Praise God

We Praise God all in Christ Jesus for all He has done.

A Good Reason to Praise God

God Bless you with all the love and joy found in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 40
A David Psalm
1-3 I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
to make sure I wouldn't slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
they enter the mystery,
abandoning themselves to God.

4-5 Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God,
turn your backs on the world's "sure thing,"
ignore what the world worships;
The world's a huge stockpile
of God-wonders and God-thoughts.
Nothing and no one
comes close to you!
I start talking about you, telling what I know,
and quickly run out of words.
Neither numbers nor words
account for you.

6 Doing something for you, bringing something to you—
that's not what you're after.
Being religious, acting pious—
that's not what you're asking for.
You've opened my ears
so I can listen.

7-8 So I answered, "I'm coming.
I read in your letter what you wrote about me,
And I'm coming to the party
you're throwing for me."
That's when God's Word entered my life,
became part of my very being.

9-10 I've preached you to the whole congregation,
I've kept back nothing, God—you know that.
I didn't keep the news of your ways
a secret, didn't keep it to myself.
I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough.
I didn't hold back pieces of love and truth
For myself alone. I told it all,
let the congregation know the whole story.

11-12 Now God, don't hold out on me,
don't hold back your passion.
Your love and truth
are all that keeps me together.
When troubles ganged up on me,
a mob of sins past counting,
I was so swamped by guilt
I couldn't see my way clear.
More guilt in my heart than hair on my head,
so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.

13-15 Soften up, God, and intervene;
hurry and get me some help,
So those who are trying to kidnap my soul
will be embarrassed and lose face,
So anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable
will be heckled and disgraced,
So those who pray for my ruin
will be booed and jeered without mercy.

16-17 But all who are hunting for you—
oh, let them sing and be happy.
Let those who know what you're all about
tell the world you're great and not quitting.
And me? I'm a mess. I'm nothing and have nothing:
make something of me.
You can do it; you've got what it takes—
but God, don't put it off.


The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Christian Education from the Joy of Jesus Today

Prayer; Dear God in Christ Jesus we praise thee. Glory to god always. Bless us today Lord with Your Grace. We Love You lord ad thank You Lord for all that You have done in Christ Jesus. We pray for all people.Glory to God in the highest. in Jesus name we pray...

Today's Lesson: Upheld by God (Acts 28:16-25, 28-31)

(Note: The italicized words in this lesson may be used as discussion questions.)

Several years ago, I traveled to Mexico on a short-term mission trip. I had no idea what to expect when I got there. I found myself living in a foreign country where I was unable to read or speak the language, or understand the culture, but I knew I would be there for about a week to construct a home for a needy family. This experience, and several others, taught me the importance of relying upon God in unknown situations.

(Have you ever visited a foreign land? If so, where did you go? What was your experience like? What were some of the cultural differences?)

In today’s text, Paul preaches in Rome. Imagine what it must have been like to live in Rome during the first century. Imagine the crowds, spectacles, and events Paul may have witnessed or heard about. Consider how Paul, a man from a foreign land with different beliefs, endured in the midst of this city. In what ways did God uphold Paul? In what ways does God uphold us? God upholds us . . . .



Wherever We Go (Acts 28:16-20)
Notice verse 16, “When we got to Rome.” Paul traveled from somewhere. Paul had a starting point on his way to Rome. Later in verse 17, Paul says, “I was arrested in Jerusalem.” Paul’s journey to Rome originated in Jerusalem. From Jerusalem to Rome, God upheld Paul to proclaim the message about Jesus.

People today can travel across countries in only a few hours. If we board a plane in New York City in the morning, we can arrive in Los Angeles by lunchtime. And we can carry “the hope” of Jesus Christ wherever we go. Think about the last place you carried the message of Jesus. Did you take that message home, to work, to the neighbor down the street, or even to a different culture?

(Where can you proclaim the message of Jesus? Do we need to travel to some land far away? Why or why not?)



Whenever We Speak (Acts 28:21-25)
Upon arriving in Rome, Paul sent word that he wanted to meet and speak with the leaders of the Jews. A date was set, and a few days later, Paul proclaimed the message of Jesus from morning till evening. The Greek words used for “from morning till evening” in this text are proi heos hespera, which mean from “the fourth watch of the night, from 3 o’clock in the morning until 6 o’clock approximately” to “evening or eventide.” Paul spoke, taught, and explained things for a very long time.

Perhaps we should be ready to proclaim the message whenever we may need too. If it requires us to get up early and meet someone for breakfast instead of rushing off to work, then we should set aside the time to do so. If it requires us to stay awake a little longer, we should make that small sacrifice and be willing to talk to that person about Jesus. When was the last time you set aside time to speak with someone about Jesus?

(Do you like to get up early? Do you like to stay up late? Why should we set aside time to speak to someone about Jesus?)



Whomever We Speak To (Acts 28:28-31)
After speaking to the Jews, Paul declared, “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” (v. 28). Paul realized the message of Jesus wasn’t just for the Jews, but for everyone. Paul knew that all people, including whoever we speak to, needed to hear this message.

(Why is the message of Jesus not limited to people who look like us, speak like us, and think like we think? What kinds of people are so “different” that you would have trouble sharing Jesus with them?

Perhaps, we should pray that we will teach about Jesus boldly and without hindrance. Will you talk about Jesus wherever you go, whenever you speak, and to whomever you speak with?

(Why would you pray to teach about Jesus boldly and without hindrance?)

________

*All Scripture references are from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.

HOME DAILY BIBLE READINGS
Aug. 23: Acts 9:23-30
Aug. 24: Psalm 46
Aug. 25: Psalm 121
Aug. 26: Psalm 119:114-117
Aug. 27: Acts 28:1-15
Aug. 28: Philippians 4:15-20
Aug. 29: Acts 28:16-25a, 28-31

Give and share The Joy of Jesus Today... Gob Bless You.

Bible Study: Walk in Love with The Joy of Jesus

Prayer: Dear God Father of The Lord Jesus Christ we Praise Your Holy Name. A-men...

Bible Study: Walk in Love
Bible study on love.

The phrase "walk in love" expresses our entire relationship with God and mankind (Matt. 22:37-40).

Paul says: "Therefore be followers of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma" (Eph. 5:1-2).

Those who love God are followers (imitators) of God as His dear (beloved, dearly loved) children. The phrase as beloved children denotes that we are following God because of His love for us. And because God loved us, we love Him (1 Jn. 4:19). Therefore we imitate Him as dear children.

Now take a moment and think about God. Think about His goodness and mercy toward mankind. Think about His kindness, love, and grace. Think about His love to give Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins. And think about Jesus' love for us to die on the cross. To imitate God is to be like God thus to love (Matt. 5:43f) - God is love (1 Jn. 4:16). Jesus left an example for us (1 Pet. 2:2) and Paul commands us to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Cor. 11:1) whereby we imitate God.

And note that we are to love as children. Think about the trusting love a young child has for his parents. John says that we are either children of God or children of the devil (1 Jn. 3:10). Those who are children of the devil are children of wrath (Eph. 2:3) but the children of God are children of light (Eph. 5:8) being the ones saved by grace through faith and created in Christ (Eph. 2:8-10).

Jesus is our example of walking in love. He emptied Himself to come to earth in the form of a servant and in the likeness of man was obedient even to the point of death on the cross (Phil. 2:5f). Love is giving one's self as a servant in obedience to God which is an offering and sacrifice to Him. We must be a living sacrifice to God (Rom. 12:1) as we serve Him by faith (Heb. 11:4) in offering the sacrifice of praise to Him, giving thanks to His name, and sharing (Heb. 13:15-16). Therefore the church offers up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus (1 Pet. 2:5).

The result of a sacrificial walk in love is a sweet-smelling aroma to God. But note that what is sweet-smelling to God is not necessarily sweet-smelling to the world. As burning flesh of Old Testament sacrifices were horrible-smelling to men it was sweet-smelling to God when performed by faith. Therefore, we cannot rely on the judgments of men as to what is sweet-smelling and thus pleasing to God. We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived by those teaching human doctrines (Eph. 5:6-7; Col. 2) nor may we be partakers with them in evil deeds.

We have a grave responsibility to walk in love. A walk in love is not dictated by the doctrines and emotions of men but by God thus imitating Him.

Are you walking in love as a beloved child of God?
Note: Give and Share The Joy of Jesus today. Leave a comment to express your love and joy to the world...

The Joy of Jesus is The Answer

Prayer: Dear God in Heaven,
We pray for all people in need today.
Bless us Lord with Thy Love and Peace.

In Jesus Name we pray.

Scripture for Life: The Psalms
40

Praise for Deliverance
Ps. 70.1-5
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

1 I waited patiently for the LORD;

and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
2 He brought me up also out of a horrible pit,

out of the miry clay,
and set my feet upon a rock,
and established my goings.
3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth,

even praise unto our God:
many shall see it, and fear,
and shall trust in the LORD.
4 Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust,

and respecteth not the proud,
nor such as turn aside to lies.
5 Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done,

and thy thoughts which are to us-ward:
they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee:
if I would declare and speak of them,
they are more than can be numbered.
6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire;

mine ears hast thou opened:
burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.
7 Then said I, Lo, I come:

in the volume of the book it is written of me,
8 I delight to do thy will, O my God:

yea, thy law is within my heart. Heb. 10.5-7
9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation:

lo, I have not refrained my lips,
O LORD, thou knowest.
10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart;

I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation:
I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth
from the great congregation.
11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD:

let thy loving-kindness and thy truth continually preserve me.
12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about:

mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up;
they are more than the hairs of mine head:
therefore my heart faileth me.
13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me:

O LORD, make haste to help me.
14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together

that seek after my soul to destroy it;
let them be driven backward and put to shame
that wish me evil.
15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame

that say unto me, Aha, aha.
16 Let all those that seek thee

rejoice and be glad in thee:
let such as love thy salvation
say continually, The LORD be magnified.
17 But I am poor and needy;

yet the Lord thinketh upon me:
thou art my help and my deliverer;
make no tarrying, O my God.

