Is Jesus God? (After all, he said, “Before Abraham Was, I Am”)

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Who is Jesus?

Read John 8:46-59.

 

Who Is Julius Caesar?

According to Plutarch of Chaeronea, seventy five years or so before Jesus was born, Julius Caesar was sailing on the Aegean Sea when he was kidnapped by pirates. They demanded a ransom of 20 talents of silver (about 350,000 in today’s U.S. dollars) but Caesar laughed at the amount. He realized they didn’t recognize who he was and insisted that the pirates require 50 talents instead of 20 (about 880,000 in USD). When they heard that, I imagine these pirates saying to Caesar: “Who do you think you are?”

But Continue reading

When Christians Are Wrong: John 1:44-49

When Christians Are Wrong Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”

Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”

Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:44-49)

How Philip Was Wrong (And Nathanael Was Right)

Have you ever considered Nathanael and Philip’s words in this passage? Philip gets it wrong on Continue reading

Who is Jesus? Video

Great video by Cold Water Media, via Anastasia Bennett and Evan Way of Door of Hope.

Who Is Jesus? – TRUE U3 from ColdWater Media on Vimeo.

Who is Jesus? Hints and Clues – John 1:51

Who is Jesus? (Photo credit: layoutsparks.com)

“Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

Jesus Christ, John 1:51



How Jesus Loved People:

What a seemingly random comment Jesus makes here. Just before, He was affirming Nathanael as an Israelite, and commending him for his genuineness, honesty, and faith (See previous post Jesus Christ and Criticism: How Jesus Responds to a Cynic), when He suddenly switches gears and shares this scripture from Genesis 28:10-19.

In Genesis 28, Jacob stops for the night at a place called Luz and, using a rock for a pillow, goes to sleep. He has a very vivid dream there in which he sees a stairway going from the earth to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it. There above the top of the stairway stands God Himself.

But Jesus says to Nathanael, he’ll see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

What’s the meaning of this statement?

What Jesus is sharing here is the answer to a mystery. The stairway, the one connecting us here on earth with God above, the stairway that connects heaven and earth, the stairway providing us with access to God, is, Jesus Christ Himself.

That’s what Jesus is sharing with Nathanael.

Jesus loved Nathanael enough to share this amazing truth with him, that God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17) He sent Jesus Christ to be Nathanael’s stairway to heaven.

Jesus is the stairway.

Jesus is the way. (John 14:6)

Jesus is the connection to God.

Jesus expressed His love for Nathanael by sharing this truth with him. And I love how He did it. At this early juncture in Jesus’ relationship with Nathanael, He didn’t launch into a long explanation of how the atonement for sin requires the shedding of blood, and how Nathanael must count the cost of following Jesus before becoming His disciple, and how he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. (Matthew 16:21)

Yes, all of this is eventually shared, but in the beginning, after starting off with affirmation of Nathanael, and commendation for Nathanael, Jesus shares in a very brief and simple manner, a hint of who He is: the Son of Man, the conduit between heaven and earth, the One Who connects men with God.

Jesus is the way the truth, and the life. (John 14:6)

He is the Stairway to heaven.

“So that’s how Jesus did it. How do I do it?” You might be asking.


How You Can Too:

It’s easy — just drop hints.

One time, for my mother’s birthday, we did this scavenger hunt thing. She thought she was going out for a casual dinner with my wife Kathy and I. But as soon as we showed up, I handed her a piece of paper with a clue written on it. She followed the clue which took us to a destination where two of her grandkids were waiting to give her a gift. These two grandkids also gave her another clue, sending her to a second destination where two more unexpected grandkids were waiting with a gift, and another clue, sending her to another destination. This went on until the whole thing ended at her favorite restaurant where she enjoyed dinner with all of us. She was blown away! (If you’re interested you can see the “Incident Action Plan” for this birthday celebration at the end of the post)

It’s about the clues.

You see, to love people like Jesus did, you need to be a clue dropper. As you go through your week, you’re going to find opportunities for you to drop hints concerning Jesus’ identity. Opportunities will present themselves for you to share, briefly and simply, as Jesus did with Nathanael, about who Jesus is, or about Jesus’ love, or about His mercy, or His generosity. Look for moments when you can share clues about how He’s impacted your life. Keep an eye out for occasions when you can share about how He’s blessed you. You don’t have to launch into a long explanation, necessarily.

To love people like Jesus did, keep an eye out for these opportunities. Opportunities to share anything that will hint at who Jesus is.

An opportunity to share a clue about Jesus with people, is an opportunity to love people the way Jesus loved people.

It’s an opportunity to bless people.

And it’s an opportunity to be blessed, yourself.

Try it and see.


