Mark 1:12-13; Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-15; John 1:19-2:25
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Three days ago, we began the New Testament! I'll highlight each of the 4 Gospels overviews these first 4 days, with John today. One thing I’ll recommend to everyone, if you have a chance this next week, is to watch the movie “The Gospel of John”. Have you seen it? It is incredibly well done. It was released in theaters on a limited basis a few years ago, and I was fortunate enough to have caught it in the theater. It is a 3 hour movie that goes word-for-word through the Gospel of John, based on the Good News Bible translation. Or, perhaps you’ll want to read the Biblical text first and then watch the movie later. Either way. I definitely recommend this film. You can hopefully pick it up at a video rental store. A friend of mine was surprised to have found it at the local supermarket little video rental section recently. And, actually, I have the first 10 minutes of the movie in the YouTube below today, and it looks like you can watch the entire movie now on YouTube.
The Gospel of John
Date: A.D. 85-96
Content: The Gospel of John was written many years after Jesus’ death and resurrection by the apostle John so that those who read it might believe in Christ and thus have life through his name. John begins with a prologue unique to this Gospel where Jesus’ preexistent life with the Father is depicted to show that Jesus was not simply a great man, but God. Miracles of Jesus as well as many of Jesus’ teachings not found elsewhere are then described. A long section in John chapters 14 through 17 describes Jesus’ teaching to his apostles before his death. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, special place is given to Jesus’ appearance to his apostles.
Theme: The Gospel of John more than any other Gospel stresses the deity of Christ and provides us with an interpretation of his life. He is explained in figurative terms as light, truth, love, good shepherd, the door, the resurrection and the life, living water, true bread, and more. The beautiful material found in John chapters 14 through 17 shows the deep love of Jesus for the believer and the peace that comes from faith in Christ. (Above commentary is from “The One Year Bible Companion” pp. 22-23) Great commentary on John by Bob Deffinbaugh at bible.org is at this link: http://bible.org/page.php?page_id=2348
John: I absolutely love John chapter 1 verse 29 - "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" Do you believe Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?
Verses 45 & 46 I find so truthful, along with Nathanael's reply being amusing - but mostly Nathanael's reply demonstrates how very humble of a background Jesus came from - "Philip went off to look for Nathanael and told him, "We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth." "Nazareth!" exclaimed Nathanael. "Can anything good come from there?" Are we ever like Nathanael - having preconceived notions about places or things or maybe even Jesus? Can we leave our preconceived notions about things behind us and move forward in the spirit of truth, particularly when it comes to Jesus and who He is?
John chapter 2 verse 11 is of note - "This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was Jesus' first display of his glory. And his disciples believed in him." It is interesting that John refers to Jesus' miracles as "signs." Signs seems to indicate the significance of Jesus' actions, rather than the marvel. What do you think Jesus' miracles might have been "signs" of? Below is "The Marriage of Cana" by the Florentine Italian painter Giusto de' Menabuoi from the year 1378, and this fresco is located in the baptistry of the Cathedral in Padua:
Tyndale's One Year Bible Companion has a very interesting commentary on John chapter 2 verse 14 - "In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; and he saw money changers behind their counters." Tyndale answered the question of why there were merchants & money changers in the temple as follows: "The temple tax had to be paid in local currency, so foreigners had to have their money changed. But the moneychangers would often charge exorbitant exchange rates. The people were also required to make sacrifices for sins. Because of the long journey, many could not bring their own animals. The price of sacrificial animals was much higher in the temple than elsewhere." It is understandable why Jesus was upset with all of this. Thank goodness we do not have this system still in place for us today - with moneychangers & merchants for tax & animal sacrifices... thank you Jesus! Below is a fresco of "The Money-Changers in the Temple" by the Italian artist Giotto from the year 1306:
Matthew:Now - I think what happens just after Jesus' baptism in yesterday's readings is something each of us should take heed of - the devil comes in full force after Jesus. I heard someone tell me just before I was baptized about 6 years ago that whenever we make a public declaration that we love God: the Father, Jesus the Son, & the Holy Spirit and that we want to follow Him, the devil and temptation very likely will appear. The devil isn't happy when we are moving forward in our love of Jesus and loving others - and he wants to derail it. And that's what we see here in Matthew chapter 4 - God: the Father, Jesus the Son, & the Holy Spirit have just declared "Game On!" with Jesus' public ministry via the baptism - and then who should show up coming after Jesus? If the devil showed up to tempt Jesus, don't you think he might try to show up in our lives when we are starting something big in our faith walk? Fortunately, Jesus gives us all the answers we need in chapter 4 to thwart the devil's attacks.