Published by The American Bible Society
Psalm 34
Taste and See That the LORD Is Good
[a] Of David, when he(A) changed his behavior before(B) Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.
1I will bless the LORD(C) at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2My soul(D) makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and(E) be glad.
3Oh,(F) magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!

4I(G) sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
5Those who look to him are(H) radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6(I) This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and(J) saved him out of all his troubles.
7(K) The angel of the LORD(L) encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

8Oh,(M) taste and see that(N) the LORD is good!
(O) Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10(P) The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who(Q) seek the LORD lack no good thing.

11(R) Come, O children, listen to me;
(S) I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12(T) What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may(U) see good?
13(V) Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from(W) speaking deceit.
14(X) Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and(Y) pursue it.

15(Z) The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
(AA) and his ears toward their cry.
16(AB) The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to(AC) cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17(AD) When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18The LORD is near to(AE) the brokenhearted
and saves(AF) the crushed in spirit.

19(AG) Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
(AH) but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20He keeps all his bones;
(AI) not one of them is broken.
21(AJ) Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22The LORD(AK) redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be(AL) condemned.

Footnotes:

1. Psalm 34:1 This psalm is an acrostic poem, each verse beginning with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet

Cross references:

1. Psalm 34:1 : 1 Sam 21:13
2. Psalm 34:1 : 1 Sam 21:10, 11, 12, 14
3. Psalm 34:1 : Eph 5:20; 1 Thess 5:18
4. Psalm 34:2 : Psalm 44:8; 1 Sam 2:1; Jer 9:24
5. Psalm 34:2 : Psalm 119:74
6. Psalm 34:3 : Psalm 35:27; 40:16; 69:30; 70:4; Luke 1:46
7. Psalm 34:4 : 2 Chr 15:2; Matt 7:7
8. Psalm 34:5 : Isa 60:5; Psalm 4:6
9. Psalm 34:6 : Psalms 42:15, 17
10. Psalm 34:6 : Psalms 42:17, 19; 2 Sam 22:1
11. Psalm 34:7 : Dan 6:22; Heb 1:14
12. Psalm 34:7 : Gen 32:1, 2; 2 Kgs 6:17
13. Psalm 34:8 : Heb 6:5; 1 Pet 2:3
14. Psalm 34:8 : Psalm 100:5
15. Psalm 34:8 : Psalm 2:12
16. Psalm 34:10 : Job 4:10, 11
17. Psalm 34:10 : Psalm 84:11
18. Psalm 34:11 : Psalm 66:16
19. Psalm 34:11 : Psalm 32:8
20. Psalm 34:12 : Cited 1 Pet 3:10-12
21. Psalm 34:12 : Eccles 3:13; 6:6
22. Psalm 34:13 : Psalm 15:3; 39:1; 141:3; Prov 13:3; 21:23; James 1:26; 3:2; 1 Pet 2:1, 22
23. Psalm 34:13 : John 1:47; Rev 14:5
24. Psalm 34:14 : Psalm 37:27; Isa 1:16, 17; Job 28:28
25. Psalm 34:14 : Rom 14:19; Heb 12:14; Rom 12:18
26. Psalm 34:15 : Psalm 33:18
27. Psalm 34:15 : Psalms 42:6, 8; Psalm 145:18; John 9:31
28. Psalm 34:16 : Jer 44:11; Amos 9:4
29. Psalm 34:16 : Psalm 21:10
30. Psalm 34:17 : Psalms 42:15
31. Psalm 34:18 : Psalm 51:17; 147:3; Isa 61:1
32. Psalm 34:18 : Isa 57:15; 66:2; Luke 15:17-24
33. Psalm 34:19 : 2 Tim 3:11, 12
34. Psalm 34:19 : Psalms 42:6, 17, 22; Acts 12:11
35. Psalm 34:20 : John 19:36
36. Psalm 34:21 : Psalm 94:23; Prov 24:16; Psalm 7:15, 16
37. Psalm 34:22 : Psalm 25:22
38. Psalm 34:22 : Rom 8:33,

Prayer: God Bless You Always in Christ Jesus and The Holy Spirit of God. We pray that love will move your heart to give in love all that the Lord has blessed you with in life. In Jesus name we pray. A-men.

Glory to God and The Joy of Jesus

Psalm 100
A Psalm of Thanksgiving.
1 Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;[a]
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

Prayer: We Glorify God in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior, and The Holy Spirit of God. Praise God all day to The Joy of Jesus. A-men

Blessed is The Name of The Joy of Jesus

Bible/Scripture Today:
Psalm 118:

Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: {n} we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.

(n) Who are the priests, and have the charge of it, as in Nu 6:23.

Wesley's Notes

118:26 Blessed - We pray that God would bless his person and government. Cometh - To the throne; or from his Father into the world: who is known by the name of him that cometh or was to come, and of whom this very word is used, Gen 49:10 Isa 35:4. Name - By commission from him. We - We who are the Lord's ministers attending upon him in his house, and appointed to bless in his name, Numb 6:23 Deut 10:8. So these are the words of the priests.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

26. he that cometh . Lord-As above intimated, this may be applied to the visible head of the Jewish Church entering the sanctuary, as leading the procession; typically it belongs to Him of whom the phrase became an epithet (Mal 3:1; Mt 21:9).

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

118:22,23, may refer to David's preferment; but principally to Christ. 1. His humiliation; he is the Stone which the builders refused: they would go on in their building without him. This proved the ruin of those who thus made light of him. Rejecters of Christ are rejected of God. 2. His exaltation; he is the chief Cornerstone in the foundation. He is the chief Top-stone, in whom the building is completed, who must, in all things, have the pre-eminence. Christ's name is Wonderful; and the redemption he wrought out is the most amazing of all God's wondrous works. We will rejoice and be glad in the Lord's day; not only that such a day is appointed, but in the occasion of it, Christ's becoming the Head. Sabbath days ought to be rejoicing days, then they are to us as the days of heaven. Let this Saviour be my Saviour, my Ruler. Let my soul prosper and be in health, in that peace and righteousness which his government brings. Let me have victory over the lusts that war against my soul; and let Divine grace subdue my heart. The duty which the Lord has made, brings light with it, true light. The duty this privilege calls for, is here set forth; the sacrifices we are to offer to God in gratitude for redeeming love, are ourselves; not to be slain upon the altar, but living sacrifices, to be bound to the altar; spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise, in which our hearts must be engaged. The psalmist praises God, and calls upon all about him to give thanks to God for the glad tidings of great joy to all people, that there is a Redeemer, even Christ the Lord. In him the covenant of grace is made sure and everlasting.

Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

Verses 19-29

We have here an illustrious prophecy of the humiliation and exaltation of our Lord Jesus, his sufferings, and the glory that should follow. Peter thus applies it directly to the chief priests and scribes, and none of them could charge him with misapplying it, Acts 4:11. Now observe here,

I. The preface with which this precious prophecy is introduced, v. 19-21. 1. The psalmist desires admission into the sanctuary of God, there to celebrate the glory of him that cometh in the name of the Lord: Open to me the gates of righteousness. So the temple-gates are called, because they were shut against the uncircumcised, and forbade the stranger to come nigh, as the sacrifices there offered are called sacrifices of righteousness. Those that would enter into communion with God in holy ordinances must become humble suitors to God for admission. And when the gates of righteousness are opened to us we must go into them, must enter into the holiest, as far as we have leave, and praise the Lord. Our business within God's gates is to praise God; therefore we should long till the gates of heaven be opened to us, that we may go into them to dwell in God's house above, where we shall be still praising him. 2. He sees admission granted him (v. 20): This is the gate of the Lord, the gate of his appointing, into which the righteous shall enter; as if he had said, "The gate you knocked at is opened, and you are welcome. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Some by this gate understand Christ, by whom we are taken into fellowship with God and our praises are accepted; he is the way; there is no coming to the Father but by him (Jn. 14:6), he is the door of the sheep (Jn. 10:9); he is the gate of the temple, by whom, and by whom only, the righteous, and they only, shall enter, and come into God's righteousness, as the expression is, Ps. 69:27. The psalmist triumphs in the discovery that the gate of righteousness, which had been so long shut, and so long knocked at, was now at length opened. 3. He promises to give thanks to God for this favour (v. 21): I will praise thee. Those that saw Christ's day at so great a distance saw cause to praise God for the prospect; for in him they saw that God had heard them, had heard the prayers of the Old-Testament saints for the coming of the Messiah, and would be their salvation.

II. The prophecy itself, v. 22, 23. This may have some reference to David's preferment; he was the stone which Saul and his courtiers rejected, but was by the wonderful providence of God advanced to be the headstone of the building. But its principal reference is to Christ; and here we have, 1. His humiliation. He is the stone which the builders refused; he is the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, Dan. 2:34. He is a stone, not only for strength, and firmness, and duration, but for life, in the building of the spiritual temple; and yet a precious stone (1 Pt. 2:6), for the foundation of the gospel-church must be sapphires, Isa. 54:11. This stone was rejected by the builders, by the rulers and people of the Jews (Acts 4:8, 10, 11); they refused to own him as the stone, the Messiah promised; they would not build their faith upon him nor join themselves to him; they would make no use of him, but go on in their building without him; they denied him in the presence of Pilate (Acts 3:13) when they said, We have no king but Caesar. They trampled upon this stone, threw it among the rubbish out of the city; nay, they stumbled at it. This was a disgrace to Christ, but it proved the ruin of those that thus made light of him. Rejecters of Christ are rejected of God. 2. His exaltation. He has become the headstone of the corner; he is advanced to the highest degree both of honour and usefulness, to be above all, and all in all. He is the chief corner-stone in the foundation, in whom Jew and Gentile are united, that they may be built up one holy house. He is the chief top-stone in the corner, in whom the building is completed, and who must in all things have the pre-eminence, as the author and finisher of our faith. Thus highly has God exalted him, because he humbled himself; and we, in compliance with God's design, must make him the foundation of our hope, the centre of our unity, and the end of our living. To me to live is Christ. 3. The hand of God in all this: This is the Lord's doing; it is from the Lord; it is with the Lord; it is the product of his counsel; it is his contrivance. Both the humiliation and the exaltation of the Lord Jesus were his work, Acts 2:23; 4:27, 28. He sent him, sealed him; his hand went with him throughout his whole undertaking, and from first to last he did his Father's will; and this ought to be marvellous in our eyes. Christ's name is Wonderful; and the redemption he wrought out is the most amazing of all God's works of wonder; it is what the angels desire to look into, and will be admiring to eternity; much more ought we to admire it, who owe our all to it. Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness.

