The Adult Bible Fellowship (ABF) meets on Sundays at 9:00. The purpose is to equip saints for ministry. Recently we completed a 9 week series on biblical discipleship. Here are the discipleship notes and lessons available for free download.
The Adult Bible Fellowship (ABF) meets on Sundays at 9:00. The purpose is to equip saints for ministry. Recently we completed a 9 week series on biblical discipleship. Here are the discipleship notes and lessons available for free download.
I hate Zesco – power cuts. It is evening, the sun has set and you have plans for the evening. Suddenly you hear that dreaded sound: “thunk!” Everything goes dark. What is your immediate response? You run for the light – a candle, a torch, or switch on an inverter. Around our house when Zesco cuts our smaller children are in some other room of the house yelling that they can’t see anything – they have been trapped by the darkness.
There is comfort from just the smallest light! Light is something that we often take for granted – until we lose it.
The setting for our text is the Feast of Tabernacles, which begins the 15th day of the 7th month and lasts for seven days (Lev 23:34). During the feast four large torches where lit in the temple area. The holy men and elders of Israel danced the night away in the light of the flames. The end of the Feast is drawing near. It is Sabbath. Just before those caring for the temple extinguish the torches, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life” (8:12).
What a dramatic visualization of the difference between light and darkness! Jesus walks through those who were picking up stones in order to stone him for his claim to be God (8:58). He walks out of the Temple – the light is gone!
In chapter 9 the them of light continues… Jesus passes by and departs Temple Mount. The light goes out into the world those who are in darkness can see. As Jesus goes out he meets a man who is blind – one who has never seen light.
Jesus stops when he sees the blind man. He approaches him and ultimately brings him into the light physically by restoring his sight and more importantly into the light spiritually!
How often we hold to our traditions and upbringing instead of embracing the truth that is staring us in the face. Everyone of us is either like the blind man who receives light or we are like the Pharisees who claimed to have light and continued to live in darkness.
Every one of us live by presuppositions and assumptions. These assumptions are based upon our background, life experiences and what we have learned (been taught). The cultural understanding of the disciples was that someone sinned for this man to be born blind. His blindness was just punishment for that sin. It had to be that either the man had sinned while still in the womb, or his parents had sinned thus bringing about his condition.
It was thought that he deserved to suffer for this past sin.
This is the basic idea of some Eastern religions today. There is a lack compassion for the underprivileged (low-caste) because the person suffering is only getting what they deserve in payment from a past life and previous wrong decisions. If someone dies and has been bad they are reincarnated as a lower caste or if they are really bad they come back as part of the animal kingdom.
Even among Christian people this same idea can be found. I remember after my motorcycle accident in 1983 being in the hospital with a hundred stitches in my face. A well-meaning Christian leader in my church came to the hospital to visit. He asked if there was some sin in my life that was the root cause of my accident.
If it was because of sin that he was born blind then every time this family was seen in public with him, the question was always being asked, “Who sinned, was it him or his parents?”
Some view God as an all-powerful vindictive God who cannot give us too much good, so he zaps us rather frequently to be sure that we keep our place. It is true that all pain, suffering and death is a result of the fall and in that sense it is a result of sin, but affliction is not punishment for a particular sin.
Why is there pain and suffering?
Principle of sowing/reaping: You may be reaping the fruit of what you have sown, but this is not God’s punishment. For instance a former alcoholic may be suffering with a destroyed liver, this is not a punishment for his sin, it is reaping the effects of sinful choices. Suffering may also be because of the wrong decisions of others. If a mother is a drug addict, her baby is born with drug dependency and withdrawals.
Punishment is future – God will either mete your eternal punishment upon His Son for your sake or if you refuse that offer, he will lay just punishment upon you.
God overruled the disaster of the child’s blindness so that as a adult he could see the glory of God in the face of Jesus and so that others might see and turn to Christ. If we exist for the pleasure of God for the glory of God then it follows that whatever situation we find ourselves in ultimately is so that God will be exalted among men & angels & devils.
Jesus came to into the world to bring light. It is for this reason that He must do the works of God while He has the opportunity.
This was compassion because he was helpless to help himself. He had never seen the red and gold and orange hues of an African sunset. He had never seen what his mother looked like, he had felt her kisses and her tears, he had felt the lines of her face, but he had never seen her! He had never been able to move about freely – always had to be led by others or poke his way carefully with a cane.
Jesus used a most interesting means to bring light to this blind man: Spit, mud, and a command to “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam.” Jesus chose to heal this man at a distance to not draw more attention to Himself. He would also use this event to confront the Jews with a situation they could not deny.
