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

Overview of Paul’s Epistles (letters)

This week we’re going to do an overview of Paul’s letters called the Epistles. In order to do that, we first need to take a look at how the New Testament books all fit together. Here’s a little song that can help you to memorize all the books of the New Testament. If you can memorize this song, you’ll know these books by heart for the rest of your life – and it’s SUPER-EASY!

Books of the Bible New Testament song

Now let’s look at how all the books in the New Testament were put into their order:

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the four “Gospels”. These books are unique to the New Testament in that the names of the books are the names of the authors of each. So they are the ‘Gospel according to Matthew’, the ‘Gospel according to Mark’, etc. Taken together, the four Gospels tell the history of Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, and resurrection.

Next we have the book of Acts, also called the “Acts of the Apostles”. This is a book that not only shows the birth of the early Christian church immediately following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but it also relates for us some of the sermons and doctrine from the Apostles – namely Peter and Paul. This book was written by Dr. Luke, the same man that wrote the Gospel of Luke.

Together, these 5 books are known as the “Historical Books”. They all tell a history. The remaining 22 books in the New Testament are all together known as “Epistles”. There are two groups of them: the “Pauline Epistles” and the “Non-Pauline Epistles”.

The Pauline Epistles were all written by the Apostle Paul either to groups of people in a local church (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians) or to individual people (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon). To help you remember them, notice that the letters to the churches come first, and then the letters to the individual people.

The “Non-Pauline Epistles” were written by a variety of authors, but were all letters to others – again either individuals or to churches.

The first of these is Hebrews and it’s authorship is widely debated, but may have been the Apostle Paul so it’s easy to remember that it comes after Paul’s letters.

The others Non-Pauline Epistles were written by James, Peter, John, and Jude. The very last book – Revelation – is like a bookend to the Bible since it teaches us about the final days of earth. (The other bookend is Genesis which is the first book of the Bible and describes the dawn of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth.)

Now let’s look at a very brief and simple summary of the Pauline Epistles (as taken from a piece written by Matt Slick from carm.org called New Testament Books )

Romans –A systematic examination of justification, sanctification, and glorification. Examines God’s plan for the Jews and the Gentiles.

1 Corinthians – This letter deals with factions and corrections due to immorality, lawsuits, and abuse of the Lord’s Supper. Also mentions idols, marriage, and the resurrection.

2 Corinthians – Paul’s defense of his apostolic position.

Galatians – Paul refutes the errors of legalism and examines the proper place of grace in the Christian’s life.

Ephesians – The believer’s position in Christ and information on Spiritual warfare.

Philippians – Paul speaks of his imprisonment and his love for the Philippians. He exhorts them to godliness and warns them of legalism.

Colossians – Paul focuses on the preeminence of Jesus in creation, redemption, and godliness.

1 Thessalonians – Paul’s ministry to the Thessalonians. Teachings on purity and mention of the return of Christ.

2 Thessalonians – Corrections on the Day of the Lord.

1 Timothy – Instructions to Timothy on proper leadership and dealings with false teachers, the role of women, prayer, and requirements of elders and deacons.

2 Timothy – A letter of encouragement to Timothy to be strong.

Titus – Paul left Titus in Crete to care for the churches there. Requirements for elders.

Philemon – a letter to the owner of a runaway slave. Paul appeals to Philemon to forgive Onesimus.

It is incredible and absolutely unique that God created the Bible to all fit together into one Book that compares to no other. There are 66 individual books of the Bible and scholars believe these books were written by at least 39 authors over a period of 1,500 years. The Bible speaks to people of all different nationalities and cultures and the Jesus of the Bible changes lives all over the world.

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

and

Effectual Calling, a great sermon by Charles Spurgeon

James the Martyr and Peter is Rescued (Acts 12)

    Vs 1-3 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread.

The King Herod we see here would have been Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of King Herod the Great. Herod the Great was the one who asked the wise men to come let him know where the Christ was, and being tricked by them he killed all the young boy toddlers (2 years old and under) in Israel. King Herod the Great dies at the end of Matthew Chapter 2.

Later in Jesus life we see a King Herod who was responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist. This was Herod Antipas, seventh son of Herod the Great. King Herod Antipas was Herod Agrippa’s uncle.

We see this sad family history of violence and unlawful execution of the Jewish people. This reminds us of the concept taught in scripture about the “sins of the father being visited on the children.”

