I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness.  If anyone listens to my sayings, and doesn’t believe, I don’t judge him. For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.  He who rejects me, and doesn’t receive my sayings, has one who judges him. The word that I spoke, the same will judge him in the last day.
The Word of God will judge us on the last day. That is an excellent reason to become familiar with the Bible. Jesus came to save us. Even now, he is not judging us but rather, loving us into the kingdom. That love includes the grace you need to lay ahold of the truth found in the Bible. If you have access to a Bible, you are responsible for all it says. According to the world that is impossible. But we are not of the world and Jesus clearly thought we could know the Word. We have the truth, and that truth will judge us in the end.
The truth is a great light to all who believe (Ps 119:130). For those who reject the Word of God as a mandate, there is darkness. Not darkness as the world perceives, but darkness of the mind and spirit. When we are witnessing to the lost we are talking to people lost in the dark. Thus, we must shine brightly with righteousness and holiness so the lost can find their way (Mt 4:16).
These virtues come to us when we hide the Word in our hearts. Jesus is called the Word. When we are hiding the Word in our hearts we are abiding with Christ. We know he abides with us, but we must be deliberate if we are going to abide with him. Jesus is the living Word, and the Word was inspired by the Holy Spirit. So, when we hide the Word in our hearts, not only are we abiding in Christ, but we are also filling ourselves with the Spirit. The Word is the mind of Christ. The Word is our lamp, and we must keep our light brightly shining (Isa 28:18).
Lord, please bless me to hunger and thirst for Your Word. Fill me with an interest in the Bible and help me practice hiding it in my heart. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Jesus therefore said to them, “Yet a little while the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, that darkness doesn’t overtake you. He who walks in the darkness doesn’t know where he is going.  While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become children of light.” Jesus said these things, and he departed and hid himself from them.  But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they didn’t believe in him,
What does it mean to walk in the light? It means a person who believes in Jesus and walks according to his teachings. The deeds of the light are mercy, justice, and humility (Micah 6:8). That is what walking in the light meant 2000 years ago and it still means the same thing today. Believers today must still walk in the light. When a person is walking in the light, they are obedient to the Bible. People walking in the light are convinced that all sin is darkness.
There are several sin lists in the New Testament. Romans 1:29-30 is one of those lists. Some of the things on this list might be a surprise. For example, gossip is grouped with murder. Also, from the same verses boasting and arrogance are also compared to murder. When we walk in these sins and have no urgent desire to stop sinning, we are walking in the dark. When we walk in the light, our sin is a great burden. When we walk in the dark it sounds foolish to repent of sin and walk in the light (Cor 1:18).
An urgent desire to stop sinning is apparent in the life of a person walking in the light. The deeds of walking in the light are different than the deeds of darkness. In the light people visit orphans and widows (James 1:27). They guard their hearts and mouths turning away from evil speaking and evil deeds (John 17:15). People in the light are healed and delivered from sin (Romans 12:2). And righteousness is their heart’s desire (John 2:29).
Lord, give me the grace to recognize and turn away from sin. Please help me read the Bible and give me an understanding of the Bible. I long to walk in your commandments, Lord. Please help me to embrace righteousness and walk in the light.
 Now is the judgment of this world. Now the prince of this world will be cast out.  And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”  But he said this, signifying by what kind of death he should die.  The multitude answered him, “We have heard out of the law that the Christ remains forever. How do you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up?’ Who is this Son of Man?”
Jesus’ impending death was heavy on his mind. Jesus was addressing the crowd that was drawn through the mighty miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection. Ironically, the Father revealed that Jesus would die through the resurrection of Lazarus. God even went so far as to reveal how Jesus would die. He would be lifted up on a cross so that all people could receive eternal life.
