Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (John 4)

Last week we learned what Jesus meant when He said that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, and that “whoever believes in Him is not condemned” and in fact would have eternal life (John 3:16-18). This week in John Chapter 4, we see Jesus put those words into practice in a way that you and I can understand and even act on in our own lives.

John 4
1 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John
2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples),
3 He left Judea and departed again to Galilee.
4 But He needed to go through Samaria.
5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”
8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

David Guzik:
“Although the road through Samaria was the shortest route to Galilee, pious Jews avoided it. They avoided it because there was a deep distrust and dislike between Jews and Samaritans.

When the southern kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians, they took almost every captive, exiling them to the Babylonian Empire. All they left behind were the lowest classes of society, because they didn’t want “that type” in Babylonia. These that were left behind intermarried with other peoples who slowly came into the region, and the Samaritans emerged as an ethnic and religious group.

Because the Samaritans had a historical connection to the people of Israel, their faith was a combination of law and ritual from the Law of Moses, and various superstitions. Most Jews in Jesus’ time despised the Samaritans, even more than Gentiles.

Why must Jesus go through Samaria? Because there were people there who needed to hear Him.”

What people are there in our world that we find really difficult to love, much less have a normal conversation with? Every time I read this chapter I am convicted by the story. For Jesus to have a simple conversation with this woman was a remarkable thing. Incredibly, we will see that He took things a step further and explained to her the way of eternal life. How is God calling you and I to act today?

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?
12 “Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,
14 “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

The idea of God being the “Living Water” was not new, as a matter of fact it was an old statement made by the Lord God about Himself:

For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
~ Jeremiah 2:13

“On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.
~ Zechariah 13:1

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
~ Isaiah 12:3

We all need water to live. The human body is 65% water. Your body can only survive so long without drinking water; some say 3 days, others say as long as 10 days. Jesus is making the bold offer of water that gives eternal life.

Jeremiah calls God a fountain of living water. Zechariah says it’s a fountain-like shower that can wash us from our sins. Isaiah tells us it’s like a deep well where we can pull out water that gives us eternal life. Jesus Christ is that living water for each of us.

15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’
18 “for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.
20 “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

Here, Jesus knows exactly what this woman needs to hear to cause her to understand that He is God in the flesh. She initially believes that He is simply a prophet, but as they continue their conversation, she realizes He is the Messiah.

There are so many examples throughout God’s word of wise prophets from God revealing truth to the unbeliever – Daniel and Joseph come to mind. But Jesus is different from all the rest in that He makes the claim to be God. He was clearly not simply a prophet as other religions suggest. No other man in the Bible claimed to be the Son of God and performed such miracles to prove His authority.

C.S. Lewis made the point that Jesus was either a complete liar, or He was a crazy lunatic, or He was in fact Lord God in the flesh. Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. He couldn’t be anything else.

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
23 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

Jesus points her to the way of salvation. He says: “Believe me.” He tells her to “worship the Father in spirit and truth”. She firmly believes that the Messiah is coming, and he says “I am He”.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ~ Romans 10:9

27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”
28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men,
29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”

This woman believed and very quickly went out to tell others. She immediately acts on her new belief. Without knowing it, she is following God’s call to each of us to proclaim the Gospel.

In Mark and Luke, we see that Jesus instructed the man who had been relieved of demons was told to go tell others what Christ had done for him:

And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” ~ Mark 5:19

Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
~ Luke 8:39

This Samaritan woman is simply responding to what God has done in her life. In this short conversation, Jesus showed this woman more love, kindness, and compassion than probably any man had ever shown her. Consistently throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus reached out to those who were difficult to love.

Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.
And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” ~ Matthew 9:10-13

I love this: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Jesus is calling each of us to help “those who are sick”. To show them “mercy and not sacrifice”. That’s exactly what Jesus did with this Samaritan woman in a Samaritan town, and in doing so, He changes the whole city!

30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.
35 “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!
36 “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
37 “For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’
38 “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”
39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”
40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days.
41 And many more believed because of His own word.
42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

The love, kindness, compassion, and mercy Jesus showed to one woman changed this entire town! “Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” Each of us is called to “look up” right now, right where we are. If you are in Spokane, Minneapolis, Decatur, Berlin, Tokyo, or Seattle – we are each called to show Christlike mercy to those around us who are among the most difficult to love.

Verses 36-38 show us that sometimes we are called simply to plant the seeds of faith – to “sow” by sharing Christ by reflecting love and mercy, or by telling our own testimony. Other times, folks before us have done the seed-planting and we are there to reap the harvest by praying with someone as they believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation.

43 Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee.
44 For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.
45 So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast.
46 So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.
47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.
48 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”
49 The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”
50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.
51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!”
52 Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.”
53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household.
54 This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.

This man simply man “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way”. Jesus made the way to salvation very easy so even the simplest mind can have eternal life. He is the living water, all I need to do is to accept that he died for me so that I can have eternal life with Him in heaven.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~ Romans 6:23


Paul is Called on His First Missionary Journey (Acts 13)

We left off in the last lesson with Barnabas, Saul, and John Mark (who wrote the Gospel of Mark) going from Jerusalem to Antioch of Syria. (Notice we’ll see another city named Antioch that they travel to in this chapter. There were actually 16 different cities named Antioch in the New Testament world. All were named by King Seleucus of Syria for his father Antiochus.)

    Vs 1-2 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Is your calling different than your job?

