Monday, April 24, 2017

Sermon on John 20:19-31, for the 2nd Sunday of Easter, Quasimodo Geniti (1 Year Lectionary), "Confessing Thomas!"

Sermon Outline, expanded: 
**Church Trivia--the Latin name for "Quasimodo Geniti" Sunday comes from the words of the Introit: "Like newborn... (babes crave pure spiritual milk)" (1 Peter 1)--and the character in the novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" was named "Quasimodo" because he was abandoned at the church on that Sunday, and the priest gave the name.**

  1. On Easter evening, what still trapped the disciples? Fear. John 20:19? What did Jesus’ words, actions, and presence bring to the hearts and minds of the troubled disciples? Peace. John 20:19-20. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you…not as the world gives…” (John 16)
  2. When Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples, what did He empower them to do? Forgive sins (of the repentant), withhold forgiveness (from the unrepentant) John 20:21-23. How does the church still do this publicly today? Matthew 16:19; 18:18. When does it happen in the worship service? Confession and absolution, start of service. Why are ministers of Christ authorized to speak this message? By Christ’s authority, spoken in John 20. Do they have independent authority to change the terms of His forgiveness? No! Can only mirror the forgiveness that Christ has already won. Mouthpieces to announce His forgiveness to all who turn from sin, and to call to repentance those who do not. When is the forgiveness of sins to be “withheld” or “bound?” When a person does not confess their sin before God. 1 John 1:8-10. For what reason? To bring them back to repentance so that they may finally be forgiven.
  3. Thomas was tested whether he would believe the report of the resurrection of Jesus, without having seen it. The other disciples had already seen, had a leg up on him. Often called “doubting Thomas”—which unfortunately highlights his lowest point—but if we were to focus on the apex of his faith, in just a few verses later, he might be called “Confessing Thomas!” or “Believing Thomas!” But Thomas experience helps us because  Thomas was stuck where many other people are stuck—can’t believe in the resurrection of the body. Now if a doubter or skeptic believes that—it’s not unusual, because it goes against our senses. Everything we see is that death is a one-way street. But just how far are you willing to take that? Is it an unshakeable belief? Nothing can challenge that? There is no life after death; no one can ever rise from the dead? Free to live that way, but have to ignore the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. The testimonies of many eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15 list!).
  4. Or, what about skepticism about believing the testimony of others? How skeptical are you willing to be? No one is consistently an unrelenting skeptic of everything that they haven’t seen or experienced with their own senses, or else you’d have to deny everything known about the past, anywhere and anytime, and about things, places, and events you’ve never seen for yourself.  Everyone has a threshold of evaluating what has compelling evidence to believe it.
  5.  How did Thomas and Jesus both measure how he did on this test? John 20:25, 27. Thomas: I will never believe. Jesus: do not disbelieve! How was his unbelief transformed into real, living, confessing faith? John 20:27-28. Saw the nail marks and spear wound—“Jesus’ credentials to suffering humanity” (see Jesus of the Scars poem…) and knew this was the very same Jesus who had been crucified and died on the tree. Knew that no fraud had been perpetrated on him, and there was only one thing to say: “My Lord and My God!” Only God could defeat death—doubt transformed to faith.
  6. How does this encounter address the claims of some that the resurrection is just an “idea” or a “spiritual hope”, but doesn’t have to do with real history, and whether or not Jesus actually came out of His grave? Had to be living, in the flesh, heart pumping, lungs breathing, brain waves moving…real living resurrection, or it’s all a lie and hopeless. Why  does this show that it is essential that Jesus actually was alive again? A dead Jesus forgives no sins! A dead Jesus saves no one! What hopes and doctrines would all be lost and shattered if Christ were not raised? 1 Corinthians 15. No rescue from sin or death.
  7. Why must faith avoid the opposite extremes of, on the one hand, gullibility and believing everything uncritically, and on the other hand, being skeptical of everything and unable to believe anything you didn’t see for yourself? Bible encourages “healthy skepticism” to not be deceived or taken in by clever teachers, but to test everything. Tells us to be wise, mature, reasoned. Does not  encourage gullibility or naiveté. How do we find the right “middle?” Who is at the center of faith’s “target?”  Jesus Christ, the Risen Son of God, and the faithful testimony of the eyewitnesses. John 20:28-31. All of John’s Gospel points to the importance of believing in Jesus Christ so that we may have eternal life and be saved.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sermon on Job 19:23-27, Easter Sunday, "I Know that My Redeemer Lives!"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The book of Job is a remarkable book that is like a magnificent mountain range of great peaks and valleys worthy of deep reflection and exploration. Job was tormented by horrible suffering, having lost all of his children in a single day, all of his servants were killed by raiders, and he lost all his flocks and herds. As if that were not enough, he was then inflicted with painful sores all over his body, from head to foot. The book as a whole answers Satan’s jeering question, of “Why do the righteous serve God?” and the closely related concern of “How can the righteous trust in God in the midst of suffering?” While Job is by no means a perfect example of a believer bearing up under their sufferings and still trusting in God—he is certainly one of the most remarkable examples in the Bible. And our Old Testament reading from Job 19 has everything to do with the reason why. If the book of Job is a complex mountain range with great peaks of wisdom throughout it—then these verses in chapter 19 are one of the highest and most glorious peaks of all. In these verses Job confesses a faith that resonates down through more than 3,000 years of history till today, expressing his highest faith in God as our Redeemer, and the promise of the Resurrection.
Job’s faith was truly a “resurrection faith”, because he embraced promises of God that were miraculously and wondrously fulfilled the first Easter morning, many generations after his own death, because “Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!” After all he suffered, Job’s undying hope was “I know that my Redeemer lives!” He longs for these words to be immortalized in stone forever—but better than any monument, His faith rings down through the millennia to us today, and continues to inspire hope in the midst of suffering. Even inspiring a young Samuel Medley to write the famous hymn, by the same name. Those words have been written on the hearts of hundreds upon hundreds of generations of believers, long after any stone monument would have faded. In the midst of whatever trials, struggles, losses or grief you personally carry—cling to your Living Redeemer, Jesus Christ! He lives, He lives who once was dead! If no other help comes than this—that we are redeemed from the grave, that is a marvelous, sweet, and comforting sentence, that “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth.