III. The joy wherewith it is entertained and the acclamations which attend this prediction.

1. Let the day be solemnized to the honour of God with great joy (v. 24): This is the day the Lord has made. The whole time of the gospel-dispensation, that accepted time, that day of salvation, is what the Lord has made so; it is a continual feast, which ought to be kept with joy. Or it may very fitly be understood of the Christian sabbath, which we sanctify in remembrance of Christ's resurrection, when the rejected stone began to be exalted; and so, (1.) Here is the doctrine of the Christian sabbath: It is the day which the Lord has made, has made remarkable, made holy, has distinguished from other days; he has made it for man: it is therefore called the Lord's day, for it bears his image and superscription. (2.) The duty of the sabbath, the work of the day that is to be done in his day: We will rejoice and be glad in it, not only in the institution of the day, that there is such a day appointed, but in the occasion of it, Christ's becoming the head of the corner. This we ought to rejoice in both as his honour and our advantage. Sabbath days must be rejoicing days, and then they are to us as the days of heaven. See what a good Master we serve, who, having instituted a day for his service, appoints it to be spent in holy joy.

2. Let the exalted Redeemer be met, and attended, with joyful hosannas, v. 25, 26.

(1.) Let him have the acclamations of the people, as is usual at the inauguration of a prince. Let every one of his loyal subjects shout for joy, Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord! This is like Vivat rex-Long live the king, and expresses a hearty joy for his accession to the crown, an entire satisfaction in his government, and a zealous affection to the interests and honour of it. Hosanna signifies, Save now, I beseech thee. [1.] "Lord, save me, I beseech thee; let this Saviour be my Saviour, and, in order to that, my ruler; let me be taken under his protection and owned as one of his willing subjects. His enemies are my enemies; Lord, I beseech thee, save me from them. Send me an interest in that prosperity which his kingdom brings with it to all those that entertain it. Let my soul prosper and be in health, in that peace and righteousness which his government brings, Ps. 72:3. Let me have victory over those lusts that war against my soul, and let divine grace go on in my heart conquering and to conquer." [2.] "Lord, preserve him, I beseech thee, even the Saviour himself, and send him prosperity in all his undertakings; give success to his gospel, and let it be mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strong-holds and reducing souls to their allegiance to him. Let his name be sanctified, his kingdom come, his will be done." Thus let prayer be made for him continually, Ps. 72:15. On the Lord's day, when we rejoice and are glad in his kingdom, we must pray for the advancement of it more and more, and its establishment upon the ruins of the devil's kingdom. When Christ made his public entry into Jerusalem he was thus met by his well-wishers (Mt. 21:9): Hosanna to the Son of David; long live King Jesus; let him reign for ever.

(2.) Let the priests, the Lord's ministers, do their part in this great solemnity, v. 26. [1.] Let them bless the prince with their praises: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Jesus Christ is he that cometh-ho erchomenos, he that was to come and is yet to come again, Rev. 1:8. He comes in the name of the Lord, with a commission from him, to act for him, to do his will and to seek his glory; and therefore we must say, Blessed be he that cometh; we must rejoice that he has come; we must speak well of him, admire him, and esteem him highly, as one we are eternally obliged to, call him blessed Jesus, blessed for ever, Ps. 45:2. We must bid him welcome into our hearts, saying, "Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; come in by thy grace and Spirit, and take possession of me for thy own." We must bless his faithful ministers that come in his name, and receive them for his sake, Isa. 52:7; Jn. 13:20. We must pray for the enlargement and edification of his church, for the ripening of things for his second coming, and then that he who has said, Surely I come quickly, would even so come. [2.] Let them bless the people with their prayers: We have blessed you out of the house of the Lord. Christ's ministers are not only warranted, but appointed to pronounce a blessing, in his name, upon all his loyal subjects that love him and his government in sincerity, Eph. 6:24. We assure you that in and through Jesus Christ you are blessed; for he came to bless you. "You are blessed out of the house of the Lord, that is, with spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3), and therefore have reason to bless him who has thus blessed you."

3. Let sacrifices of thanksgiving be offered to his honour who offered for us the great atoning sacrifice, v. 27. Here is, (1.) The privilege we enjoy by Jesus Christ: God is the Lord who has shown us light. God is Jehovah, is known by that name, a God performing what he has promised and perfecting what he has begun, Ex. 6:3. He has shown us light, that is, he has given us the knowledge of himself and his will. He has shined upon us (so some); he has favoured us, and lifted up upon us the light of his countenance; he has given us occasion for joy and rejoicing, which is light to the soul, by giving us a prospect of everlasting light in heaven. The day which the Lord has made brings light with it, true light. (2.) The duty which this privilege calls for: Bind the sacrifice with cords, that, being killed, the blood of it may be sprinkled upon the horns of the altar, according to the law; or perhaps it was the custom (though we read not of it elsewhere) to bind the sacrifice to the horns of the altar while things were getting ready for the slaying of it. Or this may have a peculiar significancy here; the sacrifice we are to offer to God, in gratitude for redeeming love, is ourselves, not to be slain upon the altar, but living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1), to be bound to the altar, spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise, in which our hearts must be fixed and engaged, as the sacrifice was bound with cords to the horns of the altar, not to start back.

4. The psalmist concludes with his own thankful acknowledgments of divine grace, in which he calls upon others to join with him, v. 28, 29. (1.) He will praise God himself, and endeavour to exalt him in his own heart and in the hearts of others, and this because of his covenant-relation to him and interest in him: "Thou art my God, on whom I depend, and to whom I am devoted, who ownest me and art owned by me; and therefore I will praise thee." (2.) He will have all about him to give thanks to God for these glad tidings of great joy to all people, that there is a Redeemer, even Christ the Lord. In him it is that God is good to man and that his mercy endures for ever; in him the covenant of grace is made, and in him it is made sure, made good, and made an everlasting covenant. He concludes this psalm as he began it (v. 1), for God's glory must be the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, of all our addresses to him. Hallowed by thy name, and thine is the glory. And this fitly closes a prophecy of Christ. The angels give thanks for man's redemption. Glory to God in the highest (Lu. 2:14), for there is on earth peace, to which we must echo with our hosannas, as they did, Lu. 19:38. Peace in heaven to us through Christ, and therefore glory in the highest.

Bible Commenter

Bible Study: God is Love from The Joy of Jesus

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God Is Love
By Richard L. Strauss
Created 05/18/2004 - 00:00

God Is Love

One of our greatest needs as human beings is to be loved. We all need love. We need to know that we are important to somebody, that somebody truly cares about us, wants us, and accepts us unconditionally. When we doubt that we are loved, we may develop unacceptable behavior patterns to compensate for it.

For example, we may act irresponsibly in a desperate attempt to get attention. Attention is a poor substitute for love but it seems better than nothing at all. We may develop physical symptoms that bring us sympathy and concern. The symptoms cause us genuine pain, but the pain of sickness is more bearable than the pain of admitting that nobody cares. We may angrily lash out at those whom we think should care or we may try to run away from them and hide, but in either case, we are trying to protect ourselves from the hurt they are causing us by their lack of concern. We all need to know that somebody loves us.

The good news from God’s Word is that somebody does. To know Him is to find release from the crippling effects of feeling unloved. Twice the Apostle John categorically stated that God is love (1 John 4:8,16). Love is one of the warmest words in the English language, and that God is love is one of the most sublime, uplifting, and reassuring truths known to mankind. Love is His nature. It is not merely a friendly attitude He projects. It is the essence of His being. He is always going to act toward us in love because He cannot do otherwise. Love is the way He is.

No one attribute of God is any more important than any other, and all His attributes are expressed in conjunction with each other. Yet some believe that love may be the most powerful motivating force in all of God’s being. It deeply affects everything else God is and all that He does. Knowing God’s love could well be the believer’s key to a well-balanced, satisfying life of peace, productivity, and power. It would be rather presumptuous to assume that we can exhaust the subject of God’s love in one brief chapter, but let us try to scratch the surface and begin to explore this fathomless truth. Here are eight characteristics of God’s love.
God’s Love Is Self-Giving

Love involves action. It is expressed in the giving of oneself for the good of another, so it always demands an object. Whenever we talk about love we are suggesting that there is more than one person involved. There must be at least two—the one who loves and the one who is loved. If God has always been love and love demands an object, we may wonder how God demonstrated His love before He created angels or men. Jesus answered that question. He revealed that there was a love relationship between the persons of the triune Godhead from eternity past, when He said to His Father, “Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). We have seen that God is complete and sufficient in and of Himself. He has no needs which must be met by others outside Himself. He did not need to create other beings in order to express His love. It was perfectly expressed between the persons of the Trinity from all eternity.

Yet He did create. Why? He wanted so much to manifest His love that He first created the angelic hosts and later the human race so that he might communicate Himself to them, give of Himself for them, and bestow His very best on them for their benefit and blessing. Our love is often selfish and demanding. God’s love is pure. Because He is love, He loves to give. Jesus said He gives good things to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:11). James went so far as to say that every good gift finds its source in Him (James 1:17). Since God is love, we can expect Him to give of Himself.

Knowing the God of love can help to make us more loving and giving persons. Not only will getting to know Him more intimately cause us to become more like Him, but resting secure in the assurance that He loves us will keep us from making demands of others and free us to reach out unselfishly and minister to them for their benefit alone. It is vitally important that we understand how much God loves us.
God’s Love Is Sacrificial

Not only does God’s love motivate Him to give, but it motivates Him to give when it costs Him dearly. That too is different from our love. We hesitate to do anything for others that will cost us too much or inconvenience us too greatly. But God’s love cost Him the very best that He had—His only Son. That is the message of the greatest love text in the Bible: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God’s giving His Son involved more than merely allowing Him to leave Heaven’s glory and enter earth’s history. It meant allowing Him to die in our place and pay the awful debt of our sins. God proved His love conclusively and irrefutably by sending His Son to the cross as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9-10). That is sacrificial love.