What was King David’s job? He was a shepherd before he was called to be king.

    And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.” So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” ~1 Samuel 16:11-12

What was Jesus’ job? He was a carpenter until he was called to preach to the Jews and die for all mankind.

    And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him.
    ~Mark 6:2-3

Notice that a job pays the bills, and it may be what God has called you to do to serve him and to give him glory with your life. But a calling is not necessarily the same thing as a job. David was a shepherd. He was called by God to leave that job and become a king. Jesus was a carpenter just like His earthly father Joseph. However, when He was 30 years old, Jesus was called from carpentry (His job) to preach and teach for 3 years before sacrificing His life for mankind.

So what was Paul’s job? He was a tentmaker.

    After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. ~Acts 18:1-3

Even after he was called to preach, Paul kept making tents once in a while to pay the bills. Currently I work in the real estate industry. My job pays the bills and takes care of my family, both things that God wants me to do. But I am also called to teach Sunday School at church. I love teaching kids about Jesus, I’m passionate about it. I feel called by God in that.

    Vs 3-12 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant. Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Two more callings

Here we see two more callings:
First we see as the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, “called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.” God called Barnabas and Saul by the Holy Spirit working in Sergius Paulus to come preach to him. Many times God uses other people in our lives to reveal His calling. Sometimes they are simply affirming the call, other times those folks are being used as a tool by God to say “come”.

Second, we see the Holy Spirit calling on Sergius Paulus to come to repentance in Jesus. “Then the proconsul believed….being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.” Jesus is calling each of us to repentance, mercy, and grace in Him. Sergius Paulus heard the call of God in his life, the tug of Jesus on his heart, and he believed. He came to find salvation that day!

    The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. ~2 Peter 3:9

    For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. ~Matthew 9:13b

    So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” ~Acts 16:31

Repentance and belief in Jesus’ death & resurrection for us (and therefore salvation) is a calling from God for every one of us.

Preaching in Antioch

    Vs 13-15 Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”

Here we see Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark arrive in Antioch of Pisidia (a different Antioch than the previous city – this one being in Galatia or modern day Turkey). The rulers of this synagogue have asked Paul and Barnabas to teach them.

    16-25 Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: “The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it. Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness. And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment. After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus—after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’

Paul begins his sermon by recounting the history of the Jewish people. This would have been a history they all knew. God has woven together His Word to constantly remind us of how He works in us, through us, and for us. He’s doing that right here with the Jews. Paul is reminding them of what a great and awesome God they serve.

    All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
    ~2 Timothy 3:16-17

    For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. ~Romans 15:4

Paul is also reminding them that a Savior was prophesied, the Savior is Jesus, and John the Baptist pointed the way to Christ as Savior.

    The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God. ~John 1:29, 34

John humbly points to Jesus as Savior rather than allowing people to look to Him. There’s a lesson for us all! Paul is doing this here as well.

    Vs 26-37 Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead.

    He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’

    And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’ Therefore He also says in another Psalm: ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’ For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption.

Again, Paul is reinforcing the truth that Jesus was sent to them as a Savior: “to you the word of this salvation has been sent” (vs 26). Also that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Promise of God: “that promise which was made to the fathers”.

    Vs 38-41 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you: “Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, a work which you will by no means believe, though one were to declare it to you.”

The prophets also prophesied that the Jews would not believe and many in fact had not. Paul is giving them a warning here from Habakkuk 1:5.

Rejection by the Jews and the Gentiles believe

    Vs 42-51 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.

    Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”

    Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium.

Paul’s earlier warning was that the Jews watch out for they might fulfill the prophecy of Jewish rejection of Jesus. Here we see them do just that! In fact, Jesus was even rejected as Savior while He was still in His earthly ministry:

    Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him.

    But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching. ~Mark 6:1-6

In fulfillment of the words of the prophet Habakkuk, among God’s chosen people to whom the Promise was given, He was not accepted as the Savior.

    Vs 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

When we are fulfilling God’s call in our lives, we are “filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”. There is so much joy and fulfillment in following God’s call, nothing else can compare to it!

    Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. ~Philippians 3:8

Related Resources:

The Messenger of the Covenant


Effectual Calling, a great sermon by Charles Spurgeon

Peter, the Church in Antioch, and They’re Now Called Christians (Acts 11)

Last week we left off with the Holy Spirit coming down upon the Gentiles and Peter’s revelation and teaching that the uncircumcised could be saved (“everyone who believes in Him receive forgiveness of sins through his name.” ~Acts 10:43)

    Vs 1-3 Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”

Peter returns to the Jews in Jerusalem and they called him out on his eating and fellowship with the Gentiles. This may have been out of shock rather than accusation.

So Peter responds by telling the story:

    Vs 4-16 But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying: “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me. When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
    But I said, “Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.” But the voice answered me again from heaven, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” Now this was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven.

    At that very moment, three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent to me from Caesarea. Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, “Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.” And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, “John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

This last verse is quoted directly from Jesus in Acts 1 when Jesus had come to visit them after His death and resurrection:

    And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” ~Acts 1:4-5

But also John the Baptist had said the same thing earlier:

    Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. “I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. ~Mark 1:6-9

The Holy Spirit comes to us when we are saved in Jesus. Once we’ve heard the “word of truth” (which is the Gospel) and then we’ve trusted Jesus to save us, we are then “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance”.

    In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. ~Ephesians 1:13-14

Peter wraps up his story a question:

    Vs 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?

