Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bible Study John 8:1-11 Woman Caught in Adultery & Wisdom+Love of Jesus

John 8 is a relative long chapter with 3 powerful teachings. So we will break it into 3 posts. The first part 8:1-11 is the famous story of "Woman Caught in Adultery". But the real issue was not the woman but the wisdom and the love of Jesus.

Water to Light
This incidence was a detour of Jesus as "the Giver of Living Water" in John 7:37 and "Light of the World" in 8:12. But in deeper consideration, it is about the living water washing away the sin and the light to lead the way for right living as in 8:11 "I forgive you, go and sin no more".

Quiet Time of Jesus
v1 tell us that Jesus spent his quiet time alone in the Mt of Olives. v2 tells us he went to temple to teach early in the morning. No mention of the disciples with Him but may be John was told to be with Him in the early morning and recorded the incidence for us. The temple was filled with people (v3 All the people came to him).

Q1. How can we tell the incident was a planned attack on Jesus?
  • It says so in verse 6. Always try to find the obvious answer in the Bible first. Intention is of the heart and can only be inferred, but never absolutely sure, from the outward actions. Now that it was declared in the Bible under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we can then claim it is the truth. The outward signs are:
  • Scribes and Pharisees came together. They disagreed on their doctrine but they can unite to get rid their common enemy - Jesus. Jesus telling the truth and demonstrating His power and identity as Son of God, was making them very uncomfortable.
  • Woman only, where was the man? Most commentaries see the man as a paid agent for the job of trapping the woman. He got his rewards and left.
  • Whatever the answer, it is bad for Jesus.  
    • Yes to stone -> Jesus condemned the woman;against His mission. He was supposed to help the sinners, poor, outcast of the society. 
    • No - Jesus broke the Laws of Moses.
  • Additional Notes from the Old Testaments:
    • Deu 22:23  If a girl who is a virgin is engaged to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, 24  then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them with stones that they die; the girl because she did not cry out in the city(she did not ask for help implying willingness to commit the adultery) , and the man because he has humbled his neighbor's wife. So you shall put away evil from among you. 
    • Lev 24:14  Bring forth the despiser outside the camp. And let all that heard lay their hands on his head. Let all the congregation stone him.
      Deu 17:7  The hands of the witnesses shall be first on him to put him to death, and afterwards the hands of all the people.
      The first to cast the stones are the witnesses who heard the disobedience acts. The elders were probably not the witnesses and also they did not bring the man and hence could not cast the first stones without breaking the Laws then.
Q2. What can we learn from Jesus in handling a heated accusation or arguments?
  • Stay calm and keep quiet for relative long period of time for the emotions to cool down so that attention be drawn to right issue.
    • v6 tells us Jesus just bent down, ignoring their commotions, and write on the ground. This is a difficult act for me to follow. When accuse, I will want to immediately defend, often even before the accuser complete his accusation. Learn to keep quiet and if unable, do something to distract the boiling emotions inside!
    • v7 tells us they continue to ask him. We don't have a multimedia Bible to tell us the emotions behind their speech. At this time, I can also guess that the emotion of the crowd has died down quite a bit and they while insistent on demanding an answer was able to hear and understand better. 
    • Jesus stood up, after they are ready to hear well, and give them the shocking challenge - only he who has no sin can stone her first!
    • I believe that if they have not calmed now first and could not reflect on their life, they would claim that they have no sin and stone the woman.
  • Jesus once again bent down and write on the ground. Many commentators believed that Jesus now write the sins of the ones in front of him, beginning from the oldest. We do not know but it is a reasonable fill in. What did Jesus write is a good game to play. But is not essential to the main teaching of this incidence. The main teaching is in v11 "I forgive and sin no more".
  • The woman has been judged and offered forgiveness. Jesus had actually provided the woman a way out to freedom. She would not be stoned again. 
Q3 How can we be as wise as Jesus?
A simple answer is to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5).

The other is to know the truth.
  • Jesus' statement is actually a reflection and a practice of the truth. Telling the truth is easy. Just the tell the truth. 
  • Telling lies are difficult. You have to concoct out the stories to suite different people and different times. You need to remember the various versions of the lies that you told to different people and always trying hard to be consistent. It is stressful and there will be inconsistencies and will be found out. Knowing and telling the truth will set us free and give us peace. This comes in later part of Chapter 8 in v31.
    Q4 If you are the woman, how would you feel? What you would do?
    If one's feeling is 'I'm so stupid. I should not have been tricked. I got a lucky break this time. Better be careful next time'. Then I'm afraid one has not repented. The sin remained.