The word “redeemer” has a rich background in the Old Testament. It’s the Hebrew word goel. In the book of Ruth, Jesus’ ancestor Boaz is a “kinsman-redeemer” to Ruth and Naomi. In other words, he’s a family relative who bore the responsibility of rescuing them out of their distress. In the Psalms and Proverbs, a redeemer is defined as someone who “takes up the cause” or “pleads the cause” of someone in need. A redeemer is strong and able to speak up for the defenseless—to advocate and help them. To “redeem” their life. “Redeem” also means to “buy back” something. To purchase someone’s freedom—either by relieving a debt or burden, or by freeing them from slavery.
Jesus fills all these descriptions and more—and Jesus is the Redeemer that Job longed for. The Redeemer who would set his feet on the dust of the earth, in the end. Job looked forward to “my Redeemer”—one who could take up his cause, who could redeem his life from this suffering and misery. Jesus redeemed us from the curse and power of sin when He bore that awful burden on the tree of the cross. His suffering, dying breaths, His precious blood bleeding out, His priceless words of love, forgiveness, and truth, were all emptied out, poured out, as the costly price of our redemption. He paid the price in full—payable on death, to redeem us from sin and death. But His death did not go down in defeat; rather 3 days proved His victory, because Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! And you are redeemed by His blood, same as Job.
Earlier in the book Job repeatedly cries out that God is tormenting him with all these troubles—and repeatedly expresses his longing that God were a man, that he could speak to him. For there to be an arbiter or mediator—a person who could fairly hear and advocate for Job. He is sure that he has a witness in heaven who will stand up for him—someone to testify on his behalf. In all these longings, we and Job together receive our answer in Jesus Christ. Long after Job, Jesus came down to earth, to be the mediator between God and man, our defense attorney or advocate, who stands for us. All of our sin and guilt is laid upon Him, and His righteousness testifies in our defense. Look to your Redeemer for deliverance, and pray to Him as your Mediator!
Job continues to proclaim his “resurrection faith” with these words: “And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” Job looks far beyond his present suffering to the hope that his Redeemer gives—that even after his body has entered the grave and decayed—yet in his own flesh, He will see God. In other words, Job is confessing our same Easter faith in the resurrection of the body. The body that rises to live before God, and the eyes with which we will see Him, will be our own, and not another’s! A glorious and healed body—free of sickness, pain, suffering, and death—but your own body nonetheless! You won’t be given some stranger’s body, but with your own eyes you will see God.
Sadly, for a variety of reasons, sometimes people “hate” their bodies—or at least they think or say things like that. Whether for health reasons, or self-esteem reasons, or because of some injury, emotional or physical to the body—some people actually regard their body as a trouble or problem. But this is not how we ought to think! Whatever flaws or imperfections we have or think we have in our bodies, are not even going to be a memory in heaven. In whatever marvelous way that God brings it about—you will be the perfectly restored new creation in Christ’s own image—but very much yourself. And there will be nothing to “hate” or dislike about our bodies; nothing weak or infirm; but we will enjoy all the goodness and fullness of the physical life and creation that God will make anew—yet without the fear and horror of sin. We can rejoice in our new bodies, living past this veil of tears in the joy and feasting of heaven.
On that first Easter morning, the fears and horrors of what the disciples of Jesus had just witnessed on Good Friday were all fresh in their minds. While some hid in fear, others, mostly the women and John, we know for sure, kept watch over the gory scene of Jesus’ death. Here was a man, truly more righteous than Job, suffering untold pain and agony—all unjustly. For no crime that He committed, with no lie in His mouth or sins upon His hands, Jesus was suffering, dying on the cross. How much more than Job, was Jesus the Righteous Sufferer? And all those fresh memories, searing with pain and grief, were in the minds of the women as they tearfully went to the tomb of Jesus, to pay what honor they could to their fallen teacher; their beloved brother, Lord, and Master.
And what a shock and astonishment to be greeted at the tomb, where His body was supposed to be laying in peaceful rest—to find it empty, and an angel sitting beside! “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.” With complete shock and disbelief, the women ran in fear—because this was incredible news! News that was so incredible, it took some time to sink in. Sometimes I don’t think we don’t account for the sheer shock that they experienced, humanly speaking, before they saw the risen Jesus and began to believe this wonderful, astonishing news. But the clouds of fear and the horrible memories dispersed soon enough, as it dawned on them that Jesus had really kept His promise to die, and be raised up.
We gather this Easter, some 2,000 years later. And at least 3,000 plus years later than Job. And we’re joined with saints of ages past, and saints all across earth below, who are united in this holy and profound faith, that confesses “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth.” We’re united by a faith that serves God—not because of the ease or the rewards in this life—for often there may be suffering and crosses instead. But a faith that serves God because of the confidence that we have a living Redeemer, an advocate, mediator, or defender—one who stands in our defense, and redeems our life. One who secures our redemption, not just for this short life, but for eternity. We’re united with Job and saints above and on earth below, by the faith that confesses Jesus—knowing that God is indeed good, and has interceded for our sins so that we can stand as righteous before Him. Our faith serves God, not because we can earn His approval or favor, not because we will get some guarantee of wealth or ease of life—but because through thick or thin, through blessing or sorrow—this sentence never fails us: “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
It’s a sentence that was never born from wishful thinking or a life out of touch with reality, but a sentence that was forged by a solemn trust in God even in the midst of terrible sufferings. A solemn trust built by God’s own grace and promises, that taught Job to trust God whether he received good or evil from God’s hand. When we confess those same words, “I know that my Redeemer lives”, we set our eyes on Jesus, who physically rose and walked from His own grave and death, and stood up, alive upon the earth, in the witness and eyesight of not only the apostles and women, but on various occasions up to 500 people. It is a sentence that has not been eroded or erased by the sands of time, but is inscribed on living hearts forever as a solid confession of faith in Jesus. He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed, Alleuluia! Amen. 