Indeed, who are we to question God? I know a Christian brother who was so hurt by another Christian that he said “If that guy is in heaven, I don’t want to be there.” The fact is that God is the judge, not us! And “we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) No single sinner is better or worse than another. That’s what Peter is just learning and teaching to the disciples. God loves the Gentiles too!

As the disciples are taking this in, they are realizing this truth from The Lord. They could be upset or irritated with God that they share the same Savior and salvation as the Gentiles. Instead of grumbling about it, they praise Him!

    Vs 18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

“And they accepted the work among the Gentiles. Now they weren’t really ready to enter into full fellowship with the Gentiles. As we move along into the book of Acts, we will find that Peter went down to Antioch and he was eating with the Gentiles until certain brethren from Jerusalem came down. And then Peter separated himself because of the feelings that they had still of eating with Gentiles, and it caused a division in the church of Antioch for which Paul rebukes him. And Paul refers to that in the book of Galatians.
So the walls are tumbling, though they’re not completely down. Not by a long shot. And we’ll come in the fifteenth chapter to some issues that arose over this very thing.” ~Pastor Chuck Smith

    Vs 19 Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.

So at this point the scattered believers are still preaching and teaching to the Jews only and not the Gentiles. But notice the persecution does lead to the spreading of the Gospel! God uses even the most difficult of situations to accomplish his work.

    20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.

The men of Cyprus and Cyrene were Greek-speaking Christians, and here we see them begin to witness to the Gentiles (the Hellenists).

    Vs 21-22 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.

Many are now believing in Jesus and the Jewish Christians are hearing about it all the way into Jerusalem. So the Jerusalem church sends out Barnabas to investigate. Remember Barnabas is the one that helped to bring the disciples and Paul together back in Acts 9.

    And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. ~Acts 9:26-27

So Barnabas is the right man for the job of helping to heal relationships and helping to unify the brothers.

    Vs 23-24 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

I love the encouraging faith of Barnabas that we see here!

    “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
    ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

We are called to encourage one another and build one another up in faith, rather than to tear each other down.

    Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
    ~Hebrews 10:23-25

We are called to encourage one another in fellowship, not neglecting to meet together (that means go to church!), and help others to show love and good works.

    Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
    ~1 Peter 4:8-10

We are called to love one another, show one another hospitality (invite folks over and feed them dinner!) and to use what God has given us to help each other.

The next six verses demonstrate that kind of encouragement to us:

    Vs 25-30 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

These are brothers and sisters in Christ, they are the early church. Barnabas goes out and finds Saul and brings him into the Antioch church. They fellowshipped together -“not neglecting to meet together”. They showed “hospitality to one another without grumbling” by bringing in Saul and meeting with the prophets from Jerusalem. They used the gifts they’d been given “to serve one another as good stewards”.

The early church here is living out their new faith in Christ. They are doing exactly what Christ did in his earthly ministry. In doing so, they had earned a new name: they were now called “Christians”. Think of the Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, and so forth. They are the people of Corinth, Ephesus, and Colossae. Christians are simply the “people of Christ” or “followers of Christ”. I want to be known as a Christian because others recognize Christ in me.

    Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. ~Matthew 5:16

Peter’s Vision, a Roman Centurion, and Preaching to the Gentiles (Acts 10)

    Vs 1-2 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.

Cornelius, as a centurion in the Italian Regiment, would have been among the most loyal of the Roman army and also among the most well-paid. The Roman government and army is the hated enemy of the Jews. Yet here we see Cornelius as a man that loves and fears God. He is generous with his wealth and faithful in prayer. Cornelius is a striking exception to the common Roman soldier.

    Vs 3-6 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.”

What is Cornelius doing when he suddenly sees this vision? As we learn further down in vs 30, he’s fasting and praying. “I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house.” He sees a vision of an angel who tells Cornelius that his “prayers and… alms have come up for a memorial before God.” This shows us that God sees our prayers and our financial gifts as a sacrifice to Him. The Apostle Paul makes this clear in his letter to Philippi:

    “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.”
    ~ Philippians 4:17-18

You see, God desires our gifts and offerings but they can take many forms: gifts of money, prayers, worship and praise, our time, our energy, and so much more. What God doesn’t need from man any longer is a blood sacrifice for sin. Jesus already paid that price and gave that sacrifice on our behalf.

The author of the book of Hebrews discusses this as well:

    For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
    ~Hebrews 13:11-16

From this we can clearly see that the centurion is a man that loves God, and God recognizes his sacrifices, just as God sees our gifts and offerings.

    Vs 7-16 And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa. The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

So while Cornelius sends some of his men to Joppa, Peter is praying on a rooftop. Peter is hungry and thinking about food while he’s in prayer (I’ve done that)! In his prayer he sees this vision in which God tells him that they (Jews) can now eat animals that were previously directed to be “unclean”. But God instructs Peter in a way that doesn’t shows us He was talking about more than unclean animals: “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”

God is also talking about the Jews fellowship with Gentiles.

    But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised {Gentiles or unclean} had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised {Jews or clean} was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.
    ~Galatians 2:7-9

How many times have I avoided ministering to someone because they smelled bad? Or because they were dirty, or looked like they may be homeless, or they didn’t fit into my comfort zone? So many times! Paul tells us here in Galatians that he was specifically directed by the Holy Spirit to preach to the unclean (or uncircumcised). He was to teach, fellowship, and get close to the people the Jews considered dirty!

