The Amazing Father

Following are excerpts from the study in John. To obtain the entire study, please email Rick at rick@seed4life.net or call him at 812-319-4907 for more information.

 

 

Excerpt from the Introduction:

Life slips unrecognized through our fingers when we become satisfied with protecting our view of God and following the subsequent rules. In doing so we come to worship everything that delivers bread rather than the One who gives bread, because we really do not understand the difference.

 

It was a Monday in January when a friend called to ask me if I could pass on to him what I considered to be among the most important things I would teach a man about the Lord. Compelled by such a question I chose to respond by saying I would need to call him back.

You need to understand that my friend and his wife, though young in age, should not be considered among those inexperienced in the things of the Lord. They and their young family had spent the previous two years living in a third-world country torn apart by decades of war. It was there among unreliable transportation, home heat, water and food that they sought, among other things, to help rebuild the electronic infrastructure of the country. Now home in Indiana and about to begin life in the states again, my friend was calling a handful of men to ask them each the same question.

Over the next several days I sat aside time to think about how I should answer.

On the Saturday following the call from my friend the Lord gave me the direction to the answer — God did not give me the answer, but the direction to the answer. I just needed to follow the directions. I called my friend back to explain, asking him if he was willing to travel the road with me until we reached the unknown end. In faith I believed the journey, if shared, would keep us on the road to the answer. He agreed to come along. After all, what began as his question was now our question.

Over the next three years my friend and I met nearly every week. Together we found Jesus to be true to His promise to consistently lead the way (John 1:18) to the answer found only in His Father. Yes, it took three years for us to work out much of what Jesus said and did, but the following pages contain the answer to the original question.

“Would you pass on to me what you consider to be among the most important things you would teach a man about the Lord?” — Dan Sullivan, January 21, 2008.

 

Excerpt from Section Two: 

John 8:12-20 the Pharisees (part one)

The words and actions of Jesus

As the Feast of Booths (John 7:2, Leviticus 23:33-43) continued, Jesus remained within the temple (John 8:2), and He spoke in the Court of the Women, verse 20. Jesus said, “I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won’t be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life,” verse 12. 23

The Father possesses everything mankind needs for life on earth and beyond, and it is available to us in Jesus sent from Him.

There is much to consider if we are to begin understanding what is going on in this section of John’s gospel.

The Court of the Women is where the treasury for the temple was located. Anyone needing to make a sacrifice would pass this way.

Here we see the second of Jesus’ I am statements. The first was in John 6:35 where He said, “I am the bread of life.” Life is the same word Jesus uses to describe the water in John 4, the bread in John 6, the Father in John 6 and Himself in John 8 and 14. When Jesus speaks of life, He is making a reference to the new creation of the believer having been placed in Christ.

As a person becomes a believer, the person they used to be is eradicated, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:1-3, Colossians 2:8-15. Once enemies to God, believers now by grace through faith receive the Father’s life within them, and they become new people now capable of living by His life, Galatians 2:20. That kind of life is essential for mankind if we are to be fulfilled in this life or beyond, and that type of life is only found in the Father.

In the first half of John 8:12 we can understand Jesus as saying to the people I am here with you that each one might have the opportunity to see the Father’s truth and knowledge, which will provide the understanding needed by everyone. In the second half of the verse Jesus is inviting the people to join Him, to come along and make their way to the Father. There is no need to be ignorant of divine things. Just as you hold other things in your hand, or wear them around your neck or even possess them in your mind, The Father will give to you the ability to understand moral and spiritual truth. Truth is only found in Him. He is the absolute fullness of life. There is nothing essential about you that cannot find fulfillment in His life. The enthusiasm of Jesus reminds me of a carnival worker shouting at the festival come one, come all. See the amazing Father! The thought makes me smile with admiration at Jesus’ confidence in His Father. May I too “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you (me) out of darkness into His marvelous light,” 1 Peter 2:9.

According to the Talmud 24 four enormous candelabrums, each of them 75 feet high, were erected in one of the Temple courtyards to illuminate the Temple during the Feast of Booths. Each candelabrum had four large bowls at the top, each holding 10 gallons of oil. Every night of the feast, young men with torches climbed the candelabrums and ignited the oil. The light of the burning oil was bright enough to illuminate every courtyard in Jerusalem.

Members of the Sanhedrin, along with other men such as the leaders of religious schools, would dance in the temple courtyard while holding their torches high and singing praises to God. Music was played on harps, lyres, cymbals, trumpets and other instruments. The dancing and singing would continue late into the night. With that context consider John 8:12 further. The word Light is capitalized in the New American Standard version of John 8:12. Standing among the light of the candelabrums, Jesus is on display as a word picture pointing men to the light or way of the Father.

Unlike the towering lights of this exciting festival, the light Jesus is directing each person to is the kind of truth and knowledge that will illuminate their lives far beyond this night or week. A right relationship with the Father will bring light to the entire pathway of their life. The relationship with Light is only found in Him, Jesus.

 

The words and actions of Jesus

Jesus, following the accusation of the Pharisees who had spoken against His words, said to them, “Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true, because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you people do not know where I came from or where I am going,” verse 14. 25

The Father acts independently for the good of mankind, in spite of the inability of the people around Him to understand He is good.

