Who is God?
Who can appear before such a God?
Open up for God to come presence Himself with us!
These are questions this Psalm addresses.
God’s supreme authority (vs1-2)
Everything that exists in physical time and space, every atom and sub-atomic particle, every mountain range, every square metre on the planet is God’s! More than that every person who has ever existed, whether they acknowledge God as God or not, was created lovingly by God and for His glory and His purposes (Romans 11:36).
God is unmatched and unrivalled, God made everything and so God owns everything! The maker of something is its owner, they are the one who gets to determine the purpose and value. Since God created everything, God is in supreme authority.
Who can appear before such a God? (Vs3-6)
Greatness, majesty & authority necessitate respect. So, in light of God’s greatness, who can approach His awesome presence?
This God of king David’s, is not just supreme in authority but is also Holy. There is no sin in His presence and so to approach God requires ‘clean hands and a pure heart’ from anyone who enters His presence.
And this introduces a dilemma for you and I!
After all who can claim to have pure hands that have not ever done wrong and a pure heart too that has not ever thought or intended wrong?
No one! (declares Romans 3:10-12)
Yet, I love the unspoken assumption here; there is something hard-wired into us as God’s created image bearers that desires to be the presence of our God and Maker. Yet we have this dilemma, we can’t be in His presence with the state that our hands and hearts are in.
Paul writing to the Romans expresses this moral dilemma and then wonderfully reveals the solution God Himself provided to it;
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25)
As Isaiah proclaimed; if we repent God will purify us from our sin and make us as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18) if we ask Him to. So thank God today for Jesus, thank God for forgiveness and therefore the ability to enter God’s awesome presence.
God wants to come close! (Vs7-10)
What an astounding idea that the God who created and owns everything is the very same God into whose presence we can come through the forgiveness Jesus offers us.
Even more astounding is this, that it is God who takes the initiative and God who wants to come and presence Himself with us!
The image in vs7-10 is of someone at the gate of the walled city of Jerusalem asking to enter and the gatekeepers calling out; ‘Who’s there?’
8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah
The mighty one, the Ancient of Days, the King of glory, the Lord of hosts that’s who is knocking, that’s who wants to dwell amongst us, presence Himself with us! It’s incredible good news. This makes me think of Jesus in Revelation saying;
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice
and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
The King of glory wants to presence Himself with you, with us. We belong in His presence because He has removed our sin from us, given us His perfect righteousness so open the door, let Him come and presence Himself with you daily.
Invite Him now!
Five times in John 18&19 the apostle John makes it explicitly clear that what was happening to Jesus was all a fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies and passages. This was true for Jesus’ whole life, but is especially true in these sections covering Jesus’ trial & death & resurrection.
The early church was acutely aware that Jesus was the One who made sense of all of the Old Testament. Jesus was the ‘lens’ as it were that allowed everything in the Old Testament to come into clear focus. Jesus was the promised Messiah and the answer to the unsolved riddles of the Old Testament.
Some have counted 351 Old Testament prophecies and Scriptures that Jesus fulfilled (http://www.newtestamentchristians.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/351-Old-Testament-Prophecies-Fulfilled-in-Jesus-Christ1.pdf).
I can just imagine the preaching of the first apostles week in week out in the early years of the church. Week after week, sermon after sermon preachers preaching with awe and wonder discovering more and more OT Scriptures, seeing them with fresh insight and seeing that Jesus was the answer, the One who made sense of it all, the One who was the fulfilment of it all!
Jesus started this journey of discovery and re-looking at the whole Old Testament with new eyes when on the Emmaus Road Jesus began; “…with Moses and all the Prophets, he (Jesus) interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27). Jesus showed those early disciples He was what the whole OT was about.
This revelation, seeing that Jesus was the answer, the fulfilment of everything they knew in the Scriptures, caused their hearts to burn within them – Luke says! Their minds staggered as they came see Jesus in all the OT Scriptures they knew so well, but were now seeing as it were for the first time with new clarity!
No wonder that John keeps telling us in his gospel things like; “these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 19:36)
Friend, Jesus is the answer. The answer to every question, every need in our lives and in our world. Jesus is who I need, whom you need. He alone has, He alone is the solution to our problems, fears, our shame, our dreams and hopes.
Friend, we have such good news for the world, and we can share this news with such confidence – because Jesus is the answer.
