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Who Is Jesus? (According to the Gospel of John) (9)

A series of brief evangelistic tracts by PRC home missionary Aud Spriensma explaining who Jesus is according to the gospel of John (the "I am" statements of Jesus.)

Who Is Jesus? (1) The Word Made Flesh

 WHO IS JESUS?

(1) The Word Made Flesh

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Home missionary, Pastor Audred Spriensma

 

Perhaps when you were little, you heard Sunday School stories about Jesus. But do you know him as a person? Do you know him as the only Savior? Do you know him as your Lord, Master, Ruler, and Friend?

The four Gospel writers set forth Jesus, each from a particular viewpoint. Matthew portrays the Lord Jesus as the Son of David, the long promised King of the Jews. Mark pictures Jesus as the Servant of Jehovah, bringing out the wonderful characteristics of his service. Luke sets forth the humanity of Jesus, the Perfect Man. And finally John treats Jesus as the Heavenly One who came down from Heaven and dwelt among us and unveils his Divine glory.

I would like you to follow along with me in John’s Gospel, so that we can know Jesus. John’s purpose and theme is to show that Jesus is God, the Divine second person the Trinity. That this is John’s purpose is clearly written towards the end of John’s gospel, “But these (things) are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name (John 20:31).”

JESUS IS THE WORD

John does not start his gospel with the details of Jesus birth. Rather he starts with Jesus’ dwelling with God before time began or the earth was formed. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).” In the Bible there are several beginnings: the beginning of the world, the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the beginning of sorrows, the beginning of miracles, etc. Here, it is the beginning, before creation, before the beginning of time. We read in Genesis 1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth.” Jesus was there and he was “with God”. This means that He was in the presence of God. And it means secondly that he has a separate personality. He is the second person of the Trinity. He always existed, not created. “And the Word was God.”

He is called the Word, because he reveals God. He communicates, he speaks, and he spoke and all things were made by him (vs. 3). Some people think that God cannot be known. They are called agnostics, which means ‘not know”. But we can know God, and we can know his Son, Jesus Christ. God reveals and makes himself known: in creation, in Scripture (the written Word), and more importantly, in his Son, Jesus (the incarnate Word).

JESUS IS MADE FLESH

In John 1:14, we read, “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” The plain meaning of those words is, that the second person of the Trinity, who always existed now took on himself our human nature. He who is God now also became a man. A big word for that is incarnation. It means the in-fleshing. He did not stop being God. But now he also was a real, sinless, perfect man. Luke’s Gospel tells us of his miraculous birth from a virgin. He had no earthly father because God was his Father. We have this great mystery that we celebrate every Christmas. We read in I Tim. 3:16, “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.”

Why would God want to do this? Why would he want to become a human being? Why would he leave the glory and beauty of heaven to come down into our world which is filled with sickness, pain, suffering, and death? God’s Word states: “and he dwelt among us.” The word ‘dwelt’ can be translated ‘tabernacle’. In the Old Testament, as the people of Israel travelled through the wilderness, they lived in tents. And in the center of their tents was the Tabernacle of God. It was God’s dwelling place. It was temporary, merely a tent, something suited to be moved about during the travels to Canaan. It was the place where God met with his people and spoke to them. And it was the place of worship and where the sacrifices were made. So, in “the Word made flesh”, God comes down to visit us in Jesus. God comes to dwell with us and live in closest fellowship with us.

Are you lonely? Do you have times when you wish there was someone you could unburden to? Jesus, God’s Son, dwells with us. For 33 years he dwelt with us in his flesh. But now that Jesus is risen from the dead, he is physically in heaven, but still with us by his Spirit and his Word. You can talk to him in prayer. He is God with us. The name Immanuel or Emmanuel means “God with us.” The ‘el’ at the end of the name Emmanuel is the word for God. The rest of that name means ‘with us’. God would be with his people and never forsake them. Jesus cares. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities so that he can be our sympathetic high priest in heaven. The name Immanuel refers to the fact that Jesus is God and man in one person. In him, God is with us in the closest possible way.

Jesus was born into this world. He lived and died here. He is one with us. He came down from heaven to dwell with us in our sinful condition. He came down from heaven to stand in our place and take our sins upon himself. He came to suffer and die, so that we might live and have fellowship with God. He arose from the dead and ascended into heaven so that he gives us his eternal life.

JESUS’ GLORY

The Apostle John continues to write in John 1:14, “and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

It was a veiled glory. That is, when one looked at Jesus, what did they see? Did not the shepherds visiting the baby Jesus, (the Word made flesh), see a little infant born to poor Jews in a cow stable? They did not see a King in a royal mansion. The wise men worshipped a little infant in a house in Bethlehem. Others saw a man raised in Nazareth by a carpenter, and asked, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth (John 1:46)?” Later as Jesus is spit upon, flogged, and nailed to a cross, was this not a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief? At best, one could see a real, sinless man who could become tired and thirsty; one who could do miracles and teach as one who had authority.

But with the eyes of faith, we see far more than merely a good man. We see God. Did not Jesus say in John 14: 9, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father?” God, who so loved us, sent his only begotten Son into this world. We see his divine power so that the blind are able to see, the deaf to hear, the sick healed, and the dead raised to life. Even the wind and waves obey him! We see his love, as he had compassion on the multitudes that were like sheep without a shepherd. By the work of the Holy Spirit and faith, we even see glory in the shameful death on the cross. We sing, “In the cross of Christ I glory.” The Apostle Paul wrote in Gal. 6:14,”But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, is full of grace and truth. Only because he is God, and only because he willingly also became man, can he be our Savior. Only because he is God can he be worshipped. Only as God can he be the One who is always present for us, one who helps, rules, saves, and can be a constant friend. If he is not God, then he is only a historical figure of the past.

Sadly, today there are many who only see Jesus as a historical figure, a man. Others believe that Jesus is God, but not really a man, only the appearance of a man. But only as God and one who is truly one of us, a man, could Jesus come to take away our sins and save us.

By faith, may you and I behold Jesus, God made flesh, God with us, Immanuel. May we know him, whom to know is eternal life. May we by God’s grace love him, flee to him, and trust him as our only Helper and Savior.

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Who Is Jesus? (2) The Lamb of God

WHO IS JESUS?

(2) BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD!

“…John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29, 36

Home missionary, Pastor Audred Spriensma

 

What does a lamb have to do with who Jesus is? It is a rather surprising exclamation of John the Baptist. The religious leaders had come to John in the wilderness asking him who he was (John 1:19). Was he the Christ? Was he Elijah? Was he the prophet that was promised by Moses, greater than Moses? John’s answer to their question was that No, he was not! Rather he was just the one who was preparing the way of the Lord. But there was one in their presence whom they know not: the Christ, the great promised prophet and Messiah. And the next day, as John sees Jesus coming unto him declares, “Behold the Lamb of God…”

Why didn’t John just say to the crowd, “Here, here is Christ?” Instead he calls Jesus the Lamb. This is significant. The Jews were looking for a prophet. They desired a king who would deliver them from the Roman oppression. They had no desire for a savior who would deliver them from God’s wrath for sinners! The reason is that they had no sense of their sin. It is under these circumstances that John announces Jesus as the “the lamb of God.” The Spirit of God is setting forth Jesus to Israel in the very character which people needed him the most. Sadly, they would accept him on a throne but not on an altar as a sacrifice.

