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Day 260 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue John.
John 5 – The further we move into John’s Gospel, the wider he draws open the curtains on Jesus’ identity and mission. His miracles grow bigger and His words grow bolder—all revealing Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God—even God the Son.
Isaiah envisioned the age of the Messiah in terms of a new exodus. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will leap, and the desert sand will become a pool of refreshing water (Isaiah 35:1–10). The healing of the invalid by the pool of Bethesda is another declaration that the eschatological (end times) era of the Messiah has dawned—the “last days” of God’s final, earthly revelation of His grace have begun (Hebrews 1:2; Acts 2:17). In Jesus, the kingdom of God has come near (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15).
The fact that Jesus healed the lame man on the Sabbath is both intentional and significant. Jesus has authority over Israel’s Sabbath, for He is the Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:1–11; Mark 2:23–28). The Jerusalem temple had become a house of commercial business (John 2:16), but God meant it to be a “house of mercy” (the meaning of “Bethesda”). Only through Jesus can we find God’s mercy and grace, and enter into true Sabbath rest (Hebrews 4:1–10)—ceasing from our futile efforts to save ourselves, as we trust in Jesus’ perfect work on our behalf.
Though Jesus cares about our whole being, this man’s greatest need was not healed legs but a redeemed heart. When Jesus pursued him and spoke the words, “Sin no more,” he wasn’t calling him to sinless perfection but to live in response to the mercy of a perfect Savior. The entire Christian life is a life of growing in grace (2 Peter 3:18). Though we are perfectly forgiven, we await the perfection of eternity with Jesus. And yet as those swept up into and toward the latter-day kingdom of God, we are called to “sin no more”—to live out our new, radically transformed identity.
The conflict intensifies between Jesus and the Jewish leaders—an antagonism that would eventually lead to His crucifixion. Why the enmity? It was not just because of Jesus’ Sabbath breaking, but because He made claims that gave Him equal status with God—an affirmation we encountered in the first verse of John’s Gospel: “the Word was God” (1:1). Only God can save us, and Jesus, God incarnate, is the second member of the Trinity.
Jesus claimed a unique family relationship with God as Father, an assertion which in that culture gave Him divine status and amounted to blasphemy in the eyes of the Jews. But Jesus did not back down. He claimed the Father’s works as His own, including raising the dead—a boast He would prove by raising Lazarus from the dead (chapter 11), an act that not only created greater opposition from His religious antagonists but was also a preview of His own resurrection.
To honor Jesus is to honor the Father. In fact, we too can know God as our Father if we honor Jesus—that is, if we believe on Him (1:12; 14:9). We pass from judgment to life because Jesus took our judgment on the cross (5:22–24; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Our adoption is secured by Jesus’ propitiating (turning away, satisfying) God’s wrath.
According to Jesus, the only way we can derive life from the Scriptures is to see Jesus in the Scriptures, for all the Scriptures bear witness to Him (5:30–47; Luke 24:27, 44–47). The entire Bible, Genesis to Revelation, is ultimately about Jesus. Throughout Scripture God is unfolding the grace that culminates in Jesus. The Bible is therefore not fundamentally about what we do for God but what God does for us.
The Jews, tragically, preferred receiving glory from one another rather than seeking the glory of God. No sin or idolatry is more insidious and destructive than living for the approval of people (Proverbs 29:25). In the gospel of grace, we are liberated from the need to be approved by people because in Jesus we have been approved by the only One whose approval matters and the only One whose approval satisfies.
How has this year’s walk through the Bible helped you see Jesus throughout the Scriptures?
John 6 – This is the longest chapter in the New Testament. It provides a rich redemptive-historical perspective on Moses and the central saving act of God in Israel’s history—the exodus. John wants us to see Jesus as the greater Moses and the gospel as the greatest exodus of all. Just as Moses led the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt into the Land of Promise, so Jesus came to lead the pan-national family of God on the ultimate exodus—a journey out of sin and death into the quintessential Promised Land—the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1–5).
Just as the first exodus involved a crisis at sea and the need for supernatural deliverance (Exodus 13:17–14:29), so Jesus responded to His fear-filled disciples, walking to them on the Sea of Galilee, securing their safe delivery to the other side.
The timing of the feeding of the 5,000 is not coincidental. It occurred just before Passover—the meal that inaugurated Israel’s journey through the wilderness. Indeed, Jesus didn’t come merely to provide elements for the Passover meal but to be the Passover meal Himself. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). On Him we feed and are nourished.
Neither manna on the journey to the Promised Land in Moses’ time (Exodus 16:13–18) nor barley loaves in the Promised Land in Jesus’ time could satisfy the core hunger He came to satisfy. Too readily, we seek satisfaction from the bread of this world. When huge crowds followed Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus seized the moment to expose their self-centered motivation and to reveal more of His God-glorifying vocation.
Jesus provides a bread that leads to eternal life. But Jesus doesn’t just provide this bread; He is this bread—the Bread of Life. This is the first of several “I am” statements by Jesus throughout John’s Gospel—each of which are reminiscent of the God who revealed his name to Moses as “I am” (Exodus 3:14).
How can we acquire this life-giving bread? The only “work” that guarantees the possession of this redemptive manna is to believe in Jesus (6:29). The gospel sabotages any notion of legalism or performance-based acceptability with God. The only thing we bring to Jesus is our need. All we offer is the admission that we have nothing to offer.
Tragically, just as God’s people grumbled over the provision of the first manna, so now, as He offered the eschatological (end time) bread from heaven, some in the crowd did the same (Numbers 11:1–15; John 6:43). Oh, the patience and forbearance of our God!
That the crowds were offended by Jesus’ scandalous words is not surprising, and Jesus warned that there would be even greater grounds for offense in the coming days. Jesus didn’t come to win a popularity contest but to give His life as “a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The cross, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus are foolishness, even offensive to the natural mind (1 Corinthians 1:18; Galatians 5:11). For the gospel reveals the depth of our need and our total inability to save ourselves. When we trust in our own cleverness or obedience or resources or abilities, we abhor God’s grace. But when God kindly deconstructs our vaunted self-sufficiency, our hearts come alive again. The Father generously grants many to believe on Jesus, and the Spirit gives life to all who call on His name.
According to John 6:29, what is the work God requires of you?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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