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:20 in NIV)
Jesus fulfilled every promise and Jesus alone can fulfill our every and our deepest needs, only a life-giving relationship with Jesus can satisfy us completely.
So reach out to Him and trust Him completely! And, more than that, share the good news about Jesus’ life, death & resurrection with everyone you can so that He can step in and be their answer too. Amen.
Jesus’ trial before Pilate oozes truth about Jesus’ true identity and His purpose on the earth.
“I find no guilt in him” (18:38) – Pilate said.
And yet, he released the real criminal, the sinner.
And so Barabbas walked free, a fore-runner of you and me!
Yet the innocent One was condemned – all of our gospel story.
Pilate had Jesus flogged by soldiers, they mocked Jesus mercilessly.
Jesus was silent just as had been prophesied (Isaiah 53:7)
Pilate then repeated same verdict two more times; “I find no guilt in him”! (vs4&6)
Dripping with irony, Jesus is accused of claiming to be exactly who He was – God! (vs7)
Pilate then questions Jesus again and lectures Jesus on authority!
Jesus replies; “You would have no authority over me unless it had been given to you from above.” (vs11)
Pilate shivers in his boots & tries to release Jesus again having found nothing wrong with Him, but the Jews revolt…
Pilate pronounces the truth about Jesus to those present, “Behold your King!” (vs14)
But Jesus is rejected by the Jews again, they don’t want Him as king they want him dead.
Pilate re-checks with those present, proclaiming truth as he does; “Shall I crucify your King?” (vs15)
Blasphemously they cry out; “We have no king but Caesar!” (vs15)
And so Jesus was condemned to die by crucifixion.
Pilate, God’s agent in the moment states the truth again as he inscribes on the cross; “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (vs19)
The Jewish officials try to get Pilate to change the wording to soften it’s meaning
Pilate would not budge; “What I have written, I have written.” (vs22)
Jesus, King of all kings, came to die in our place for our sin, the Lamb of God, the suffering servant, He the sinless One was bound so we could be freed, He was crushed for our iniquities and the punishment that God put on Him paid the way for us to be forgiven, His death and resurrection gave you and me life! Behold your King!
This whole section records a heated discussion with accusations and counter accusations regarding the question; ‘Who is Jesus?’ (John8:25)
This is the question that every person on the planet needs to answer at some stage in their life or on the day Jesus Himself returns. We really only have three options when it comes to answering that question;
- Jesus is a Conman
- Jesus is a Madman
- Jesus is God/man
The Jewish people argumentatively engaging with Jesus here in John 8 were leaning towards options 1-2:
- They mocked Jesus defaming his identity & character pointing out that they believed He was a child born as a result of sexual sin (vs41)
- They said He wasn’t of pure descent, was a Samaritan and not a Jewish person (vs48)
- They claimed He was demon possessed (vs48)
- They charged Him as arrogant and a madman thinking He was greater than the hero of the Jewish faith – Abraham (vs53)
- They summarise their arguments with the question – ‘Who do you make yourself out to be?’ (vs53)
They considered Jesus as both a madman and a conman trying to trick people. Jesus knows where this line of thinking comes from – it’s source is in fact from none other than the devil himself (vs44). Jesus knew that the devil’s desire was to kill Him and deceive people.
All through John chapters 5-8 we have seen glimpses of Jesus’ divinity, His unique Father/Son relationship, His ability to give eternal life to whoever He wants to, His ability to perform miracles of power (walking on water, multiplying food, healing invalids, His teaching and understanding, His ability to forgive & His authority in the Temple courts…
All of these glimpses are in stark contrast to the challenge brought by these ones who were opposing Jesus who think Jesus is an evil conman or just a madman. In John 8:58 Jesus in direct answer to their questions regarding who He is (vs25&53) Jesus says plainly;
“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” – John 8:58
Jesus categorically declares – I AM. I am God, I am the ‘I AM’ who revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 2:14)!
Also in this passage Jesus makes the statement we know so well; “…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (vs36). This is a clear claim by Jesus to his divinity too, only God can free people from sin, satan, sickness and death! Jesus doesn’t offer to relieve or comfort but to set free entirely. Jesus is God, Jesus has total authority over sin, satan, sickness & death.
There is a crowd large gathered, after all Jesus has been doing signs and wonders. Jesus was seeking out some down-time but as the crowds gather Jesus chooses a grassy hilltop on which to teach them.