This was compassion because as he washed the mud out of his eyes the light poured in! He saw green trees and brown skin and blue water – and he was filled with joy! Light and joy flooded over him at the same time! He rushed home to tell everyone and show them what had happened. Imagine the excitement he felt!
When you have experienced pain or suffering there is often greater joy!
Helen Keller was orn June 27, 1880. When she was 19 months old she became ill and lost her sight and hearing. Ann Sullivan a 20 year old teacher was assigned to help Helen. She taught Keller to read and write and became a mentor and friend. Keller went on to write 12 books and became an advocate for the handicapped. Helen Keller wrote this of her situation,
“Gradually I got used to the silence and darkness that surrounded me and forgot that it had ever been different until she came—my teacher—who set my spirit free.”
That is what Jesus did for this blind man!
The Pharisees were blinded by their own self-righteous system! Making clay on the Sabbath day was sin because it was considered work. Washing your eyes to remove the mud was also considered work. This man could not be from God if he both worked and told someone else to work, thus breaking the Sabbath rules set by the Rabbi. (13-17)
They would not believe this man was born blind, so they called his parents. Knowing that they refused to believe that Jesus was Messiah and would take action against anyone making the claim the parents kept their distance from their son (22). The Pharisees demonstrated the classic case of: “my mind’s made up don’t confuse me with the facts.”(18-23)
Again they interrogate the man! “Give glory to God” = admit that you are lying that Jesus healed you (24). Instead of taking the easy way out, the former blind man brilliantly articulated the obvious, “I was blind, now I see!”
The Pharisees rejected the man’s testimony (25-29). His changed life and seeing eyes were irrefutable argumentation that Jesus is God. Blind eyes seeing was a loud and clear testimony to the Pharisees that Christ is the “I AM” that he claimed to be (8:58).
They rejected his logic – they didn’t require more evidence – neither do you! They only needed to accept what was very clear. (30-34)
They rejected him – the outcast seeing blind man was cast out of the temple that he had never been allowed to enter because of his infirmity. (34)
He responded in faith! He accepted Jesus as His Messiah! (35-37)
True faith results in worship (38) The blind man had light come to his eyes and now broke on his heart. Belief and worship go together. Worship is acts of reverence, praise, adoration and reverence for God. Literally it means: to serve.
Jesus accepted his worship! This would be a direct violation of the 10 commandments. And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” Lk.4:8
If Jesus is not God He is either a lunatic for actually believing He was God or the biggest hypocritical liar and fraud ever hoisted upon humanity, or He is actually who He claimed to be the Son of God!
We all need the miracle that the blind man in chapter 9 received!
Have you seen the light?
Recognize your need and you will come to the light and be changed by it! Your life changes, your path is clear, your future is bright, your end is certain. Believe and receive Him!
Download pdf version of Mud & Miracles
Jesus’ public ministry was marked by increasing levels of conflict and opposition from the religious leaders of his day, the Pharisees.
It was ultimately this conflict which God used to bring to pass his plan eternal plan for Christ—that he would suffer a violent death as the penalty for sin and become the substitute to anyone who comes to him in faith.
“I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” (John 8:38)
Jesus is drawing a connection between his actions and his father and between the actions of the Jews and their father.
What does Jesus mean by this?
In Jesus’ time and culture, it was common describe a characteristic of a person by referring to them as the “son of…” someone or something. Some examples: Judas (the disciple who will later betray Jesus, his master) is called the “son of destruction” (John 17:12). Joseph (a Christian in the early church) is was nicknamed Barnabas “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36).
By using this same idea, Jesus is challenging the stubborn unbelief of the Jews who were refusing to joyfully accept him as their Messiah.
They were foolishly trusting that their very ancestry made them right before God. “They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” (John 8:39a)
Abraham was the father of the Jewish nation. More importantly, God had made a special covenant to Abraham (symbolized by circumcision), that his descendants would become a great nation and would inherit the land of Israel.
“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” (Genesis 12:1–3; see also 15:1–20)
However, God had made this promise to Abraham when he and his wife, Sarah, were childless and beyond child-bearing years. Yet God miraculously allowed Sarah to conceive and bear Isaac, the child of promise. God later tested Abraham’s faith in him again by asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the child of promise. Yet God intervened when it was clear Abraham was going to obey God. As a result of all of this, Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation was a hero and was held up as an example of belief in God and faith in his promises.
