Jesus is There if You Want Him

Recently, I started reading and studying the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John marches to its own drum, different from the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Like the writers of the three other Gospels, the author of John does not name himself within the text. There is evidence within the Gospel itself and in the writings of the church fathers that the writer was the Apostle John, one of the original Twelve, that accompanied Jesus on during his earthly ministry.

According to Eusebius, John probably wrote the Gospel while he was ministering to the church in Ephesus, sometime during the 30-year span between A.D. 65 and 95. At the time, Ephesus was one of the largest centers of Christian activity in the Gentile world.

bible-2690295_1920

Compared to the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John places a much greater emphasis on the deity of Jesus. This can be problematic to some who are willing to accept that Jesus existed solely as a historical human teacher and religious prophet. Naturally, the Synoptic Gospels speak to the divinity of Jesus also, but John’s emphasis on Christ’s deity covers the beginning and end lying at the heart of the message: Jesus is God. Many faiths, including Islam and Judaism, accept that Jesus lived. Only Christianity touts Him as the Son of God, from the beginning of time through the end of history. The Gospel of John boldly points to the divine nature of Christ, the Son of God and second person of the Trinity.

In Chapter 1, verse 11, the Scripture makes it clear that Jesus, the Christ, came to His own people and they failed to receive Him. In verse 12, the writer of John declares that all who believe in Jesus as the Son of God, are given the right to become children of God. In verse 13, the author points out that this is not because of our doing, but solely by the grace of God.

11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did  receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

The Gospel of John (ESV) Chapter 1, Verses 11-13

jesus-3135229_1920

So there it is in plain sight. Jesus stands at the door knocking. He wants you to receive Him. He stands before you ready for the taking, if only you will have Him. Yes, you can accept Jesus as being a man. He was, after all, fully human. But to stop there and deny His deity leaves you standing alone at the altar. It is not enough to say Jesus was a great man or magnificent teacher or extraordinary healer. In order to receive the full benefits of the Kingdom that God himself has prepared for you, you must receive Christ as your Lord and Savior. Nothing less will do.

Jesus is there if you want Him. Will you receive Him today?

Be blessed and be a blessing.

TDG

 

References:

Constable, Thomas J. (2017). Constable’s Notes: John. Retrieved from Bible. org

Thanks to the artists at Pixabay for sharing their images.

More of Him. Less of me.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

To be viable vessels for propelling the Gospel forward, Christ must grow in importance in our hearts, minds, and everyday lives. When we encounter people, they must see more of him, less of us. As slaves to Christ, we become severely changed. Our pride gives way to humility, albeit not without a fight. For me, at least, it seems to be a daily battle; a chiseling away, one chip at a time. Thankfully, I am not left on my own to make sure this gets done. It is part of the sanctifying work done in us by the Holy Spirit. Left to my own devices, I would undoubtedly swim in place, struggling to keep my head above water.

The Devotional Guy™ header

The aforementioned life-changing verse is found at the heart of a passage focusing on John the Baptist, in the midst of one of the most popular chapters in the Bible: Chapter 3 of the Gospel of John. It captures the vibrant discourse between Nicodemus and Jesus discussing being born again and contains perhaps the most well-known verse in the entire Bible: John 3:16; “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This is the Good News.

Most credible Bible scholars believe that the Gospel of John was written by John, one of the original twelve disciples Jesus calls to follow him in the New Testament Gospels. It was most likely written after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and before the end of John’s long life in A.D. 100. Unfortunately, we lack the evidence of a more precise date. John likely wrote it during his time in Ephesus, one of the major urban centers of what was then part of the Roman Empire.

IMG_0587_Prayer

The verse we’re looking at is credited to John the Baptist, the man who famously prepared the way for the Lord, and who told of Jesus’ impending arrival on the ministry scene. By the time we get to the passage in John 3, a debate has arisen essentially comparing the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I realize it may sound ridiculous. But, that’s what we do. Our nature as people is to compare and contrast, to bring competition and conflict where they don’t really belong. We love to compare. We love to compete. And, truth be told, we like conflict. Just look at the world around us today.

As I write this, Israel is invading Gaza, and it is believed someone shot down a 777 passenger jet with a missile. Also, there is a group considered to be such big a threat to the stability of the Middle East (shaky as it may be), those nations currently fighting against each other are joining forces to squash the threat. Our country finds itself with any number of crisis’ to intervene in and ample conflicts to choose sides in.

What lies at the heart of all this conflict, present, and past? Pride.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

John the Baptist was an incredibly humble man. He knew his purpose in life. John the Baptist wasn’t full of himself, brimming with pride. His purpose was to point people to Jesus Christ, and he spent every ounce of his energy and budgeted every minute of his time here on earth to fulfill that purpose. Jesus refers to John as “a burning and shining lampstand” (John 5:35). Imagine God saying that about us. What an incredible homage.

Rather than distract from Jesus or risk impeding the Gospel, John the Baptist gave his followers a beautiful illustration by using the events of a wedding as a backdrop. John says that putting himself ahead of Jesus would be equivalent to the best man upstaging the bridegroom at the wedding. After all, John’s purpose was to point people to Jesus Christ, not draw attention away from him.

In my short time in ministry, I have found ministry is filled with high highs and low lows. Ministry is rewarding. It is challenging. It ‘s hard. When times are difficult, I have to be extra careful to guard my mind and my heart. I have to remember what my purpose is in life. I live to propel the Gospel forward. I exist to make way for the power of the Gospel to change lives. You see, when God saves you, He transforms you. He changes your wants. He redirects your path.

masada-sunrise

John the Baptist was a vessel. He didn’t want to compete with Christ, as some would have him do. No! He was here to point people to Jesus, not away from Jesus. Scripture encourages us to be vessels. God wants us to make ourselves available. He wants us to be faithful. He wants us to remain teachable. Fortunately, John the Baptist knew that. He recognized the simple truth that as followers of Jesus, we must become less important, so Christ grows in importance. The beautiful thing we discover is that as God grows in importance, we don’t decrease in value. Rather, we get closer to being the shining lights guiding others to the One who delights in us.

Be a vessel. Propel the Gospel forward.