Seeing approximately 10 000 – 15 000 men, women and children gathering to hear Him Jesus leans over to Phillip and essentially says; ‘How are we going to feed all these people?’. Philip is astounded. I can imagine him thinking; ‘This is unreasonable, this is not our problem, we don’t have the resources for this, Lord what are you suggesting?’
Can you empathise with Philip?
Have you ever felt like God was being unreasonable?
John doesn’t record Philip ever recovering from his feeling limited by their apparent available resources – in South African currency Phillip estimated that it would have cost R20 000 to buy enough bread to go around.
What is going on here?
Why would God ask us to do what only He can do?
John 6:6 contains the key to the answer to questions such as these.
He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. (John 6:6)
Jesus is not scatterbrained, hasn’t lost the plot, isn’t unaware of realities and constraints. No Scripture pointedly reveals Jesus’ motive in the scenario; ‘He said this to test him’. Jesus was not uncertain as to how He was going to deal with this dilemma of so many people and feeding them, John records; ‘for He Himself knew what He would do.’
There is a difference between what we think we believe, what we say we believe and what we do believe. What we truly believe is revealed by our responses to situations and our actions.
I know this feeling. It’s easy sitting in your room with your bible or sitting in church listening to preaching or in a small group discussion thinking or saying what you believe… And then it happens! Something arises in real life and that belief is tested, is it real, do I really believe?
Philip no doubt has just been with Jesus, heard Jesus’ clear claims to being the divine Son of God, has seen Jesus do amazing miracles – but did Phillip truly believe?
Jesus sets up a scenario that will test him, will squeeze out of Philip and the other disciples whether they truly believe that Jesus is God, that Jesus has authority over all things.
Paul writes to the Thessalonian believers in such a way that it is clear that he can empathise with Phillip, Paul knew what it felt like to have God test his faith, test him to see what was really in his head and heart. (1 Thessalonians 2:4)
Likewise, James urges believers to consider it pure joy when we are tested, when our faith is put on trial because such tests from God give us the opportunity to see steadfastness grow in us so that we might mature in our faith not. (James 1:3)
What’s happening in your life that might be God testing you?
Is there anything God’s asked you to do that you think is unreasonable?
Friend. God’s not malicious, He’s not having fun with you. No, your heavenly Father wants to test the genuineness of your faith, wants your faith to grow and to mature.
Andrew did better than Phillip in this moment. Philiip doesn’t manage to lift his thoughts above the challenges and constraints and reasons why he can’t do what Jesus is suggesting he do.
Andrew at least thought about what they did have and believed Jesus could do a miracle. He probably didn’t know what Jesus would do, didn’t know the magnitude of the miracle Jesus would do, but his actions do reveal that he did believe Jesus was able to, was going to do something astounding and miraculous.
What do you have in your situation?
Focus on what God had entrusted you with.
Give that to Him for His purposes mixed with faith.
And watch Jesus grow your faith and reveal His majestic power and purposes.
In the gospels, there sections where its like you’ve switched to the highlights package! Sections like this seem packed with revelations about who Jesus really is, how Jesus relates to the Father and the Father to the Son or Spirit – John 5:18-30 is a section just like that. Having just healed the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath, Jesus’ authority & His claimed identity and or relationship with God is being challenged by some Jewish people and then Jesus speaks in a way that is just packed with self-revelation.
So let’s survey this short section and marvel at all we can glean about the Godhead from what Jesus said in it:
- ‘Truly, truly, I say to you’ (vs19) – Jesus is often referred to as ‘Rabbi’ by people engaging with Him. That is how they saw Jesus, as a teacher. But Jesus was unlike all the other Rabbi’s! They used to quote Scripture, quote one another. Jesus, however, is recorded by John as saying; “Truly, truly I…” 25x in his gospel. Jesus’ authority was remarked on by those who heard Him, Jesus didn’t come to interpret other’s teaching, He came as God the Omniscient One in human flesh bringing direct revelation understanding to those who listened.
- ‘the Son can do nothing of his own accord…’ (vs19) – In stark contrast to the first half of vs19 is this phrase. Here we learn that although fully God, Jesus came to do the will of God the Father. Despite Jesus having all authority as God, Jesus came to serve the will of God the Father. Jesus’ will was to serve the will of the Father.
