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Christ in All of Scripture – John 5:36–40

 

John 5:36–40

“But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”


The conflict intensifies between Jesus and the Jewish leaders—an antagonism that would eventually lead to his crucifixion. Why the enmity? It was not just because of Jesus’ Sabbath breaking, but because he made claims that gave him equal status with God—an affirmation we encountered in the first verse of John’s Gospel: “the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1). Only God can save us, and Jesus, God incarnate, is the second member of the Trinity.

Jesus claimed a unique filial relationship with God as Father, an assertion which in that culture gave him divine status and amounted to blasphemy in the eyes of the Jews (Jn. 5:18). But Jesus did not back down. He claimed the Father’s works as his own, including raising the dead—a boast he would prove by raising Lazarus from the dead (Jn. 11), an act that not only created greater opposition from his religious antagonists but was also a preview of his own resurrection.

To honor Jesus is to honor the Father (Jn. 5:23). In fact, we too can know God as our Father if we honor Jesus—that is, if we believe on him (Jn. 1:12; 14:9). We pass from judgment to life because Jesus took our judgment on the cross (Jn. 5:22–24; cf. 2 Cor. 5:21). Our adoption is secured by Jesus’ propitiating (turning away, satisfying) God’s wrath.

According to Jesus, the only way we can derive life from the Scriptures is to see Jesus in the Scriptures, for all the Scriptures bear witness to him (Jn. 5:30–47; cf. Lk. 24:27, 44–47). The entire Bible, Genesis to Revelation, is ultimately about Jesus. Throughout Scripture God is unfolding the grace that culminates in Christ (Jn. 5:39–40). The Bible is therefore not fundamentally about what we do for God but what God does for us.

The Jews, tragically, preferred receiving glory from one another rather than seeking the glory of God (Jn. 5:44). No sin or idolatry is more insidious and destructive than living for the approval of people (Prov. 29:25). In the gospel of grace, we are liberated from the need to be approved by people because in Jesus we have been approved by the only One whose approval matters and the only One whose approval satisfies.


This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.

 

July 28, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Gospel Transformation Bible | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:28 am | 0 Comments »

Christ in All of Scripture – Job 42:10–17

 

Job 42:10–17

“And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.


And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first daughter Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch. And in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters. And their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers.

And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. And Job died, an old man, and full of days.”


Is the book of Job’s “happy ending” tacked on? Is it a sort of reassurance, to make the reader breathe easy again after emerging from the wringer? No. Job’s happy ending is a resolution that deserves the word “profound.” As ever with God’s work in a person’s life, Job’s character or inner self is more important to God than Job’s “doings.” Thus, the provided-for life that Job ended up with was not provided until he prayed in selfless fashion for his three unworthy friends (Job 42:10).

We are also told that Job’s sufferings were “all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). Everything that happens to us comes from God. “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” Such truths challenge us no less than they challenged Job, but they are also responsible for leading Job (and us) to a right understanding of the God who provides eternity—even if it is through earthly difficulties. God’s purposes are eternal as he weans us from earth and woos us to heaven.

Finally, Elihu’s prediction of how Job’s life was supposed to end, actually came true: “If [people] listen and serve [God], they complete their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasantness” (Job 36:11). “Job died, an old man, and full of days” (Job 42:17), with his losses restored and possessions increased (Job 42:12–16). Even his children were doubled, if one considers the existence of those already in eternity with those new on earth. As the expression goes, “It’s never too late.” We could also say, on the basis of Job, that things are never so bad that God is not present and “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). Of course, for many of those who suffer in this world, prosperity and pleasantness await fulfillment in the new heavens and new earth, but this reality is no less real for those of faith. Through Job we learn that God will do whatever is necessary to claim the hearts of those he loves. His eternal love is solace, sufficiency, and satisfaction for all whose ultimate hope is in him.

It’s the old, old story, of Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus the tax collector, Peter the denier, James and John the Sons of (raging) Thunder, Paul the Christian-tracker, and Cornelius the sideliner. And us. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).


This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.

 

July 21, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Gospel Transformation Bible | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:38 am | 0 Comments »

Christ in All of Scripture – Esther 6:1–4

 

Esther 6:1-4

“On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And the king said, ‘What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?’ The king’s young men who attended him said, ‘Nothing has been done for him.’ And the king said, ‘Who is in the court?’ Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him.”


