Jesus walked on water. Most people are familiar with this story. It may even be one of Jesus’ most remembered miracles, aside from rising from the dead or turning water into wine. But too often I read over it quickly and take it for granted. But this week I noticed a connection I haven’t seen before and I was able to see the profound message of the miracle in a new light.Continue reading “God Walks on Water, Jesus Walks on Water”
John 3 – “You Must Be Born Again”
Jesus was very clear about the change that must take place in order to become one of his own and see the kingdom of God.
“You must be born again” John 3:7
Must I go to church? No, you must be born again. Must I pray a certain prayer? No, you must be born again. Must I give to the poor? No, you must be born again. Must I be baptized? No, you must be born again. Must I follow the law? No, you must be born again. Must I teach Sunday school or sing in the choir? No, you must be born again!
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” John 3:3
One of my spiritual heroes, C.H. Spurgeon, illustrated this truth this way (in my own paraphrase):
Suppose that in England, there should be a law passed that admission to courts, preference to office, and any privileges in the nation were only given to the natural born citizens of the country. What then, would court officials say if an native Indian man came to them and said, “I will change my name” or “I will change my dress” or “I will change my family, my friends,” or “I will learn the language” or “I will work for it!” You see none of these things could admit the man, for the law is absolute, the man must be an natural born citizen to obtain the privileges, and he is not.
This illustration also correlates with us as Christians. We cannot change our names (call ourselves Christians), change the way we dress, change our friends, change our behavior, learn to talk like Christians, learn to pray like Christians, give away our money, help the poor, or do any type of Christian service. For God’s statement is clear: “You must be born again.”
This new birth is a sweeping process which is more than a change, it is a creation. Not just reformation, but regeneration. Not just becoming religious, but being born. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefor, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; Behold, the new has come.”
Do you exhibit a different life than you did before? Do you now hate the very things you used to love? Have your desires changed? Do you have a hunger for reading and understanding God’s Word? Do you desire to be around other believers? Can you persist in sin? What is your attitude towards sin- are you brokenhearted over it? or are you still indifferent to it? To whom have you entrusted your whole life to?
We cannot bring about these changes ourselves, nor make ourselves “born again.” We are only born again of the Spirit, the power of God. Salvation is a magnificent work where a soul is saved and made completely new. Ultimately, Jesus is the only one who can bring about this new creation in us.
It is imperative to understand that he brings about this change. “Behold” says Christ, “I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Dear friend, you must be made new; you must be born again! I paraphrase Mr. Spurgeon again, “Christ can make you really pure in heart; he can make you a new creature, so that you shall be converted and become as a little child. “Oh!” say you, “how can I get it? How can I prepare myself for him?” You do not want to prepare yourself for him. Go to him just as you are; trust him to do it, and he will do it. That is faith, you know–trust, dependence. Can you believe that Christ can save you? Oh! you can believe that; well now, will you trust him to save you? Will you trust him to deliver you from your drunkenness, from your angry temper, your pride, your love of self, your lusts? Do you desire to be a new creature in Christ Jesus? If so, that very desire must have come from heaven. I could fain hope that he has already begun the good work in you, and he that begins it will carry it on.”
“”Oh! make me a new creature!” If you have said that from your heart, you are a new creature, dear brother, and we will rejoice together in this regenerating Savior.” (Spurgeon, A New Creation, published July 15, 1915.)
John 2: Jesus Turns Water To Wine: Amazing Symbolism
Most people have heard about Jesus turning the water into wine, but do they really know what it means? Do you really know what it means?
If you have not read this portion of scripture, please read John 2:1-12 now so that we may be taught of the Spirit together as we analyze this passage! This miracle of Jesus packs a deep meaning that radically sets the stage for the rest of his life, ministry, and purpose.
First, its important to know the setting for where He performed his first miracle. We see that he performs it at a wedding feast (John 2:1), one of the most treasured celebrations in 1st century Jerusalem. He is attending with his mother and a few of his disciples, and it is brought to his attention that there is no more wine to be served. To us, this doesn’t seem like a big issue, but the point of all Jesus’ miracles is to demonstrate spiritual truth, and what a amazing truth he reveals through this miracle!