- ‘For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing’ (vs20) – there is a beautiful relationship between the Father and the Son described here. God the Father loves the Son and so shares all that’s in His heart and mind with the Son. The Father draws the Son into His plans and purposes as a Son not a servant!
- ‘the Son gives life to whom He will’ (vs21) – both the Father and the Son have the ability to suspend the normal progression of life and death. In this the Father and Son are equal in their power to raise to life or give eternal life.
- ‘The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son.’ (vs22-23) – the Father wants the Son honoured by all! For this reason there are roles assigned by the Father exclusively to Jesus so that Jesus may be honoured before all people.
- ‘Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent Him’ (vs23) – one cannot divide up the Godhead, one cannot choose to honour the Father but not Jesus. This verse contains the revelation that all other religions like Judaism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses stumble over – to reject that Jesus is God is to reject God Himself.
- Believing in Jesus results in eternal life! (vs24) – again Jesus quotes no one, but exclaims with utter conviction and authority that anyone who believes what He says about Himself and salvation, that person has eternal life. Such a person has passed from death into life that’s eternal. Anyone who makes statements like this is either a terrible con-man, a certified nutcase or is really God Himself.
- ‘He has given authority to execute judgement’ (vs27) – The Father has assigned the role of Judge to Jesus. Jesus is the One before every man, woman and child from every age and every culture will stand one day. We all have an appointment with Jesus the Judge that we didn’t schedule, but we can’t avoid, or be late for, or re-schedule. Our personal opinion about that appointment doesn’t change its reality one iota, but knowing Jesus is our Judge who will execute judgment encourages us to reach out to Him now while we can so that He becomes our Saviour and Friend in such a way that we will never have to fear that day again.
- ‘I can do nothing on my own…I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me’ (vs30) – what humility from the Judge of all the earth! Jesus’ submission to the Father and His preoccupation with pleasing the Father is inspiring! May I, may we be like Him.
Behold your God. Behold, Jesus.
All through the gospel of John, Jesus uses physical everyday items people knew about to describe spiritual realities. Up to this point in the gospel Jesus has used the following everyday items;
- Light (to communicate the spiritual reality of Jesus’ purity in John 1:4-5)
- Temple (where God & humankind meet, which is now Jesus Himself in John 2:19-22)
- Physical Birth (the need to be born again, born spiritually in John 3:3-8)
- Wind (relating to the move of the Spirit in John 3:8)
- Water (the Holy Spirit within believers in John 4:7-15)
- Food (that which truly satisfies John 4:31-34)
In this encounter with the woman at the well, there is a moment when the disciples return from their mission to find some food in the village. They are astounded that Jesus is speaking with a woman, especially to a Samaritan woman (vs27) but don’t say anything to Jesus.
Maybe they were changing the subject onto something less controversial, maybe they did not wanting to risk delaying lunch with a new teaching from Jesus…? Whatever it was they urge Jesus to eat something (vs31).
Jesus’ reply must have surprised them further. “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” (vs32). I can imagine the disciples maybe even feeling agitated that Jesus had some secret stash of food that they hadn’t shared in or didn’t know about. ‘Had someone in this foreign town brought food to Jesus they wonder?’
But Jesus was once again doing what he often did, using an everyday item to explain a spiritual reality. Jesus goes on to say;
“My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.” (vs34)
Jesus had told the woman that He had water that would sate her thirst forever (vs13-14), here Jesus explains to the disciples that there is something more satisfying to Him than even food! They went into town, hungry, eager to find satisfaction for their hunger. They urge Jesus to eat, in order that He can be satisfied too. Jesus replies; I have something that satisfies me more than food!
Jesus lived with a longing, a desire, a motivation pulsing inside Him to do the will of His Father. Jesus’ passion to fulfill the will of the Father, to please the Father, is a theme that will develop all through this gospel (see John 6:38 for example).
Jesus’ passion to do the will of God was so real, so tangible Jesus likened it to what the disciples were feeling, their hunger for food. Jesus compares the satisfaction they felt after eating with the satisfaction He felt when He had done the will of the Father.
What a challenge! What satisfies you? What do you wake up longing for?
May I, may we be more and more like Jesus who was motivated to constantly do the will of the Father in all circumstances and was in turn satisfied, felt that happy full feeling when He knew He had done the will of the Father.