Chapter 4 verse 4 I believe is one of the most important verses for us to commit to memory in all of the Bible: "But Jesus told him, "No! The Scriptures say, `People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.'" (NLT). Or, you might recognize this verse a bit better in NIV format: "Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” This is such a powerful spiritual truth that Jesus is conveying - we will not live full and true lives if we live simply on bread alone. We need spiritual nourishment - food - from every Word of God. Where do we get this Word of God? You got it - the Bible. And note that Jesus says "every" word of God. This means the whole Bible is spiritual food for us. All of it. Not just the parts we like the best. :) We can learn something and be nourished by even the long genealogies! Seriously. So - I want to applaud you for going through the One Year Bible - you will be getting nourishment from "every" Word of God this year! Below is an oil painting by Juan De Flandes from 1504 - (he actually painted this piece for Queen Isabella of Spain's private altar at that time):
One other important point to make in Matthew 4:4 and the 2 other temptations in this chapter. We see the devil tempting Jesus with things that may look enticing to Jesus or to us. But they are lies. And note - this is important - how Jesus fends off the devil's temptations and lies - by quoting Scripture! Jesus knew Scripture (well, yes, technically He is Scripture...:) The point is this. I do believe that we need to do more than just read the Bible. We need to memorize many portions of the Bible to protect us when the devil is attacking. If we have Scripture memorized, when we are tempted, we can quickly call to mind a verse or two that will bring us back into right state of mind - focusing back on God: the Father, Jesus the Son, & the Holy Spirit and their love and strength available through the Holy Spirit. If we don't have Scripture memorized, as Jesus clearly did in this chapter, we are at risk of falling prey to the deception and lies of the temptation. So - I am mostly preaching this to myself! :) But, I really want to do more memorization of Scripture this year. I have several verses down - but not enough. Proverbs 3:5-6 certainly comes to mind for me often when I am worried or stressed and it transforms my state of mind immediately! What can you apply in your life today based on how Jesus rebuked the devil's temptations?
Very important to note is what happened when Jesus rebuked the devil's temptations with Scripture, the Word of God, in verse 11: "Then the Devil went away." Amen to that! :)
Bible.org's commentary on our readings today in Matthew titled "The Baptism of Jesus" is at this link, "The Temptation of Jesus, Part 1" is at this link, "Satan's "Leap of Faith"" is at this link, and "The Third Temptation of Jesus" is at this link.
Luke: Today we read about the temptation of Jesus in Luke. This is a powerful narrative for each of us to consider. We all obviously face temptations in our life. Jesus faced temptations as well. The difference of course is that Jesus did not give into the temptations. He did not sin. I love the fact that Jesus combated the devil's temptations with the Word of God, the Bible. We each would do well to pay attention to how powerful the Word is in thwarting the devil's temptations of us today. Here's a very amazing image I found below, with a look at Jesus being tempted by the devil. Check out the cloud of temptation above him... the devil. Ever feel this cloud of temptation hovering above you? I know I have... And I know that faith in Jesus, calling upon Jesus' name, and bringing to mind the Word of God in times of darkness & temptation can send this cloud away from us!
Bob Deffinbaugh at Bible.org has 4 great commentaries on the temptation of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke at this link, and at this link, and at this link, and at this link. And his look at verses 14 through 30 in Luke chapter 4 titled "On Prophets and Popularity" is at this link.
Worship God: I mention the Gospel of John movie in my comments above. Here's the first half of the movie, below. If you click on the link below, it looks like you can watch the entire movie on YouTube if you'd like.
Do you know the Word? Click here for the Word made flesh!
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!