It was no less of a sacrifice for God the Son than it was for God the Father. His willingness to offer Himself was the summit of sacrificial love. Paul called Him “the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). When the same apostle outlined God’s principles for harmonious marital relationships, he said, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Jesus Christ made the supreme sacrifice for us when He died in our place. He was falsely accused, beaten, spit on, crowned with thorns, nailed to a cross, and left to die the most excruciating death known to man. The infinite curse of sin’s penalty, the Father’s just punishment for the whole world’s guilt, was laid on Him as He hung on that cross. He possessed the power to walk away from it unscathed, yet He voluntarily stayed there and bore that suffering for us. There simply is no greater love (John 15:13).

Whenever we are tempted to think that nobody loves us, we need to think of the cross. Jesus bore that shame and suffering because He loves us. He values us so highly that He was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to secure for us eternal joy. That is the epitome of love. Knowing Him intimately will motivate us to make some sacrifices for the good of others—for our spouses, our children, and other members of the body of Christ. It will help us give up what we want in order to minister to their needs.
God’s Love Is Unconditional

One of the most amazing things about God’s love is that it is extended to us when we do not deserve it and continues steadfast and strong even when we do not respond to it. In other words, His love is unconditional. That certainly is different from our love. We have a tendency to show more love to the people who obviously love us and less love to the ones who do not. We express our love to our spouses and our children when they perform to our expectations and we withhold it from them when they displease us. We shower affection on the lovable children and avoid the belligerent little rascals who look as if they might want to kick us in the shins. I find it easy to express my love to my wife when she tells me what a wonderful husband I am, but not quite so easy when she scolds me for not taking out the trash. I find it easier to be loving toward my children when they are obeying me willingly, but not quite so easy when they are resisting me.

God is not like that. The best-loved verse in the Bible says, “For God so loved the world,” that is, the whole world. That does not refer to the materials out of which our planet is constructed, but to the world of people. It does not mean the whole mass of humanity generally; it refers to each individual sinful person. The Bible categorizes all of them as God’s enemies, people who have willfully set themselves against Him (cf. Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21). God even loves His enemies—all of them.

There is not one good thing in any of us that merits God’s love. He does not love us because we are so lovable or because we can somehow make ourselves worthy of His love. We are totally unworthy, yet He prizes us highly and showers His very best on us. It is His love for us that gives us our worth. God finds great delight and receives great glory when we respond to His love, enter His fellowship, and do His will. In fact, He made us for that purpose. But whether or not we ever return His love, He keeps on extending it to us. There is nothing we can do to make Him love us any more, and nothing we ever do will cause Him to love us any less. He loves us perfectly and completely regardless of how we perform. His love is unconditional.

So many of us are performance oriented. We have felt approved and accepted when we have performed to someone else’s satisfaction, and disapproved and rejected when we have failed to live up to their standards. Consequently, we treat others the same way. If they please us, we treat them kindly and considerately. If they displease us, we feel justified in treating them unkindly and unlovingly. Knowing God intimately will help us express love to others when they do not perform to our expectations.

There is a great Biblical illustration of God’s unconditional love in His relationship with the nation Israel. “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). Can we see what He is implying? There is no human reason for His love for Israel. They were a rebellious, stiff-necked people. But He loved them simply because He loved them.

That is how it is with you and me. He loves us just because He loves us. Nothing we ever did made Him love us, so nothing we ever do will make Him stop loving us. He loves us when we’re grouchy just as much as when we’re glad. He loves us when we sin just as much as when we don’t. He loves us when we open our mouths and say things we know we shouldn’t have said. He loves us when our wives or husbands or parents or children are not treating us as though they love us. He loves us when we’re feeling as though nobody in the whole world loves us. He loves us even when we don’t like ourselves. He never stops loving us.
God’s Love Is Eternal

This message also was given originally to the nation Israel, but its application is for every true child of God.

The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying,
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness (Jeremiah 31:3).

That everlasting love reaches into eternity past. He knew us and loved us before He made us, when we were but a thought in His mind. And He will love us for eternity to come, for, as Paul assured us, nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:39). The love of an eternal God must be an eternal love.

If anybody ever deserved to forfeit the love of Christ it was His earthly disciples. They were men of inestimable spiritual privileges, yet they displayed an amazingly small degree of spiritual insight. Witness their behavior on the evening of the last Passover. The impending ordeal of bearing the world’s sins was weighing heavily on the Lord’s heart and He longed for their prayerful support. But Luke informs us that they were more interested in arguing about which one of them was the greatest (Luke 22:24).

None of them even extended the common social courtesy of the day by washing the others’ feet when they entered the room for dinner. They probably were too busy competing for the seats of honor near the Lord. Later three of them fell asleep when they were supposed to be praying, all of them deserted the Lord when He was taken captive, one of them denied Him, and another one later doubted Him. Notice how this upper room episode began: “Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1). To the end of what? Who can really say? He will love us to the end of our waywardness and wanderings. He will love us to the end of our deepest need. He will love us to the end of our lives, to the end of time, to the farthest extremity of eternity. He will love us forever. His love is eternal.

How can we ever exhaust the love of God! The love of an infinite God must be infinite love. Paul called it a love that “surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19), far greater than our finite minds can grasp. He also called it a “great love” (Ephesians 2:4). He referred to its breadth, its length, its depth, and its height (Ephesians 3:18), but it is obvious that he was speaking of dimensions that defy measurement: breadth and length which encompass the whole world, a depth which reaches to the lowest sinner, a height which exalts us to the loftiest Heaven. God’s love has no limit. It is described in F. M. Lehman’s gospel song:

Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above, Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Tho’ stretched from sky to sky.

I read somewhere that those words were penciled on the wall of a narrow room in an asylum by a man who supposedly was demented, and they were discovered after his death. He was not demented at all. He had learned one of the most precious truths of all time, that God’s love is infinite. We can no more exhaust it than we can empty the ocean with a bucket. And we are invited to keep drawing from His inexhaustible supply. To do so will enable us to keep extending love to those around us even when our love is not returned.
God’s Love Is Holy

When some people hear that God’s love is self-giving, sacrificial, unconditional, eternal, and infinite, they get the idea that it is merely soft, sloppy sentimentality, that God is an indulgent Father who gives us everything we want and conveniently turns His head the other way when we sin. But that is not the case. Everything God does is done in the totality of His being, so His love must always be consistent with His other attributes. Since God is holy, then His love must be a holy love that encourages holiness in those loved. The evidence is overwhelming! For example, in the same context in which Paul explains that we in love were predestined unto the adoption of sons, he states God’s purpose for choosing us. It is “that we should be holy and without blame before Him” (Ephesians 1:4). Love and obedience consistently go together in Scripture: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3; cf. also John 14:15; 15:10).

God will use every loving means at His disposal to encourage our obedience. He does that because He loves us. We discussed discipline when we studied God’s holiness, but we cannot overlook it here. The writer to the Hebrews encouraged us not to regard God’s discipline lightly. It is the evidence of His love for us (Hebrews 12:5-6). He knows that obedience to His Word will be for our greatest happiness, so He takes steps to help us want to obey Him. If He did not love us, He would not care about our happiness.

What kind of loving parents would we be if we let our children do anything they pleased, such as put their hands in the fire, ride their tricycles on the freeway, or play superman on the roof of the house? The authorities would probably declare us to be unfit parents. Our love constrains us to discipline in order to insure the kind of behavior that will bring our children future happiness. And that is exactly what our loving heavenly Father does.

He does not enjoy inflicting pain any more than we do. Before my father spanked me as a child, he used to say, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” That was difficult for me to believe at the time, and I never understood it until I became a parent myself. Then it became all too clear. It wasn’t my hand that hurt; it was my heart. God says the same thing. Concerning His people Israel we read, “In all their affliction He was afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9). He feels our pain because He loves us. Don’t chafe under His disciplinary hand. He knows best what we need, and He always administers it in love for our best interests. We can respond to His holy love by bringing our lives into conformity to His Word.
God’s Love Is Comforting

Some children would give everything they have for someone who loves them and cares enough for them to set limits on their behavior and administer loving discipline when they violate those limits. That would mean more to them than all the material things in the world because it is the evidence of true love, and true love brings security and comfort. They know that someone who loves them enough to endure the unpleasantness of administering discipline will do everything in his power to take care of them, and that brings them genuine consolation. When we grasp the reality of God’s love, we will no longer seek our security in jobs, bank accounts, investments, houses, husbands, wives, friends, or health. We will rest in the Lord, free from all fear, secure in the assurance that He is going to provide all that we need and protect us from everything that will not be for our good.

Listen to the Apostle John again: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (1 John 4:18). God never punishes His children. He laid all the punishment for our sins on His Son. He disciplines us in love for our benefit, but even that is nothing to be afraid of. Understanding God’s love eliminates all fear—fear of God’s discipline, fear of what tomorrow holds, fear of losing a loved one, fear of losing a job, fear of natural catastrophies, fear of global war, fear of suffering, fear of death, fear of being alone, fear of rejection. God loves us! There is nothing to fear. His love is comforting.
God’s Love is Life-Changing

Most of us long to be loving people, able to give love to our spouses, our children, our fellow believers, our unsaved acquaintances, and, most of all, to the Lord Himself. But we find it so difficult. It is nearly impossible for us to love others unless we are genuinely convinced that we ourselves are loved. Some of us are hard, callused, insensitive, and unloving people because we are not convinced we are really loved. We are saying unconsciously, “Why should I be loving to others when nobody shows me any love?” God’s love can change that. We can find all the acceptance and affection we crave in Him; then with the confidence that we ourselves are loved, we can extend love to others. “We love,” said the Apostle John, “because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

It really is true—God loves us. Jesus said it plainly: “For the Father Himself loves you” (John 16:27). It is to our advantage to know and believe the love that He has for us (1 John 4:16). We may never be able to grasp it fully with our human understanding alone, but God is ready to make it real to us if our hearts are open and receptive to His Word. Then, secure in His love, we shall be able to reach out in love to others, unselfishly, sacrificially, unconditionally, and inexhaustibly. It will profoundly influence our relationships with those around us.