A seemingly inconsequential night of restlessness results in deliverance for God’s people as Ahasuerus is reminded of Mordecai’s faithfulness and Haman, who has just constructed gallows on which to hang Mordecai, is forced to exalt him instead.

Two gospel reminders are embedded in this event. First, we see once more that God is working behind the scenes for the good of his people. The king just “happened” to have a sleepless night, and just “happened” to hear of Mordecai’s saving of the king! Second, we remember that God humbles those who exalt themselves, yet he delights to exalt those who humble themselves (Luke 18:14James 4:10). The supreme example of this upside-down principle is Christ himself (Phil. 2:6–11).


This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.

 

July 14, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,ESV,Gospel Transformation Bible | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:32 am | 0 Comments »

Christ in All of Scripture – Nehemiah 1

 

Nehemiah 1:4-11

“As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses.

Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”


As the book of Ezra closed, so Nehemiah opens: with the prayer of a godly intercessor. Nehemiah is the last in a progression of Old Testament leaders who in their faithfulness and their imperfection teach us to depend on God’s faithfulness, and who train us to look ahead to the true Intercessor who will represent God’s people perfectly before his Father.

Nehemiah knows God’s faithfulness in preserving a remnant and restoring them to Jerusalem, according to his promises (see note on Ezra 1:1–11). Yearning for his people, hearing of their city’s broken down wall, Nehemiah leads the third group of returning exiles 13 years after Ezra’s return. Before his action comes his prayer, which acknowledges a need for more than the physical protection of walls. His people need the faithful protection of their God.

Here and throughout the book, Nehemiah shows us how to pray: with reverence for such a great and awesome God (Neh. 1:5), knowledge of God’s Word, along with confession of disobedience to that Word (vv. 6–10) and requests for mercy (v. 11). His prayer addresses a covenant-keeping God of steadfast love (v. 5; see Ex. 34:6Deut. 7:9), a God who has “redeemed” his people (Neh. 1:10). Nehemiah is referring to God’s redemption of the Israelites from Egypt, but that rescue pictures the greater One to come, not through the blood of a sacrificed lamb but through the death and resurrection of Christ, “our Passover lamb” (1 Cor. 5:7). The word “servant” (Neh. 1:6, 8, 10, 11) emphasizes this people’s identity as belonging to this God, not to the earthly king Nehemiah serves. Addressing the Lord, Nehemiah calls the exiles “your people” (v. 10; seeEx. 6:7); they were chosen by God to receive his promises of blessing and to bear the seed of that blessing for all the peoples of the earth (Gen. 12:1–3).


This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.

 

July 7, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,ESV,Gospel Transformation Bible | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:32 am | 0 Comments »

Christ in All of Scripture – Psalm 107:1-3

 

Psalm 107:1–3

“Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.”


Although Psalm 107 begins the fifth and final book of the Psalter, it continues the themes of the despicable sinfulness of God’s people along with the gracious and restorative mercy of God that are also described in the narrative depictions of Psalms 105 and 106.

The opening verses announce the overarching message of the psalm: because God’s goodness and steadfast love endures forever, those redeemed by the Lord, wherever they may be (i.e., in their homeland or in exile), give thanks to him and look to him for future deliverance and restoration (Ps. 107:1–3). The psalm then focuses on four groupings (the “some” of vv. 4, 10, 17, 23) of God’s people who, in their respective situations of distress and need, look to God for help. Each group’s affliction differs, but each calls upon God for deliverance (vv. 6, 13, 19, 28), and God hears and answers their humble cries for help. Each, then, is encouraged to offer a response of thanksgiving to God (vv. 8, 15, 21, 31), expressing the praise and worth of God in light of his gracious and powerful deliverance.

God’s faithfulness to his own people, to hear and help in times of distress, is the repeated theme of this psalm. As God’s people learn that he “raises up the needy out of affliction” (v. 41), they will begin to “consider the steadfast love of the Lord” (v. 43). There is such good news here; although God’s people are feeble, needy, afflicted, and often sinful, yet his steadfast love never ceases. The grace we see here prepares us to understand its expression and fulfillment in Christ, by whom God has once and for all answered the cry of the needy. The steadfast love of the Lord becomes flesh-and-blood reality, before our very eyes, in Christ.


This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.

 

June 30, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Gospel Transformation Bible | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:28 am | 0 Comments »