Even though providing a credible witness for Jesus was a big part of John’s gospel, these men weren’t going to accept the evidence because of their preconceived ideas. As part of the evidence that Jesus is truth, John uses the noun version of witness or testimony 14 times and the verb version testify 33 times in his gospel. By comparison the other three gospel writers combine to use these words only six times. In our current verse (John 8:14), it is uncertain at this point whether the listeners will believe and participate in the testimony of Jesus. In John 20:31 we learn why John used words like witness and testify. “… these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”

In John 5:31-47 Jesus spoke of people and things that agreed with His statement that He is the essential truth everyone in the world needs. John the Baptist (verse 33, also 1:7 and 10:41), the works of Jesus (verse 36), God the Father (verse 37), the Scriptures (verse 39) and Moses (verse 46) all tell the same story about Jesus. Each of these provide a credible witness to where Jesus comes from, who He is and where He was going, Luke 24:13-27. Yet the leadership, as well as the people, are consistently confused about where Jesus came from or even who He is, John 7:27, Matthew 13:53-57. Without spiritual eyes and ears they will never understand where He comes from, who He is or where He is going. In John 12:35 Jesus said, “… he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.”

 

The words and actions of Jesus

Jesus went on to tell the religious leaders why they didn’t know the truth about Him, “You people judge by outward appearances; I do not judge anyone,” verse 15. 26

The Father arrives at truth based upon His fixed standard, unlike mankind who bases truth on their circumstantial standards.

The previous statement is huge, and will take us a lifetime to learn and apply.

Jesus continues for the third time during this festival to talk with these men about the way they judge things. 27 He is saying the same thing to them He has been saying all along. Jesus isn’t like them. He understands things such as truth, which they cannot understand. The Jewish leadership and the people routinely measured a person based upon a personal comparison. They looked at what they knew of someone’s life and compared it to their own, as if they were the standard. They would never arrive at truth that way.

Jesus lived as a man in right relationship and fellowship with the Father, Philippians 2:1-8. In such submission and dependence, the Spirit of God revealed to the god man how each moment was to be lived.  Therefore Jesus trusted His relationship with the Father to determine right and wrong. The same way of living is available to all who through faith in Jesus the Christ choose to pledge their allegiance to the Father. We can be sure of that. As we read the written word from the Father, His Spirit reveals to us the Word (Jesus) spoken of within the pages, John 5:39.

Just as in an earlier conversation with Nicodemus (John 3:17-18), Jesus did not need to make a decision (judge) concerning the rightness or wrongness of the lives of people. The person who does not place their faith in Him has already revealed the wrongness of their lives, because their allegiance is to something other than God’s only Son, John 3:18.

 

The words and actions of Jesus

Jesus continued But if I judge, my evaluation is accurate, because I am not alone when I judge, but I and the Father who sent me do so together. It is written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I testify about myself and the Father who sent me testifies about me,” verses 16-18. 28

The Father arrives at truth based upon His standard, which is absolutely fixed and absolutely found in Jesus.

Jesus told those present, the Father agrees with the words of Jesus as true. It is easy for the Father to do that, because Jesus doesn’t do or say anything before He first submits it to the Father who sent Him, John 5:19; 14:10, 24.

Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15 tell us a man’s word in court was to be validated by at least one more witness. If we interpret John 1:18, 5:37 and 8:18 in its literal context, the Father is the One Jesus is calling as His only and chief witness in this discussion. With the Father testifying on the stand, you would think people would be wise to taken notice of such a witness. Yet even the Father’s testimony is no use to a fool, because they choose to have no desire to possess wisdom, Proverbs 17:16, 24:7. That error will cost such a person their life.

 

The words and actions of Jesus

Jesus answered their latest question, which was to ask where His Father was, by saying “You do not know either me or my Father. If you knew me you would know my Father too,” verse 19. 29

The Father is exactly like Jesus in order that mankind can know Him.

These men couldn’t see past the end of their experience, which was just barely beyond what their eyes could see. They had been taught something of the Father’s acts, but still understood nothing of His ways.

In John 1:26 John the Baptizer tells the Jewish leaders he is not the Christ, but that in the crowd with them is One who perseveres and stands strong (stands). That is someone they do not know. The Jewish leaders should pay attention to this one, and not so much to John.

Chronologically the discussion in John 1 happens after Jesus had His forty-day test in the wilderness, Luke 4. Therefore for John to say in this crowd is One standing firm and persevering was more than a phrase to describe a cousin and friend. It was literally true in space and time. It is as if John has his eyes on the faces of the religious leaders while in his peripheral vision or just over their shoulders John can also see Jesus standing in the crowd. Even though the religious leaders were talking to John in the presence of Jesus, even though they were asking seemingly spiritual questions, they weren’t gaining any knowledge about Him. Sadly, little had changed for these leaders from the earlier conversation with John until now. Why not?

It is for sure the religious leaders were men of faith all right, but of misplaced faith. They lived by what they could see, and they measured according to their experiences. Therefore they were still looking for something they could measure. Do you think it is a good idea to measure godliness based upon something you can see and based upon your experiences? If you do, your only destination will be pleasing yourself. Even if you live to please others, you remain independent of His ways. It is sin. It is missing the mark He laid hold of believers to hit, Philippians 3:7-16.

These leaders at the feast of Booths (John 8:12-10:21) may have been asking the right questions. They may have even be in the right crowd, but they could still miss the right way if their faith was based upon the wrong thing(s). So what makes a true believer different than these leaders? The answer is simple and yet decisively distinguishing. It is actually the object of the faith that is the hope of any difference found in a believer. That object is Christ, the hope of glory, Colossians 1:25-27. In a discussion of faith, every other conclusion is error! Every religious object is unworthy of Christian faith. Jesus is the unchanging standard, and He lived by the life of another, John 14:10. That is why Jesus said if you knew me you would know my Father too.


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