A world-renowned theologian was asked by a student what he considered to be the most significant theological truth he ever learned. His answer was, “Jesus loves me. This I know; for the Bible tells me so.” Believe it, Christian. God loves you!
Action To Take

Look for evidences of God’s love for you all throughout the day, and remind yourself often that you are the object of His endless love.

Tell several others during the day that God loves them.
Source URL: http://bible.org/seriespage/god-love

The Joy of Jesus is Unbelievable Love

Prayer: Dear God in Heaven;

We love you so much in Christ Jesus.
We confess all inequities in the blood of Jesus.
We also forgive all in Jesus name.

We pray for all people to know the perfect love of God in Christ Jesus.
Lord we thank you for the gift of love.
We praise you for all things in Christ Jesus with all thanksgiving.

Glory to God all in Christ Jesus for the Joy in our hearts,minds and souls.

Song Jesus Loves Me

Yes Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so
Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong
They are weak but he is strong

Yes Jesus loves me
Oh, yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so

Pressing on the up away
Always guide me Lord I pray
Undeserving, and stubbornly never fail to love me still

Yes Jesus loves me
Oh yes Jesus loves me
Oh yes Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so
Yes Jesus loves me, love
Oh yes Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so
For the Bible tells me so

(Feels so good to know) that I'm never alone
See, sometimes I'm lonely but never alone
For the Bible tells, for the Bible tells
For the Bible tells me so

See I know that he loves me
Whether I'm right, whether I'm wrong

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Love is The Joy of Jesus

1 John 4:8 (New International Version)

8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Sermon: Prepare for The Lord

Sermon: We pray in The Name of Jesus for The coming of The Lords return. Life as we know it is in a state of tremendous challenge. The poor and needy are increasing in number and pain. We are in deep need of a savior. Governments have been unable to address the needs of the people. Our system are stretched beyond the limits. War and violence have no end. There is a need for perfect peace. Who can withstand the rigors of the world? Where is the peace , hope and love that we need today?

The word of God continues to speck to us today. Make ready the way of The Lord. The Joy of Jesus is alive in our hearts and souls today. We praise God and thank God for all things in Christ Jesus. God is Good. God is Love.

Praise God for Christ Jesus, all sin died when He took and paid the sin debt of the world. god raised Jesus from the grave with power, honor and glory. We pray for a;; people, we forgive all people and pray for people in Jesus name. Glory to God in The Joy of Jesus as we prepare for The Way of The Lord.

Scripture: Luke 3
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. 3He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
"A voice of one calling in the desert,
'Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6And all mankind will see God's salvation.' "[a]

Footnotes:

1. Luke 3:6 Isaiah 40:3-5

New International Version (NIV)

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica
Isaiah 40:1-8

Listen to this passage

Isaiah 40
Comfort for God's People
1 Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.

2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD's hand
double for all her sins.

3 A voice of one calling:
"In the desert prepare
the way for the LORD [a] ;
make straight in the wilderness
a highway for our God. [b]

4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.

5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

6 A voice says, "Cry out."
And I said, "What shall I cry?"
"All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.

7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.

8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever."

Footnotes:

1. Isaiah 40:3 Or A voice of one calling in the desert: / "Prepare the way for the LORD
2. Isaiah 40:3 Hebrew; Septuagint make straight the paths of our God

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Jesus is The Light of The World and Why

Prayer: The Joy of Jesus prays that the light of /Jesus shine in your life. Jesus is the Light of The World. We thank God for all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. We pray for Love today. We pray for all people in need. Glory to God in the highest in Christ Jesus. We pray that everyone give to the Joy of Jesus...A-men.

Word of God Commentary: Jesus, the Light of the World, Opens the Eyes of a Man Born Blind

It appears that Jesus is still in Jerusalem (since the man is sent to wash in Siloam), but Jesus is no longer in hiding (contrast 8:59). Perhaps some time has elapsed since his confrontation with the authorities in the temple, though as the story reads he could be coming straight from their debate. Certainly John intends us to connect this healing with the previous chapter, as the references to Jesus as the light of the world indicate (8:12; 9:5).Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind (9:1-7) Jesus, taking the initiative, notices a man blind from birth. It is not said how Jesus and his followers know that he has been blind from birth. Perhaps the Lord knew preternaturally, or maybe he simply asked him. Once this information is known the disciples treat the man's condition as a theological problem. People commonly assumed that disease and disorders on both the personal and national level were due to sin, as summarized in the rabbinic saying from around A.D. 300 that "there is no death without sin and there is no suffering without iniquity" (b. shabbat 55a). But the case of a person born blind raises the question of whose sin caused this condition, that of his parents or of the person himself while in the womb. The idea that the parents' sins can affect their children finds support in the Old Testament itself (Ex 20:5), as does its antithesis (Ezek 18:20). Likewise the rabbis debated whether fetuses could sin, some arguing they could (for example, Genesis Rabbah 63:6) and others that they could not (Genesis Rabbah 34:10). Obviously, such issues were matters of debate within Judaism (cf. Schrage 1972:290-91), including the time during Jesus' ministry, as our text indicates.

The disciples' question was a request that Jesus comment on this debate. Jesus shifts the focus, and instead of addressing the cause of the man's blindness he speaks of its purpose: so that the work of God might be displayed in his life (v. 3). We should not be concerned with assigning blame. Trying to figure out the source of suffering in an individual's life is futile given our limited understanding, as the book of Job should teach us. Rather, here is one in whom Jesus can manifest God's works and thus reveal something of God himself and his purposes on earth. Jesus is being led by his Father to provide a sign that he is indeed the light of the world. In this sign he continues to reveal the Father's glory, that is, his love and mercy. For the ultimate truth about Jesus' works is that the Father, living in him, is doing his own works (14:10). This is what it means that his works are done from the Father (10:32) and in the Father's name (10:25, 37), revealing that Jesus is in the Father and the Father in him (10:38; cf. 10:30). As is always the case in John, Jesus' identity and his relation to the Father are at the heart of what is being said and done.

Jesus' statement touches on the theme of suffering. There is a sense in which every aspect of our lives, including our own suffering, is an occasion for the manifestation of God's glory and his purposes. Scripture describes four types of suffering viewed in terms of causes or purposes (cf. John Cassian Conferences 6.11): first, suffering as a proving or testing of our faith (Gen 22; Deut 8:2; Job); second, suffering meant for improvement, for our edification (Heb 12:5-8); third, suffering as punishment for sin (Deut 32:15-25; Jer 30:15; Jn 5:14); and fourth, suffering that shows forth God's glory, as here in our story and later in the raising of Lazarus (Jn 11:4). To these should be added a fifth form of suffering, that which comes from bearing witness to Christ, illustrated by what happens to this former blind man in being cast out of the synagogue.

Suffering is connected to sin (see comment on 5:14), at least generally if not always directly. But the present passage develops this connection further. Our sufferings are opportunities for God's grace. If our suffering is indeed a punishment for sin, then it becomes an occasion for repentance and thus the manifestation of God's grace as we are restored to fellowship with God. If our suffering is not a direct punishment for sin, then it is something God allows to happen in our lives, usually for reasons beyond our knowing, which nevertheless can help us die to self and find our true life in God. God does not allow anything to enter our lives that is not able to glorify him by drawing us into deeper intimacy with him and revealing his glory. When we cling to self and our own comfort we are led to resentment. When we trust in God's goodness and providence we are able to find comfort in God himself and not in our circumstances. Consequently, we can genuinely "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thess 5:18). This is not to say that misfortune and evil are God's will in general, but they are part of what it takes to live with him and unto him in this mess we have made through our rebellion against him and his rule over us. Our rebellion has brought disorder to every aspect of our existence, and the way back to the beauty and peace and order of his kingdom leads through suffering, as the cross makes clear. So we should not deny or avoid the reality of our suffering, but we should ask God to use it to further his purposes in us and through us. Some lessons only become ours in reality through suffering and the relationship with God that results from these tests. We can help others with the truths we learn in this way (cf. 2 Cor 1:3-11), and we can identify with the blind man and reflect on ways the Lord might display his works in us in the midst of our own sufferings.

In his keynote address Jesus said he does what he sees the Father doing, which includes in particular giving life and judging (5:19-30). Both features are evident here. In giving sight to his man Jesus reveals himself as the Messiah who brings the new quality of life that the prophets promised, seen now in terms of a relationship with himself. He brings light into this man, both physically and spiritually. In the conflict that erupts as a result of this act of divine grace and mercy, the other aspect of the coming of the light, judgment, is also clearly seen.

Jesus includes his disciples in such work when he says, we must do the work of him who sent me (9:4). Such involvement on the disciples' part has been hinted at earlier (3:11; 4:32-38; cf. 6:5) and will be developed more later (chaps. 13--17; 20:21). Jesus' disciples are to share in his relationship with the Father and thereby in the revelation of the Father's glory through doing the work of the Father and in the judgment of the world.

The fact that Jesus' disciples will do such works in the future--indeed, even greater works (14:12)--makes Jesus' next statement puzzling. He says this work is to go on as long as it is day for night is coming, when no one can work (9:4). Clues appear later in the Gospel as to when this night occurs. As Jesus approaches his Passion he will warn the people, "You are going to have the light just a little while longer" (12:35). When Judas leaves to betray Jesus it is said, "And it was night" (13:30). This is the beginning of the Passion, when Jesus will be taken from them for three days (cf. also Lk 22:53). When the light is absent it is night, and the night for John is when Jesus is absent, as Jesus himself says in verse 5: While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Thus, the night seems to be the time when Jesus is absent from the world between his death and resurrection, since thereafter the Spirit will be present (20:22) who will continue Jesus' work through the disciples. Through this strong warning, which regards such a limited period of time, we are led to see the enormity of the darkness of those three days in salvation history.

Thus, Jesus' somewhat cryptic statement tells us that what is about to occur is a work of God made possible because Jesus, the light of the world, is present. The glory of God continues to be manifested in Jesus' activity, as it has from the outset (2:11).

