And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34)
We know very little of Jesus’ life before he went public with his teachings and his miracles. We know something of his birth. And we know about the time his parents lost track of him when he was twelve years old, when he was hanging out in the temple. But that’s it.
Did Jesus Need the Holy Spirit? Read More
In our last post from the gospel of John we saw how John the Baptist was grilled with questions. And he answered all their questions, all the questions asked by this group of inquisitors sent from the Pharisees.
One Last Question
So now they ask him one final question: “Okay, if you’re not the Messiah, and you’re not that prophet, and you’re not Elijah, then why do you baptize?” (In those days baptism was for gentiles newly converted to Judaism, but John was baptizing Jews. This was unorthodox and confusing to the religious leadership.)
John the Baptist says, Read More
Last post on the gospel of John we saw how John the Baptist declared, “I am not the Christ,” and we discussed the benefits of recognizing that fact in our own lives. This post we’ll see John grilled with more questions and learn what information he withheld from his inquisitors.
And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (John 1:21-23)
Was John The Baptist Elijah?
They asked John the Baptist if he was Elijah, and he said, “I am not.” Have you ever thought this through? Because Read More
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” John 1:19-20
I have failed as a leader. As a father, most importantly, and also as a leader in the fire department. Many of the scraps of wisdom you read on this blog come from my failures. I offer what I offer so you don’t have to fail where I did. You can learn from experience but it doesn’t have to be your own. I invite you to learn from mine. And this idea that I am not the Christ, that was one of my greatest failures of all.
Maybe you’re saying to yourself right now, “That’s not a problem for me. Of course I know I’m not the Christ.” If that’s you then let me just say, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about intellectual understanding. I’m talking about behavior. In my case, I was one of those people: a type A personality. I tried–to the point of exhaustion–to be the rising sun of my organization and my family: simultaneously.
It doesn’t work.
I can tell you (because I’ve lived it) that when you forget you’re not the Christ you’ll fail. More specifically, you’ll tend to experience the following 5 problems: Read More
(John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. John 1:15-18
The Law And It’s Result
“…the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” The law was given through Moses, and what did we get when all we had was the law? When Moses was up on the mountain receiving the law, receiving the stone tablets engraved with the ten commandments, he was gone from the people for awhile. And the people grew tired of waiting. They gave up on Moses, and they gave up on God Himself too. They created their own thing to worship, an idol, and they threw a party. And when Moses finally came down from the mountain and saw what had happened, he was devastated. He broke the stone tablets in anger and 3,000 of the idol worshippers died that day. (Exodus Chapter 32)
The law brings death, because we can’t measure up to it, we can’t meet that standard. The law is important, even as we saw in the last blog post on John 1:14, because the law is truth. The law reveals the truth of our sin. And the wages of sin is death. So the truth of the law is essential. It’s the educator, as Paul said, yet it brings death. (Galatians 3:24)
Jesus’ Grace And Truth
But then came Jesus. Read More
Never Bored Again
I was talking with a thirty-something last night and he and I both concluded we never feel bored. Maybe that’s not surprising. There’s Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. There’s podcasts, blogs, and Google searches. There are 300 hours of new video uploaded to Youtube–every minute, more than 150,000 new Reddit posts and submissions each day, and at the bottom of every Google News category there’s a link that says, “More Sci/Tech stories,” or “More Sports stories,” or “More U.S. stories,” or “More World stories.”
There’s more amazing information available to occupy our attention than ever before. (And I haven’t even touched on TV, music, movies, and video games.)
I love living at this point in the time-space continuum where we can have such an incredible amount of information available to us. I love doing research. I love checking out Youtube videos, articles, and subreddits in my areas of interest. But there’s a catch. Read More
“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:11-13
Women Are More Amazing Than Men
Women are amazing, aren’t they? I mean, they have an ability no man has. They have the ability to Read More
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (John 1:9-12)
When I was 9 years old I lived just south of Chicago, at 14910 South Kenton St., in Midlothian, Illinois. Somehow all the other kids on that street rejected me. They unanimously decided to exclude me from all their games and group activities. It was pretty bad. The level of hostility was pretty high. One time they even Read More
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. John 1:6-8
The Most Inclusive Of All Religions
John the Apostle wrote those words about John the Baptist. God sent John the Baptist so all might believe through him. All–everyone–every single human being. That’s what God wants. And He went to extreme lengths to make that possible. He sent the Light, His own Son, to die on your behalf. Unlike other religions, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. It’s not dependent on the works you do or the depth of your meditative state. Christianity is the most inclusive of all religions. Anyone, anyone at all, can receive the Light who is Jesus Christ. “This is the work of God,” Jesus said, “that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
“…that all might believe,” that is God’s heart.