Key Point: Jesus uses the ceremonial cleansing jars to create the wine. (John 2:6)
We need to note what Jesus used to turn the water into wine. He used ceremonial cleaning jars, which probably already had a decent amount of old water sitting in them. The Jews would use these water jars to purify themselves: to wash themselves, and make themselves “clean” before God. By using these jars, Jesus is giving us a sneak peek of what is to come. Jesus is showing us that the cleansing of His blood (as we know, in the Bible, the blood of Christ is represented by wine -Matt 26:28) is far greater than any ritual washings – and the transformation of this very water into wine symbolizes the transformation of Judaism.
The fact that Jesus changed the ceremonial washing water into wine proves that he will do away with the rituals of Judaism, and that we will be made clean before God through his blood. Jesus filled the containers to the brim (John 2:7) to show that no space is left for ritual washings after his sacrifice.
Jesus instructs the servants to take a pitcher of this water to the master, and so they did. We don’t actually know when the water turns to wine, but when the master of the feasts takes a sip, he says, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10). Is this recorded just to show us that Jesus should start a new career as a wine-maker? Certainly not. The Spirit is showing us something here:
The statement made by the master of the feast implies this: That typically, the best wine is served first, so that the people “get their fill” (get drunk) and can’t tell when a cheaper wine is introduced. In the same way, The Jews had been “drinking wine” (aka. performing their ritual washings) for so long that they weren’t able to recognize when something better came along (Jesus)!
Jesus conveys this truth again in the same chapter when he drives out the temple. He exclaims, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Jesus was talking about his own body, and it was through the “destroying of it” and his rising from the dead that was able to accomplish this new system, where his blood covers our sin, not our ritual washings or other works.
Jesus came to make everything new, and he clearly demonstrated that by turning old water used for bathing into brand new wine. He also came to make the heart new. We will see that tomorrow in John 3!
(please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further explanation or questions)
“It Is Finished.” Jesus vs. World Religions
Faith in Christ compared to every other world religion or belief system is amazing in that- one man and his life changes everything. Every other religion in the world spells D-O and is all about trying to do enough to please God. Whether it be keeping laws, praying certain times a day, refraining from foods, sharing your belief so often, or taking part in rituals or traditions, the main goal is to do enough good things to achieve eternal life. In the Bible, Romans 3:23 lets us know that this is not achievable because “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Our faith in Jesus Christ is drastically different than any religion. Where every other religion says D-O, Jesus says ,”D-O-N-E.” His final words on the cross exhibit this beautiful truth: “It is finished,” (John 19:30). Jesus did what we could never do by living a perfectly obedient life to the Father’s will. In addition to this, He willingly laid down his life for us on the cross and by doing so He paid for all of our wickedness and sinfulness by taking the Father’s wrath upon himself. This was done so that “whoever calls on his name shall be saved (Romans 10:13).” One of my favorite examples of how our salvation is not about doing is found when Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a generous landowner Matthew 20:
In my own paraphrasing, this is what happens: A master goes out and hires a group of workers early in the morning and promises to pay them a denarius (a day’s typical wage.) Then the master went back out around 9:00am and picked up some more workers, and he did the same thing again at 12:00, 3:00, and then even 5:00. All of the workers worked until about 6:00pm, and each were given one denarius. The workers that had worked for twelve hours exclaimed,” these last have only worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us.” But the master replies, “Am I not allowed to do what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” (Matt. 20:15).
What a beautiful representation of the Gospel! When I have talked to some of my coworkers and friends who are nonbelievers about the Gospel, I have usually been asked, “So someone who sins their entire life….can have faith in Jesus the last year of their life and still be saved?” The answer is YES my friends! It simply does not make sense to those who have not been shown by the Holy Spirit. But I wonder, how many times have we acted like the men who worked the entire day..judging and thinking that we have done more, are more spiritual, and deserve more blessings and recognition because of our obedience, works, and “strength of faith”? Jesus tells his disciples after the parable, “So the last will be first, and the first last.” This is the great beauty that is found in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! It is all about our faith in him, and not about what we have done or how long we have done it! Each believer will be rewarded with heaven, whether he is a Billy Graham or a murderer who has faith in Jesus in the last moments. Don’t think this last part is sounds fair? Take it up with Jesus, who tells the thief who had just asked Jesus to remember him in his kingdom this: “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise” Luke 23:43.