With all they had seen, the crowd still could not understand a Messiah that died on a cross. That was because in Isaiah 9:7 the Bible says that there is no ending to the Lord’s rule. Also, the crowd believed Daniel 2:44 which says God’s kingdom shall never end. They had Jesus before them and yet could not see him. So, although Jesus was dealing with his own heartache, he continues to explain the kingdom and the Son of Man. With all the heightened experiences Jesus and the disciples had experienced they were almost surely ready for rest. Instead, Jesus keeps trying to make use of the current opportunity. His feet were prepared with the gospel of peace.
Jesus was the gospel of peace. His life story teaches us what peace looks like, strangely enough, Jesus’ story is full of chaotic moments. The water to wine in Cana, the scourging of the vendors in the temple complex, the feeding of the multitude, and the resurrection of Lazarus. Those situations were chaotic, and that chaos affected the disciples. However, Jesus remained unchanged. The chaos of the circumstances did not take Jesus’ peace. Jesus was fully confident in God’s goodness. So much that he obediently went to the cross to be lifted up.
Lord, please release a quality of peace that will allow me to stand steady amid chaos. Help me make use of opportunities to share the gospel. Please, Lord, take away the fear of rejection so I boldly and respectfully share the message of Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen.
On the next day a great multitude had come to the feast. When they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,  they took the branches of the palm trees, and went out to meet him, and cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!”  Jesus, having found a young donkey, sat on it. As it is written,  “Don’t be afraid, daughter of Zion. Behold, your King comes, sitting on a donkey’s colt.”  His disciples didn’t understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about him, and that they had done these things to him.
I have always wondered how much of the Word Jesus knew. Did he know the minor prophets well enough to quote them? The scripture quoted in the above passage was from Zechariah 9:9. Or, was he merely flowing in the Spirit during his life? It was when Jesus rose from the dead that he began to teach the Word to his disciples (Luke 24:27) In verse 32 of Luke 24 the disciples are in wonder that their hearts were burning as Jesus taught them. It is clear in his resurrected state Jesus had a huge knowledge of the Word of God.
But that still doesn’t answer the question; how much of the Bible did Jesus know before he rose from the dead? To understand Jesus, it is essential to look at his family history. Jesus was born into a middle-class family. That means his family would have had the means to help Jesus pursue his knowledge of the Scripture. It was common for young men from prosperous families to seek to study with a Rabbi. Jesus’ family was most likely prosperous. Furthermore, there was a major building project going on during Jesus’ lifetime. Sepphoris was the capital of Galilee and was under ongoing construction during Jesus’ life. It is also a city in which Rabbinical families settled. It is very likely Jesus spent many years walking the 3.5 miles from Nazareth to Sepphoris to work with his father Joseph.
So what does it all mean? It means that growing up, Jesus was located near the capital of Galilee. He was from a family of financial means. He also had access to rabbinical teaching because of his family’s status. It is likely that Jesus was formally trained by a Rabbi and did indeed know the scripture. Moreover, his knowledge of the scripture seems to be greater than someone who had only gone to the synagogue to learn all they knew. It is almost certain that Jesus studied the Scripture formally.
Lord, please instill in me a desire to learn more about the Bible. I want to be a worker who knows how to handle the Word responsibly. Bless my study, Lord, and help me arrive at the truth. Please fulfill my heart’s desire to know more about you, Jesus. In Jesus’ name, amen.
The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, “What are we doing? For this man does many signs.  If we leave him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  So from that day forward they took counsel that they might put him to death.  Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but departed from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim. He stayed there with his disciples.
It is startling to think that Jesus had to hide from the authorities. Can you see Jesus and the disciples looking around corners, being careful of where they walked? It has a dramatic flair. But it also shines the light on Jesus’ humanity. Though he was God, he functioned entirely in his humanity and made himself subject to human authority.
Jesus was humble. He took his disciples and quickly departed to the edge of the wilderness to a city called Ephraim. He could have called angels to save him from the death plot (Mat 26:53). Instead, he removes himself and his followers from the danger. Jesus does not tempt God but rather takes a more difficult path (Mat 4:7). He is obedient to the Word even though he is fleeing.