Is it any different today? Many see Jesus as a good man, a wonderful teacher among many, a social reformer, a teacher of ethics. But what you and I need, first and most importantly, is the Christ of the cross. On the cross, Jesus as the Lamb of God offered himself as a sacrifice for sin.

JESUS IS THE LAMB

In the Old Testament, there were all the sacrifices that were made. In Genesis 4, the Lamb is pictured in the first of the flock that Abel offered as a God-pleasing sacrifice. When Abraham is called to sacrifice his son Isaac, Isaac asks, “but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” In response, Abraham said, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” With Abraham’s obedience, the Lord did provide a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. Abraham beheld the lamb and took it for a burnt offering instead of his son. In Exodus 12, Moses is told to tell Israel of the necessity of taking a lamb without any blemish. They were to kill it and put the blood over the doorposts of their houses and eat the flesh. God would see the blood and would pass over that house with the plague of death.

To whom do all these lambs point? Obviously, these animals themselves could not save. They point to Jesus, the suffering servant in Isaiah 53: 7. John in our text identifies Jesus as the Lamb of God. He is the Lamb that God himself provides for our salvation. And in Revelation 5 and 21, the Lamb is praised by the hosts of heaven and glorified upon the throne.

The sacrifice of the lamb could be for an individual, for a household, and also for the whole nation. The lamb must be “without blemish and without spot (I Pet. 1:19).” What a picture of Jesus. He had no sin of his own. He does not rebel, but “he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” What willing obedience to his Father in heaven, and willingness to be a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus is the Lamb of God!

JESUS TAKES AWAY SIN

Do you see your need for Jesus, God’s Son, who came down from heaven? He came down and took on our human nature. He took our place with all of our sins on himself. Why? So that you and I who believe on him would be passed by with God’s anger. God is a righteous God who must punish sin.

Jesus became sin who knew no sin. “For he made him to be sin who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (II Cor. 5:21)” This means that God transferred our sin to Jesus, the Lamb of God as our substitute. And God transferred Jesus’ righteousness to us.

We are all sinners. “There is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10).” “For we have all sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).” How bad is it? The Bible tells us that we are dead in sin. A dead person cannot do anything to save himself. Rather we only make things worse! Read Romans 3:10-29. That sin makes us guilty before God. That sin must be punished by a righteous God by death. Jesus came into the world to suffer God’s wrath for our sins, and take our deserved death on himself.

Jesus takes away the sin of the world. He takes it away by his shed blood on the cross. It is his blood that washes away our sin like water washes away dirt. This is what baptism is a picture of. Have you been baptized? The Bible says, “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1: 8-10).”

Whom is this for? The religious leaders who came to John the Baptist did not think that they had sin. Therefore they did not feel a need for Jesus. But the following day John again says to two of his disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God!” And those two disciples followed Jesus, went to his house, and had fellowship with Jesus. They believed and became Jesus’ first disciples. One of those disciples was Andrew. He was so excited that he immediately went to find his brother and brought him to Jesus.

God’s Word in John 1:29 tells us that Jesus is “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” Does that mean that Jesus died for every person in the world? That is sadly what some teach. What John 1:29 does teach is that Jesus takes away the sin not merely of individuals, or households, or the nation of the Jews. Jesus died for his sheep, those who believe in him. They are sheep found in all nations, tribes and cultures. They are those who are rich and poor. They are those who are in high places and also in lowly places. They are all kinds of people. They are the elect of God, given to Jesus, before the foundation of the world, to be saved (John 17:6, 9). Jesus died for many, for his people, for his sheep, for his church. This is the truth of definite atonement.

Why is this truth important? If Jesus died for every person, but many are not saved, then Jesus’ work is not all powerful. Then something more is needed. Then Jesus’ suffering and death did not do enough. Then Jesus blood was shed in vain for some, his death useless. Then salvation depends upon whether you are willing to be saved.

But our text does not say, “Behold the Lamb of God who is willing to save the world.” Rather, we read, “Behold that Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. Jesus, the Lamb of God did all that was necessary for their and our salvation by his suffering and death. Nothing more is needed. He saves. Jesus saves completely by his shed blood on the cross.

THE CALL TO BEHOLD THE LAMB

John calls the Jews of his day and even his disciples to “Behold the Lamb.” Behold! Look closely! Fasten your attention upon him. Look to him as the only hope, the only salvation from sin. He says that one must not only glance, or look once in a while at Jesus. This call is deeply significant in view of its setting. The religious leaders and many of the Jews were looking for what they wanted: a great teacher, or miracle worker, or someone to rid them of oppression.

The Holy Spirit is calling us to look in faith to the only Savior from sin. It is the look of faith. By grace, God works faith in his own to look away from themselves to the only, powerful Savior from sin.

We are all sinners. Do you know yourself as such? You cannot save yourself from sin or the punishment of sin. Look, look in faith to the God provided Savior. “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.”

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Who Is Jesus? (3) The Bread of Life

WHO IS JESUS?

(3) THE BREAD OF LIFE!

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

Home missionary, Pastor Audred Spriensma

A great multitude came out to Jesus. Jesus asked his disciple Philip, “Where shall we buy bread that these may eat?” Philip knows that they did not have enough money to buy bread for all the people to eat. But there was a little lad who had five little barley loaves and two fish. Jesus took the loaves and fish, broke them in pieces and distributed them to the crowd of about 5000 men plus women and children! After the people had as much as they could eat, Jesus told his disciples to collect the left overs, that nothing would be lost. They collected and filled twelve baskets of left overs!

What a good deal! The people wanted to take Jesus and make him a king. Jesus could take care of their lives for them. They were interested only in material advantage. Jesus left them. When they found Jesus, he said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed (John 6:26, 27).”

When Jesus told them to believe on him, they roughly demanded to see some sign that Jesus could do. They pointed to the great leader Moses who they said gave them bread from heaven to eat. Jesus pointed out that it was not Moses who gave the manna from heaven but God himself! And the true bread of God is “he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world (John 6:33).” God’s gift from heaven alone could meet their deep need and satisfy their souls.

JESUS IS THE TRUE BREAD

In John 6:32, Jesus speaks of himself as the “true bread from heaven.” Jesus, of course, does not mean that he is literally a piece of bread. Jesus uses the figure of bread identifying himself as the only spiritual food of a person’s soul. He alone is able to nourish one with forgiveness, friendship with God, and eternal life. Jesus is bread. Not just any bread or another bread, but the bread of life. “True” speaks of real, genuine, and satisfying. “From heaven” speaks the spiritual character. Compared and contrasted are two kinds of bread: physical bread and spiritual bread. How is Jesus like bread?