How beautiful is this! The man on the cross next to Jesus had spent his entire life in sin, but at the end of it, something was different. At the end of his life of rebellion and wickedness, he realized how depraved he was, which led to his realization of his need for a Savior. Regardless of his life experiences, his simple faith in Christ was enough for him to be given Jesus as his personal savior, and for him to be granted eternal life. My friend, this amazing love is at the door for you and me! Oh how he desires for us to come to Him, just like the thief, at the end of our rope and in desperate need of a Savior. Seek Him, and you will find Him. He longs to save us from the weariness of doing, and bring us into the fullness of joy that is found in resting in what he DID!
How can we not love, worship, and seek to know this amazing God! We no longer have to do, because it has already been done. Trust in him, and him alone, because when Jesus said, “It is finished,” I promise you, HE MEANT IT!
Gospel Call: “Come to me….and I will give you rest.” -Jesus
We read Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This is one of my favorite verses of scripture because it depicts the call to salvation, a demonstration of what saving faith looks like, and the promise of rest that Jesus intends for us to live with! So, let’s unpack it:
First, Jesus issues a command: “Come.” It’s a simple term, but can mean so much. How do we come to him? Well, we can’t come to him with the idea that he will just be the cherry on top of our lives. That’s not coming to him. We don’t just need Jesus as another component to our lives to just complete our lives, we have to come to him with the intent of making him the center of our life, laying everything down at the feet of the cross. “I am the bread of life,” Jesus declared; “he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
Jesus issues the command to “Come” to those who labor and are heavy laden. The Pharisee’s at the time were imposing so many religious laws, acts, and rituals on the Jew’s at the time, that if they made even a small error they were counted unrighteous and unfit for heaven. Jesus is saying, “Are you tired of working for salvation? Are you tired of worrying if you’ve done enough to get into heaven? Are you tired of trying hard to be good enough to please my Father? Good, you should be, because you can’t please him…on your own. ” If anyone at the time felt like this, they were personally encouraged by Jesus to come to him. Although the term itself is not used in the text, Jesus gives a call to repent, to turn away from the self-centered and works-centered life and come to Him. The person who is weary and heavy-laden despairs of his own ability to please God. He comes to the end of his own resources and turns to Christ. Desperation is a part of true salvation, because a person does not come to Christ as long as he has confidence in himself. To repent is to make a 180-degree turn from the burden of the old life to the restfulness of the new. If a person does this, Jesus promises them rest.
So, what is the rest that Jesus promises?
The dictionary gives several definitions of rest that remarkably parallel the spiritual rest God offers those who trust in His Son. First, the dictionary describes rest as cessation from action, motion, labor, or exertion. In a similar way, to enter God’s rest is to cease from all efforts at self-help in trying to earn salvation. Second, the dictionary defines rest as something that is fixed and settled. Similarly, to be in God’s rest is to have the wonderful assurance that our eternal destiny is secure in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. If we back up to verse 11, Jesus says that there is no one on earth who is greater than John the Baptist, yet the person who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he! Guys, we have such an amazing glory awaiting us in heaven. Jesus promises us that even the person who is the least in heaven, is considered much greater than the best person who lived on earth! And if we come to Jesus, he promises that this glory awaits us! At the end of our lives, if we are in the faith, we are not rewarded for what we have done, we are rewarded for what Christ has done! And how much glory and praise does He deserve!?- So much that there cannot even be a time frame on it, because it would not be enough-it has to be eternal!
Third, rest is defined as being confident and trustful. When we enter God’s rest we are given the assurance that “He who began a good work in [us] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Finally, the dictionary describes rest as leaning, reposing, or depending on. As children of God, we can depend with utter certainty that our heavenly Father will “supply all [our] needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
My friends, you are invited to this eternal rest. Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
He promises rest, and so much more. It’s up to you to go to him!