The Jews in our passage are thinking of all of this and are confident that they have a high standing before God because of their connection to Abraham and their membership in God’s covenant.
Jesus exposes the problem in their heart. He tells them that if they were really children of Abraham, they would be marked by the same faith and belief in God. “Jesus said to them,
“If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.” (John 8:39–40).
Why is their negative response to Jesus so significant? Because Jesus clearly demonstrated to them that he was the promised Messiah—the one who would come from Abraham’s descendants and be a blessing to all the families of the earth. John the Baptist had earlier warned Israel of the same error:
“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” (Matthew 3:8–9).
“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”
“So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” (Galatians 3:7–9)
He warns that the God is not their heavenly Father since they are rejecting him whom he sent.
“Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. (John 8:42–43)
He shows them that the Devil (Satan) is their real spiritual father because they are doing exactly the same things that Satan does.
“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:43–44)
They instead imply that Jesus himself was an illegitimate child (8:41) and the accuse him of being possessed by a demon (48).
They refused to believe that Jesus was the Son of God.
Jesus makes a number of unmistakable claims to possess the same nature and power as God:
That God the Father is seeking to glorify him “I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.” (John 8:50) “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’” (John 8:54)
That he has the power to give eternal life “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” (John 8:51)
That he is the fulfillment of Abraham’s messianic hopes “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)
That he is eternally self-existent, even from before the time of Abraham (who had been dead for two millennia). “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58) The Jews fully understand what he is claiming and unsuccessfully try to stone him (John 8:59).
Consider your own actions; they testify as to who your spiritual father is.
Turn to God who is able to give you a spiritual new birth by the gospel through the same kind of faith which Abraham had in the promises of God.
Download the .pdf of Whose Son or Daughter Are You?
Becoming a Christian happens when you turn from your sin to Christ and receive God’s forgiveness by faith Jesus. John calls this being “born again” (Jn. 3:1-18).
Birth is a wonderful thing but ecoming a Christian is just the beginning of a new life. God’s plan for His children is that they go on to spiritual maturity. This requires growing in our understanding of God and His word. True saving faith results in obedience and maturity.
There are several elements necessary for our spiritual maturity.
We cannot grow apart from a steady diet of the Word of God, it is our milk and it is our meat! We take in God’s Word formally and informally. We take in God’s Word formally by participating in the corporate worship of the church… attending the preaching and teaching ministries of the church, by participating in Bible Studies and discipleship classes. Informally we take in God’s Word through personal time in the Word and prayer and fellowship with others who also love God.
We take in to give out. This is where we must realize that to grow we must be involved in ministry. The thought may fill us with trepidation but there can be no growth apart from getting involved in service. We are to minister to others what God has entrusted to us. This is done through personal interaction and through the guidance of the local church.
The overwhelming sense we have of our own inadequacy and inability when we look at ministry causes us to cry out to God for help. (Prov. 2.3). Prayer becomes serious as we plead with Him to help us fulfill our ministry responsibility.
As we minister we realize that there is so much more we must know, so many questions that need answers (Prov 2.4). This stimulates us to dig deeper into God’s Word to find those answers.
The digging into God’s word results in increased ministry that in turn causes us to cry out to God and dig back into the Word. With each successive passing through these four steps our roots go down deeper and we find we are growing!
Are you serious about “Going on to Maturity”? Get into the Word everyday! Through your church invest what you are learning about God into someone else! Bathe your study of God’s Word and your ministry to others in prayer!
Storms are beautiful and powerful things – when you are watching safely from a distance. It is quite another thing when we find ourselves caught in the middle of one!
As boy I grew up in an area of the United States known as “Tornado Alley.” More than once I watched a funnel drop out of a distant cloud and begin to destroy everything in its path. When rain storms come here in Zambia everyone runs for shelter. To get caught out in the open during a Zambian thunderstorm means there is a good chance you will get struck by lightening.
Everyone of us will at some point find ourselves going through storms in life. Someone has said, “You are either just entering a storm, in the storm, or have just come out of a storm,” and we know that to be the case!
Storms crash into our lives in various ways: It may be the unexpected death of a loved one or sickness or the loss of a job or a broken relationship with a member of your family – husband/wife/child.
In Scripture we are introduced to people who faced days of deep trial. There is a book in the Old Testament that bears the name of a man who knew something about storms that unexpectedly to our life. His name is Job. In a day Job lost his wealth, his children were all killed, and shortly after he lost his health. His wife suggested that he should forget his faith, curse God and die. His friends showed up to tell him that the storm he was facing had to be a result of his sin!