Jesus' identity is revealed by the very act of healing a blind man, for a sign of the messianic age was the healing of blindness, both physical blindness (for example, Is 35:5) and spiritual blindness (for example, Is 42:18-19; cf. Westcott 1908:2:31). It is quite striking that the only references to healing of blindness in the Bible other than in Jesus' ministry are Tobit (Tobit 2:10; 11:7-13) and Paul (Acts 9:8, 17-19). Tobit may not have actually been blind, since his loss of sight resulted from getting bird droppings in his eyes. In the case of Paul it was Jesus who both blinded and restored him. So Jesus' healing of the blind stands out as a major sign of his identity and the significance of his coming.

Although the healing reveals Jesus as Messiah, the way Jesus goes about healing suggests his identity as Messiah goes beyond anyone's conception of the Messiah. The use of saliva for medicinal purposes was common in the ancient world (Barrett 1978:358), and Jesus himself uses it in his healings at times (Mk 7:33; 8:23). Clay also could have associations with pagan healing practices, in particular with the cult of Aesculapius (Rengstorf 1968:118-19). But for the healer to make clay out of spittle and use it for healing is unusual. John emphasizes this mud in the repeated recounting of the event by the former blind man (9:6, 11, 15) and also by including it where it is unnecessary (v. 14). K. H. Rengstorf suggests that this emphasis may be intended to draw a contrast with Aesculapius, but more likely the allusion is to the biblical picture of God as a potter and human beings as clay (for example, Job 10:9; Is 45:9; 64:8; Jer 18:6; Sirach 33:13; cf. Rom 9:21). Irenaeus picks up this allusion when he interprets this story in the light of the creation of man from the ground (Gen 2:7), for "the work of God [cf. Jn 9:3] is the fashioning of man" (Against Heresies 5.15.2). Thus, "that which the artificer, the Word, had omitted to form in the womb, [namely, the blind man's eyes], He then supplied in public, that the works of God might be manifested in him" (Irenaeus Against Heresies 5.15.2). In this way Jesus revealed his own glory, "for no small glory was it that He should be deemed the Architect of the creation" (Chrysostom In John 56.2). This story illustrates the truth revealed in John's prologue that Jesus, the Word, is the one through whom all things were made, having in himself the life that is "the light of men" (1:3-4). While many modern scholars would agree with C. K. Barrett that Irenaeus's interpretation is "improbable" (Barrett 1978:358), the association with the prologue actually makes it likely--all the more so as this story follows directly Jesus' clear expression of his claim to divinity (8:58).

The healing was not effected until the man obeyed Jesus' command: Go . . . wash in the Pool of Siloam (9:7). Why didn't Jesus just heal him on the spot, as he did others? Why send a blind man, in particular, on such a journey? There must be something involved here that contributes to the revealing of God's work. Perhaps the man's obedience is significant, revealing that he shares a chief characteristic of Jesus' true disciples. Like Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5:10-14), this man obeys God's command to go and wash and is healed. Also like Naaman, he is able to bear witness to God as a result (2 Kings 5:15). But John's parenthetical note that Siloam means Sent (v. 7) suggests more than the man's obedience is involved. References to Siloah, the stream associated with the pool of Siloam (Shiloah in Gen 49:10 [NIV margin]; Shiloah in Is 8:6), were seen as messianic (Genesis Rabbah 98:8; Gen 49:10 in Targum Onqelos; b. Sanhedrin 94b; 98b). This fits with the emphasis in John's Gospel on Jesus as the one sent from the Father, including such an emphasis in the immediate context (8:16, 18, 29, 42; 10:36). Thus, both the healing itself and the details involved point to Jesus as the Messiah. Here is an example of the triumph of the light over the darkness (1:5).The Man's Neighbors Raise Questions (9:8-12) The crowd had a hard time identifying Jesus (chaps. 7--8), and now they are divided in their recognition of this one whom he has healed (9:8-9). The man uses the same language Jesus has used to identify himself, ego eimi, though here it does not allude to the divine name but is used as an identification formula: I am the man (v. 9; see comment on 6:20).

Once they have established that he is indeed the blind beggar they had known, they ask the obvious question of how he came to have his sight (v. 10), and he recounts what happened (v. 11). This question will be asked four times in this story, stressing that something highly unusual has taken place, something that cannot be explained in the categories of this world (Beasley-Murray 1987:156). Unlike the man by the pool of Bethesda, this man does realize from the beginning that Jesus is the one who has healed him (v. 11; cf. 5:12-13), but he does not know where Jesus is (v. 12). This ignorance will be resolved soon enough. The deeper ignorance of the opponents, who do not know where Jesus is from (v. 30), does not improve as a result of this act of mercy and glory on Jesus' part. The man's admission of ignorance is an attribute of a true disciple, revealing him to be honest and humble. He stands in marked contrast to the Jewish opponents in this story, for they claim to know what in fact they realize they do not really know (v. 24; cf. v. 16). It is precisely this lack of integrity and self-awareness that Jesus criticizes in his conclusion to this story (vv. 39-41).The Pharisees Interrogate the Man (9:13-17) The neighbors bring the man to the Pharisees, presumably because something unusual has taken place and they are the recognized experts on the things of God. There does not seem to be anything sinister in their going to the Pharisees, unlike the contact between the Jewish opponents and the man at the pool of Bethesda (5:15).

The fact that this healing took place on the sabbath is mentioned in dramatic fashion midway in the story (v. 14; so also 5:9). In healing the blind man Jesus broke the sabbath rules in several ways, at least as they appear in later texts. Healing was permitted on the sabbath since "whenever there is doubt whether life is in danger this overrides the Sabbath" (m. Yoma 8:6; cf. b. Yoma 84b-85b; Lohse 1971:14-15). But, as in the case of the man at the pool of Bethesda, Jesus again heals what is not a life-threatening condition. Furthermore, just as his command to the man to carry his mat violated sabbath rules (5:11), so now Jesus' own activity of making mud violated the prohibition of kneading on the sabbath (m. shabbat 7:2). It is possible that his use of spittle also violated sabbath rules, since later at least "painting" the eye, that is, anointing it for healing, was clearly prohibited (b. 'Aboda Zara 28b), and some included the use of spittle in this prohibition (y. 'Aboda Zara 14d; cf. Beasley-Murray 1987:156-57). Finally, it was unlawful to take a journey of more than 2,000 cubits (1,000 yards) on the sabbath (cf. m. 'Erubin 4-5). A trip to Siloam and back from the nearest wall of the temple, for example, would be about 1,300 yards. It is perhaps likely that the trip to and from Siloam was further than was allowed, though we cannot be sure since we do not know where the healing took place. Jesus may be not just breaking the sabbath, but trampling on it, at least according to the views of these Jewish opponents!

The former blind man has to tell the story a second time, this time speaking to a new audience and adding the dramatic note that it was the sabbath. The crowd had wanted to know how the healing had happened out of understandable curiosity. The Pharisees now ask the same question but with different intent, for they want to determine whether any sabbath laws have been broken. The man recounts his healing with great brevity (v. 15). Many scholars see in this brevity an exasperation with having to retell his story, but this is only the first time he has told it to these people. Perhaps he senses their displeasure and sticks to the bare facts, as peasants have a tendency to do when interrogated by the junta--not an inappropriate image for this story, as we will see.

The Pharisees are divided over the man's witness (v. 16), a common occurrence when the light shines (cf. 7:43). The division among his opponents bears witness to Jesus' identity as the light of the world (cf. Lohse 1971:28). But here the light is shining through this man's testimony, providing an example of what all disciples are to do in the future (20:21).

The Pharisees face a dilemma for Jesus' sabbath breaking suggests he is not of God whereas his extraordinary power to heal suggests he is of God. Some of the Pharisees ask, How can a sinner do such miraculous signs? (v. 16). The plural, signs, indicates a larger familiarity with Jesus' activity. Perhaps we may assume that we are hearing the voice of Nicodemus, who has already said the same thing to Jesus himself (3:2). If so, then the one who came to Jesus at night is now sticking up for him once again (7:50-51) while it is day.

Divided amongst themselves, the Pharisees ask the blind man for his opinion of Jesus, given that it was his eyes Jesus had opened (v. 17). It is ironic that these Jewish leaders, who are so proud of their possession of the law and their ability to evaluate religious claims, are asking this man for his opinion on a religious matter. The Christians in John's own day would have loved this verse, since they were being persecuted by these same authorities for their loyalty to Jesus. This scene is like an underground political cartoon that deflates the self-important persecuting officials.The man responds that Jesus is a prophet. This is true as far as it goes, though it is not in itself adequate. He clearly thinks Jesus is on the side of God, despite such supposed abuse of the sabbath. The crowd has also viewed Jesus as a prophet (7:40), as have those so misguided as to want to make Jesus king (6:14). But the Samaritan woman also held this view (4:19), and Jesus went on to lead her into a deeper understanding of himself. Jesus will lead this man in the same way.The Pharisees Interrogate the Man's Parents (9:18-23) Jesus' disregard for their sabbath regulations is so blatant the opponents cannot accept the idea that God would honor such lawlessness. So to reconcile what has happened to their presuppositions, they assume that the man must not have been blind. Not only do they reject the man's evaluation of Jesus as a prophet, they don't even accept his testimony about his own former condition! Instead, they investigate. They call in the parents and ask them to identify the man, confirm whether or not he was born blind and explain how he gained his sight (v. 19). The parents clarify that he is indeed their son who was born blind, but they refuse to speculate on how he gained sight. This is now the third time the question of "how" has been asked. But here the parents understand the question to be asking for more than what mechanism enabled him to receive his sight, because they say they know neither how nor by whom this happened. The issue now is by what or whose power this unheard of event took place. To answer this more serious "how" question would require a confession regarding Jesus and his relationship to God, as the explanation makes clear (v. 22). Such a confession has implications for one's life within the community, and the parents are not willing to be put out of the synagogue for the sake of Jesus. The parents fail to stand up for Jesus in the face of the Jewish opponents, so it is clear they do not model discipleship. Their son is of age, that is, thirteen years old or older, so he must answer such a question for himself.