    “You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. ~Deuteronomy 5:9-10

This isn’t saying that God punishes the later generations for the bad things their parents did. This is saying that sin in a family creates a history and habits that are often not broken without the intervention of God Himself. Here we see Herod the great demonstrate terrible violence upon the Jewish people. Herod Antipas watches and learns that behavior and executes John the Baptist to appease a woman. Herod Agrippa watches and learns that behavior and executes James and seeing “that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also.”

If my family or your family has a history of certain sinful behaviors, God can deliver us from that! It starts with salvation in Jesus. Going forward, God can create a new history of love, protection, and sacrifice in our family through us. He can break that cycle by using us and working in our lives. What a blessing!

I know lots of godly believers that God has used to break the chains in their family of alcoholism, abuse, crime, drug use, and so much more.

    Vs 4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.

The days of Passover and Unleavened Bread were considered holy days and it would have been unwise for Herod to desecrate these days with an execution.

    Vs 5 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.

I love that the early church was praying for their pastor! They were probably also praying for all of their leaders, and they were doing it constantly. That is something we each need to be doing for our pastors and church leaders. Paul specifically asks for prayer for himself and for his team.

    Brethren, pray for us. ~1 Thessalonians 5:25

Pray for your pastor!

    Vs 6-8 And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.”

Here we see God answering the prayers of the church in an incredible and miraculous way! Here Herod “was about to bring him out”, so it was maybe the night before his trial and/or execution. Peter is probably at this point being kept in the Antonia Fortress (Or Tower of Antonia) that would have been heavily guarded, not just a simple little jail. Remember, there were “four squads of soldiers” watching over him (from vs 4).

    Vs 9-10 So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.

Peter follows the angels instructions. He puts on his cloak or belt, puts on and ties his sandals, he follows the angel past the guards, goes through the corridors and gates, and continues all the way to the city street. Yet all the while he thinks this is a vision! What an awesome God we serve.

I love seeing and hearing about miracles that happen even today. My mom was miraculously healed while in a hospital bed when I was about 10 years old. It’s important though that we study and learn God’s word well enough to be able to distinguish between a true miracle of God today versus something that can be a false teaching or through a false teacher. Later in Acts we see the believers searching the scriptures to make sure what they were seeing was Biblical in nature.

    These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. ~Acts 17:11

They are an example for us – we need to search the scriptures daily!

    Vs 11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”

The “expectation of the Jewish people” was probably the hope by the Jews that they’ll see another execution occur. Human nature loves drama, blood, and violence. Look at the video games and movies of today. The Jews of Peter’s day were no different.

    Vs 12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.

Following this chapter we see John Mark quite a bit. He has a real heart for this ministry, and we see him grow and serve Paul, Peter, and Barnabas. There is wide evidence that he wrote the Gospel of Mark.

    Vs 13-15 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.”

I’m sure that Rhoda was probably among those that had been in constant prayer for Peter. Now she opens the door to find him at the gate and she is beside herself with joy! She is eyewitness to an answered prayer and is overwhelmed. So much so that the others around her say “you are beside yourself!” When God answers our prayers in such a way that we can see, touch, and hear the miracle, it’s an awesome experience.

    16-17 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” And he departed and went to another place.

Peter recounts for them the miraculous appearance of the angel and how The Lord rescued him. In finishing his story, he tells them to “tell these things to James and to the brethren”. This James is the brother of Jesus, not the brother of John who was killed back in verse 2. It’s important that when God delivers and provides for us that we give Him the glory. God wants us to tell others about His amazing provision for His people.

We are even instructed by His word to do so:

    Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
    ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

God even designed His creation to do give Him glorify:

    To the Chief Musician. On the instrument of Gath. A Psalm of David. O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!
    Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.
    When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
    What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?
    For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
    You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,
    All sheep and oxen—Even the beasts of the field,
    The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas.
    O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!
    ~Psalm 8

“Even the beasts of the field, The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea” glorify God!

    Vs 19-25 Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there. Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king’s personal aide their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king’s country.

    So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died. But the word of God grew and multiplied. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.

We are instructed by God’s word to give Him all of the glory. He has done mighty works in our lives. Everything we see in creation, even the breath we breathe, is given to us by God. We are given an example in King Herod to not take glory for ourselves. Here he was set on a throne, dressed in royal clothes, giving a speech. All of these things were given him by God Almighty. But he took the glory for himself.

    “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Related Resources:

Prayers for your pastor and leaders

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Set Your Heart to Seek God