Jesus just fed 5000 people with a little boy’s lunch. The disciples had been part of this miracle by distributing the food as it was miraculously multiplied! Wow, what a thrilling thing to participate in!
For the disciples feeding of the 5000 was a lesson for them: God is in control of His creation and provides for his creatures. Now the as they headed across the Sea of Galilee they ran into a life-threatening storm: The storm was the exam after the lesson.
Often we are like the disciples! We hear about Jesus and we give mental assent to His claims to be God. We acknowledge that Jesus’ works prove beyond doubt that He is Who He claims to be – the Son of God – yet we do not apply these realities personally!
Regardless of where you are today – heading into a storm, in as storm or just coming out of a storm, here are five truths that will help you navigate through the storms of life.
The people were planning to come and by force make Jesus King (15). Knowing how great a temptation this would be for His disciples He sent them away across the Sea of Galilee by boat, while He dismissed the multitudes. (Mt. 14:22) Jesus knows knows all things, He knew what the people were planning, and He knew the storm was coming (15)! He had just demonstrated his power as God over Creation by feeding 5000! We cannot doubt that He knew of the coming storm and was completely in control as He sent the disciples into the Sea.
In obedience the disciples climbed into the boat and headed out onto the Sea of Galilee. Before long they were in the middle of a frightening, life-threatening storm. It is important to recognize that the disciples were in this storm because they were IN the will of God. They were in this situation because they obeyed Christ!
There are two types of storms mentioned in Scripture:
Though the disciples were fearful for their life, they were safer IN the storm, IN the will of God, than on shore with the crowd, out of the will of God. The disciples looked at their circumstances and felt overwhelmed and afraid! Never judge your security on the basis of our circumstances alone! When you find yourself in a storm because you have obeyed the Lord, remember that He brought you there and He will care for you in the storm!
John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Mark 6:48 Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them.
Jesus sees and feels the weight of our burdens and knows what you are going through right now!
Hebrews 4:14-16. “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Jesus knows our fears, He sees our needs. When the Hebrews had been in cruel bondage in Egypt for over 400 years, God came to Moses and assured him, “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.” (Ex. 3:7)
No matter what storm you are in today, Jesus is involved! He knows, He cares and He is in control of the situation.
Matthew 14:23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.
Not only was Jesus watching over them every moment they were battling through this storm, but He was also praying for them! The same is true for you in your storm! Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven and He is continually beseeching the Father on your behalf!
“Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Romans 8:34. “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Heb 7:25.
It was the fourth watch of the night – this was somewhere between 3 am and sunrise. This was the time of night when it is the darkest! The disciples were facing the darkest hour, and Jesus came!
Matthew 14:25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.
By this time the disciples had been on the Sea for up to 9 hours. They were completely exhausted! As they strained to row, the wind was against them, blowing them back, again and again.
Matthew 14:24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.
They had expended all their efforts, but they were getting nowhere!
Mk. 6:48 – “ straining at rowing”
Have you ever just wished that the storm would end? You cry out in weariness but it just seems the storm will go on and on? God’s timing is perfect, He knows what is best and what best will meet our need and fulfill His purposes!
I have often wondered why Jesus walked on the water! Certainly He could have just snapped his fingers and appeared in the boat with them. But instead Jesus walked 3-4 miles on the raging water to get to them. I think Jesus came walking on the water in order to show them that the very thing that they feared was simply a path for Him to come to them.
No matter how dark it becomes, no matter how exhausted your feel, remember this: you will never find yourself in a place where Christ cannot find find you and will not come to you! Someone has well said: “The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God will not sustain you.”
They were not looking for Him, but they should have been! The disciples could only see their circumstances: the raging waves, the howling wind, the water swamping the boat. They were not waiting for Him by faith. They had forgotten that He had sent them “to the other side” (Mt. 14:22). So when Jesus came to them, they did not recognize Him!
“Fear and faith cannot live in the same heart, for fear always blinds the eyes to the presence of the Lord.”
He wanted them to recognize what they had been seeing and knew about Him and apply it to their own lives!
When Jesus identified Himself, Peter cried out, “if it is really you, command me to come to you on the water!” Jesus said, “Come!” Peter’s request was a demonstration of his affection for Jesus resting on his confident faith in Him. (Mt. 14:28)
Peter took a step of faith when he responded to Christ’s command, and stepped out of the boat (Mt. 14:29)! I can almost hear the other disciples! Peter stop! I mean we all believe in Jesus, but don’t go overboard with this thing! Be reasonable man! You can’t walk on water, no one can. Peter responded in faith and stepped out of the boat – and walked to Jesus! The majority of disciples however clung to the boat!