Jesus was obedient to the Word and the Spirit. This caused him to receive condemnation from those in Judea. We also receive condemnation when we obey the Word of God or walk in the Spirit. For example, the Word says not to gossip. However, gossip is a very prominent sin. To refuse to engage in gossip is to put yourself at odds with people both in and out of the church. Likewise, Jesus ran the risk of heaping more reproach upon himself with every miracle he performed and every sermon he preached.
Lord, I thank you for humbling yourself to human authority on your journey to the cross. Thank you for receiving reproach just as we receive reproach today. You are honorable in all you do Jesus. Help me be more like you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.
When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  He who was dead came out, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Free him, and let him go.”  Therefore many of the Jews, who came to Mary and saw what Jesus did, believed in him.  But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done.
Even after bringing the dead to life some of the Jews were offended. Thus, they went to the Pharisees to report on Jesus’ activities. It appears that all the Jews present were interested in the things of God. Some received Jesus as a savior while others reported him as an agent of evil to the religious leaders. It reminds me of the modern-day trouble we have between Conservative and Liberal Christians. Both parties have strengths and weaknesses. However, instead of loving one another, they appear to be at war.
From Conservatism, we get the Holy Spirit working actively. This is also where the miracles happen. Conservative missionaries seem prone to miracles. Conservatives also have a focus on saving the lost and getting the gospel to every people group. They have done a great deal to build the Church. However, there are some issues as well. First off is a deep suspicion of anyone who thinks differently or has different kingdom goals. The focus on God is great, but the narrowmindedness to all other groups is not great. Much love is abandoned in the demand for total agreement.
On the other hand, Liberal Christians focus on history and look for answers to today’s issues in ancient texts. They are more concerned with the knowledge of the Lord. Frequently liberals study the text to compare word usage and other markers which reveal much about the Bible. They are also focused on relieving poverty and meeting the needs of the poor. However, Liberals do not have as a primary concern the salvation of the Lost or the active building of the Church.
Lord, please help me discern what is good from what is evil. Fill me with love for all Christians. Inspire me to share the gospel and fill me with compassion for the poor. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you don’t believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, these testify about me.  But you don’t believe, because you are not of my sheep, as I told you.  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give eternal life to them. They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
Do you ever have trouble believing Jesus? Do you ever have questions about God’s word? The Bible says Jesus is the word. No, he is not the ink or the pages of the Bible, but he is found in the message of the Bible. To trust the Bible is to trust Jesus. Likewise, to not believe the Bible is to not believe Jesus. Those who believe Jesus are his sheep.
You can tell if you are a sheep. Do you love the Bible? Again, not the pages or the ink, but the message it contains. In the Bible is Jesus’ message and thereby Jesus. When we follow the Bible, we are behaving like the Lord’s sheep. However, if we do not read the Bible, we are rejecting Jesus. How can you ever obey someone you won’t listen to? When you read the Bible, you are listening to Jesus.
It’s not enough to read the Bible. Even demons do that. It is obedience to the Bible’s entire message that reveals a true sheep. We are not saved by reading the Bible, we are saved by grace through Jesus. However, a symptom of salvation is a hunger for God’s whole message. If you are a sheep and you are not hungry for God’s word, then your conscience may be seared. To remedy a seared conscience, you must repent and ask God, persistently, to give you a hunger and thirst for His Word.
Lord, please forgive my disbelief and help me trust you more. Give me a thirst and hunger for your Word and give me an understanding of what I read. Help me activate the Word of God in my life and become obedient to its full message. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who doesn’t own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and flees. The wolf snatches the sheep, and scatters them.  The hired hand flees because he is a hired hand, and doesn’t care for the sheep.  I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I’m known by my own;  even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep.