Sermon Talking Points
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  1. Though many people focus on the element of suffering in the book of Job, God ultimately doesn’t answer the “why” of suffering in the book. However, that suffering serves to display a question that is explored by the book—“Why do the righteous serve God?” and therefore also “How can they trust Him in the midst of sufferings?” What faith does Job confess in Job 19:25?
  2. What losses had Job experienced in chapters 1-2?
  3. Why is the faith he confesses in Job 19:25-27 a profound expression of faith both in God, and in the resurrection of the body? How does he describe this hope he confesses? What does that say to us about the future state of our body, after death, and our experience of seeing/being with God?
  4. In the Bible, what is the role of a “redeemer” (Hebrew: goel)? Proverbs 23:11; Lamentations 3:58; Psalm 119:154. Hint: what do they  “plead” or “take up?” See also the book of Ruth, and the character of Boaz.
  5. Job 19:25 is one of a series of passages in the book that cry out for there to be a mediator/redeemer/arbiter/witness etc, that Job could appeal to, or argue his case with, or that would defend him. Job 5:9; 9:32-35; 10:4-5; 13:15-18; 14:7-17; 16:18-22; 19:23-27; 33:23-28. Why is it so important to Job that he have a man that he can speak to? What “cause” of Job, is he confident this redeemer will take up?
  6. How is Job’s hope and longing wondrously fulfilled in Christ? Galatians 4:5; Titus 2:14. How did “my Redeemer” stand upon the earth?
  7. In Job 19:26-27 he graphically describes what will happen to his body when he enters the grave, but also how it will be restored. What questions does this answer about our resurrection? Cf. 1 Cor. 15:35ff

Monday, April 10, 2017

Sermon on Philippians 2:5-11, for Palm Sunday, "The Mindset of Christ"

Sermon outline and talking points:

·         Many passages show Christ as “servant.” Mark 10:42-45—last and servant of all, ransom for many. John 13, washing feet. 2 Cor. 8:9, rich, became poor. Or the humility, lowliness and simplicity vs. His hidden glory and worthiness—birth in manger,  no place to lay His head, donkey entering Jerusalem. But at the cross, humble obedience is clearest.

