7 Lessons we can draw from the Christmas Story | Holiday special 4

From what we have observed, Christmas is one of the best times in our lives that we celebrate. There are numerous reasons why we celebrate the Christmas story, knowing first and foremost Christmas is about Jesus Christ!

What we can glean from the Bible are important truths that help us take shape an even greater story. It is hoped that these guide you into this holiday season!

1. God’s Forgiveness is available to all

We see in Isaiah 11:1-2, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.”

We hear in the song, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” that “God and sinners reconciled.” This is the amazing truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He provides Salvation and eternal life, and this comes from the benefit of forgiveness of sins. We see the ministry of reconciliation that God came in the form of man, Jesus Christ, to “Save His People from sin.” What an awesome thing we have in Christ!

2. God is in control of leadership of the world

Romans 13:1 says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”

Our God, who has made the earth, stars, universe, heavens, and more is our commanding leader overall! Peace is within the Prince of Peace, and He alone provides rest for our souls. God regards our lowliness as well, and provides us forgiveness. He is our Great Shepherd (Psalm 23).

3. Christ Jesus is our Shepherd

Psalm 23 describes Our Lord is Our Shepherd. Ezekiel 34:15, “I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD.”

Christ Jesus came to impute upon us peace, and lead and guide us through Life more abundantly. The hope of eternal life can be for all people, and we do hope we can spread it evermore to so many people.

He provides us our daily provisions, He gives us rest for our souls (as we noted above), He helps us by delivering us from evil and death, and gives us goodness and mercy forevermore.

4. God grants peace as we wait upon Him

Just as prophesied in Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Then, we see powerful truth in Romans 16:20, “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” Also note 2 Thessalonians 3:16, “Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.”

When we reflect upon God, we allow His Spirit to speak to us. We reflect on the wonder of God, our Creator, and all the beautiful things He has created! It’s truly amazing.

5. God can powerfully perform the impossible

Matthew 19:26 says, “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

God really can do the impossible, for with Him, all things are possible. He can help in almost any situation, save us from trouble, and help improve our lives. This is something we must truly believe, for He can truly help us. Since He can help us, we know we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

6. God is our utmost provider

God provided the Passover lamb for us, who was born in to this world, the redeemer, Jesus Christ: “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together” (Genesis 22:8).

This is proven in Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

7. Heaven is going to be so awesome

Knowing we had this great and merciful Savior from Heaven come, we better believe so many great things are awaiting us for our eternal destiny in Heaven!

John 14:1-3 tells us the first magnificent truth, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told* you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 then tells us that we cannot imagine the awesomeness, but must know that it is so overwhelmingly awesome… “But as it is written*, Eye hath not seen, nor* ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

Now, we discover one of the most awesome things in Revelation 21:3-4, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

We will have new bodies eventually… 1 Corinthians 15:40 says, “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.” Then also in 1 Corinthians 15:54, “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”

What will it look like (kind of)… Revelation 21:18-23, “And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”

Overall, Salvation, eternal life, Christ Jesus coming, and all great things that pertain to life and godliness – How Awesome!

Psalm 23: Our Beautiful Shepherd – The Lord

David was a shepherd, so he knew what the shepherd’s work and the sheep are like. Therefore, He was able to bridge that God is a Shepherd who cares for His Flock – His People. Let’s see the amazing imagery he gives us and how we can understand how he wrote this Psalm.