References:

Bible Gateway

Jon Courson

Birthday Scavenger Hunt

1:00 Synchronize watches

2:00
Meet at dad and mom’s/Uncle kurt and Aunt Kathy’s

Dad/Uncle kurt – Pick up G’ma Judy – 3:10 PM

3:20
Ashland Fire Station 1
Clue:  In the car to your son’s vocation
But instead of Medford, an Ashland Station
Gift: Karla’s gift

3:30
Food Co-op
Clue: Now to your favorite food store location
A shortened version of the word cooperation
Favorite People: Gabe & Charise
Gift: Juice Bar Coupon

3:40
Varsity Theatre
Clue: Don’t be late it’s time to go
We don’t want to miss your favorite show
Favorite People: Nate & Anastasia
Gift: Varsity Gift Certificate

3:50
Paddington Station Eclectic Emporium
Clue:  We’re not taking a train but going to a station
The name of which rhymes with Addington
Favorite People: Kody, Sophia, Hayden, Sienna
Gift:  Paddington Station Gift Certificate

4:00
Pangea Cafe
Clue:  Almost done with clues and maps
To your favorite place for Grills & Wraps
Favorite People: Kass, Miriam, Owen
Gift: Pangea Gift Certificate

4:10 PM
Pasta Piatti Restaurant
Clue: Off we go to your final destination
A restaurant who’s country is a boot shaped location
Favorite Person: Kathy
Gift: Dinner

Jesus Christ and Criticism: How Jesus Responds to a Cynic

Love Like Jesus (photo credit http://whowillyouserve.blogspot.com)

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.”

John 1:45-50



How Jesus Loved People:

Cynical! That’s Nathanael’s attitude toward the news, Philip had “found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote…”

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael responded.

At the time, Nazareth didn’t have the best reputation as a city. It may be Nathanael’s cynicism and criticism was understandable. However, to Nathanael’s credit, though he has some tough questions, he decides to accept Philip’s invitation to “Come and see” for himself.

Nathanael’s decision had far greater impact than he realized at the time.

Imagine with me how different Nathanael’s life would have been, had he focused on what he perceived to be a flaw in Philip’s conclusion. Had he remained focused on his own critical perception of problems in the scriptures, rather than the opportunity to develop a relationship with the Messiah, Nathanael would have missed out on the most important three years of his life! His misplaced focus would have resulted in eternal consequences.

But Nathanael doesn’t do that. He’s cynical, yes, critical, sure, maybe even negative on Philip’s report about Jesus, but he moves toward Christ anyway.

And now, watch this. Watch how Jesus responds to Nathanael’s negativity.

“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” He says enthusiastically as He sees Nathanael approaching.

“Behold, an Israelite…” The very first words out of Jesus’ mouth are words affirming Nathanael as an Israelite, as one of God’s chosen people.

“…in whom is no deceit!” (or guile as the King James Version renders it) This was a play on words by Jesus. He was referring back to Jacob. Jacob, who was renamed Israel by the Lord, was a man known for his guile and deceit. You may remember Jacob tricking his blind father Isaac out of his older brother’s blessing. One of a number of instances where Jacob used deceit and guile to get his way. So here we see Jesus, rather than defending Himself against Nathanael’s cynicism, using this play on words to emphasize Nathanael’s genuineness and honesty.

Nathanael, recognizing Jesus knew how he felt about a prophet coming from Nazareth, says, “How do you know me?”

“Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Jesus replies.

At which point Nathanael answers, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

And Jesus answers back, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” Jesus commends Nathanael for his faith.

How You Can Too:

You know, Jesus could have responded to Nathanael with a whopping come back.

“You obviously don’t know Who (with a capital W) you’re talking to, or, what you’re talking about. I wasn’t even born in Nazareth, I was born in Bethlehem, the precise place where God promised the Messiah would come from. Maybe you should get your facts straight before you pop off with a criticism. I was going to include you in a group of eleven people who will turn the world upside down, and influence the entire planet for eternity, but with that attitude, well you can just forget it!”

But that’s not what Jesus did. Instead He met Nathanael’s negativity and cynicism with grace and love. Jesus, rather than defending Himself, responds to Nathanael’s attitude by affirming his position as one of God’s chosen, by emphasizing his honesty, and by commending him for his faith.

Jesus took Nathanael’s negative and turned it around to a positive.

It’s so easy to respond to someone who has a negative attitude toward you, with defensiveness, or by returning the negative with a negative shot right back, or by ignoring the person. But if you want to love people the way Jesus did, always look for whatever positive you can find, there’s always something, and start there.

If you add value to people the way Jesus did, they’ll be attracted to you and to what you have to say. If you take value away from people, even if you’re well meaning, people will withdraw from you and what you have to say.

So…

Always, always, always start every single interpersonal interaction by finding and emphasizing the positive.

Even when it’s someone who’s on the attack.

Always.

Every time.

Without exception.

You’ll be blessed by their response.

They’ll be blessed when you share Christ.


References:

Bible Gateway

Craig S. Keener, (1993) IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament

H.A. Ironside, (2006) Expository Commentary, John

Jon Courson