    On the other hand, she went back to her husband and seek forgiveness and lived the decision of husband, forgave and stayed or divorced, she would be truly repentant.

    We must know that while God forgave our sins, the society and friends may not. The damages and other consequences of our sinful acts remain and need God and us to put them right.

    Q5 What we sin, do we leave God out of shamefulness or come back to God to seek restoration?
    Don't ever fall into the traps of the devil's accusation and condemnation and leave God. Don't focus on self and your failure. Focus on the Jesus that paid for your sins and the Father God that love you. He sees your pains and desire to be well again. He is waiting for you to return with open arms. Go back to His love for you. Heb 4:14-16.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Bible Study 1 John 3 Discussion

    Discussion:on Bible Study 1 John Chapter 3 Believers Behave Like...

    Key Point:

    1. We are born of Father God.
    2. We naturally will behave like our Father, God.- :Pure and Sin Not.
    3. When we focus, put our hope on God, we will not sin. That is the best way to stay pure and keep away from sin.
    4. He who is born of God will not continue in sin. Anyone continuing in sin is of the devil.
    5. The greatest commandment is to know and believe in Jesus as Son of God and love others with the love of Jesus. The OT loving God is refined to be believing in Jesus as Son of God and then externalize it through loving others as Jesus has loved us.
    6. Love is not a theoretical concept but must love in deeds. When we see the need and has the ability, we should help. God does not expect us to help when we can't. A person who can't swim is not expected to jump into the water to save another that is drowning. Just shout for help. 
    7. Helping must be done with wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit in these times of deception and cheating. We don't want to give money to support someone alcoholic, drug or gambling addictions. It may be better to help in kinds to the family members. Sometime, help need to come in teaching and wisdom of restructuring the finance and management of finance. Unless the behavior is changed, putting in new money will be ended in loss again. Don't put good money in unchanged bad behavior.
    8. Failures is part of the growing up process. God is not unhappy with us when we fail. God's love for us does not change, more or less, depending on our  behavior. God in fact is please that we try even though we fail. Parents do not scold or stop their children from trying to walk and the falling again. Falling is part of the growing process of learning to walk.
    9. All of us start on the staring line of 'passed already' because of Jesus Christ. But God has different and unique calling for each of us after our passing that we may move towards our high calling from God. Eph 2:8-10 tells us to walk in the  "masterpiece" of God. 2Pet 2:9 is even clearer; (ALT)  you* [are] a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people [for God's own] possession, in order that you* shall proclaim the excellencies of the One having called you* out of darkness into His marvelous light,

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Bible Study John 7 Jesus' Defense & The Reception

    The Galilean Ministry of Jesus started well with many people, after the miracle feeding of five thousands, pursuing Him. However, it ended sadly with Joh 6:66  After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. We had a different result in this Judean Ministry as we shall see.

    John 7:1-10 The Decision Making Method of Jesus

    Q1. How did Jesus make his decision to go to Jerusalem?
    We can learn the following three things about the decision making of Jesus.
    1. He asked God.
      He recognized the need to ask and be led by God. John 7:6,8 My time has not yet come.
    2. He did not succumb to the pressure by the people,
      not even his brothers. John 7:3-5
    3. He acted on God's guidance and timing immediately despite the danger.
      He put his life and trust in God's hands. He did it with wisdom John 7:10b then he also went up, not publicly but in private.
    Q2 What were the reactions of people to Jesus' message? How many groupings can we find?
    1. Those who believe in Him.
      1. John 7:31 many of the people believed in him. They said, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?”. 
      2. John 7:40  When they heard these words, some of the people said, "This really is the Prophet." John 7:41a  Others said, "This is the Christ."
      3. The officers of the Pharisees! Johm 7:46  The officers answered, "No one ever spoke like this man!"
      4. Nicodemus John 7:50-51
    2. Those who are against Him.
      1.  the chief priests and Pharisees John 7:32 ... sent officers to arrest him.Joh 7:48  Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?