Psalm 23The Shepherd’s WorkApplication for life
The Lord is my shepherdSheep can recognize their shepherd. Care for them means ownership of them.We are like sheep under God’s care who belong to Him.
I shall not wantSome sheep wander off to greener lands, but this is dangerous.God meets my deepest needs.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:The shepherd has a crucial role to make sheep feel safe, and they will not rest until they feel safe from threats.God makes me free to rest, especially in Him.
he leadeth me beside the still waters.Sheep refuse rapid currents of waters, as they don’t swim well. Therefore, the shepherd needs to find calm water.We can drink of God’s Holy Spirit who is water to our thirsty souls.
He restoreth my soul:Some sheep struggle to get up quickly, as they may be dehydrated. The shepherd may have to prod the sheep or help it get up.God cares for and keeps the heart and mind of those who love Him and that He loves.
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.Sheep, like humans, are creatures of habit. By overgrazing, they can destroy their own pastures and must be led to a new land. But only shepherds know the best way to get there.God will always lead us on the right path according to His Promise.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with meValleys on the way to high pastures often have the best grasses, but there are many hidden dangers that may lurk for sheep.God knows and deals with the fears and deadly dangers of life for us.
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.Sheep need to learn to trust their shepherd. The shepherd’s rod protects them, disciplines them, and saves them. It is meant as a tool to guide them.God’s discipline, guidance, and protection keeps His People safe.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemiesUsually shepherds must prepare the pasture to remove poisons, toxins, and other bad things to ensure clean eating. Predators can wait ready to pounce on unsuspecting sheep.God provides for our hunger, even when enemies surround us.
thou anointest my head with oilFlying insects can cause problems for sheep especially during the summer. Oil is a natural bug repellent that can also heal the skin.God takes care of our bodily needs.
my cup runneth over.The good shepherd is willing to take the sheep to better grazing areas and water sources.Our provision from God is abundant.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my lifeSheep can aid in the fertility of the land and can transform wilderness into fertile fields. The good shepherd makes blessing follow his sheep.God’s goodness and Magnificent grace will be with us our entire lives.
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.Sheep are taken back to the shepherd’s property during the fall and winter.We shall be with God for eternity.

The Old Testament’s view of the shepherd

  • God is the Shepherd (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 23; 80:1).
  • God’s appointed leaders are under-shepherds (Ezekiel 34).
  • Many people in the Old Testament were actually shepherds for their jobs: Abel, Moses, David, Abraham, Isaac, Rachel, etc.
  • Foreign leaders were occasionally called shepherds because of their leadership of God’s People (Isaiah 44:28).
  • The prophets used shepherd imagery pointing to the Messiah’s coming (Ezekiel 34:22-24; 37:24; Isaiah 40:11; Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:31; Mark 14:27).

The New Testament’s view of the shepherd

  • Jesus is our Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:34), our Good Shepherd (John 10:1-30), and our Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20).
  • Jesus had compassion on the large crowds that came to see Him because they were as sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34).
  • Jesus used sheep and shepherds in His parables (Matthew 12:11-12; 18:12-14; 25:31-46).
  • Jesus commissioned His Disciples to care for His sheep (Matthew 10:6; 10:16; John 21:16-17).
  • Jesus is the lamb of sacrifice (John 1:29; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 1:19; Revelation 5:6).
  • Elders are shepherds under Christ (1 Peter 5:2).

Jesus’ actions in response to normal shepherd duties

Duties of the ShepherdJesus’ Work
Lead the sheep to safe water and pastures.Calls His Disciples to follow wherever He leads (Matthew 4:18-22; John 10:4-9).
Protects the sheep from predators, pests, and other dangers.Warns, intercedes, and rescued His People (Mark 8:15; John 17:12-15; Matthew 20:28; John 10:15).
Feeds the sheep, which also involves removing poisons and toxins from the food.Feeds the crowds of people, for He Himself is the Bread of Life (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39; John 6:22-71).
Cares for weak or sick lambs.Cares for the weak and sick (Matthew 14:14; 14:34-36).
Disciplines the wayward sheep and retrieves the lost.Rebukes His Disciples whenever needed, and fins those who have lost their way (Matthew 14:29-31; 16:23; Luke 22:31-34).
Protects the cultivated land and crops from the sheep.Guides His Disciples in the way of caring about others (Luke 6:27-36).
Prevents over-grazing.Teaching His Disciples to be wise and harmless (Matthew 10:16).

Salvation blessings come from new life in Christ Jesus | 1 Peter commentary

Peter wrote this letter as he worked in the church to help develop it. The first letter from Peter was written around 65 A.D. addressed to the strangers scattered through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Much of this letter is just Peter presenting hope and joy toward believers to help them in their sufferings. The Romans persecuted the Christians around this time, so Peter writes to the Christians that God is still in control, and that they should rejoice because of Jesus Christ’s suffering bring Him unto glory.

Peter begins as he notes that believers should rejoice through the heaviness of temptations, and that the trial of their faith should purify the faith so it can result in praise, glory, and honor unto the Lord. Peter instructs them to be holy as God is holy. Therefore, this talk is about the previous trial of faith and about previous blood. Through the previous trial of faith, the precious blood of Christ redeems us.