First, bread is a necessary food. Many things that we might eat are luxuries, like steak or jam. You can live without the luxuries, but bread is essential. We depend upon bread. God made us that way. It is the way by which our life is supported here on earth. Without bread, we die. So Jesus is the necessary food for sinners. He is the soul’s basic and only need. He is the living bread. He is able to not only give us eternal life but also to sustain it, nourish it and make it grow. We must have Jesus or we perish. Do you see your need for Jesus?

Secondly, bread is a daily food. There are foods like turkey or pumpkin pie that we eat at Thanksgiving. But we do not eat them every day. But bread is needed daily. This is what God taught with the manna in the wilderness. Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer to ask God for our daily bread. So spiritually, we must have Jesus daily, or we grow weak and wither. We do not just believe on Jesus once, and then neglect him. In Jesus, we have our daily supply of grace that is in him, or we perish. Jesus is our constant, on-going need.

Thirdly, bread is a satisfying food. It takes care of our bodily needs, and we are left nourished and strong. Jesus as our bread of life satisfies our souls spiritually. He supplies grace that saves from sin, gives us peace, strength to fight against sin, and finally fills us with the hope of eternal life.

HOW IS JESUS THIS BREAD OF LIFE?

Why is Jesus the only spiritual food for our soul? How can he be grace to sinners? How can he be forgiveness, righteousness, and peace? How can he give eternal life?

First, notice that he says, “I am…” This is the first of seven “I am” statements in John’s gospel. These statements go back to Exodus 3 when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush. God introduces himself as “I AM THAT I AM. And God said to Moses, “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you (Ex. 3:14).” When Jesus used these 7 statements, he was teaching that he is eternal God. Jesus was not a mere human man but divine, fully God. He is from heaven. He is the living bread because he is the living God, the very source of life.

Second, he is the bread of life because he came down from heaven to earth. This is what we read about in John 1:14, Jesus’ incarnation. He took on our flesh, which means that he had a human body and soul. How important is this? Well, we cannot climb up to God to get what we need. God comes down to us and gives himself to us. God alone saves. We are unable to do anything to save ourselves.

Third, Jesus is our daily bread because he gave his flesh for the life of the world. This refers to his sacrifice on the cross. He would give himself to death as a payment for our sins. By taking our sins upon himself, God’s wrath for us because of sin was put on Jesus instead. He laid down his life for us.

Fourth, Jesus is the bread of life because he conquered death. It could not hold him, but he arose on the third day. Therefore he is the living bread, powerful to give his life and salvation to us.

Jesus is the bread of life. We read in John 6:50, “This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.” Do you know your need for Jesus as the “bread of life?” God provided for the physical needs of Israel with manna from heaven. He provides for our spiritual need by providing his Son as the Bread from heaven.

THE NECESSITY OF EATING THE BREAD

If physical bread is going to do you any good, it must be eaten by you. You cannot merely look at it. Even if you know everything there is of how the wheat is grown, cut down and beaten, baked in the oven, and all the good properties about it, unless you eat it, it will do you no good. Earthly bread is meant to be eaten. You must take it in, swallow, and digest it. Only then will can it nourish and strengthen you.

So it is also with Jesus, the bread of life. It is not enough to know about Jesus. It is not enough to have Jesus before you when the gospel is preached. You must take him in and digest him as the very food for you soul. Without that, the bread of life will do you no good.

How does this eating Jesus take place? Obviously, it is not with the physical mouth. Jesus tells us in John 6:35 that we partake of him by coming to him and believing. Coming to Jesus does not mean walking to him. It means that we come to Jesus with a believing heart. We hunger for Jesus in our hearts because we know our sin. Coming to Jesus means that we are sorry for our sins. We come to Jesus trusting him as the only Savior. We throw ourselves upon him in trust, embrace him, receive him, and feed upon him.

How can you and I who are dead in sin come to Jesus? Jesus tells us in John 6:44, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” By ourselves we cannot come nor do we even want to. Is it hopeless? No! The good news is, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out (John 6:37).” God works in those whom he has chosen, drawing them, working powerfully his grace and faith in us. God does this by his Spirit.

We eat Jesus by faith when we hear the preaching of the gospel. And we have new life in us. It is the life of Jesus. It is eternal life that cannot be taken away. What wonderful security that is! Nothing on earth and not even our physical death can separate us from God’s love in Jesus Christ.

When we feed on Jesus, the bread of life, we will not seek any other savior. He is all we need. We will not hunger or thirst for anything else. We will be fully satisfied with the riches of salvation in Jesus.

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Who Is Jesus? (4) The Light of the World

WHO IS JESUS?

(4) THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8: 12

Home missionary, Pastor Audred Spriensma

 

Maybe you are like me. One of the most beautiful things to see is the sun rise in the morning. The darkness of night is chased away, and there is the beautiful brightness of the sun. Can you imagine the joy of the blind man in John 9 when Jesus caused him to see for the first time in his life?

“I am the light of the world.” The context of this second “I AM” statement of Jesus was the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7) and the forgiveness of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).

In the Feast of Tabernacles, there was the burning of candles. This was a reminder of how God led his people in the wilderness by a pillar of fire. In John 8 the woman caught in adultery had been living in spiritual darkness and immorality. But Jesus forgave her and called her to “go and sin no more.” The Jewish leaders, rather than rejoicing in this saving work, walked away in hatred because of their spiritual blindness. Jesus is the saving light.

THE IDEA OF JESUS AS THE LIGHT

The contrast in John 8:12 is light and darkness. Light is in Scripture a picture of true knowledge, holiness, and joy and happiness. Darkness is a figure of ignorance, sin, guilt, error, evil, uncleanness, and misery. Jesus came into the darkness of the world to bring light. What does this mean?

Jesus is divine. When Jesus says, “I am the light of the world” he is again announcing that he is divine, the Son of God. In Isaiah the Savior that was to come is announced as a light to the Gentiles. In Malachi 4:2 the coming Savior is called the Sun of righteousness that shall arise with healing in his wings. Can you imagine this brilliant bright light blazing with the glory of God?

Jesus is the revelation of the holy God. One of the perfections of God is that he is light (I John1:5), “and in him is no darkness at all.” This means God is pure, clean, and without sin. He is perfect. This is true therefore also of Jesus. He came into the world as a pure and holy light, shining in the midst of the world’s immorality and sin.

Jesus is the Savior. The sinless One came to deliver us from the darkness. To do so, he must himself be without sin. He came into our sin and guilt, descending into the darkness of hell to pay for our sins. He did that on the cross. By this he earned for us life.

Jesus comes to impart true knowledge. Light in Scripture stands for truth and knowledge. What kind of knowledge does Jesus give? He is unlike many teachers today who give merely their opinion. Jesus gives true knowledge of God, of our sin, the only way of salvation, and the life of obedience that follows.

Jesus is the source of spiritual life to sinners. The first thing that God created was light. This was necessary for the plants and animals that God would later create. They needed the light and heat of God’s created light. We, who were in the darkness of sin and death, need Jesus. He came to give life to lightless and lifeless sinners. He is the light of life because he is the divine Savior with power to give the light of eternal life to dead sinners like you and me.

WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF THIS LIGHT?

Always, there is a two-fold effect. For the Israelites in the wilderness, the pillar of light led them and saved them. But the Egyptians who pursued the Israelites were left in the dark. The woman in John 8 was forgiven and was called to live in holiness. Those who accused her were filled with shame and hatred for Jesus. The blind man could see and was filled with joy. The Jewish leaders were blind and would not acknowledge the miracle done by Jesus. What will you do with Jesus, the light of the world?

Jesus, the light, first of all enlightens, gives knowledge to his people. They see how they are blind sinners. Jesus came and delivers his people from the power of the darkness of their sin and depravity. Jesus delivers them from the ignorance and gives to them the true knowledge of God. He opens the eyes of our hearts and minds. He makes us to see our sin and repent of it. He gives to us faith and causes us to believe on him.

Secondly, Jesus gives us life. We were spiritually dead, separated from God. But the light shined on us and drove away the darkness of our death. The light shined on us and created In us new life, life with God, eternal life.

Thirdly, when the light shines on us who believe, Jesus causes us to be holy. Jesus said to the woman who was forgiven, “Go, sin no more.” Light stands for holiness. God calls us who are saved to show forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light (I Pet. 2:9). “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8,10).” What about you and me? Are we doing that? We must if we are following Jesus.

But there is another effect which light has on people. Thieves do evil deeds at night. They want darkness to cover their deeds. They flee if a person comes with a flashlight. During the wicked reign of King Ahab, we read that the sky became like brass and the earth like iron. With no rain for three and a half years, the earth was hardened. So the light can expose, and harden.

When Jesus the light shone with the glory of God, the enemies of Jesus were exposed in their sin and lies. They did not want to be discovered in their sin. They were hardened in their sins. Rather than repenting, they hated Jesus, and sought to kill him (John 9:31).

This still happens today. When Jesus, the light of the world, is set forth in the preaching of the gospel, there is a sad effect. Many hate to have their sin exposed. They become angry when Jesus is proclaimed as the only Savior. They do not want to hear the call to repentance, faith, and obedience. They are hardened in their sin and darkness and condemned.

WHAT IS OUR CALLING

Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” What does this mean for you and me?

It means first of all that we must not refuse to follow the light. We must not ignore the light. We must not continue to walk in the darkness of sin. When the gospel is preached or taught, we must not ignore that light. We must not close our minds. We must not apply the call to ‘repent and believe’ for only others. When the light shines and exposes our sins, we need to repent. When the light shines, we must embrace that Sun of righteousness! When that light guides in the way of holiness, we must flee from immorality and impurity. If you or I do not believe in Jesus, the light of the world, we will end up in the place of eternal darkness, called hell.

Positively, you and I are called to believe in Jesus. We are to receive the truth. We are to embrace Jesus by faith. He is the only Savior from the darkness of ignorance and sin. We are to trust in Jesus for all of our salvation. Follow Jesus, the light of the world.

There is a promise: we will have “the light of life.” Jesus not only proclaims but actually imparts blessings. To the ignorant, wisdom is given. To the blind, there is sight. For the impure, there is holiness. To those in sadness, there is joy. Those who were dead are made alive, alive forever more. Jesus is the light of the world.

Are you following the light of the world? He that follows Jesus shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

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Who Is Jesus? (5) The Door of the Sheep

WHO IS JESUS?

(5) THE DOOR OF THE SHEEP!

Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep… I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” John 10: 7, 9

Home missionary, Pastor Audred Spriensma

 

Jesus, the Son of God, used the allegory of a door. Doors enable us to enter and exit our houses. Doors are also able to keep thieves or unwanted guests out. Jesus said, “I am the door.” Do you know this door into the household of God? Do you know the safety and peace of his house?

The occasion for Jesus’ instruction was the religious leaders’ treatment of the man who had been born blind (John 9). Because he confessed faith in Jesus Christ, he was banned or cast out of the temple. These leaders were showing their hatred for Jesus and anyone who believed on him.

In John 10:2 Jesus speaks of the door of the sheepfold. The scene that Jesus pictures was a familiar one to the Jews. A sheepfold was an enclosure with high walls in which the sheep of several shepherds were kept at night. The care of the sheep was entrusted to a porter or doorkeeper. During the day, the shepherd would take his sheep out into green pastures. At night, they were put into the sheepfold. It would protect them from wolves or predators, and from thieves and robbers.

FALSE TEACHERS AND THEIR FALSE WAY

Can you envision thieves and robbers? They do not use the door. They try to get to the precious sheep another way. The word “thief” has the idea of stealth, being sneaky, and devious. The other word “robber” has the idea of those who use violence. Jesus combines these two thoughts, for he says in John 10:10 that they come “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”

To whom is Jesus referring? He is speaking to the religious leaders. It was their job to lead the people of God to Jesus Christ. But what had they done? They had “agreed already that if any man did confess that Jesus was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue” (John 9:24-34). Jesus, by means of an allegory compares the vicious conduct of the false teachers with the labor of faithful teachers on behalf of God’s precious people, called sheep. The religious leaders pretended to be shepherds. Jesus demonstrated that he knew who they really were. And he wanted his sheep also to know.

In the life of a shepherd and his sheep, there were always such sheep-stealers to deal with. These people had no love for the sheep; they did not care for them. They only came to harm and kill the sheep. For this reason these thieves did not enter the sheepfold through the door. They climbed in some other way. These thieves did not want the sheep to use the door either.

The religious leaders did not believe in Jesus as the door. They did not want to enter the kingdom through Jesus. They did not teach the people to enter the kingdom only through Jesus. They had another way into the church and kingdom of God: the way of their own works, self-righteousness, and human merit. But there is no entrance into the kingdom through our works. There is no salvation in our own deeds or righteousness.

Those false teachers are always present. They do not point to Jesus as the only way to be saved. With false teachings about salvation, these leaders try to climb up into the church. It might be the teaching that we are saved by works of the law. It might be the false teaching of “free will”. Esteemed might be a nominal church membership or the doing a lot of social work. These false teachers are thieves and robbers because they reject the only door into the sheepfold: Jesus! There is no entrance into the sheepfold through these false teachers and their doctrines. There is no salvation in the denial of Jesus or the denial of salvation by grace alone!

JESUS IS THE DOOR

In contrast to these false shepherds is Jesus Christ. He is the door of the sheep. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who enters the sheepfold by the door. He loves the sheep and seeks their good. Jesus is himself the door that opens into the sheepfold of the church. He is the door that opens to salvation and life. Only when we enter through him are we saved. Jesus is the only way of salvation. Jesus is the only door. And he is the door of the sheep, not the goats.

Why is this? Why is he the only way of salvation? He is the only door because he is God in our flesh. That he is God is revealed in the “I AM” statement. It is God alone who serves as the only access to salvation. We ourselves, our works, and our will cannot be the door. We of ourselves are dead in sin and only continue to increase our debt. The name Jesus means “Jehovah saves”.