    But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
    ~Romans 3:21-24

Every single one of us is a dirty sinner in need of God’s grace! “For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

    Vs 17-27 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.” Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?” And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.”
    Then he invited them in and lodged them.

On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together.

So while Peter is thinking about all of this, Cornelius’ men come to fetch Peter and bring him back to Caesarea. They have each had a vision and the two visions together are aligned.

It always amazes me when God’s Holy Spirit directs two different people on the same issue in order to accomplish His will. The Lord has done that with my wife and I countless times. God has recently given direction in my life that aligns with the prayers of another brother who has been praying about the issue for over a year – he and I are now of the same mind without either of us really communicating about it.

I would compare this to working on a jigsaw puzzle and that moment of joy you have when you finally see two pieces fitting together.

    Vs 28-33 Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?”

    So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you. So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”

The Centurion obeyed God and called Peter to his home. Now we get to hear Peter’s sermon!

    Vs 34-43 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

God has provided salvation to anyone who wants it, Jesus is Lord of all. “He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” Not only does God desire that we fellowship with each other no matter what race, creed, sin, or social status we are or have; but Jesus came to provide salvation equally to anyone who believes.

    We love Him because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
    ~ 1 John 4:19-21

God wants us to love each other as He loved us. That can be so hard to do. What if the other person is mean or unloveable? God Word doesn’t change on the issue: “he who loves God must love his brother also”. Loving the other person doesn’t mean “not hating them”. Loving them means a tangible action. We love someone else by actually doing something that shows them love. It’s one of those offerings of sacrifice we talked about. Perhaps it’s our time that we share with them, or our money we donate, or our food we leave at the food bank. It can also be serving them at the homeless shelter.

    But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8

Jesus took action. He demonstrated His love for us. He showed us love by doing it. That’s what He calls us to do.

Christ showed love daily in His miracles, He dined with dirty sinners, He allowed the sinner Mary to wash His feet with her hair, and He died for every one of us.

    Vs 44-48 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

Just like Jesus, Peter took action. Peter demonstrated his love for Gentiles. Peter showed us love by doing it. Peter followed the example set by Jesus. That’s what God calls us to do.

Related articles:

An Avenger Who Delights In Mercy

Where You Go, I Will Go

The Trial of Peter and John Before the Jewish Leaders and Sadducees

In Acts Chapter 3, Peter and John had been teaching and preaching in and around the area called Solomon’s porch or Solomon’s portico. (See Jesus heals the Man on the Porch)

There is a pool in Israel, called Bethesda, with five roofed colonnades (or porches), where the sick and the lame used to go and wait for this “movement or stirring of the waters”. Tradition held that when the waters stirred, then the first person to get wet from the water was healed. Back in Acts Chapter 3, Peter and John heal a lame man and then teach about Jesus’ resurrection and that we also can be saved by faith in Christ.

    Acts 3:7-11
    7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
    8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.
    9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God.
    10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
    11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed.

This place of teaching and healing is where we find Peter and John as we start Acts chapter 4.

    Acts 4:1-4
    1 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them,
    2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
    3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.
    4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

The captain of the temple was the second in command (under the High Priest) of what were effectively the “temple police”. The group called the Sadducees were in the majority on the Jewish High Court and the Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection of any kind for anyone. The Sadducees are disturbed, or upset, that Peter and John are teaching what they thought to be heresy; so they have them arrested.

In spite of opposition and persecution, we see the new church growing! “Many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.” The Lord has continued to grow the early church through the first 3 chapters of the book of Acts:

    Acts 1:15
    And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty)

    Acts 2:41, 47b
    Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them….And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

God continues to grow the church through persecution to this very day. I love the story of the persecution and deliverance of Brother Yun. There is an excellent autobiography on him, and here is a great book review on it.

Peter and John are put on trial the very next day.

    5 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes,
    6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
    7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

Peter responds by making the case that they simply did a good deed by healing, and in fact the healing is from Jesus Himself. This opportunity to respond also gives Peter a wide open door to begin to teach!

    8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:
    9 “If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,
    10 “let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.
    11 “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’

Peter is saying this lame man was healed by Jesus (through His Apostles), the same Jesus that all of you killed and God resurrected. It’s the same Messiah that you rejected. Verse 11 is a direct quote from the Psalms to remind us that Jesus Christ is the Messiah that was promised to us and that would be denied and shunned by the Jews.

    Psalm 118:22 “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.”

Then Peter finishes his response with a simple truth:

    12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

There is no other name but Jesus that can save us! Jesus told us this Himself in

    John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”

From David Guzik:
“Does this mean that everyone must make a personal decision for Jesus Christ? What about the infant who dies? What about the person who has never heard about Jesus? God will deal with them fairly and justly, and those who are saved will be saved by the work of Jesus done on their behalf, even if they lacked a full knowledge of Jesus. But what about you?
If you wish to believe that all are saved or that there are many roads to heaven or that you can take the best of all faiths and blend them into one, fine, believe so and bear the consequences; but please do not claim this is the teaching of the Bible.”

The Bible is incredibly clear and specific: There is one way to God – it’s through Jesus Christ and Him alone. It’s not through Buddha, Joseph Smith, Muhammad, and it’s not through our own “enlightenment”.

    13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
    14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

When we have accepted the free gift of salvation from Jesus and we become followers of Christ, the world knows we are different. Jesus told us that would happen:

    Matthew 5:14-16 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Now the council is trying to figure out what to do. The plan they come up with is persecution and force. But they don’t know that God grows the church through persecution!

