Day #217: Daily Bible Reading - August 2nd
Scripture Reading: John 1 - 2 …
Who is Jesus? You and every person who has ever lived, is living now or will live must answer that question. While many stumble about in the spiritual darkness of their minds and hearts, God speaks to those whose ears have been opened by His Spirit: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made …" (1:1-3). And then, "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (1:14). People can say what they want to say about Jesus, but this much is beyond doubt: John and the other writers of Scripture believed that Jesus was God in the flesh and lived and died to declare that He is Lord!!
Some might wonder why this is so important, but if Jesus is NOT God and man, if He is just a good man who was empowered by God to do miracles, then He Himself was a sinner and as such His suffering and death on the cross is meaningless and we remain in our sin, unable to save ourselves. Either Jesus is who HE says He is, and who the BIBLE says He is, or we have no hope. Eternity is at stake!!
In the first chapter of his Gospel, John reveals the way of salvation by faith in Jesus. He reveals the spiritual darkness that blinds men (1:5) and prevents them from recognizing Jesus (1:10), but then declares: "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of GOD!" (1:12-13). Those who believe in the name of Jesus and who thus receive Him as their Savior and Lord, do so only AFTER they have been born again by the Spirit of God. It is not by natural descent or human decision or coercion that anyone is born again, "regenerated," but by the power of God's Spirit working through His Word.
Moses revealed the Law, but in Jesus Christ God's grace and truth are revealed by the Spirit and those who come to the Father through faith in Jesus understand that it was not by our own efforts, but by the grace of God that gave us new life in Christ. Throughout the Gospels we find this new life being given to unlikely people, to those whom the religious leaders called, "sinners." Spiritual blindness makes people believe that they can come by their own goodness or by their own efforts. At the very beginning of his Gospel, John explains man's problem and God's solution.
God sent John the Baptist to be "the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord'" (1:23). John preached repentance and men were convicted of their sin, but they were waiting for the Messiah, the Savior … was John the one? NO! But he was sent to introduce Him to the world: "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (1:29). Many today believe the purpose of Jesus' coming was to show us how to love one another, to do acts of kindness, to help the poor and oppressed … and Jesus did all those things and we ARE called to follow His example … but that's not why He came. Jesus didn't come to simply give people a "better" life in this world. Jesus came to take away the guilt and power of sin to condemn those who would believe in Him.
John said, "I baptize with water … He will baptize with the Holy Spirit" (1:33). Paul would write decades later that all who believe have been "baptized by one Spirit into one Body" (I Corinthians 12:13). ONLY Jesus, the Word made flesh, through whom everything was created, can give new life and make us new creations! The first disciples soon discovered the power and authority of this one whom they were called to follow. Talk about your life never being the same!!
His first miracle was innocent enough, but very quickly people began to see that there was something different about Jesus. It is sad in our day that even many who claim to believe in Jesus seem to think His miracles were no big deal and that following Him has little significance in this life … then you go to heaven. As Jesus said to Nathanael, "You shall see greater things than that! I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man" (1:50-51). Jesus' miracles testified that He was God in the flesh and that the message He brought was truth from God to bring eternal life to those who believed.
As Jesus entered into the temple courts He expressed His devotion to the Father through His zeal for the temple, the physical, earthly dwelling-place of God's glory. Already the Jews were demanding that He do another miracle, but Jesus spoke in words they could not possibly understand, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days" (2:19). John explains, "The temple He had spoken of was His body" (2:21). As His ministry began people saw the miraculous signs He did and heard His words and believed in His name … but Jesus did not come to draw a following … He came to give Himself as a ransom, to pay the penalty for sin on the cross. They would have made Him King, but His kingdom was not of THIS world.
Living in this world today it is so easy to think only in terms of what we need for life in this world. Our prayers are often focused about things that we need (or want) that we believe would make our lives easier. If only we had …… (fill in the blank!). But all we really need is Jesus. As someone has said, "If you had everything this world could offer and didn't have Jesus, you would have nothing. But if you have nothing and have Jesus, you have everything!" Jesus came to give life, now and forever. Jesus has the power not only to change your circumstances, but to change YOU!! Paul wrote, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come" (II Corinthians 5:17).
Do you have this new life? Have you been born again by the Spirit of God? Have you received Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and have you heard His call to follow Him? Only those who are disciples of Jesus in THIS world will spend eternity with Him in the world to come. We who believe have been saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and now live as servants of God, awaiting Jesus' return when we will be made like Him and live with Him forever in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness (II Peter 3:13).
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God …" (1:1) … And now this living Word, Jesus Christ, is seated at the right hand of the Father, ruling over all things, putting all His enemies under His feet, and He promises, "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End" (Revelation 22:12-13). May you and I be found IN CHRIST when He returns, being born again by His Spirit, believing in His Name, and serving our Master.
"Father in heaven, I hear Your voice declaring the truth concerning Your Son through Your Word and I respond in faith, believing that He IS the Christ, the One whom You sent to take away MY sin through His sacrifice on the cross. I find my joy, my hope and my peace in Him, believing there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. By Your grace alone I stand in Your presence and testify with John that Jesus is Lord! I thank You today for Your grace to ME, in Jesus' name, Amen"