternal life, and gives us a message to declare to the world. The message that, they too, can have their sins forgiven, and receive eternal life in Christ. Beyond that, Jesus goes on to explain why things are better for us if He departs to the Father.

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” 

When Jesus departed to the Father, He sent forth the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third “Person” of the Godhead, He is described as the Helper, the Comforter, and the One who empowers the Christian. Jesus promised that when the Holy Spirit came, He would convince the world of its need for a Savior, by convicting it of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

Ministry is impossible. We are natural beings with natural abilities. We are sent forth to impact people spiritually. We can tell moving stories that effect people’s emotions, but only the Spirit of God can penetrate the heart of man, and convince Him of His need for Christ. Praise the Lord, Jesus did not leave us alone, but sent forth the Holy Spirit who will enable each of us to be involved in furthering the work of God in the World.

Father, baptize us afresh with Your Holy Spirit today!

Pastor Jim

Questions for John 16

  1. Chapters 13-16 give us tremendous insight into what Jesus was teaching His disciples on the last night that He was with them before His crucifixion. These chapters contain some amazing lessons that He has not taught before, and in this chapter we are told some of the reasons that He is teaching these lessons. Look at verse 1, 4, 33, and John 15:11. What are the reasons that Jesus is teaching them these things?
  2. Read verses 6 and 12. Are Jesus’ words immediately producing joy in the disciples? Will His words ultimately produce those results?
  3. Consider verse 7. Is it better to have Jesus with me in the flesh, or to have the Holy Spirit dwelling in my heart?
  4. In verse 4 Jesus says “these things I did not say to you at the beginning because I was with you…”, but now that He is leaving, it is time for Him to tell them of who will be with them instead. The Holy Spirit is being introduced to them in a brand new way. Read verses 7-15. List some of the things that Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would do.
  5. Will the Holy Spirit behave or cause us to behave in a way that draws attention to Him or to us? On whom will He put attention? (verse 14)
  6. Read verses 18-22. The disciples clearly are perplexed. But Jesus has a perspective that they do not (in the same way that a woman after having a child has a different perspective on the pain of labor). Have you had any times in your walk with the Lord where nothing seemed to make sense, but in hindsight you see perfectly what He was doing? Are you going through any of those times now? Take time to pray for God to give you His perspective.
  7. Verses 23-27 reveal that in as we walk with Jesus we can come directly before the Father with our prayers, and that He will give us what we ask. Read James 4:3 for a balance to this verse.
  8. In verse 32, Jesus tells the disciples that they will abandon Him in His trial, but who does He stay will stand with Him? Read 2 Timothy 4:16-17.

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 13- Walk This Way
Deuteronomy 14- Good Mourning

Fruit-Filled Life

John 15:8
“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”


God desires that we live fruit-filled lives. When we do, He is glorified and we are blessed. A fruit-filled life is marked by the characteristics of Christ. In Galatians 5, Paul listed many of the “fruits” that God desires us to bear. These are inward qualities that are a result of being transformed by Jesus.

 

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,   self -control. Against such there is no law.”

When our lives are filled with these qualities, God is glorified, others are drawn to Him, and we are blessed. Think about it. Don’t you want to be filled with love, joy and peace? Isn’t life better when you are patient and kind? Jeremiah contrasted two lives. He spoke of the one who departs from the Lord, being like a shrub in the desert; while the one who trusts in the Lord is like a tree by the waters bringing forth fruit (Jeremiah 17:5-8). I don’t speak “tree”, but if I did, I think I would hear the trees longing to be by the water’s edge where life is better, and fruit is abundant.

The key to living a fruit-filled life is abiding in Christ. The word ‘abide’ speaks more of a condition, than an action. We abide in Christ when we believe Him and receive Him. At that moment, a miracle happens. Our sins are forgiven, we come alive to God, and we are placed in Christ; where the life of Christ begins to flow into our lives. Jesus contrasts the branches that are in Him, with the branches that do not abide. He tells us the branches that are not abiding, or not connected, are cast out, withered and burned; while the branches that are in Him, are lifted up and pruned, in order to bear more and more fruit (John 15:4-6).