    15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,
    16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.
    17 “But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”
    18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

The Plan: beat the Apostles and then command them not to teach of Jesus anymore.

    19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.
    20 “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

They’re saying “Do whatever you decide to do to us, but we cannot help but teach the Truth.”

    21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.
    22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

They felt the pressure of the will of the crowd, in addition to the plain evidence that a 40 year old crippled man had just been miraculously healed.

    23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.
    24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,
    25 “who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things?
    26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.’
    27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together
    28 “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.
    29 “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,
    30 “by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
    31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

Now, in spite of the persecution and the ruling by the court, these saints whole desire is to go out and teach the Good News – that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead and He offers that life to us today! Lord let that be my own desire.

Jesus even instructs us to do go out and teach:

    Matthew 28:18-20
    “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The Lord’s Prayer Part 4

    Matthew 6:7-13
    7 “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
    8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
    9 “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
    10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
    11 Give us this day our daily bread.
    12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
    13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer starts and ends with Jesus talking about His Father’s kingdom in vs 9,10, and 13: “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

It’s these beginning and ending verses we’ll focus on this week. What stands out to us, what can we learn from these short verses?

God is holy, His name is holy!

    Psa 105:3 “Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.”

What does “Holy” mean? Sanctified, blessed, clean, consecrated, pure, spotless, untainted.

    Exodus 20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.”

How many of us have heard God’s holy name used as a curse word, or how many of us have even used it ourselves that way? I can imagine:
If every time someone got upset, angry, or even was using casual foul language, they used my name – I would be so hurt! It’s not my fault he stubbed his toe, or she broke that vase, or he got into an argument with his brother. Why blame me? Why curse my name? Yet my name is not even holy. God’s name is holy perfection. Glorious. Yet people commonly use it as part of their foul language. God says that is wrong, and commands us not to do that.

{Big side note here: I remember when I was in about the 6th grade, I asked a teacher (I went to a Catholic school) why we couldn’t use regular swear words. In my 12 year old rationale, the commandment just says to not use God’s name in vain, but there are a whole lot of other curse words out there that don’t include God’s name in them. This teacher didn’t provide me a very good answer at the time, but I later found it in the Bible:

    Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

That foul language is certainly “unwholesome talk”. And we can easily have unwholesome talk without using a single curse word.}

His kingdom is coming!

How is kingdom defined? Domain, empire, realm, rule, sovereignty.

    Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

In our house, we got a new kitten this week. Have you ever held a scared little kitten or pup, (or any baby animal) and tried to comfort it? It’s scared, it doesn’t know what is out there in that big world, it doesn’t know where it will live, or where its next meal is coming from. But I (the kitty owner) have those answers. I think that’s a little how we are with The Lord. Animals can be smart, but their brains are limited. They can’t talk, do math, plant a garden in neat rows, or rebuild a car engine. Our brains are just as limited and small compared to the mind of God. The Lord knows everything, sees everything, created everything. We are at times like that scared pup or kitten. We don’t see or know the big picture. He does. He holds our future in His hands. We are called to seek His kingdom.

    Matthew 13:44-46 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
    Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

God’s kingdom that we are called to seek is His realm, His goodness, His grace – it’s heaven. These verses in Matthew give us two examples that we can understand. Finding Jesus and His way to heaven is of such great value, it’s worth giving up everything in this life for that one precious thing – eternal life with Jesus.

We want His will to be done!

Because it is His kingdom, and we know He wants to bless us, we should ask Him to do His will. The verse in Matthew 6 above says to “seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness”. That means we should be desiring and asking God to help us do His will. We want to build His kingdom, not our own. Then His kingdom (eternal life with Jesus) and His righteousness will be added to us.

He has the power!

So in Him, we can be strong:

    Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”

When you and I are going through the tough things in life, He tells us to hang in there! Don’t give up! Be strong in The Lord! Trust in Him and in His strength!

God can do anything.

    Matthew 19:26 “But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ ”

This is so true, and I have seen this in my own life. God has done miraculous things that I thought were impossible.

    Jeremiah 10:12 “It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.”

He made it all and He knows it all. He gets all the glory!

We are nothing without God.
The Bible tells us in Psalm 139

    “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”

He created the entire universe, and He certainly created, molded and shaped me while I was still inside my mother. He deserves all of the honor and glory we can possibly give Him.

Remember the verse in the Gospel of Luke where the angels appeared to the shepherds in the fields when baby Jesus was born? What did the angels sing to the shepherds that night?

    “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14

Philippians 2:9-11 tells us that our purpose in this life is to glorify the Lord through Jesus and that one day all of us will bow our knee and glorify God.

    “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

We glorify God today by accepting the free gift of salvation that Jesus offers us, and by then allowing Him to work in our lives and through our lives so that OTHERS can see Him in us. God is glorified!

The Lord’s Prayer Part 3

Matthew 6:13
“And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

The Lord’s Prayer was spoken and taught by Jesus as part of His Sermon on the Mount which goes from chapters 5 through 7 in the Book of Matthew.

Today we’ll focus on verse 13: “And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

The Lord doesn’t “lead us” into temptation, but He does allow it in our lives to test us, to strengthen us, and to teach us. We have a wonderful example in the lives of Job and of Jesus in how to handle temptation.

Let’s start with a look at Job’s situation in Job 1:1, 7-22.

    There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.

