Sunday, April 1, 2012

On 4-8-12 John 20:1-10, 19-20 will be our Adult Sunday School/Uniform Series/International Sunday School Lesson, herein is my commentary. This lesson is known by some as The Living Word aka Jesus Lives.

The Living Word
Jesus Lives
John 20:1-10, 19-20
International Sunday School Lesson
April 8, 2012

Jed Greenough

How long have you “known” Jesus?  Do you remember how you came to faith?  How do you think that happened? 

Today because I read all the corresponding scriptures in Matthew, Mark and Luke I have an overwhelming need to talk of the general message but what I won’t do is concentrate on today’s chosen scripture except in this general way.

The idea of people believing in Jesus is more what I want you to think about.  Do you concern yourself with the spreading of the gospel perhaps spurred on at Easter?  Do you worry about people you have taught or witnessed to and people that you have seen make the profession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing they might have life in His name?

In all the accounts in the Bible of Christ’s resurrection and subsequent appearances we see a lack of understanding of what had occurred with Jesus.  Though He had told them and others that He would suffer and die but later arise their first thought still was that someone had physically taken His body away.

In John 20:2 we read that Mary Magdalene told Peter and John that, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”  In verse 9 we read after seeing the empty tomb, “They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.”

In Luke 24:25 we can read of certain disciples hearing these words from the risen Christ, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken!  Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?”

Further along in Luke 24 these disciples revealed their account to the Eleven and those with them when Jesus again appeared.  They thought they were seeing a ghost and had doubts prompting Christ to say, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?”

You believe in Jesus, these people knew Him.  They were taught by Him and ate with Him.  Some probably were with Him 24 hours a day and had been for quite some time but still there were doubts, but yet you believe, blessed are you.

Jesus after talking to a doubting disciple named of course Thomas said in John 20:29, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

So again how did you come to believe?  How do others come to believe a message of our God allowing Himself to be a sacrifice for the world, killed on a cross but arising from the dead 3 days later?

You see how those who knew Him reacted to seeing Him.  You read of those who had seen and heard this miraculous conclusion to a story that started with Christ on the cross but yet expect people who only hear the story at Easter to believe today.  They only hear the end story and the rest of the time quite often it is something else they hear.

Belief is the key word here.  How many attending some great meeting in a stadium came forward after the sermon while many stayed behind.  Similarly how many have done it after a stirring sermon at church?  There is a reason I say that John 3:16 is the most “dangerous” verse in the Bible and it is this word belief and in this instance believes.

For many there is a lack of understanding because there is more to the word than what appears on the surface.  Just as there is with much of the Greek language there are specific nuances with the words so let’s take a look at this word “believes”.

That word in John 3:16 in Greek is pisteuō which according to the Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance means “to believe, put one’s faith in, trust with an implication that actions based on that trust may follow.”

You see there is a faith that involves commitment here folks and how many people that have walked forward share more in common with those that stayed behind in that they have no commitment at all?  Further there is another thing that many would rather not discuss found in this book of John.  Beginning with John 6:25 the teaching to the following disciples becomes more involved and the grumbling begins.  In verse 64-65 Christ says, “Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”  (Yep, it is that same Greek word; they had no real commitment to Christ) “He went on to say, “This is why I told you (in verses 37 and 44) that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled Him.”

Not everyone believes, even those who really knew Christ doubted the story of His resurrection and it is most likely that not everyone who comes forward has been enabled nor are they committed.

For those that God enabled Jesus convinced them of His identity and therefore in His resurrection and your job is similar.  You can’t know those He has enabled but you can treat everyone the same.  That is what John did with writing the book that we are now studying.  In 20:30-31 we read, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”  He wrote it for all to read, those the Father has enabled and those He has not.  But to those that truly believe (pisteuō) He will give eternal life.”

Let’s put it one final way, only those who have faith understand.  I wonder what faith means in Greek. The word is Pistis meaning:  belief, trust, with an implication that actions based on that trust may follow!  Same definition!

So it is good to be spurred on to share the gospel at Easter afresh.  It is reasonable to consider those you teach and witness to and those who have made a profession but  be sure you are doing as John did and tell the whole story not just the end story and leave the enabling to the Father.  But remember Romans 10:14-15

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can they preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Preach, teach, live a life of belief/faith that tells the whole story of the gospel.  That is what your listeners need to hear and see.  Keep the message on Jesus and the commitment to those He enables will preclude you from having to share a gospel the rest of the year that isn’t really the gospel at all.  This is a vital part of your pisteuō not just at Easter but always.

For Discussion:

1.      Read the parallel accounts in Matthew 28, Mark 16, and Luke 24 and discuss them.
2.      I see a relationship to their personalities in how John stopped at the entrance and Peter rushed in, do you?
3.      Discussed the cloth that was folded up by itself.
4.      Discuss the importance of verse 19’s, “the doors locked for fear of the Jews”. 
5.      Do we metaphorically have our doors locked?
6.      Discuss the change that came over the disciples after this.
7.      Discuss how much of our churches’ message is the delivery of a social gospel instead of the entirety of Christ’s story.
8.      In this electronic age, if your church is strong in sharing the gospel can you come up with ideas to impress upon your brothers and sisters in other churches the importance of the need?

Upcoming Adult Sunday School Class Commentaries

4-15-12:  Cleansing the Temple (Temple is Cleansed) John 2:13-22
4-22-12:  Woman of Samaria (Samaritan Woman Finds Living Water) John 4:7-15, 23-26, 28-30 or John 4:7-15, 21-30
4-29-12:  Healing the Blind Man (Blind Man Receives Sight) John 9:1-17
5-6-12:    The Bread of Life John 6:22-35

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved

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