He is the only door because he alone is God in our flesh. He is God become man to save us people. He is God come down to bring God and us together by his death on the cross. He took away our sins and brought God perfect obedience. In this way only is there salvation. He saves his sheep by causing them to enter into the only door of the sheepfold.

Jesus is our salvation! Jesus says in verse 9, “By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” Jesus is the door that saves! He alone causes sinners to enter into the gate of the sheepfold and find salvation. Sheep are wayward animals that need a good shepherd to lead and care for them. Sinners do not by nature belong to the sheepfold. They enter the door because they by nature are outside of salvation and the kingdom of God. They are without safety and security. They are exposed to every kind of spiritual danger.

That Jesus is the door means that he sees that his people are brought to salvation. He feeds them and leads them to streams of living water. What a complete Savior Jesus is! Do you know him? Do you know your need of Jesus to bring you into the kingdom and salvation?

WHAT IS OUR CALLING

The door-keeper (true and faithful teachers and preachers) open the door to Jesus our good shepherd. He calls his sheep by name. The sheep hear his voice and the sheep follow Jesus. This is true of our initial salvation. But it is also an ongoing activity. We read in John 10:9 “he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

How do Jesus’ sheep hear his voice? They hear Jesus’ voice in the preaching of the gospel. Continuously Jesus calls to his sheep and leads them. A door leads both in and out. The door of the sheepfold was opened at night to let the sheep into the fold for safety, rest and security. But in the morning, the door was opened, and the sheep were let out for feeding in the pasture.

So Jesus opens the door to bring his sheep into the fold of the church. But he also opens the door to feed us, not outside the church, but in the church and through the means of grace. We receive the rich food of his Word so that we are nourished, made strong and grow in our faith.

Jesus says, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” The false shepherds come to the fold to hurt and kill. In contrast, Jesus suffered and died to obtain life for his sheep. His sheep have that life abundantly! It is life with God. It is friendship with the living God. Jesus’ sheep have that life now already. It becomes richer every day. It becomes complete when Jesus brings us into heaven.

Jesus is the door of his sheep. In John 10:9 we have a responsibility. It is to enter in. This is another way of saying that we must believe in Jesus. That is how sinners enter the sheepfold. Called for is the conscious activity of faith. We believe on Jesus, and find and take to ourselves Christ as our food and nourishment. We are saved!

We, by faith, go in and out to find pasture. We live in and out of Jesus. We seek him and find food for our souls. Are you entering by the door? Are you feeding on Jesus Christ through his Word preached? Entering by Jesus the door, we are saved. The opposite is also true. If you try to get in the sheepfold another way, you will perish. Jesus is the only door, a wonderful door of the sheep.

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Who Is Jesus? (6) The Good Shepherd

WHO IS JESUS?

(6) THE GOOD SHEPHERD!

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” John 10: 11

Home missionary, Pastor Audred Spriensma

 

We have been looking at the question, “Who is Jesus?” Jesus introduces himself not as a king, nor as a great teacher. He says that he is the good shepherd. A shepherd is one of the lowliest occupations possible. Little children learn Bible verses. Perhaps you did also. One of the first verses that they memorize is Psalm 23. “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want (I shall not have any lack or need).” The Bible compares us to sheep. Sheep are animals that are foolish, weak, helpless, and love to wander. They need a shepherd to care, lead, and protect them. Do you know your need for a good shepherd?

WHY A SHEPHERD?

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd.” Those who heard him say this could realize that he was saying that he is God. They knew their Scriptures. As quoted above, “The LORD is my shepherd.” LORD is put in the text by the translators instead of the name Jehovah. Jehovah God is my shepherd. God is called that also in Psalm 80 and in Isaiah 40. Jesus declares himself to be the Shepherd of the sheep. He is the revelation of Jehovah. I am God, the shepherd! When Jesus says, “I am’ he is again identifying himself as God.

Jesus calls himself “the good shepherd.” Of course he is identifying himself over against the religious leaders of his day who were not the shepherds that they pretended to be. Rather they were thieves, robbers, and hirelings. Hirelings are people who are paid to take care of the sheep. Hirelings work only to receive wages and have no love for the sheep.

Jesus is the “good shepherd”. The word ‘good’ is also a word that points out that he is divine. When a man came to Jesus and said unto him, “Good Master…”, Jesus responded, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God…(Matt. 19:17).” Jesus is therefore saying, “I am divine and a spiritual shepherd, unlike human shepherds.” When the word “good is first used in John’s Gospel, it is in John 2 contrasting the good wine contrasted with inferior. Good means ‘choice’ or ‘excellent’. So here, Jesus is the pre-eminently excellent shepherd, infinitely elevated above all that had gone before him.

There were many Old Testament pictures (types) of Jesus as shepherd. Abel was “a keeper of sheep” (Gen. 4:2). Jacob cared for his sheep. Joseph fed the sheep. Moses watered, protected and guided the sheep. David even jeopardized his life for the sheep when a lion and bear came and took a lamb out of the flock. David killed both the lion and bear.

Jesus is the chosen, appointed, and sent One by God to care for God’s sheep. These are those whom God had given to Jesus before the world was formed. God entrusts his sheep to Jesus to care, feed, protect, and save them. He calls and leads his sheep in and out of the sheepfold. What gracious care Jesus, the good shepherd, has for his sheep.

HOW DOES JESUS SHEPHERD HIS SHEEP?

The main duty of a shepherd is to care for the sheep of his flock. That care involves several aspects. A shepherd has to protect and defend his sheep. Jesus does that. A shepherd has to feed his sheep, and Jesus does that, too. A shepherd has to provide rest for his sheep. And Jesus certainly does that. A shepherd must lead and guide his sheep, making sure that they follow him. Jesus does that also.

Two main parts of Jesus’ care are brought out in John 10:11-18. First of all, Jesus knows his sheep. Second, Jesus lays down his life for his sheep.

First, Jesus knows his sheep. Jesus speaks of this in vs. 14, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” This is different from a person who is merely hired for a short time to take care of animals. I grew up on a farm. When my father had to go back to the Netherlands at the passing of his mother, he hired a man to take care of our cows. This hired man did not know the cows by name. He did not know the nature and characteristics of each animal. The hired man did not know the individual needs of each animal. When my father returned home after two weeks, there were several of the cows that were very sick or diseased.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day did not know, love, or care for the sheep of Israel. They were as sheep without a shepherd. In contrast, Jesus, the good shepherd knows his sheep. God’s people are Jesus’ very own sheep. They belong to him. He knows them personally. He loves them. Jesus compares his knowledge of his sheep with his Father’s knowledge of him and his knowledge of his Father.

How wonderful this is. Jesus knows everything about you, child of God. He knows our specific names and individual needs, trials, afflictions, sorrows, and temptations. We are like sheep: weak, sinful, wayward, helpless, and defenseless. .Jesus leads us to the green pastures of his Word. Jesus knows what sheep are not yet gathered. It is by his Word, the Gospel that Jesus calls, feeds, and saves his sheep.