Peter identifies many promises in the first couple of chapters: Jesus Christ has begot us, we are heirs subject to an inheritance, we are kept by the power of God, we have salvation, we have a great hope, we are not ashamed, we’re born again by His Word, and we’re a chosen people. Peter advises believers on how to live a godly life. He says to “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end.” This seems to mean – to be more like Christ. He then tells them to love one another (possibly referring back to the great commandment). Soon, he instructs (chapter 2) to lay aside all wickedness by trusting that God can help you do so. When believers (become a believer), they are like newborn babes, as Peter describes it. As newborn babes, believers can have the milk of the Word (probably rejecting the meat because it is too strong).

Next, Peter calls Jesus a living stone that is rejected by men, but precious unto God. Therefore, believers are stones too… “A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation…” (2:9). Peter then tells them to submit themselves to every ordinance of man, like kings or governors, for example. Believers should “honor all men.” Also, to fear God and honor the king. Servants are charges to be subject to their masters with fear.

Christ should serve as the great example of believers, because He suffered for us, not sinning, but bore our sins in His own body on the tree. Believers are declared to be dead to sins, therefore should – instead of sinning – live unto righteousness. By Jesus’ stripes, we were healed. Notice it says we “were” healed, which means our healing is already complete – we just need to wait for it to come to pass in full circle. As sheep that have went astray, Christ returns believers unto Himself. Christ is the Shepherd and Bishop of believers’ souls.

Next, Peter instructs husbands and wives. He tells wives to be subject to their own husbands, recognizing his own leadership to family. Wives must be gentle and respectful with a quiet spirit. She should attempt to win her husband more by her behavior than her words. Wives need to also remain loyal to the Lord and His Word. Husbands should dwell (in honor) with their wives according to knowledge, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life. Overall, husbands should be considerate and loving also, showing that the wife is a high treasure.

Now, Peter tells believers ways to conduct themselves as Christians: being all of one mind with compassion and love for one another, being pitiful and courteous. People should also not render evil for evil, refrain his tongue from evil, eschew evil, do good, and seek and ensue peace. They should act as such, because “the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (3:12).

Next, Peter talks about those who suffer for doing good, that they are happy, and should not be afraid of their terror or be troubled. Believers should be sanctifying the Lord God in their hearts. As Christ suffered for us in the flesh, believers should have the same mind as Christ, avoiding lusts, excess of wine, lasciviousness, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.

Peter then warns that the end of all things is at hand, so believer should be sober and watch unto prayer. Believers need love and hospitality among themselves without grudging. Therefore, if God love us, we need to love one another. Also, Peter notes that it shouldn’t be strange when Christians go through fiery trials, because they are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.

When Christ’s glory is revealed, we can be glad with exceeding joy. Jesus allows us to share in His sufferings, which is great because His suffering led to great exaltation into Heaven. So, why not us believers? If believers are reproached for His name, Peter writes, happy are you. Christians should not be ashamed in sufferings, but rather glorify God.

We learn from Peter that we should feed the flock of God, and be examples to the flock. Younger believers should act unto elders as subjects with humility. Also, that believers are to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God so that He may exalt them in due time. By casting all cares upon God (because He cares), being sober, and being vigilant – we can resist the devil, who parades around like a roaring lion who seeks whom he may devour. God called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, making believers perfect and strengthened. Peter concludes the letter by wishing peace to the people.

Lessons and other notes from Peter

Through the death and resurrection of Christ, God gives Christians new life and promises eternal blessings. We can be assured of our inheritance when it comes, because it is incorruptible (or imperishable). We experience salvation at its fullest through the promised blessing of New Life in Christ. Overall, what inheritance incorruptible means is that there is an inheritance for us called Salvation in Christ, and it will never perish or go away.

Corruptible versus incorruptible seed: Corruptible seed is a seed that is corrupted that anything can grow out of it. Many times, a corruptible seed would be one that is buried in the earth, but quickly dies. Human seed is corrupt, and human nature comes from this corruptible seed – which causes an endless cycle of sin to pass from one to the next. Eventually, corruptible seed dies, especially when it completely weakens to not be able to survive.

Incorruptible seed, that is, God’s seed, is fully pure and can’t be corrupted. When it plants (in the hearts of men), out of it comes grace, love, joy, peace, and even more fruit. Incorruptible seed is imperishable, because there aren’t any vulnerabilities – it’s perfect!

Overall, things born of human origin die, however, things born of God live eternally.