This scene is full of tragedy, for these parents are not allowed to give thanks to God for the great thing he has done for their son. They must have agonized over his blindness and the begging he was forced into. Now he has been miraculously healed, and they must put aside the overwhelming parental joy and knuckle under to the goons from the committee for the investigation of un-Jewish activity, as it were. The parents' agony would have been very great, given the guilt over the possibility that it was their sin that had been responsible for their son's blindness. In such a situation Jesus' healing would have far-reaching implications concerning God's gracious acceptance of sinful humanity. Not only was their son released from the bondage of his blindness and its related life of begging, but they and their son would see themselves in a new relation to God. Yet they had to stifle all of these feelings of joy and gratitude when they were called in by the authorities for questioning.

The parents' fear stems from the threat that anyone who acknowl-edged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue (9:22). Such exclusion was used in the Old Testament (Ezra 10:8), and later sources speak of different degrees of exclusion that were exercised, from a week-long exclusion from the congregation, to a thirty-day exclusion, to an unlimited exclusion from the congregation with avoidance of all contact, to an exclusion from the entire community of Israel (Schrage 1971:848-49). At the time of Jesus one of the lighter forms may have been exercised, and this continued to be the case for some time, as Paul's example indicates: he was thrown out of local synagogues (for example, Acts 13:50; cf. 1 Thess 2:14-16) but was not viewed as outcast from the people of Israel.

Later in the first century, as the gulf between followers of Jesus and the synagogue widened, the harshest form of exclusion came into force. Many scholars see this reference to being put out of the synagogue (aposynagogos poieo, v. 22; 12:42; 16:2) as reflecting changes in the synagogue liturgy late in the first century. A curse against heretics, known as the Twelfth Benediction, or the birkat ha-minim, was added to the liturgy (cf. b. Berakot 28b-29a). This is taken as a way of smoking out the Christians and thus causing the separation between church and synagogue. John is probably writing late in the first century, and although such a separation was taking place then, it is unclear whether John is referring specifically to this addition to the liturgy and whether the addition had such an intent (Robinson 1985:72-80; Beasley-Murray 1987:lxxvi-lxxviii, 153-54; Carson 1991:369-72). After a careful study William Horbury concludes that the addition "was not decisive on its own in the separation of church and synagogue, but it gave solemn liturgical expression to a separation effected in the second half of the first century through the larger group of measures to which it belongs" (Horbury 1982:61; cf. Lindars 1981:49-54). Given such separation, this story would have particular relevance for John's first readers.

Under this threat of expulsion we can see the nucleus of a community gathering around Jesus, clearly distinct from these officials who represent what emerges after A.D. 70 as official Judaism. Jesus has withdrawn from the temple (8:59), and now he is gathering a group around him over against the structures and leadership of Israel. Jesus will set this process in place as this story continues (9:35). The full expression of this split will not emerge for some years, but its seed was planted, John says, by Jesus himself.The Pharisees Interrogate the Man a Second Time (9:24-34) When the Jewish authorities put the "how" question to the man himself they get a very different response than they got from the parents, and the fur flies. They begin their interrogation on a solemn, formal note: Give glory to God (v. 24). This is not an invitation to sing a hymn of praise for his healing! The expression means the man is being exhorted to confess his guilt (cf. Josh 7:19; m. Sanhedrin 6:2). The man has told them the truth, but they don't really want the truth, they want their own answer. These people, whom Jesus called liars (8:55), are trying to force this man to lie, and they are doing so in the name of truth. (Double talk is not an invention of the twentieth century.) The terms they use are full of irony. These people who care only for the glory of men, not God (12:43; cf. 5:44), are telling him to give glory to God. They are demanding that he give glory to God by confessing his sin, but the man has given glory to God by bearing witness to Jesus.

They are being deceptive when they say, We know this man is a sinner (v. 24). Jesus has clearly broken their sabbath rules and thus could be labeled a sinner, but we have just been told they are divided over this very question (v. 16). John is showing us the deception and bullying of these ideologues who are in power. The Christians in John's day could identify with this man. Indeed, John himself had such an experience with some of these very same individuals (Acts 5:17-41). Those Christians in the world today who are persecuted for their faith can also identify with this man.

The authorities say Jesus is a sinner, but the man does not pick up on that. Instead he points to the one certain fact of the case--he was blind and now he sees (v. 25). Their supposed knowledge about Jesus is pitted against his certain knowledge of his healing. With this fact thrown in their faces again they are stymied. They can only repeat once more their questions of what happened (v. 26). They are at a loss, and the man pushes them. His reply is very cheeky: I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too? (v. 27). Here he reveals much about them and himself. They didn't listen, which Jesus has already pointed out (8:43, 47). And by asking if they want to become Jesus' disciples too he reveals that he himself has such a desire (cf. Michaels 1989:169). The man has progressed yet further in his Christology, for he here implies "that Jesus is his master" (Talbert 1992:160).

The man may simply be being cheeky when he asks whether they want to become Jesus' disciples, but in effect he is doing the work of an evangelist. Here is another offer of God's grace to those most deeply opposed to Jesus and alienated from God. In their furious reply they comment again that they are disciples of Moses (v. 28; cf. 5:45-47). The Pharisees insist that a choice must be made between being a disciple of Jesus and being a disciple of Moses, at least as they understand Moses. It is one of John's purposes to show how Moses and the Scriptures actually witness against the opponents and to Jesus (cf. 5:46). This story is preparing us for an important example of such a witness in the next chapter (10:34-36).

The Pharisees once again condemn Jesus by saying they do not know where he comes from (v. 29), a major theme of chapter 7. But now someone stands up to them and uses what they think is a charge against Jesus as a condemnation of themselves. He focuses on their ignorance. It is remarkable (v. 30) that those who know God and his ways so well would not be able to recognize one who is able to do what is unheard of--open the eyes of a man who had been blind from birth (v. 32). For a man born blind would have defective eyes, not just damaged eyes. A person born blind had no hope of sight, as this man well knew from experience. He picks up the very misgiving some of the Pharisees were having (v. 16) and drives it home: God listens to those who are godly and who do his will, not to sinners (v. 31). If this man were not from God, he could do nothing (v. 33). Earlier the man refused to say whether Jesus was a sinner (v. 25), but now he makes it very clear what he thinks.

The authorities do not deal with his argument. Instead, they cast him out, saying, You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us! (v. 34). Literally they say, "would you teach us," revealing again their unteachable spirit. Instead of facing up to the evidence the once-blind man has presented they throw back at him his blindness as evidence of his sinfulness. They refuse to entertain the possible implications of his healing, that is, that he is accepted by God. These who had asked him for his opinion earlier (v. 17) now show their true contempt for him. We get the impression that if he had gone along with them and attributed his healing to someone other than God, then they might not have thrown this in his face. But four times in this story Jesus has been referred to directly or indirectly as a sinner. This is the only place in John that this word occurs. So we have the Master referred to as a sinner and the one who confesses him suffering the same fate. Such a fate awaits all of Jesus' disciples, as he will make clear later (15:18-25). Again we see this man as a model disciple (cf. Chrysostom In John 58.3-4).

So the issue comes down to who is the real sinner, Jesus and his disciple or the Jewish authorities. The impasse these leaders face is the same that faced Saul of Tarsus when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. To accept Jesus means a complete rethinking of the law for a Pharisee. The reality of the law and the reality of Jesus come up against one another, and one of them has to budge. Jesus' approach to the law is only appropriate if he is God himself. This has been illustrated by the modern rabbi and prolific scholar Jacob Neusner. In his book A Rabbi Talks with Jesus, Neusner puts himself back in the days of Jesus and watches and listens to him as Matthew's Gospel records his life. He asks himself whether he would have been a follower of Jesus and concludes he would not. The reason is Jesus' use of the Torah. He would part from Jesus, saying, "Yours is not the Torah of Moses, and all I have from God, and all I ever need from God, is that one Torah of Moses" (Neusner 1993:3). The main problem is that "Jesus has asked for what the Torah does not accord to anyone but God" (Neusner 1993:32; cf., e.g., pp. 53, 74). Neusner illustrates that the main sticking point, as we've seen in John's Gospel, is Jesus' view of himself.

With these implications regarding the law this story continues the development of the theme in chapter 5 that the law bears witness to Jesus. In chapters 6--8 we find Jesus replacing the temple and its festivals with himself. Now we see that the law as regulation is also superseded in Jesus. "The Law in condemning Jesus had condemned itself (Gal. 3.10-14); this theme forms the theological basis of the present chapter. The Law condemns itself, and so do its exponents, when they try and condemn Jesus" (Barrett 1978:362). Here is the great divide between Jesus and his Jewish opponents, with each side claiming loyalty to the Torah rightly interpreted.

On the surface this story may look like a showdown between personal experience and Scripture, but it is more complicated than that. The man's statement that if Jesus were not from God, he could do nothing (v. 33) is not true, strictly speaking. The works of the Egyptian magicians show as much (Ex 7:11, 22; 8:7). Indeed, Jesus warns against false Christs and false prophets who "will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect" (Mt 24:24) and speaks of those who prophesy in his name, cast out demons in his name and do many mighty works in his name, whom he does not know at all (Mt 7:22-23). So much for experience being an infallible guide! But then the Scriptures, in and of themselves, are not an infallible guide either, as the example of the Jewish opponents reveal. It depends on one's interpretation. The Christian claim is that the Scriptures are an organic whole that make sense when interpreted in the light of Jesus the Christ under the guidance the Spirit has provided the church (Jn 14:26; 15:26). The bottom line is that we need God to guide our understanding of both the Scripture and our experience. Once again we see the importance of humility and openness to God as a core attribute of true discipleship. If the opponents of Jesus had really been loyal to God, open to him and holding to his truth, then they would have been able to see him when he came, as did Nathanael, the true Israelite (1:45-49).Jesus Leads the Man to Faith (9:35-38) Jesus finds the one who has been thrown out, acting like the Good Shepherd he will soon claim to be. Here is the tenderness and mercy of God in action, but such love is never sentimental in this Gospel. When Jesus finds the man he confronts him with another of his testing questions, Do you believe in the Son of Man? (v. 35). Some Jews at this time associated the Son of Man of Daniel 7 with the Davidic Messiah (J. Collins 1995:189), so the man could think Jesus was asking whether he believed in the Messiah. He obviously would not understand the more specific meaning of the Son of Man in John, namely, the Messiah from heaven who brings God's life and judgment, especially through the cross (see comments on 3:13-14 and 5:27).