Second, the gracious care of Jesus for his sheep is revealed especially in that he lays down his life for his sheep. We read this three times in John 10:11-18. “The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep (vs. 11).” “I lay down my life…No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself… (vs. 17, 18).”

What does this mean? All of his life, Jesus gave his life for his sheep. But, Jesus is especially referring to his death on the cross. Jesus’ sheep are sinful, and the punishment of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). The guilt of sin brings death and hell. As sheep, we are weak and helpless to save ourselves. Jesus gave his own life for us. He took our place, bore our sin and guilt, died our death, and suffered our hell. He did this by becoming the sacrificial lamb on the cross.

A hired man would run away if he saw his and the sheep’s life threatened. Jesus voluntarily and deliberately put himself in our place. He laid down his life for his sheep. Why would Jesus do that? It was his Father’s will. It was his great love for his sheep. Jesus gave himself for his sheep. That death was powerful, saving each and every one of the sheep that the Father gave him to save.

THE SHEEP ARE SECURE AND SAVED

What a blessing to know and have this good Shepherd! He calls his sheep, and they know his voice and follow him (vs.4). They know him because he comes by his Word and his Spirit. We love our shepherd as he has loved us. Under the care of our Shepherd, we are saved. We are saved from every foe that seeks our destruction. We are saved from our sin and guilt and deserved death.

Although as sheep we still face our last enemy, physical death, we do not fear. Why is this? Jesus, the good shepherd, had the power to lay down his life and take it back up again (vs.18). It is that life he gives to his sheep. It is eternal life. It is life now already, and life that continues after our physical death. We join Jesus in glory in heaven. Jesus says in verse 28, “ And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall and man pluck them out of my hand.”

A bear and a lion tried to tear one of David’s lambs, but David prevented it. Far greater is our good Shepherd! He has destroyed the power of Satan and death. All of our life, God’ people are under the care of our great Shepherd. From heaven, Jesus protects us in all of our trials and temptations. He keeps us safe in his sheepfold and leads us in and out to green pastures. He feeds us with his Word. He leads and guides us through this life so that we arrive in glory and heaven.

Do you know this Shepherd? It is the knowledge of faith. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. Live in the care and comfort of this good Shepherd, Jesus.

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Who Is Jesus? (7) The Resurrection and the Life

WHO IS JESUS?

(7) THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE!

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” John 11: 25,26

Home missionary, Pastor Audred Spriensma

 

CONTRAST BETWEEN DEATH AND LIFE

You have probably stood before the casket or grave of a loved one. Perhaps it was an older person relieved of the troubles and pain of old age. But maybe it was an infant or young person, or a person in the prime of life. An accident or an illness suddenly took that loved one away. What grief and sorrow you experienced.

Mary’s and Martha’s brother, Lazarus, died. He was also a dear friend of Jesus. There was a profound sorrow finding expression in a flood of tears. Martha says to Jesus, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” Martha had faith that Jesus’ presence could have made the difference. She also believed that Jesus could still ask God to make her brother alive again.

Jesus speaks of life. “Thy brother shall rise again.” Martha says that she knows that. Jesus corrects her vision by turning her from the distant future to the immediate present. He fixes her eyes upon himself. It is not future events but the person of Jesus! Jesus is always present with us. This is what brings comfort, strength, and blessing. Jesus causes Martha from dwelling on the dead Lazarus to instead trust in himself as the Lord of life. “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Death, in all of its power and ugliness, is seen in the grave of Lazarus. In his case it was a sickness. The body was brought to the grave to decay and stink. Death is the separation of body and soul. It is the separation from family and friends. Death causes those left behind to be filled with fear, grief, and tears.

Death is not a natural phenomenon. Rather it is God’s punishment for sin. “The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).” Death is the revelation of God’s wrath against sin (Psalm 90). The death of Adam and all his descendants is a spiritual separation from God. In sharp contrast stands Jesus, the life!

JESUS IS THE RESURRECTION

Jesus himself is the power over death. He has conquered and defeated this killing force. Jesus is the power to raise the dead out of the grave, to bring life out of death. Jesus is the power to form new bodies that are adapted for heaven. Jesus gives that life that can never perish. What a power of victory, joy, peace, and comfort. He is the resurrection.

Jesus not merely possesses the power of the resurrection and the power of life. He is the resurrection and the life. He does not merely say that he will be that in the future when he comes again. He is that right now, in himself. “I am…” Jesus is the resurrection because he is the life.

What is the connection between these two titles for Jesus? Jesus has the power to raise folks from the dead because he is the Life. His life is the cause of his being the resurrection. That Jesus is the Life does not merely mean that he has life or possesses life. He is the living One. He is the source of all life. This can only be because he is God! We have in our text another of Jesus’ “I am…” statements. Jesus is the eternal and natural Son of God.

When Jesus says that he is the life, he does not mean merely physical or biological life. It is not mere earthly existence. Jesus is spiritual life. That life is fellowship and friendship with God. Jesus, with this statement also means that he is the life to sinners who are in the grip of death (separation from God). Jesus is the life to dying people. He is the saving life. He is that life because he delivers sinners from the penalty and power of death and gives them life! Jesus is this life to us because he is the Savior. He came into this world of death. He took the penalty of our sins, suffered it, and conquered it. On the cross, he said, “It is finished.” Debts paid in full.

Because Jesus has this life in himself, he is also the resurrection. He has power to bring life out of death. This was true of his own death for us. He died on the cross, and on the third day he arose from the dead. After his resurrection, Jesus was seen in his body by over 500 of his saints. He is now in heaven in that resurrection body.

Jesus is the resurrection to and for his people, those who believe in him. He raises our dead souls to new life. This is called regeneration. Some are given this new spiritual life while yet in their mother’s womb. Others receive this gift of new life later (like the thief on the cross). This is called the new birth, being born again, or, being born from above. From being dead in trespasses and sins, we are made alive.

What Jesus does for our souls, he will also do for our bodies when he comes again. Martha had it right. “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” When you and I stand by the sickbed of a loved one or bury them in the grave, Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life to those who believe in him. The body that is placed in the grave is called a “sleep”, because when Jesus comes again, our loved one will be awakened. As Jesus called, “Lazarus, come forth”, so also Jesus will cause all those who are his to come forth from the grave in a new body fit for heavenly life. We are called to comfort one another with these words (I Thess. 4: 18).

THE PROMISE OF JESUS

“He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live (John 11:25).” Jesus points out the way in which this blessing is received and enjoyed by dead sinners. It is in believing in Jesus. It is by faith. This faith is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8, 9). Faith is not our work, but it is power given to us when God graciously has given us new hearts in our birth from above (the resurrection of the soul).The dead soul of the sinner is made alive by the Spirit of Christ. The soul is made alive to believe in Jesus.