Dealing with envy: Envy can be rooted in a grudge, where a person feels uneasy about the success or happiness of another. Holding a grudge or any other thing against a person – especially anger, can cause hate to flare up – however, we’re commanded in Mark 11:25, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Would we have forgiveness or assurance, if we held something against another?

We also see something directly related to the Great Commandment, however, this is in Leviticus 19:18, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD.” Of course, how can you have love if you bear a grudge? How can you let hatred fusion in your heart, and have love dwell as well? Proverb 10:12 says, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” Hatred contrasts love in this example, and therefore, we must not envy, for it breeds hatred in albeit mysterious ways.

One of the examples from Scripture is noted in Acts 7:8-10 (which references Joseph’s story in Genesis), “And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs. And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.”

Peter’s spiritual transformation: Peter had always ministered to the Jews, especially as a Disciple (Matthew 10:2; Acts 1:15, 2:14); until one day that God had sent him to the Gentiles (Acts 10 vision, especially verse 45). Of course, in his normal attitude, he was disturbed by what the others might say about this, especially ministering outside of the Jewish Nation.

In the Gospels, he is impetuous (Matthew 14:28-31; 16:22-23; 19:27-28; Mark 9:5-7; Luke 5:4-5; John 13:6-11; 18:10-11; 21:7  — these could reflect other traits), courageous especially as a leader (Mark 1:36-37; 10:27-28; Luke 12:41; John 6:67-68; 13:24; 21:2-3; Acts 1:15-16  — these could reflect other traits), buoyant (Acts 4:13 is an example), quick to meet personal slight, and ambitious of Earthly power, however, in Peter’s Letters, we see him patient, restful, forbearing, trustful, loving, and with the old buoyancy and courage purified (we see that he preaches about the love of Christ in 1 Peter 1:22; and sought to glorify God before them in 2:12).

Peter experienced his own personal Pentecost, which came between the Gospel era and the writing of these letters, just as Jesus prophesied would come (this was in the Acts 10 vision account as well, especially verses 9-29). He already began showing transformation in the early days of the Church, to which, he took the lead when important issues came up (Acts 1:15; 5:3, 9). He was confident in the power of Christ (Acts 2:33; 3:6, 16; 4:10, 29-30). He was bold in his commitment to Jesus (Acts 4:8-13, 19-20; 5:18-21, 29-32, 40-42). He was a humble supporter of his fellow Apostles and Christians, especially Paul (as we see in Acts 15:7-11). The glorious Holy Ghost has renewed his mind, and helping him know how to think and act, so that he can preach and teach from a pure heart.

What Peter labels Jesus in his writings:

  • The Lamb slain before the foundation of the world – God foreordained the redeemer for us, because if we were chosen before the foundation of the world, then Christ was destined to be our redeemer after all. He was thinking about me before He made the world – and that is special, just like all my brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • The Chief Cornerstone – as Peter explains, that He is our chosen leader, savior, and helper.
  • The Rock of offense – Christ was the object of the people’s stumbling, but not the cause of it, to which, they are just offended at Christ. This is likely brought on by envy of Christ and His Spirituality (see above on envy).
  • The Example – Christ is the best example for us, because He was perfect in every way and representative of the Father.
  • The Chief Shepherd – He knows how to shepherd people back to the Lord (and He demonstrates the entirety of Psalm 23).
  • The Bishop of Souls – Sin has no power over me, because sin’s power was broken on the Cross. We are cleansed, given new life, and are under His Loving care, to which, He helps us learn, think, grow, and love as He does.
  • The Suffering Savior – Christ suffered for us, left us an example, and showed us that He suffered for us so that we would have new life. He purposely suffered for us, to which, we didn’t have to suffer as hard. He even made a way for us to learn how to love, even in the midst of a chaotic world.

Peter’s Exhortations to living a spiritual life:

  1. Gird up the loins of your mind: When you do this, you take courage in the face of a fiery trial. The loin is the center of our being and the area of procreation. Keep the creative area of your mind intact to produce fruit for the Kingdom of God.
  2. Don’t pattern after your former sin life: We must be in obedience to the revealed Word and live a new life in Him, not as we once did in ignorance. We have been transformed from slavery in sin, to sonship and love in Christ.
  3. Pattern after God – Be holy: We are “called” unto Holiness, which should be in all manner of life, including conversation. Being holy involves knowing that He is holy and taking after His Example! (See just above of Jesus Christ being the Example).
  4. Fervently love one another with a pure heart: Love out of a pure heart, and do it with all that is within you! I love God and people from all that is within me, to which, I declare daily and practice daily!