    And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”

    Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”
    So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”

    And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
    Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house; and a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided them and took them away—indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

    While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

    While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels and took them away, yes, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

    While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

    Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

    In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

The temptation of Job was an attempt by Satan to get Job to curse God. He wanted to get Job so fired up, angry and traumatized that he would give up on God.

Pastor Chuck Smith says: “The real test of the value of my Christian experience comes in adversity. How do I react to tragic losses? Anybody can smile on a sunny day. In Job, we find a man who was suddenly stripped of everything.”

Job knew that he was lost without The Lord, that He was nothing compared to God, that God is on the throne and in control even when it seemed the entire world was against him. “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” is an incredible statement. Virtually everything had gone wrong in Job’s life, his life was a wreck. All of his livestock and servants were killed (his entire estate or all of his wealth was gone), and then all of his children were killed.

Later in Job we read: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25, 26)

Job knew that His Redeemer (Jesus) was coming someday. God is still on the throne. Even in all of the troubles of this life, God is still in complete control, he knows what we’re going through, and we need to still praise and worship Him. He did send that Redeemer in Jesus Christ. Jesus came to this earth as God wrapped in human flesh. He was tempted just like we are, He knew His role was to be sacrificed and killed on the cross, and yet He never cursed God.

Let’s look now at Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness in Matt 4:1-11:

    Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.

    Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

    Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ ”

    Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”

    Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

Jesus is God, yet became a human man so that He could be the perfect sacrifice for us. He suffered all of the same temptations that we suffer.

Notice that Jesus defends Himself with Scripture. This is an example to us of how we can defend against temptation. Jesus shows us that reading and memorizing the Word of God becomes for us a defending wall against the attacker. In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul gives us the entire arsenal of God that we can use in the battle of this evil world, it’s called the “Armor of God”.

Check out Eph 6:10-18

    Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

    Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

    And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
    praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints

These three temptations of Jesus encompass virtually every temptation we have as earthly people and all three are included in this one verse.

These three ways of tempting us are highlighted in 1 John 2:16 “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

The first temptation was the lust of the flesh, and in this case Jesus was tempted in the flesh by being starved with hunger: “when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry”. His body (flesh) needed food!! The desires and urges of our body is one of the three basic ways we are tempted.

His response is with Scripture, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Then Jesus was tempted by what He saw (the lust of the eyes): “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me”. Satan was saying Look! See all that I can give you! We are tempted by what we see! That new stereo, video game, money, clothing, whatever. I really need a new truck, that would be something I could be tempted by!

Notice Jesus again uses the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and responds to Satan with: “it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”

The last temptation was pride, something that we’re all too familiar with. Satan challenges His pride by suggesting He is not really the Son fo God: “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

Jesus responds again with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ ”

In Luke 22:31,32 Jesus is speaking with Peter (Simon), and Jesus knows that Peter will be tempted by Satan to sin and turn away from God. Peter will go through some terrible persecution. Jesus encourages Peter to stand strong and be a strength to his brothers:

“And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.’ ”

We know people that have gone through terrible times: home foreclosure, family members on drugs, family members in jail, parent(s) unemployed, divorce, death in the family, and on and on. Jesus prays for us to! God is in control. He is on the throne. Don’t despair and be tempted to leave the faith! Stay strong!

One of my favorite passages in the Bible can be found in Joshua 1:9 (and similar verses are found in Deuteronomy) when Joshua was going up against a mighty army: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Remember Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer: “And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

The Lord’s Prayer Part 2

The Lord’s Prayer Part 2

Matthew 6:7-13

7 “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
9 “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer was spoken and taught by Jesus as part of His Sermon on the Mount which goes from chapters 5 through 7 in the Book of Matthew.

Today we’ll focus on verse 12: “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.”

This one short verse encompasses one of the keys to a believer’s life in Christ. We need to forgive others of their sins, just like Christ forgave us of our sins.

As an example, let’s look at the little but powerful book of Philemon, verses 1-21.

To set the stage a little bit:
Paul is writing to his friend and brother in Christ Philemon. While in prison, Paul meets a runaway slave named Onesimus and leads him to salvation in Jesus. He mentors Onesimus and nurtures his faith. Now this slave had run from his master Philemon. That was illegal at this time. Paul is writing to Philemon to ask him to take Onesimus back as a brother in Christ, and not as a slave. Paul is also asking that Philemon forgive the wrongs of Onesimus. “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.”

    Vs 1-3 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:
    Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philemon and his family had a house-church in their home. At this time in Israel, there were no churches like we have today in church buildings. There were plenty of synagogues, but the original Christian churches were in homes. House churches are very common today in places like China where Christians are heavily persecuted. They cannot worship in open and known places but have to worship in secret. They cannot even be found with a Bible in China or they will be persecuted. Philemon is a brother in Christ, a solid believer, that Paul loves and prays for.
(Side note: Two amazing books on the persecuted church in China: “The Heavenly Man” by Brother Yun and “Safely Home” by Randy Alcorn. Brother Yun tells his own true story, while Randy Alcorn weaves an excellent fictional story based on real life conditions in China.)

    Verses 4-6
    I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

In these 3 verses, Paul tells Philemon that he prays for him, thanking God for him and for his faith! I love that. I need to tell my friends more often that I am praying for them. It is so comforting to hear from a friend that they have been praying for me. I love that!
Then Paul also points out that he prays that Philemon’s faith would be even more effective – it would have even greater impact – when he acknowledges all of the good in his life is from Christ.