The activity of faith is our looking and trusting in Jesus. It is a confidence and hope in Jesus. He is the Resurrection and the Life. Because the life he gives is eternal, there is a future hope. “Though he were dead, yet he shall live.” Jesus is speaking of the very thing that happened to Lazarus. He lived through death. His body was in the grave, stinking. But his soul was alive, and by Jesus’ powerful voice, Lazarus body is revived and comes out of the grave.

This is what will happen to every believing child of God. When he dies, his soul goes to heaven. He is with Jesus! That life cannot die. But we look forward. When Jesus comes again, his body will be raised in glory, a spiritual body, immortal, incorruptible (I Cor. 15). Then, in body and soul, we will be with Jesus and all the saints in the new heavens and the new earth.

Jesus promises, “whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die (vs.26).” This happens to our souls in our new birth. This happens to our bodies at Jesus’ second coming. This promise is only for those who believe in Jesus.

THE QUESTION OF JESUS

The question was put to Martha, “Believest thou this?” And her answer was, “Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God which should come into the world.” Wonderful faith!

This pressing question comes to all those who hear the gospel. Do you believe in Jesus, that he is the Christ, the Savior, the Resurrection and the Life? Do you trust in him and have confidence and hope in the midst of death?

They say that there are only two constants in life: taxes and death. As we face our own mortality and the sicknesses and death of loved ones, believers can have comfort and hope. It is the truth that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Do you believe this? Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house (Acts 16: 31).”

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Who Is Jesus? (8) The Way, the Truth, and the Life

WHO IS JESUS?

(8) THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE!

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14: 6

Home missionary, Pastor Audred Spriensma

 

THE COMFORT OF HIS OWN

Jesus has announced to his disciples his upcoming death. He will be leaving them. The disciples are troubled. Jesus comforts them. What was their and what is our comfort?

There is given a five-fold comfort for our heart trouble. There is comfort in believing in the Lord Jesus. There is the comfort in the knowledge that the Father’s house will be our eternal home. We have the comfort in what Jesus had done and is now doing to secure our welcome there. What a comfort to know that Jesus is coming to receive us to himself. We will be with Jesus forever. We are comforted and cheered by these precious words.

Jesus told his disciples that they knew where he was going, and they knew the way. One of his disciples, Thomas said, “We do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?” To this, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

JESUS IS THE WAY

Jesus is drawing a picture. A “way” is literally a ‘road’, a travelled path. The Bible tells us that there are two paths: a broad way that leads to destruction and hell, and a narrow way that leads to life (Matt. 7:13, 14). The broad way is the way of delusion, sin, and error. Many are travelling on that broad way. We read in Prov. 14:12 of the way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end therof are the ways of death. Rom.3:13, “They are all gone out of the way.”

Over against that broad way is the narrow path. When Jesus says that he is the way, he means that he is the blessed way to his Father and the Father’s house of many mansions. A house speaks of closeness, friendship, and fellowship. Children living with father and mother experience their love, care, and protection. Jesus declares that he is the way to this Father and to this heavenly home.

The sinner cannot come to God, but God in the person of Jesus, has come to sinners. Jesus is not merely the guide to show people the path that they ought to walk. He is himself the way to the Father.

Notice, Jesus is the way. That means he is the only way. It is not by human philosophies; it is not by works that we perform; neither is it by other teachers or leaders. Jesus is the way because he is the Savior. The road to heaven is shut and barred for us human beings because of our sin. We turned our backs and walked away from God. The road was closed; the path was shut.

But God provided the way for us to come back to him and his house above. That way is his Son, Jesus. Jesus came down to our sinful existence and suffered and died to save us, and give us life. This was the path that Jesus was on when he spoke to his disciples of the necessity of his coming death and leaving them.

JESUS IS THE TRUTH

Jesus is the Way because he is the Truth. This means that he is the true way, the sure way to the Father and to heaven. He is not a false way. He will not mislead us. Believing in Jesus, one will come to the Father. This is the truth!

Adam believed the lie of Satan. Ever since, humans grope in darkness and error. Therefore they are alienated from God and in darkness. “The way of the wicked is darkness; they know not at what they stumble (Prov. 4:19).” Romans 3:11 states that there is none that understands. Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth.” Today many believe that there is no absolute truth. There are many different teachings, and they all can teach us things. But truth is not found in philosophies but in a person. Jesus says, “I am the truth.” Jesus reveals God and exposes man. Jesus says, “He who knows and sees me knows and sees also the Father. How is this?

Jesus is God. Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, is one with the Father and the Spirit. The words that Jesus speaks were not merely his own words, but the Words of the Father who dwells in Jesus. It is God the Father who does the wonderful works that Jesus performed. He healed the sick and the lame, gave sight to the blind, and raised the dead to life. It is God in his Son Jesus doing these physical miracles which point to spiritual blessings. He saves!

Lost in the lies of sin, we need Jesus, the Truth. Jesus is the revelation of all the truth that is found in God because he is God. Jesus is the revelation of the truth of the Father and of heaven. Jesus is the revelation of the truth concerning ourselves as sinners. Jesus is the revelation of the only way of salvation which is found in him. Only in Jesus can we be delivered from the lie and know the true way to the Father.

JESUS IS THE LIFE

Jesus is “the resurrection and the life.” This means that he has life in himself because he is the Son of God. That life is eternal fellowship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is also the power and source of life to us, who were dead in sin. We were separated from God, on the path that leads to death and hell. When Adam and Eve listened to the lie of the Devil, they and all their children died. (“The day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die.”) They died spiritually. They had no love for the things of God. They were not concerned with the glory of God. They were dead to heavenly life. Does that describe you? It describes every person apart from Jesus.

But Jesus is the life. Jesus is the One in whom everlasting life is found. Jesus is the One in whom life with God is restored. How is it restored? Jesus on the cross entered the path of death and overcame it. He lay down his life and took it back up again. That life he now gives to all that believe on him. We read in John 5:24 that one who believes in Christ has passed from death into life.

Unless Jesus returns first, we all face the last enemy of death. That is physical death. But the life that Jesus gives is spiritual life, knowing God and his Son Jesus Christ. We read in John 17, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

Jesus gives that life to us by his Holy Spirit. This causes us to believe on Jesus. This is eternal life: life that is unending. Though our bodies undergo physical death by old age, sickness, or an accident, our souls continue to live. Jesus receives us into heaven. And when our bodies our raised at Jesus’ second coming, body and soul we will live forever with Jesus.

Jesus is God. Because he is the way and the truth, he is the life. He is life in himself and life to those who believe on him. Is he your life?

NO OTHER WAY TO THE FATHER

Is there no other way? No! There simply is no other way to come to the Father and to enter his heavenly house than by Jesus. There is one, and only one, road to the Father. There is only one path to heaven. Outside of Jesus, there is no way to the Father. Outside of Jesus, there is no salvation. He is the only Savior!

Jesus makes that clear when he says, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” This is important to know. Many are promoting other roads for salvation and eternal life. Some believe in path of good works that they perform. Others talk of their own will. They believe that they are saved by their choosing Christ. Still others believe that the road to heaven is paved by being the best or kindest, loving person.