Peter speaks to Christians as “strangers and Pilgrims,” because he realizes that Christians are no longer of this world, but are Heavenly Citizens – to which, we all belong to the Heavenly Kingdom as well. God’s People then and now are part of His Kingdom, not this world. Therefore, in this verse, we are admonished to flee from worldly lusts.

We use the liberty that we are given as the servants of God for good and love, and not for evil. We have the perfect Law of Liberty upon us that we should be fulfilling in loving our neighbor as ourselves. We do not transgress the Law of Moses, but we should do as we should to not transgress the Law of Liberty by doing evil and other things that are antithesis of love. What we do shall be done in love, for we should only do what’s good unto our neighbor.

The qualities of being hospitable and other instructions:

  • People should have love for each other, for it covers a multitude of sins, meaning, it helps to prevent many sins we might commit against each other.
  • People grumble when offering hospitality to a guest, because they may lack love for others, lack compassion, are lazy, or don’t have the means to offer hospitality (be it money or ability to function). The characteristics to display wisdom in hospitality involve being peaceable, gentle, easily intreated (persuadable), full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
  • On verses 10-11 (of 1 Peter 4), we see that those that are given the gift should use their God-given abilities with diligence, whether teaching the Bible or helping others. However, above all, people must work in a way that brings praise and glory unto God (and by all means, do it in love). Referencing Romans 12:6-8, we see that all should be diligent in carrying out the task for which God has assigned for them, no matter where they work – and to do it cheerfully.

We must be sober and vigilant, because our adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour. (See 1 Peter 5:8)

Sober defined: 1. Temperate in the use of spiritous liquors; habitually temperate; as a sober man. Live a sober, righteous and godly life. 2. Not intoxicated or overpowered by spiritous liquors; not drunken. The sot may at times be sober. 3. Not mad or insane; not wild, visionary or heated with passion; having the regular exercise of cool dispassionate reason. 4. Regular; calm; not under the influence of passion; as sober judgment; a man in his sober senses. 5. Serious; solemn; grave; as the sober livery of autumn.

Vigilant defined: Watchful; circumspect; attentive to discover and avoid danger, or to provide for safety.

Listen would be Elders: Church elders should be sincere, understanding, and hard-working in overseeing the Church that God’s placed in their care, for they too are shepherds who should be interested in the welfare of their flock, and not because they want to make money. Their authority shouldn’t be used to force people to do something, but rather, it should be an example on how Christians should act. Elders should model Christ’s example, and then show that same example, so others can learn how to be more like Christ. They are answerable to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, to which, they will have their work reviewed one day upon His Return!

These exhortations apply to our day, because this was how Peter (and albeit Paul and James, among others) modeled the Church for us. This is how we should act, because they were models of Christ’s work, and therefore, we too should be modeling after Christ’s work. We need to pass on the heritage of love upon each generation; doing it in a Christlike way. These great men of God showed us, and now we’re to do it and keep passing it on to further generations!

The Perspective in light of all this

Peter, just as James did, showed us a great way to be more like Christ, and to model after Him. He showed us so many different things that are remarkable to know about the Church and how it should operate. This was a man who truly knew what persecution was, similarly to Paul, and knew that people were tired and worn – and needed some encouragement and strength. He was also interested in ministering to so many scattered people, and hoping that everyone would be more in unity.

God gives believers new life through the death and resurrection of Christ, and this brings eternal blessings. We are awaiting and assured at the day of the return of the Lord, in hope to enjoy the promised blessings – and this is Peter’s exhortation, is for people to begin budding love between each other, and don’t limit our faith. We are cleansed and given new life through Christ, and therefore, we should live and walk in what Christ has prepared and given to us!

His People are God’s Living Temple, and Christ is the Chief Cornerstone, and we should know that God has chosen us for such a time as this, that we have God’s mercy and grace to tell people about how great He is – and to do it for His glory only! It’s not for our personal gain or achievement that matters, but it is for His Glory that matters in everything that we do. Our sinful ways and others acts in treating each other should be changed and we should repent of things we shouldn’t be doing, and do that things that we are called to do and express love the best.