    Vs 7-9
    For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother. Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ—

Paul says “I’m not going to tell you what to do, though I could. But as one Christian brother to another, I’m going to ask you -”

    Vs 10-11
    I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.

Paul is saying: “I’m asking on behalf of my friend and brother Onesimus. I know he wronged you in the past, but now he can be a real blessing to us both.”

    Vs 12-14
    I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel.
    But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.

Paul has other choices here. 1) He could keep Onesimus with him and never say anything at all. Or 2) he could could push really hard and almost force Philemon to take him back and tell him how wrong he would be to punish him and keep him as a slave. Or 3) Paul could make the request with humility and faith, and in prayer.

This third option is the route Paul chooses. If Paul were to 1) keep it all to himself and never address the issue, nothing is solved, and no hearts are changed. If he were to 2) force it on Philemon then Philemon might allow it but wouldn’t have a changed heart and may be bitter now toward both Paul and Onesimus, and may mistreat Onesimus and keep him as a slave. Instead, #3 gives Philemon the opportunity for a changed heart. Philemon has the chance to choose to do what is right rather than be forced into it. Remember the verse from the Lord’s Prayer? “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.”

Look at this story in Matthew 18:23-35:

    For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.

    But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.

    So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

So in this letter to Philemon, Paul is appealing to Philemon because he knows that Philemon has been forgiven. Philemon has accepted Jesus’ free gift of forgiveness and salvation. Philemon knows that his own sins are what put Jesus on the cross and are the reason Jesus died. “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.”

    Vs 15-18
    For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account.

Paul is saying you should receive him as a brother in Christ now, and if he owes you something, I’ll repay it myself. So Paul is willing to take on Onesimus’ debt in order to heal this relationship.

    Vs 19-21
    I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay—not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides. Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord. Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.

When Jesus’ taught the disciples the Lord’s Prayer, in verse 12 He is telling them that they need to forgive others. That’s hard to do! Really, really hard! We don’t want to forgive. It’s not in our human nature. We want to hold onto it. Yet, it’s so much easier to forgive someone when you consider how much we have been forgiven.

The Lord’s Prayer Part 1

    Matthew 6:7-13

    7 “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
    8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
    9 “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
    10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
    11 Give us this day our daily bread.
    12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
    13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer was spoken and taught by Jesus as part of His Sermon on the Mount which goes from chapters 5 through 7 in the Book of Matthew.

The prayer starts and ends with a request to God for His will, His glory, his power, and his kingdom. We’ll cover this request from Jesus in week 4.

Today we’ll focus on verse 11: “Give us this day our daily bread”

There are so many occasions in the Bible where many are fed by the Lord. Food is obviously something God values and I so look forward to the feasts in heaven! Can you imagine the food?!? Our pastor often says he’ll be getting his own chocolate fountain in heaven. I can imagine he’s right. (:-)

The phrase “daily bread” focuses on the fact that not only do we need to eat every day, but that we need God to provide for all our needs every day. A great example of this is God feeding the new Hebrew nation (millions of people) in the book of Exodus with fresh quail and manna bread every single day for forty years.

Check out the story in Ex. 16

    Vs 3-5 “And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. “And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.”

Then in Vs 10-12:

    “Now it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’ ”

Then God feeds them in Vs 13-16:

    “So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground.
    So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat. “This is the thing which the LORD has commanded: ‘Let every man gather it according to each one’s need, one omer for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent.’ ”

    Then the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less. So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack. Every man had gathered according to each one’s need.”

Notice God provided DAILY. They never had extra, they had just enough to make it through one day; yet they were never short of food either. He gave them their daily bread not because they asked nicely and with a heart full of love, nor did he provide because they petitioned the Lord out of desperation and fear. The whined and complained and moaned about how much better Egypt was! No, He provided to them out of love for them. He loved this young nation of people. How many times I have provided for my own children in spite of their moaning and not because of it. Even though they were whining, they still needed to eat. God showed up and provided.

Now let’s look at the New Testament. We’ve discussed before Jesus feeding the crowd of 5,000 (that’s a count of men only, while adding women and children would easily push that number to 15-20,000).

    John 6:4-11

    Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.

    Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”

    Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.

In this situation, Jesus knew the people were hungry, He knew they needed to eat, He knew the disciples did not have food for everyone, and He knew ahead of time what He would do. All of this reminds of the story back in Exodus. In this case in the book of John, Jesus fed the people out of simple love and care for them. They hadn’t even asked to be fed. How often God provides for our DAILY needs when we didn’t even ask!

Did you eat breakfast this morning? God provided it.
Did you dress yourself in your own clothes today? God provided your clothes.
How did you get to church today? God provided transportation.
Where did you sleep last night? God provided shelter.

Take a look also at verse 11 which say in part: “when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples”. Jesus didn’t even distribute the food until He had thanked His Father for the food. Meaning, they didn’t even dish up their plates until thanking God! How often we eat when we’re hungry without giving any consideration as to who provided the food. Every time Jesus eats in the Bible, He thanks God first. No matter which meal or time of day, He’s saying thanks.

Psalm 136 is an incredible song of God’s provision and love and is worth reading in it’s entirety.

    Psa 136:23-26

    He remembered us in our low estate
    His love endures forever.
    and freed us from our enemies.
    His love endures forever.
    He gives food to every creature.
    His love endures forever.
    Give thanks to the God of heaven.
    His love endures forever.