You see they are like so many of us! The boat meant security for them! BUT JESUS WAS NOT IN THE BOAT!! Many times we are like the eleven, clinging to the boat of:
Whatever you are trusting in today – apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, this account is challenging us to take the step of obedient faith – get out of the boat! Peter walked with Jesus on top of his circumstances – by faith! (Mt. 14:29). You are better off out in the storm with Jesus, than “safe” in the boat without Him!
“Faith is not believing in spite of evidence, but believing in spite of consequences!”
Peter took his eyes off the Lord and began to look at his circumstances – the water, the driving rain the howling wind, the waves – and he began to sink (Mt. 14:30,31). Without hesitation Peter cried out to Jesus – his prayer was short and to the point, “Lord save me!” His prayer was immediately answered! Jesus reached down and pulled him up out of the waves and together they walked to the boat to join the other disciples.
Peter’s prayer is one that God always hears and answers! Perhaps today you realize that you are in the dark waters of sin, that your own human efforts have only pushed you further into the problem! All hope of you saving yourself is gone! Cry out like Peter, “Lord, save me!” God always answers that desperate plea! (Mt. 14:31)
The result of Jesus coming into the boat and calming the storm was that the disciples fell down and worshipped Him.
“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11.
Matthew 14:32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
When Jesus entered into the boat the storm ceased! There was peace and a strange calm when Jesus entered the boat. The peace that each of us need today begins with being justified by faith! To be justified by faith means that God declares righteous all those who believe in Jesus.
Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
We can have peace even in the midst of the storm because we know God and we understand His purposes for the storm in our life.
Romans 5:3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
As we pass through the storm the Spirit of God pours out the love of God into our hearts & He pours it out abundantly!
Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
When Jesus entered the boat they were immediately at their destination (Jn. 6:21). When Jesus came in, they arrived with no further effort of their own. Their own efforts had merely got them further and further into the storm. Where they were powerless He was powerful.
Listen to the testimony of news anchor Dave Benton as he shares the storm of brain cancer that he is facing! He gladly confesses the trust that He has in Jesus and the peace that he is experiencing in the midst of his storm!
Do you find yourself in a storm this morning? Have you abandoned all hope of being rescued? Have you taken your eyes off Christ and put them on your circumstances? Are you desperately trying to get through your storm by some effort of your own? LOOK TO JESUS IN FAITH! Remember:
Christian Is there some area of your life where you are refusing to take a step of obedient faith? Have you heard His command, yet refuse to get out of the boat? Obey Him today!
Friend, are you are drowning in the dark waters of sin? Will you, like Peter cry out to Jesus, “Lord, Save Me”? If you will call to Him He will reach down and lift you up, cleanse you of your sin and carry you safely through this life and into heaven.
For more information, or counseling for the storm you are passing through email us or in Kitwe ring 0976153466.
Download this study as a pdf here: Navigating the Storms of Life
The Word of God is powerful in its affect upon our life (Heb 4:12) and the Word of God is profitable for every aspect of our life! (2 Tim 3:15-17). Something that powerful and profitable is worth the investment of time in learning how to study it in order to glean the benefits for your own life!
Here are a few pointers I’ve picked up from various sources that have proved helpful in my own study of God’s Word.
Remember the three “big-ideas” for Bible Study: Observation, Interpretation, Application.
This answers the question: What does the passage say?
LET’S PRACTICE: John 7:1
Repeated words and phrases reveal the subject – the main thing the author is talking about.
The more a word is repeated, the more obvious it becomes that that word is a subject. The more that subject is repeated, the more obvious it becomes that the subject represents a theme.
Once you determine what the author is talking about you can determine his main purpose for writing! This is called the theme.
This answers the question: What does the passage mean?
When seeking to determine the meaning always remember that context rules – what comes before and after the passage you are studying? To take something out of context is when you make it say something that is contrary to the teaching of the passage? ILL: Passage about the Pharisees made to teach of how bad living in sin is. (Lk 15)
Use a Bible dictionary as well as an English dictionary.
Is your interpretation consistent with other Scriptures? Are there any other passage that talks about the same subject? (Acts 20:27)(Cross-reference, Online Bible program has an easy cross-reference feature.)
Take the Word of God at face value, in its natural, normal sense.
This answers the question: How does this passage apply to me?