He taught us that a bad attitude makes no difference, because God can help transform our attitudes, thoughts, and mind overall – especially in budding upon us love, peace, joy, and uprightness. We are part of His Kingdom, and He is giving us all that He desires to give us. We may desire sin, worldly things, or other things – but God desires for us to have love, righteousness, peace, and joy – which are part of the Kingdom of God. He wants to make us love, because we are in His Image and He is love, so we become love as well!

Jesus is the Light of the World (Journey 37)

We are seeing the conclusion of Jesus’ Ministry in the following stories about Him. It is sincerely held that these are many of the events that are most important in understanding the deep-seated emotions Jesus held toward people, and understand the things that shape the path to the Cross. We are beginning in Luke 9:51-56; John 7:10, where Jesus is journeying from Capernaum through Samaria to Jerusalem to attend the Feast of Tabernacles.

Jesus sets out to go to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. He sends messengers to prepare the way for Him. His journey takes Him through Samaria. When the Samaritans do not receive him, the Disciples James and John suggest to Him to call down fire from Heaven and consume the Samaritans. Jesus rebukes James and John, and then declares that He came “not to destroy” men’s lives, but to save them.

What can we learn here: Don’t make it a big deal to appreciate popularity or try to create popularity, because people will not always be kind and friendly to you. If you continue to dwell on popularity, you may miss the chance to love people, because your preconception is popularity. Just because someone does not like you, does not give you a reason to withhold love from them. It does not matter who likes you, it matters who Jesus is and that He loves everyone, even if they are rebellious. That should not stop us from loving others.

We are now reading in John 7:11-53. The coming of Jesus to the Feast of Tabernacles creates intense excitement concerning the Messiahship. The Sanhedrin attempted to arrest Him (The Sanhedrin included both the Sadducees (Chief Priests) and the Pharisees). Now both parties in the Sanhedrin were united against Jesus. The purpose was to bring Jesus before the Sanhedrin for trial. There was a division of sentiment in the Galilean multitude at the Feast.

His Presence created intense excitement everywhere. After the excitement of the first couple of days had slowed, Jesus taught in the Temple. His Teachings impressed people, even though He taught not to gain honor for Himself but to bring Glory to God who had sent Him. If people loved God and wanted to do His Will, they would see that what Jesus taught was the actual truth of God!

Soon, the Jews accused Jesus of breaking the Law, because He had healed someone previously on the Sabbath. Jesus replied that they themselves did not hesitate on circumcising a child on the Sabbath. Soon, people were amazed at Jesus’ boldness in speaking, and increasingly amazed that He was not arrested or killed yet. It is possible that some of the leaders were convinced that He was the Messiah.

However, they soon changed their minds when they remembered that Jesus was from Galilee, for they had always believed that no one would know where the Messiah originally came from. Jesus remarked to them that His real place of origin was from Heaven, not somewhere on Earth, for God sent him! The words of Jesus caused division among the Jews, with some opposing Him and others being convinced that He was the Messiah.

The Sanhedrin leaders were concerned that people were believing in Jesus, so they sent Temple guards, but they were powerless to do anything. No one could arrest or kill Him until the time came appointed by the Father. Once that time arrived, He would die, rise to life, and ascend to Heaven. Opponents of His Work would not be able to find Him, because He would be in a place unreachable to man. Such unbelief excluded people from Heaven eternally.

Once again, however, the Jews misunderstood Jesus’ Words, to which, they thought when He said he was going away, and He planned actually to preach among the Gentiles. Jesus brought the feast to a climax by offering to satisfying all of those, who have come for help in their spiritual needs. He would work change within them, and therefore, after returning to His Father, He would send the Holy Ghost to dwell within all who have believed in Him!

The people reacted to His Teachings in mixed ways, for some believed, others confused, and some opposed. However, still no one had arrested Him. The Sanhedrin leaders were furious when the Temple guards returned without Jesus, because they said that they could not arrest someone who had just given a powerful teaching. The rulers had replied angrily that perhaps some of the uneducated people believed in Jesus, but definitely not the teachers, leaders, or well-taught Jews.

When Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, suggested that they should give Jesus a fair hearing at the very least, he was quickly silenced. The Sanhedrin was uninterested in the “truth,” but rather, they were only interested in ridding the world of Jesus. They wanted Jesus before a trial promptly!

What can we learn here? Many times, people will despise what or whom God has chosen, but we must complete the assignment and do as we are called to do, so that His Work can be done. We may encounter troubles, trials, persecutions, etc.; however, He is our helper and shall guide us in all situations.