    3. Those who are not sure.
      1. John 7:25  Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, "Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? 
      2. Joh 7:41b But some said, "Is the Christ to come from Galilee?"
      3. Joh 7:43  So there was a division among the people over him. 
    Q3 List down the points of Jesus' defense. What can you learn in your defense?
    1. My Claims - Joh 7:16  "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.
    2. You can verify for yourself - My teaching follow the Scriptures (Moses et al) John 7:17 do it and see.
    3. I seek not my own benefits or interests but the Father God who sent me. There is no hidden agenda. It is truth. John 7:18
    4. I knew you wanted to kill me because I healed a man on Sabbath. John 7:19.
    5. The Purpose of Sabbath is for Man as Circumcision can be done on Sabbath. John 7:21-23
    6. Judge rightly and not by appearance only.
      1. Appearance are physical outward signs only. John 7:28
      2. The truth is my claims, your verification, my accurate prediction which you can verify later. John 7:28-34
    7. I am the giver of living waters that is eternal. John 7:37-38

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Bible Study John 6b Bread of Life & How to Eat it

    John 6:22-71. After the miracle feeding, people came to look for Jesus, and even crossed the sea to Capernaum. Here we have some of the most profound teaching of Jesus.

    Q1 Jesus uses the metaphor of 'Bread' to explain spiritual things to the people and revealing his purpose. Please go into the details to discover spiritual lessons.

    The people had been fed and came looking for more bread (6:26). It is naturally that Jesus use it to illustrate spiritual truths.
    • People work to get bread.
    • They eat bread, daily, to maintain physical life on earth.
    • They eventually died.
    • Bread only sustains physical life for awhile.
    In Contrast,
    • Jesus the Spiritual Bread
      • Joh 6:35  Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will not be hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 
      • Joh 6:48  I am the bread of life. 
    • It gives eternal life. They who eat shall not die (spiritually)
      • Joh 6:50  This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, that anyone may eat of it and not die
      • Joh 6:51  I am the living bread which came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever
    • Must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have true spiritual life. 
      • Joh 6:53 unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don't have life in yourselves. 
      • Joh 6:54  He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day
      • Joh 6:56  He who eats & drink me lives in me, and I in him. (i.e. abide)
        Joh 6:57  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he who feeds on me, he will also live because of me.
      • Joh 6:58 He who eats this bread will live forever.
      • This eating and drinking of Him is later institutionalized as the Holy Communion.
    What is the meaning of 'eating Jesus flesh (bread of life) and drink Jesus' blood?

    In John 3 that we studied earlier, Jesus pointed out to Nicodemus that a man's life had a spiritual dimension besides the familiar physical dimension. Man needs a rebirth in the spirit in order to see the Kingdom of God. So we know Jesus is referring to the spiritual dimension again here.

    The cue is given in Joh 6:63  It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and are life.

    The way to eat spiritual bread of Jesus is to listen to His words daily as we eat bread daily for our physical life.

    Two chapter earlier, Jesus is even more specific about how eat. Joh 4:34  Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

    In the temptation of Jesus, Mat 4:4  But he answered, "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

    As we digest the bread, we should also digest His words - by understanding with the heart and putting them into obedient action as the good soils of the Parable of the Sower.

    We can then summarized that eating spiritual bread is actually listening and obeying Jesus. Eating the spiritual bread of Jesus, we develop our rebirthed spirit so that we grow into maturity, bearing the fruit of the Spirit Gal 5:23-24 and consummating into the full glorification of Eternal ZOE life of God at Christ's return Rom 8:30.

    We can find further support for this interpretation in:
    • Joh 15:7  If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ...
    • Joh 15:10  If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.
    • 1Jn 2:3  And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 
    See also Five Habits for Effective Christian Living

      Q2 "Familiarity Breeds Contempt".  Do you agree? What shall we do?
      In verse John 6:42  They said, "Isn't this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How then does he say, 'I have come down out of heaven?' "
      Sharing the Gospel and bearing witnesses to our own family members seem to be the most difficult things to do. Preachers can travel overseas for great mission trips where their own home, family, neighborhood, and friends are not reached! By the power of God, we shall be a shining light wherever we are.

      Q3 What does "Joh 6:44  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" mean?
      There are some who uses verses like these (see also Joh 15:16  Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you) to argue that only selected people are meant to be saved. But the Bible tell us that
      • 2Pe 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 
      • 1Jn 2:2  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
      The Father and Jesus chose everyone but not everyone want to respond and accept the invitation. He chose all but some do not want to chose Him. 