But as you read the scripture at the top of this post you might be saying to yourself, Read More
The Life And The Light
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
Napoleon Bonaparte And Jesus
Have you ever heard what Napoleon Bonaparte said about Jesus? Toward the end of his life Bonaparte was living in exile on St. Helena, a remote island in the South Atlantic. It was there that he said to his friend General Bertrand: “I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison.”
Many believe Bonaparte converted to Christianity while living in exile on that island. Bonaparte recognized that Jesus is more than a man. “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.”
Hello Darkness My Old Friend
“Hello darkness my old friend” Simon and Garfunkel sang in the seventies. There’s darkness in your life. I know there is because Read More
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:1-3
The Exact Representation of God’s Nature
In the beginning was the Word. The Word with a capital W. The Word is logos in the Greek and it means a thought. The capital W means the Word is divine. The Word is what John calls Jesus in the first verse of the gospel of John. In other words, Jesus The Word is the expression of God’s thoughts. Jesus is a living expression of God’s mind. Or as the writer of Hebrews tells us, Jesus is the exact representation of His nature. (Hebrews 1:3)
When Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus answered,“Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:8-21)
The God We Can’t Understand
And we’re so immensely blessed by Jesus’ incarnation. Think this through with me: If you believe Read More
In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.
How Jesus Loved People:
Let me start with the obvious, you’re not Jesus Christ. That being the case, I don’t recommend you visit your local place of worship and clean house with a whip. But I do believe there’s a most important insight found here concerning how you and I can love like Jesus did. That insight is…
Jesus loved God first.
“Hey, this series is supposed to be about loving people,” you might be saying to yourself.
Well, God is a Person!
And Jesus loves God far more than He loves other people. Here in this passage of scripture we see He loved God with such abandon, He had no regard for what other people thought of Him.
In case you might think Jesus lost His temper here, read closely, and you’ll notice this wasn’t something done on impulse. Making a whip out of cords takes time. He knew what He was going to do ahead of time, and without question, He knew what others would think of His actions.
But He expressed His passion for His God anyway.
We gain additional insight into Jesus’ view of people’s opinions just a few verses further into the same chapter. In verses 23-25 we learn how many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
Jesus loved God first, and He loved Him with abandon. He gave no value to what others thought of Him with regard to His love for His God.
How to Love Like Jesus–Love God First
It’s hugely important to love God first! To love Him far above and beyond anyone else. This is the idea behind Jesus’ teaching: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) Obviously Jesus taught over and over we are to love God and love people, and of course that includes the people in your family. What He’s saying in Luke 14, and what we see Jesus demonstrating when he cleanses the temple, is to love God first, far above anyone else. Jesus cares deeply about what God thinks, and what pleases Him. And He puts that above, far above, what other people think.
When I put God first, I’m blessed because I become focused on what’s truly important in life. When God slips out of first place, I quickly become mired down in the temporal. My heart and my soul and my mind are taken up with what’s happening at work, or on ESPN, or what’s on sale at Best Buy, or my next big project, or maintaining my toys, or whatever other temporal business presents itself. And a kind of inertia sets in. The more I move in the direction of the temporal, the further away I drift from God and the eternal. In my experience, when I find myself in this state of being, I’m usually brought back to intimacy with God through some sort of crisis. You can learn from experience, but it doesn’t have to be your own experience. Please, let me encourage you to learn from mine. Draw close to God before the trial comes. You’ll be so glad you did.
And there’s another, even more compelling reason to put God above all others in your life, and it has to do with shame. There have been times in my life when I was skulking around, embarrassed about my love for Christ. I lived in fear of what others might think of me. Man, I’m on dangerous ground when I live like that. Jesus said very plainly, “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8-9)
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be disowned by Christ before the angels of God.
So I need to love God the same way Jesus did: far more than anyone else, with abandon, giving no value to what others think of me with regard to my love for God.
That’s how Jesus loved.
That’s how you can love like Jesus.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”
-Jesus Christ, Matthew 22:37
[Image via: AldoZL Creative Commons]
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