Soon, He deals with the adulterous woman

Next, we see Jesus dealing with the adulterous woman, as we are reading in John 8:1-11. When Jesus returned to the Temple the next day, the Scribes and Pharisees had brought to Him a woman that was caught in adultery, and asked Him to give her judgment.

They were not trying to get Him to do a miracle, but that they wanted to trap Jesus in an accusation to bring against Him. If He did not condemn this woman to death, they could accuse Him to the Sanhedrin of defying the Law. If he did condemn her to death, they could accuse Him to the government for commandeering Roman authority.

Jesus saw their cunningly devised duplicity, and refused to give a legal judgment. Instead of giving a sentence or answering it at all, He instead asks the woman’s accusers to exercise moral judgment upon themselves with the result that none had the courage to take this matter further. Therefore, it was not Jesus’ duty to condemn the woman, for He was neither a witness nor a judge; rather, He was the Savior of sinners, having given the woman a practical lesson in truth and purity. He urged her to separate from her sinful past. He urged her to sin no more.

The lesson here: Christ is willing to forgive us of any past sins and current sins, therefore, we must submit to Him and accept His Forgiveness! Therefore, we should not sin anymore.

The Light of the World

As we have all determined, Jesus is the Light of the World, not just from the Bible alone. But the Bible account is important, and we can see marvelous revelatory truth here. After the Feast of Tabernacles in the Temple, Jesus angers the Pharisees by claiming to be the “Light of the World,” as we are reading in John 8:12-20.

In response to the statement of Jesus saying that He is the Light of the World, the Pharisees argued that He had no right to say such things or testify of His Own Behalf. In their view, He had no witnesses to support Him. Jesus replied that He did have the right to bear witness to Himself, because He came from God and was united with Him. God was His Supporting Witness, and that should have been sufficient!

The Jews were in the wrong in their judgments against Him, because they were judging on human things (not spiritual things). The time for Jesus to act as the world’s judge had not yet come; however, even if He carried out such work right away, His Judgment would be true, because of being unified with the Father!

If the Jews insisted on two witnesses as the Law required, they had them in the Father and the Son, as the two of them agreed; therefore, the Jews had to accept their testimony. The reason for Jesus’ opponents’ failure to grasp the concepts is that they did not know God.

What can we say? Jesus is the Light of the world…lighting every dark place. Those who follow Christ hereupon should not be found in darkness any longer, because we no longer need to desire to be in sin or darkness. Christ brought us out of darkness and into His Marvelous Light!

Then they want to stone Jesus…

We see that they are not happy with Jesus’ statement of being the Light of the World… We are reading now in John 8:21-59. While in the Temple, Jesus exposes the sinfulness of the Pharisees. They accuse Jesus of having a devil. Jesus’ answer to them: “I have not a devil; but I honor my Father, and ye dishonor me.” “I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.” With this statement, the Pharisees attempt to stone Him. He escapes.

In rejecting Christ, people lost all chance of having their sins forgiven. They would die in their sins and be excluded from Heaven. Jesus promised that He would return to Heaven after His death and Resurrection. The Jews would have to get their minds above Earthly things to embrace what Jesus was trying to say, because they did not understand how He could be the Son of God. However, one day in the near future, they would have a clear proof, for they would see Him die on the cross—to which, by the Power of God, He would also raise from the dead. This would be the unmistakable demonstration of the Father and Son’s unity as One. Some who heard these things did not wait for such events, but put their faith in Him immediately.

Jesus illustrated based on slavery to show the people how He could help them. They knew that slaves could not free themselves, because the only one who could free them was the owner of the house they worked, or the owner’s son, who acted on his father’s authority. The Jews, then, were slaved in bondage to sin and unable to free themselves—therefore, they would find the only one who could free them was God, who worked through His Son, Jesus Christ. They would find their true freedom in Jesus Christ by faith and continual obedience to His Teachings.

Again, the Jews misunderstood, and argued that they have never been slaves of any nation, because they had the freedom of sons—Abraham’s sons that is. Explaining further, then, Jesus told the Jewish people that spiritually they were not sons of Abraham actually, but that they were sons of the devil. Therefore, they only sought to kill Him, to which, murder is the characteristic inherited from their spiritual father called the devil, and not from their Earthly father, Abraham.