You must ask the 5 W’s and an H: Who, What, When, Where, Why, & How.
Who wrote it? Who said it? Who are the major characters? Who are the people mentioned? To whom is the author speaking? About whom is he speaking?
What are the main events? What are the major ideas? What are the major teachings? What are these people like? What does he talk about the most? What is his purpose in saying that?
When was it all written? When did this event take place? When will it happen? When did he say it? When did he do it?
Where was this done? Where was this said? Where will it happen?
Why was there a need for this to be written? Why was this mentioned? Why was so much or so little space devoted to this event or teaching? Why was this reference mentioned? Why should the do such and such?
How is it done? How did it happen? How is this truth illustrated?
These questions are the building blocks of precise observation which lay a solid foundation for accurate interpretation. If you rush into interpretation without laying the vital foundation of observation, your understanding becomes colored by your own presuppositions – what YOU think, what YOU feel, or what OTHER people have said. If you do this you distort the Scriptures to your own destruction – something we are specifically warned against (II Peter 3:16).
So grab your Bible, a pen and notebook and practice these three simple suggestions! You will be amazed the truths that will be opened to you! (John 16:13).
I read this helpful reminder that sets the context for our study today:
The Founder of Christianity is Jesus Christ.
The Goal of Christianity: change men and women through regeneration.
The Method of Christianity: Internal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ – and that is the main point of what we have seen thus far in our study in John chapter one.
The Means of Christianity: The good news of salvation is not spread through political, educational or religious philosophies but through Disciples.
A disciple is a learner, follower, one who is not committed to a cause but committed to a person.
A person becomes a member of a political party by registering and receiving a party card.
Many people today identify their spirituality by wearing special clothes, head coverings, necklaces or by cutting their hair in a special way. ILL: Moslem women burka & men skull cap, Hindu red dot (bindi), Catholicism – beads, necklaces, Orthodox Jew – tassels and yarmulke All of these things are symbols of identification of the god they worship.
Becoming His disciple is not about external identification of spirituality by wearing special clothes, necklaces or by cutting your hair in a special way. A person does not become a disciple of Jesus Christ by joining a church or by participating in spiritual rituals.
Becoming a disciple means that you become a follower of Jesus Christ. What are the implications?
Let us read our text found in John 1:35-51:
35 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”
37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”
They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”
39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).
40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.
Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).
43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”
48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”51 And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (The New King James Version. (1982). (Jn 1:35–51). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.)
There are three big ideas found in our text this morning:
You cannot “Behold the Lamb” and not decide for or against Him!
This claim demands action on our part = they left John and followed Jesus to find out for themselves if He was the Messiah. (35-37)
Come & See! Honest seekers always find Him (6:37), but hypocrites will not be given audience (Jn.2:23-25).
The way these five men came to Christ was different from one another:
You will be forced to a decision. Discipleship begins with genuine faith. “Behold the Lamb of God” demands a response of faith:
C. S. Lewis, who was a professor at Cambridge University and once an agnostic, understood this issue clearly.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic ‑ on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg ‑ or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse.”
“You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Personal decision. One becomes a disciple by coming to the cross in humble faith, accepting that the work of Christ on the cross was sufficient to deliver me from all sin. I repent of my sin and receive the Lord Jesus Christ by faith alone. This act is one of obedient surrender (Mt. 16.24, Mk. 8.34, 10.21, Lk 9.23).
John & Andrew were fishermen, following Jesus for them would mean leaving nets and becoming fishers of men.
“What are you seeking?” (38) A question that drove John & Andrew to evaluate their motives. Some are seeking approval of peers, financial gain, quick fix to current problems.
You are Simon – you will be Peter (42). Gave Peter hope that in spite of his instability, undependability, brashness, unpredictability Jesus would make him a rock that God would use to found the church in the Book of Acts.
You must choose to leave the one to follow the other, you cannot serve 2 masters. “Follow me” (43) You follow Jesus and no longer follow self – your own wisdom or desires.
You can’t be His disciple and remain the same! (Luke 6:40)
“Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
One identification marker of a genuine disciple is that they long for others to come to Christ! (41-42, 45) The Good News of salvation is not spread through political, educational or religious philosophies, but through DISCIPLES! God intends for us all to be in the game not sitting in the stands.
FIVE MEN met Jesus and were convinced that He is indeed the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” What about you? Will you receive the sweet invitation offered to you today and become a disciple of Jesus Christ?
Have you received Jesus Christ as your Lamb to take away your sins?
You can down load as a pdf Becoming A Disciple here.