Our “daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer goes way beyond just the food that we eat. It speaks of God providing for our everyday needs, no matter what they are.

If we have accepted God’s free gift of salvation, mercy and grace, then He provides for us for all eternity! Forever and ever! I can’t wait to eat with Him at feast upon feast.

Ephesians 2:4-10 speaks not only of the free gift of salvation that God provides to those who want it, but also that God knew our need and prepared beforehand:

    But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Thanks Lord, for providing for me. Let me always be thankful and know that my needs are daily met by you, and you alone.

A few related resources:

Hallelujah! by Desiring to Walk Humbly with My God

Why Give Thanks? By Ray Stedman

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand by Tony Kummer

Jesus Feeds the 5,000 and then Walks on Water!

Breakfast by the Sea (Jesus and the disciples)

Breakfast by the Sea

John 21

    Vs 1-3 “After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We are going with you also.’ They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.”

When we go through awful, difficult, and stressful times, we have the tendency to pull back into the familiar. Doing what you know, what we’re used to doing. This helps us to get our minds off of the rough patch we are going through.

For me, when dealing with stress in my life, there is nothing I love better than gardening. Digging in the soil, pulling weeds, planting seeds, driving on my tractor, tilling, moving manure – I love all of it. If I could make a living at it, I’d do it in a minute. (I love praying to God while gardening. It’s a wonderful time of communion with the Lord for me.)

Other folks love exercise at the gym, or running, some love sewing or quilting, many love to sit and read a great book. We all deal with stress and difficulty in our lives in different ways.

That’s what the disciples are doing here. They are going fishing. It’s something they all know how to do, it’s familiar to them, and they have no idea what The Lord wants them to do with their lives going forward. They’ve not yet been given the Great Commission and the Holy Spirit in Acts 1 and 2.

    Vs 4 “But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.”

Remember in the last chapter Mary didn’t recognize Jesus either (Jesus’ Resurrection and Doubting Thomas). In this case, if the disciples had recognized Jesus immediately, they would have rushed to shore right away and He wouldn’t have been able to perform this miracle. He does something similar in Luke 24 on the road to Emmaus.

    Vs 5-6 “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Children, have you any food?’ They answered Him, ‘No.’ And He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.”
    Vs 7-8 “Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish.”

Peter gets so excited! I love his heart for Christ! In his excitement and enthusiasm to see God, he jumps in the water to swim to shore and leaves the other guys to drag the fish to shore. This reminds me of story about Mary and Martha in Luke Ch. 10:38-42

“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’ ”

Peter and Mary both had hearts that longed to be with Jesus, I love that! Lord give me that kind of heart!

    Vs 9-11 “Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.”

From David Guzik:
“Why 153 fish? This number has been a field day for speculative interpretations of the Bible since the early church.
-153 is the sum of numbers 1 to 17. Some (like Augustine) say that it is a number representing the number of commandments (10) added to the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit.
-153 is the added numerical value of the Greek words “Peter” and “fish.”
-Some ancient writers (such as Jerome) held that there were 153 different types of fish in the world; this represents a “full harvest” of all of the world.
-Some (like Cyril of Alexandria) say that 100 stands for the Gentiles, 50 for Israel and 3 for the Trinity.
-The truth is that all we know for certain is that 153 stands for the number of fish that they caught! We must always be careful of manufacturing ‘hidden meanings’ in the Word of God.”

Miracles we see here:
Jesus knew the fish were down there, and he knew EXACTLY where they were (Cast the net on the right side of the boat)
Jesus had to strengthen the net such that it didn’t break under the severe weight of 153 large fish.

(As a side note, the Sea of Tiberias is also known as the Sea of Galilee, and the fish caught has long been thought to be the tilapia which in this area can grow to 9 or 10 pounds. So on the large size, this is could be well over 1,000 pounds of fish.)

    Vs 12-13 “Jesus said to them, ‘Come and eat breakfast.’ Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, ‘Who are You?’—knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.”

I love reading about the many occasions Jesus shared a meal with His disciples. Have you noticed that these times are often associated with a miracle Jesus performs? Jesus feeding the 5,000, the Last Supper, and so on. God made us to love food, and to enjoy “communion” or communing with others when we eat! It can be such a blessed time of loving and sharing! Yet how often do we eat in silence, or eat in front of the television?

    Vs 14 “This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.”

The other two occasions that Jesus revealed Himself were both back in Chapter 20 that we studied last week.

    Vs 15-17 “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’

Guzik: “Jesus allowed Peter a three-fold public affirmation of love to replace a three-fold denial, and gave him a three-fold challenge to feed my sheep”.

Feed my lambs – Lambs are the young of the flock. Feed them the Word of God (like teaching Sunday School!) (:-) We’re called to teach those that are new in the faith or young in the faith.

Tend my sheep – This makes me thing of caring for and tending the flock. The disciples were charged with building the church, loving and caring for the believers, and guiding them faithfully. You don’t beat or abuse the sheep, you herd them and care for them.

Feed my sheep- The disciples were also told to feed (teach) the flock, and feed (teach) they did! The entire New Testament was written by God using disciples of Christ. Many of the books of the New Testament are letters written to churches of pastors to teach and guide them.

Vs 18-25 ” ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.’ This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’ Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, ‘But Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.’ Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, ‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?’

This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.”

“You will stretch out your hands” was Jesus’ way of saying Peter would be crucified (which he later was). But after telling Peter he will be crucified, He says “follow me”. No matter the cost Peter. Follow me.