What makes Jesus a good shepherd? Is it because he is fast and strong and can defeat all our foes? Is it what he does for us that makes him a good shepherd? Or is it because of what he is doing inside of us that makes him the Good Shepherd? Do our victories prove to us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd? No, neither of these things make Jesus the Good Shepherd. We do not love him because he protects us and blesses us. Those are benefits of being in Christ, but they are not the fullness of Christ (John 1:16).
We love the blessings, but we must look further to see why Jesus is the Good Shepherd. In the text, it says Jesus lays his life down for the sheep. More, the hired hand does not care for the sheep. In other words, the hired hand does not love the sheep. Jesus loves the sheep. Jesus knows the Father and understands what being a shepherd entails. It is not always easy to be a good shepherd.
Being a good steward of God’s sheep means loving the sheep more than we love our own lives. Those preachers that only dwell on the promises but never teach the warnings and general exhortations do not love the sheep. They love attention and popularity. They love having a big ministry. But unless they will give up all that makes them beautiful in the world, they will never be good shepherds (Mat 6:24). They are the ones that preach to the lustful (2 Tim 4:2-5). Jesus calls those believers goats (Mat 25:46). The goats will not follow the Good Shepherd.
Lord, help me listen to those who teach me the entire Bible including the promises, the warnings, and the exhortations. I know you laid down your life for me because you love me. Help me love those around me by emulating you, Lord. Teach me to carry my cross and lay my life down for others. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Jesus therefore said to them again, “Most certainly, I tell you, I am the sheep’s door.  All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them.  I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved, and will go in and go out, and will find pasture.  The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
The Lord did not die with the hope we would be born, live, and die, then go to the grave after a life of misery. He died to impart abundant life. He did not die to give us abundant wealth (Luke 12:15). Nor did he die to leave us suffering always (Ps 27:13). He died to give us life, and so much overflow of life that it is described as abundant (John 7:38).
Abundant life does not mean riches, glory, or honor (Mt 13:22). An abundant life is one submitted to Jesus (James 4:7). In submission, we have godliness with contentment (1 Tim 6:6). Furthermore, we have an abundance of salvation which destroys the works of Satan (Acts 26:18). We also have abundant grace which leads to a victorious life (Rom 5:17).
In a victorious life the schemes of Satan are destroyed (Luke 10:19). The victorious life is one in which sin has been mastered (Rom 6:14). Life after death is assured because you have taken ahold of Christ (Philippians 3:12). He is the victory, and he is the giver of abundant life (1 Cor 15:57). Eat of the Lord and drink of the Lord; make him your King and be rich in the knowledge of his word. In eating and drinking of the Lord, we partake of his abundance (John 6:56).
Lord, thank you for giving me an abundant life. Thank you for saving me. Teach me the knowledge of your word so that I am rich in you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
“Most certainly, I tell you, one who doesn’t enter by the door into the sheep fold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.  But one who enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.  Whenever he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him; for they don’t know the voice of strangers.”  Jesus spoke this parable to them, but they didn’t understand what he was telling them.
Have you ever heard God speaking audibly? No one can hear the audible voice of God. So, how can we recognize Jesus’ voice? In part, we listen to the small still whisper in our hearts. Yet, this is problematic because if Satan is deceiving us, we may hear our own sin-sick longings and think it is God. The Bible says the heart is desperately wicked, no man can know it.
Even So, God has always spoken to his people in a variety of ways. He sent angels to Abraham and prophets to kings. He speaks to our hearts with his gentle voice; a voice we must learn to trust without becoming excessively confident. This is because all these methods can be perverted by sin. Only in the Bible do we have full confidence.
The only thing in which we can be entirely confident is the Bible. The Bible says Jesus is the word. This gives us our answer; the only way we can have full confidence is to know God’s word. The Bible is speaking, audibly, for God.
Lord, teach me to take everything I believe you are telling me and compare it to the teaching of the Bible. Help me trust without becoming excessively confident so that I will rely on your word and give no opportunity to Satan. Teach me discernment and humility as I press into hearing from you. In Jesus’ name, amen.