      Q4 We tend to be very carnal like the people. What shall we do?
      Just like Nicodemus, people still see things physically and take offense that Jesus ask them to eat his flesh and drink his blood. (6:52 How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 60 hard teaching, 66 they left Him.) Nicodemus eventually got it. Hopefully, some of the people did too. (John 7:40 Many of the multitude therefore, when they heard these words, said, "This is truly the prophet.")

      We need to be reminded often:
      • By Jesus: Joh 6:27  Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you
      • By Paul: 
        • 1Co 15:1  Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand
        • Col 3:2  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
        • Rom 15:15  But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 
      • By Sending Another
        • Timothy: 
          • 1Co 4:17  That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.
          • 2Ti 2:14  Remind them of these things
        • Titus: Tit 3:1  Remind them ....
      While we need to have daily fellowship with Jesus and also need a fellowship group for our spiritual growth.

      See also What is the meaning of Yielding to the Spirit?
      Christianity Rediscovered: We can do Nothing apart from Jesus

      Tuesday, October 5, 2010

      Bible Study John 6 Feeding of Five Thousands

      Q1 Read the same miracle recorded in other gospels. Compare them and see what we can learn about the incident and the characteristics of the author.

      This miracle can be found in all the four Gospels. Mat 14:13-21, Mar 6:30-44, Luk 9:10-17 and Joh 6:1-13. By reading through all of them at the same time, we can get a more complete picture. By seeing what was written and what was missed out, we can see the intention of the author better. 

      Luke 9:10 tells us that the incidence happened near the town of Bethsaida. John said it was "the other side of the Sea of Galilee". Jesus and His disciples were supposed to go to the other to get away from the crowd for a rest.

      It took place on a mountain. The time was the Passover, the feast of the Jews.

      Matthew and Luke recorded that Jesus had compassion on the people and healed all who had need of healing.

      Mark specifically pointed out 6:34 "they were like sheep without a shepherd and He began to teach them many things". The teaching occurred late into the evening (Mark 6:35).

      The monetary amount of food needed to feed the crowd was estimated in Mark 6:37 as 200 demarii or 200 day-wages. John specifically pointed out that his number was given by Philip. In John's account, the names were mentioned. It was Jesus asked Philip to feed them. It was Andrew who found the boy with 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. John was giving first hand account and very specific about people and less so on the numbers (in group of fifty was not mentioned).

      Matthew 14:21 tells us that the 5 thousand men did not include the women and children. So the number of people fed that day could be 10 thousand or more.

      While the instruction given by Jesus in Luke 9:14 was to be in group of fifties. Mark 6:40 tell us they actually sat in groups by the hundreds and fifties.

      John 6:14-15 give us the a specific reason "the crowd wanted to take him by force to be king", that Jesus withdrew to the mountain by himself. Mat & Mar just recorded that Jesus asked his disciples to go off first and then he went up to the mountain to pray.

      All recorded the key facts of the event:
      1. The source of food: 5 loaves 2 fish 
      2. 5 thousand men
      3. Jesus gave thanks and distribute the food to the disciples.
      4  The disciples then gave to the people seated in groups.
      5. 12 baskets of fragments were collected after they have eaten.

      Q2 What can learn about Jesus from the incidence?
      1. It is recorded clearly in John 6:14 "This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!". Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior of the world.  No normal human being can multiply food instantly. It takes the true Creator to create things.
      2. Jesus as the good coach or teacher. Teaching by focusing with a question and then explanation and demonstration. 
      3. Jesus as a good organizer. Dividing the crowd into groups for easier distribution of food and ensuring no one was left out.
      4. Jesus as the environmental protection. There is no waste of food and keeping the place clean. The left over fragments were collected back in 12 baskets. This is a good start and a good ending. In a typical celebration, the place will be full of litters after the crowd dispensed.
      5. Jesus provide more than enough. God gives in abundance.
      Q3 Who witnessed the Multiplication of Food?
      It was the disciples who serve the food from Jesus to the people. It is in participation that we get to experience more. Some of the people may not know where did the food come from. They may get the answer later. Be the group that create and initiate the impact. Don't be just the spectators. Definitely don't be the ones that don't know what was going on.

      Q4 How can we apply what we learned here?
      1. We have a God that had compassion on us. The Shepherd that will care, lead and provide for us. We just commit our needs to Him and trust Him to deliver.
      2. He will provide us "more than enough".
      3. We can learn from His way of handling things. Have a proper beginning and a good ending. We complete what we start.
      4. We learn to organize things - divide and care for better. No waste. Save the leftovers for future use and keep the place clean.