The man responds in a way that reveals his desire to believe (v. 36). He does not ask what the Son of Man is, he asks who he is. Belief is not merely an intellectual assent to a proposition, but an attachment of trust to an individual as the one who comes from God. Such an expression of a "longing and inquiring soul" (Chrysostom In John 59.1) does not go unanswered any more than the openness and desire of the Samaritan woman did (4:25-26). Jesus responds, You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you (v. 37), a particularly poignant way of speaking to one who has only been able to see anything at all for a very short time. Here is a crucial step in the development of this relationship: Jesus has cured him and found him, but he now reveals something of his identity to the man. The man has spoken of Jesus as a prophet (v. 17), but will the man accept Jesus on Jesus' own terms? True faith requires such a humble acceptance, as John emphasizes throughout this Gospel.

The man responds with faith: Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him (v. 38). The word for Lord (kyrios) could simply mean "sir," (cf. 4:11; 12:21). Likewise, the word for worshiped (proskyneo) means to fall down and do homage to either God or a human being (Greeven 1968:758-63), and thus could refer to homage due to a man of God rather than God himself. But H. Greeven has argued that the word is always used in the New Testament for adoration of "something--truly or supposedly--divine" (Greeven 1968:763). Certainly the other uses in John signify worship of God (4:20-24; 12:20). Jesus has been presented in divine categories with increased emphasis at the end of chapter 8. But the title "Son of Man" would not convey such a notion in Jewish ears. So while the language used in the man's response to Jesus continues the presentation of the man as a model disciple, it is unclear how much of all this he grasped at the time. He has been progressing as a true disciple, moving from knowledge of Jesus' name (v. 11), to confession of him as a prophet (v. 17), to bearing witness that Jesus is one come from God (v. 33) and finally to accepting his claim to be the Son of Man (vv. 35-38; cf. Brown 1966:377; Westcott 1908:2:37). So even if he does not understand the full significance of his confession and homage to Jesus, he is accepting Jesus on Jesus' own terms and thus placing himself in the position to receive further revelation and grow in his understanding of Jesus and his relationship with him. None of the disciples have understood with any real depth the identity of Jesus or the nature of the salvation he brings. But here in this former blind man we have the anticipation of Thomas' dramatic confession of Jesus as Lord and God (20:28).Jesus Comments on the Healing and Its Aftermath (9:39-41) We have seen a man go through the stages of becoming a disciple of Jesus, but we have also seen Jesus' opponents' actions progress from debate and division (v. 16) to judgment (v. 24) and on to expulsion of one who would be a disciple of Jesus (v. 34; cf. Westcott 1908:2:36). Jesus' concluding comment puts both of these results in perspective: For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind (v. 39). Here, in a key definition, Jesus says his judgment both enlightens and blinds. He has not come for judgment in the sense of condemnation (3:17), but such condemnation does take place as he who is the light of the world is revealed. When the light shines, judgment takes place; however, salvation comes as well, for when the light of the world dawns hearts are revealed and the truth about individuals' relationships with God is brought into the open. The same sun that melts wax, hardens clay (Origen On First Principles 3.1.11). The opponents have hard hearts--they reject God's offer of mercy and his call to repentance that come through his chastisement (cf. Jer 5:3; 7:25-26; 19:15; Zech 7:11-12; Rev 9:20-21; 16:9-11). Such hardness of heart darkens their minds and alienates them from the life of God (Eph 4:18). The sight they think they have must be taken from them if they are to receive true sight, which sees the true light (Jn 8:12; see comments on 10:1, 8).

That Jesus is using this healing of physical blindness to speak of spiritual conditions is clear to some of the Pharisees who were near Jesus. They are not physically blind, but they ask, What? Are we blind too? (v. 40). Here is revealed their self-perception as those who are spiritually illumined with the knowledge of God. They are the ones who think they know (3:2; 8:52; 9:24, 29), but they have a knowledge that does not recognize Jesus for who he is. So Jesus responds with words of great grace--hard words, but words that can break through and lead them into the true light: If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains (v. 41). Clearly, it is their claim to have knowledge that is the dilemma. They do not recognize their need; there is no poverty of spirit (Mt 5:3).

We again see the great need for humility, openness and recognition of need. The man has emphasized his ignorance (vv. 25, 36), while they have emphasized their knowledge (vv. 16, 22, 29). Those who settle into blindness without a disposition of openness to God are "incurable since they have deliberately rejected the only cure that exists" (Barrett 1978:366). In a similar situation Jesus refers to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mk 3:29), since in that case Jesus' opponents were seeing his gracious acts and saying they were the work of the Beelzebub, the prince of demons. Such a sin is unforgivable precisely because the person is looking at the character and work of the one who is all good and calling it evil. This perception prevents one from turning to God. For, on the one hand, if one does turn to Christ while thinking Christ represents evil, then that person in his or her own mind is choosing evil and thus sinning (cf. Rom 14:23). If, on the other hand, one refuses to embrace evil but thinks that Jesus is evil, then obviously one cannot turn to him. Either way one has precluded repentance and thereby shut oneself off from forgiveness. God offers forgiveness for all sin. The only sin that cannot be forgiven is the unrepented sin. Thus, until one has a right view of Jesus and comes to him for forgiveness, one remains in one's sin, not because God will not forgive, but because such a one refuses to accept the forgiveness in accordance with God's reality in Christ.

So here at the end of the story we see that spiritual blindness is the real sin, not physical blindness, as the disciples and the Pharisees had thought (vv. 2, 34; cf. Chrysostom In John 56.1). Jesus has given sight to a man born blind, but this is a sign of the more significant spiritual light that he provides for those who are spiritually blind. In the very act of mercy, the giving of physical and spiritual sight to this blind man, Jesus continues to reveal the glory of God, that is, his love. Ironically, as earlier (5:1-18), the very brightness of the light that is shining brings a reaction from those who see such signs but do not get it. In their judgment and condemnation of Jesus they stand self-judged and self-condemned.

But even this judgment reveals God's glory. It does so, first, because it is indeed an offer of mercy that they are rejecting. Second, his mercy is seen in the care he provides to those who do receive him, for in condemning their opponents he is protecting his people. As in the case of Pharaoh, God's hardening of one who rejected his call to repentance revealed God's own glory as the one greater than Pharaoh and as the one who redeems his people from evil (Ex 7:3, 14; 14:4, 17). The evil in the present story is the blindness of Jesus' opponents, which is alienation from God. There is a veil over the opponents' hearts (cf. 2 Cor 3:15). But there is also evil in their preventing people from recognizing Jesus and believing in him. God must condemn such evil not only because it is not in keeping with his reality, but also because it is opposing his work in the lives of those who are open to him.

Jesus' condemnation of the Pharisees at the conclusion of this story reveals their alienation from God more clearly, and it also says something about those who, like the blind man, do come to faith in Jesus. This story is an encouragement to stand up and bear witness, as we have seen, and it also illustrates the experience of everyone who becomes a true disciple. Every human being is in the condition of this man spiritually--born blind and in need of enlightenment. It is not surprising, therefore, that the ancient church saw in this story a depiction of baptism, since baptism was known as enlightenment. Some modern scholars continue to find such allusions here (Brown 1966:380-82) or, in a similar way, to conversion (Michaels 1989:160, 168). This story describes one who is in the process of being born from above, becoming capable of seeing the kingdom of God present in the presence of the King (Jn 3:3). We are all in need of the faith that is itself an organ of spiritual perception similar to what Paul refers to as the "eyes of the heart" (Eph 1:18; cf. Schnackenburg 1980b:255). Unless God opens our eyes we will not see, but he is offering sight to all who will receive it--such is the biblical antinomy of divine sovereignty and human responsibility.

This coming to faith is the crucial point of this story. In the physical healing of the man's eyes we see the agent of creation at work within his world. But the even more astounding work takes place as Jesus leads the man to faith in himself, for this is not just a creative work on the man's body, but the bringing of that essential life that was lost in Eden. That life had existed by virtue of the relationship of intimacy between Creator and created, and now in this man's worship of God in Jesus we see the return to the proper relationship that had been severed by the rebellion. The worship of the man who has found God in Christ is his entrance into eternal life (17:3).

There is also a corporate dimension to this story. Jesus has departed from the temple (8:59), and now a new society is being formed around him in separation from what will become official Judaism. He has revealed himself to people earlier in the Gospel and has accepted spontaneous expressions of faith, but now he takes it a step further and "proposes a test of fellowship" (Westcott 1908:2:43); that is, he offers himself as an object of faith with a specific confession attached: Do you believe in the Son of Man? (v. 35). This is a new development in the process of the light shining and the polarization which that causes. "The separation between the old and the new was now consummated, when the rejected of `the Jews' sank prostrate at the feet of the Son of man" (Westcott 1908:2:44). Jesus is the Good Shepherd of a flock that is distinct from official Judaism, a theme developed in the next chapter.

So this story offers many challenges. We need to realize our own utter poverty, blindness and need apart from Christ. We need to see with his eyes the desperate condition of all who have not been illumined by him, the light of the world. We need to consider before God whether there are ways we reject the evidence of our own experience because we have a faulty understanding of him and his ways. We need to consider before God whether we have God too figured out--or, in this day, whether we have the opposite tendency to think that everything is up for grabs and there is no objective truth or that the Scriptures are not clear and coherent when interpreted in the light of the guidance the Spirit has given to the church. Finally, among many other connections that might be made, we need Jesus to be our center of reference, like this blind man did, so that we are stable, secure and bold no matter what hassles come to us due to our relationship with Jesus, for we have experienced the goodness and mercy of God in Jesus.

Pray for The Joy of Jesus as we pray for you....