There are also the many different religions and cults of the world promoting their gods. Can the world’s other religions save? Sad to say, there are those who teach that there are many roads to heaven and life. This is called ‘pluralism’. Jesus is said to be just one of many ways to get to God and to heaven. Others can get there by a different route. But this is not true. We read in Acts 4:12 that there is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved than the name of Jesus. This truth is offensive to many. But it is the Word of God. God cannot lie.

It is a narrow way, and few walk it. But all who possess true faith in Jesus come to the Father and are saved.

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Who Is Jesus? (9) The True Vine

WHO IS JESUS?

(9) THE TRUE VINE

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman…I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15: 1, 5

Home missionary, Pastor Audred Spriensma

 

 HIS CONNECTION WITH US

It is delightful during the summer or fall to walk through a vineyard. The leaves are green, and huge clusters of grapes are hanging on the branches. Can you visualize this figure? And of course, afterwards you get to taste the good wine that is produced by these vines.

This figure was a common one to see in the land of Israel. And in Scripture, Israel as a nation is referred to as a vine planted by God (Psalm 80:8-11). When Jesus calls himself the vine, he is drawing a beautiful picture of himself with his church. Jesus is one plant with his people. Jesus is the vine, and his people are the branches. There is an intimate connection. We are united to Jesus by faith.

Jesus could make this comparison because God created the world in such a way that it could point to spiritual truths. So the physical vine is a picture of Jesus and his church. Israel in the Old Testament was a picture (type) of Christ. Jesus now says, “I am the true vine.” The other vines were symbols, but Christ is the perfect fulfilment. Israel as a nation failed to produce good fruit. Jesus came to be the perfect, essential, enduring vine of which the others were only a faint reflection.

JESUS IS THE TRUE VINE

The vine with its roots planted in the soil is the source of life for the branches and the fruit that is produced. Jesus is the source of all life for his church. He gives strength to the church and causes her to be productive to his glory. Jesus grants to his church all the blessings of salvation.

As with the physical vine, the branches have nothing if they are cut off from the vine. They have to be connected. How are they connected? There is a farmer, a vine-dresser. John 15:1 refers to the husbandman. It is he that plants the vine. It is he who cares for the vine. He prunes the vine branches, and grafts other branches into the vine. The branches draw their life from the vine.

Jesus’ Father in heaven gave Jesus to be the life for his people. We depend upon Jesus for our spiritual life, vitality, nutrition and salvation. We depend upon Jesus, just as the branch depends upon the vine for everything. Without Jesus Christ, we are nothing. In Christ we receive grace, forgiveness, righteousness, and eternal life.

How is Jesus this life providing vine? The answer is first found in the “I am” statement. Jesus is the true vine, the source of life, strength, and salvation to his church because he is God. God is the source of all that we need.

Secondly, Jesus is this vine because God planted his son, Jesus, here in our world. He came in the likeness of men, our sinful flesh as a lowly vine. He bore our sin and guilt and death. But by his resurrection, he gives life to us, making us living branches.

Thirdly, there is, in the figure of the vine, wonderful fruit. Jesus stresses this in our passage. Jesus is the One who causes the branches to bear fruit. How disappointing it would be if we walked through a vineyard and there was absolutely no fruit, or only sickly fruit. Six times Jesus mentions bearing fruit or not bearing fruit. Everything depends upon the branches being connected to the vine. Everything depends upon our being connected to Jesus. Jesus is the only power that enables his people to produce fruit. That was why Jesus said in verse 3: “now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” Jesus cleanses us and enables us to bring forth good fruit.

Of ourselves, all that we can produce is sin and evil. The only reason that you and I are able to bear any fruit that is pleasing to God is because we are connected to Jesus. He is the source, our strength, and our life. All our strength to do good is in Jesus.

THE FRUIT THAT IS PRODUCED

What is that fruit? Fruit-bearing is mentioned six times in John 11:1-8. It is very important! The fruit is the fruit of faith. It is a live, active faith. It is not merely saying, “I am a Christian,” or “I belong to a church.” It is not just a matter of words. Oh, it is words. It is confessing Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God publicly, boldly, without shame. But faith is also a life lived for Jesus. It is a life lived in obedience to his Word and commandments. It is a godly life of clean speech, pure action, and love for God and our neighbors.

Our life will stand out sharply over against the lives of other people in the world who live for themselves, for sin, and for the devil. We will imitate the life and person of Jesus. No fault could be found in him. His word was truth. Oh, the fruit Jesus produces in us is a holy life. It is daily sorrow for our sins and turning away from them. We call that “conversion”. It is putting away anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth and not lying to one another (Col. 3:9, 10). Instead of these, we put on kindness, gentleness, humility, meekness, forgiving one another, and love (Col. 3:12-14).

How important is this fruit? What does God the vinedresser do? Jesus says that every branch that does not bear fruit, God takes away. These are hypocrites in the church who pretend to be Christians. They are branches in that they belong to the church. They might confess Jesus with their mouth, but produce no fruit. Because they bear no fruit, the Father cuts them off. They have no connection to Jesus. This was the case with one of Jesus’ disciples. He was part of the group that followed Jesus. But he was a thief and betrayed Jesus. He was cast out!

But even true believers who are in Christ need the pruning of the Vinedresser. They are real Christians who love Jesus and live a holy life. But because we are still sinful, so weak, even our best works are tainted with sin. So the Father works on us and cuts out the actions that flow from our sinfulness. He purges our hearts and lives so that we will be more holy and obedient. God prunes us with his Word, the preaching of the gospel. He prunes us sometimes with afflictions, trouble, pain, and sickness. This is not pleasant, but painful. It is as necessary as the surgeon’s knife that cuts out a diseased part of the body. What an important work of God in our lives, making us more productive.

THE NECESSITY OF ABIDING IN JESUS

Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me (John 15:4).” Jesus is speaking here to his disciples, saved men. They were in Christ. Jesus is saying to them and to us, “Remain in me. Don’t sever yourself from me. Look to me and depend upon me.

Why does Jesus say this? A true branch cannot be severed from Jesus the vine. If not, why is there this warning? The answer is that by our experience we cut ourselves off from Jesus. It is easy to think that once we are saved, we can make it on our own without Jesus. We think that we are strong and can be fruitful without staying in close fellowship with Christ. How do we do this? We stop praying and reading God’s Word. We do not go to worship services to hear the preaching of the Word. We cannot produce good works without staying or abiding in Jesus. So Jesus calls us to abide in him.

What is involved in abiding in Jesus? Jesus makes a wonderful promise in vs. 5, “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit…” Jesus abides always with us! But how do we abide in him? In vs. 7 Jesus says, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you…” It is by the power of his Word that we are saved and it is by the power of that Word that we abide in him and he is us. Do you keep up with your devotions and Bible study? Do you faithfully attend a good church where the preaching of the gospel is emphasized? Let Christ’s Word abide in you that he may abide in you. Then we will be branches, not scrawny branches, but vibrant branches with much fruit!

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