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are attached to the life-giving vine. The more time you spend with Him, the more His life will be produced in you. Take some time today allowing the vinedresser to lift you up, that you may become more fruitful.

Pastor Jim

Questions for John 15

  1. Jesus gives the analogy of the vine and the branches to describe our relationship with Him.  Fruit can only come when the branches are attached to the vine or tree.  How many times is fruit mentioned in this chapter?
  2. List all of the things that this chapter teaches us about spiritual fruit?
  3. What will clean us from the inside out? (verse 3)  Look up Psalm 119:9
  4. How did Jesus love His disciples? (verse 9)
  5. Although the warning about branches that do not bear fruit can be frightening, what was Jesus’ purpose in telling us these things? (verse 11)
  6. Read verses 12-15. How is Jesus relationship with the disciples changing?  How do you think they felt about this change?  Read 2 Chronicles 20:7 and Isaiah 41:8.
  7. Read verse 18-20.  Why would Jesus be telling this to His disciples?  What advantage might it be to know these things?  Read 1 Peter 4:12-13, and compare with these verses.
  8. When the Holy Spirit comes what will He do? (verse 26)
  9. Consider verse 16.  What are some of the things that God does for us?

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 11- What Did You See?
Deuteronomy 12- Right In His Own Eyes

Promises

John 14:1
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”

We live in troublesome times. Many face the fear of cancer or some other illness. The economy has shattered the comforts we once thought we had, or would enjoy. And after thousands of years of written history, the heart of man has not improved. We read of nations on the brink of war, violent crime haunting even the most peaceful communities, and global acts of terrorism on the rise. All this, and sadly much more, cause us to fear for our own safety, and for the future for our children and grandchildren.

In the midst of this, Jesus gives us His great and precious promises. This chapter begins with a simple exhortation that is followed up with promise after promise, which makes the exhortation possible. Jesus says,

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”

A troubled heart is one of the most common ailments men face. When our hearts fail, it is next to impossible to press on. We find ourselves weakened and filled with fear. The promises of Jesus are the cure for the troubled heart.

“I go to prepare a place for you.”

“I will come again and receive you to Myself”

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father”

“If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

“I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth”

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Cling to the promises of God and watch Him replace fear and worry with confident obedience. John said:

“Greater is He that is in you than He who is in the world”

Pastor Jim

Questions for John 14 

  1. This is Jesus’ last night before the Crucifixion. He has spent the last few years with these guys, and just told them in chapter 13 that He is leaving.  They are understandably upset, and so Jesus begins to comfort them.  Jesus promises to prepare a place for them, and makes another promise concerning that place. What is that promise?
  2. What makes heaven so special?  (end of verse 3)
  3. Read verses 4-6.  Jesus has made Himself the subject of His teaching.  What three things does He claim to be?  Can anyone else be these things?
  4. Read John 1:18, 1Tim 6:16, and consider verses 14:7-11.  God is Spirit, He is infinite, and He lives in heaven.  In contrast we are flesh and blood, finite, and live on earth.  It would seem impossible that we could ever know God.  How did Jesus tell us that we could know the Father?
  5. In verses 12 -14, Jesus says that we as His church will do greater works than He did in his brief ministry.  How will these works be accomplished?  What is the goal of these works?
  6. Look at verses 15, and 21-24.  If we claim to love Jesus, what should we do?
  7. One of the greatest comforts that Jesus leaves His disciples is that He is sending someone just like Him to take up the role of Teacher, Helper, and Comforter that He had in their life.  Who is this Person?
  8. Read verses 16, 17 and 26.  What are some of the things these verses tell us that the Holy Spirit will do?
  9. Jesus promises a different type of peace than can ever be experienced by someone in the world who does not know Him.  What are some ways that this peace is different?
  10. Read verse 31.  Why did Jesus obey His Father’s commandments in everything?

Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 9- Game Day
Deuteronomy 10- Timeless