The Jews only argued further, assuring Him that they were sons of Abraham, but were not part of any perversion as the Samaritans are who are of mixed race and religion. Jesus responded to their arguments with the fact that if God were truly their Father, then they would welcome His Son as their Messiah, instead of trying to kill Him. Instead of disputing His Teachings, they would fully believe it and embrace it. Therefore, their father was not God, but instead the devil.

The Jews continued to argue, which proved that God was not their Father, as they insulted His Son. This would only serve up judgment upon them. The Son was not concerned anyway of gaining honor, but rather, to give honor to the Father and life to believers. The Jews objected that Jesus was boasting to be greater than Abraham, to which, Jesus replied and said He was not boasting, but only telling the truth of His Unification with God.

As far as Abraham is concerned, he himself acknowledged Jesus greater by rejoicing when he foresaw the coming of the Messiah. The Jews argued that Jesus could not know Abraham’s thoughts, because he died hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Jesus angered them more by saying He existed even before Abraham, for Jesus is the Eternal God. The Jews considered this blasphemy, and immediately, though unsuccessfully, tried to kill Him.

What can we learn here? Those who reject Christ condemn only themselves, because He is part of the Eternal God, and also existed before Abraham. He is our True Savior and deliverer; therefore, we must not object to Him, but rather acknowledge Him in all our ways of worship!

Jesus is the Good Shepherd

We are now reading in John 9:1-10:21, where Jesus is still in Jerusalem after the Feast of Tabernacles. First, Jesus heals a man born blind by anointing his eyes with clay that He made by spitting upon the ground. Jesus told the man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. The man came back seeing and was questioned by the Pharisees. A division is then seen among the Jews. Some claimed Jesus not to be from God. Others said, “How can a man that is a sinner do such signs?” The parents of the man born blind testify that he is their son, and the man born blind believes on Jesus and is converted.

Then we experience the Good Shepherd parable. In the Parable (Allegory) of the Good Shepherd, Jesus draws the picture of the hostile Pharisees and intimates that He is going to die for His flock and come to life again. A division is then seen again among the Jews.

In the story of the Good Shepherd, Jesus was teaching the same as when He was after healing the blind man. Among His hearers were the Pharisees, who could not see that He was comparing their treatment of the blind man with His. They acted as thieves or robbers would; however, Jesus acted like a Good Shepherd. Because of this, the man rejected the leadership of the Pharisees, but recognized Jesus as the Shepherd-Savior and gladly follow Him.

Explaining further, Jesus compared Himself alike to a door, by which people could come to God and find life, freedom, protection, provision, and more. However, the Jewish leaders would, instead of leading people to God, exploit and oppress them. Jesus was indeed the true Shepherd and spiritual leader of the people; however, the Scribes and Pharisees just fought Him saying they are the leaders.

In teaching the traditions of man instead of the Commandments of God, they had enslaved the Jewish people and only strengthened their own power just as thieves who robbed the flock; wolves that destroyed it; and hired laborers that worked for their own profit instead of being concerned for the flock. Jesus, on the other hand, sacrificed everything for His Flock, even being prepared to die for it so that the flock might be Saved!

In case people didn’t understand, the flock He was speaking of was not just the Jews, but people of all nations and all languages. They are all drawn together by One Shepherd, Jesus. The basis of a relationship between Jesus and His Flock is His death and Resurrection. He has the complete authority over life and death, and His enemies are powerless to take His Life from Him. However, He willingly lays down that Life to Save His People! This is The Good Shepherd!

Those who heard Jesus responded in many different ways. Some noted Him mad; others knew He was teaching consistent with His Work in healing the blind man. Whoever determined an opposite way than Jesus had opposite destinies of those who followed Jesus. Instead of following Jesus and obtaining Life, many people will follow their own destiny and obtain for themselves death.

What can we learn from all of this?

How we respond to Jesus is evidence of our spiritual condition too. We need to respond to Him with humble belief and trust in Who He Is, What He Does, and What He is planning to Do! He is truly the Son of God, who has come to die for our sins and be Resurrected so that He can redeem us of our sins and give us Eternal Life, and will be coming again to bring His Eternal Kingdom that He will rule over Eternally with His People!

We are of the Flock of God, we who believe in Him and upon the fact that He died and Resurrected so that we might have Eternal Life. We obtain for ourselves Life when we choose to follow Jesus and acknowledge Him in all of our ways!