·         In our everyday world—rank, wealth, power, or birth convey certain advantages or privileges. Owners and CEOs of big businesses don’t do low or menial tasks. Kings and presidents are honored, paraded, and red carpet is rolled out. Don’t usually see people do things that are “beneath them.”

·         Moments of lavish honor paid to Jesus: gifts of Magi, anointing by perfume/oil/tears, Palm Sunday processional, expensive myrrh and spices for burial. Never refused, but never demanded or expected. Accepted humble hospitality, and demanded no high privilege or treatment. Did not consider even death “beneath Him”—but humbly obeyed.

·         Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus  Jesus’ mindset, an attitude—shaping all His actions. Clearest display at the cross. For Christ, then also for us, have this mindset: ”who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

·         We are to imitate—not His divinity, but His mindset: not regarding His equality with God something to be held over others, or that everything was beneath Him. Of course everything was beneath Him, as He was God! But didn’t live like it. Became a servant, a man. Did what was needed without thought or regard to His importance, as real as it was.

·         Whether real or pretended importance—what is our attitude when an act of service is needed? When a Christian response is called for? Maybe little or no honor or recognition attached. Maybe unpleasant or dirty work. What attitude? Beneath us? Protest? Yes, but a chip? Grumbling? What about humble obedience? Joyful and willing service? No thought of honor, recognition or reward? Simple contentment to help, serve, see someone blessed, or the intangible reward of seeing the joy, relief, comfort, etc of the person who needs that help?

·         Mindset of Christ not just about “service” or “volunteerism”, but what He accomplished. “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” He wore the servant’s form, the human form, because it was necessary for Him to die. Could not die as an “unclothed” spirit. Had to enter flesh, become like us in every way, except without sin. The “down and dirty work” that required Jesus’ willing, humble obedience—becoming sin for us, that we might become the righteousness… bear betrayal, false accusation, hatred, scourging, stripping, crown of thorns, mocking, spitting, striking, nailing, thirsting, dying. His mindset of humility, obedience, love, greater than any nails that held Him to the cross—pure determination to bear the full cost of sin that everyone of us could be forgiven. Not our sins only, but the whole world. So we would receive a priceless gift.

·         Worldly mindset—boast, show off, propel yourself or climb to the top, demand your rights, don’t settle for less than your supposed importance or privilege demands. We see how God rewards this attitude: “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Mindset of Christ—total obedience to God without protest, accept what was given, do the greater good for mankind.

·         “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” God’s highest honor is to raise Jesus to the highest position with a name over all others, to receive the worship of all, and that all would confess His name for salvation, the whole world through, above, and under. This brings glory to God Himself, to have His Son honored, in the same, but lesser way that parents are greatly honored when their children win awards. End trajectory of history—this confession: “Jesus Christ is Lord” will be undeniable. Every person at last will admit it. Salvation for all who believe and confess it by faith! It’s the gift brought by the mindset of Christ—His life given to save ours!

Sermon Talking Points

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  1. In Philippians 2:5 Paul tells them to “have this mind…which is yours in Christ Jesus.” He’s urging them to the mindset of Christ—“think this way”. Paul uses similar words to talk about a Christian mindset or way of thinking in 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 2:2; 3:19 (a contrast); 4:8. Why does the Christian “mindset” or way of thinking seek after harmony? What does it focus on, and what does it avoid?
  2. This “mindset of Christ” is shown by certain specific actions of Jesus. Where is this most clearly shown? Philippians 2:6-8. Why were Jesus’ actions at the cross so unusual and amazing for a person of His authority, identity, and power?
  3. How does this “Gospel deed” of Christ’s humble, obedient death for us, transform our hearts and minds to His mindset? What acts of service might we be called to do? What attitude will shape how we conduct ourselves?
  4. In Philippians 2:6, it says that Jesus was equal with God, but in verse 7, what form did He take? Was death beneath His dignity? Why did He submit to it anyway? 1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 12:2.
  5. Jesus’ humble, suffering death became the way that God raised Him up to the highest honor. He took the lowest place so that we could be raised up (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9). Why does this idea of lowering ourselves, or becoming a servant, go so much against the grain of our human nature? Mark 10:42-45. What do we see as the way to greatness? How does Jesus contradict this?
  6. One day every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. It will be undeniable. This fulfills a prophecy of Isaiah 45:21-25.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Sermon on John 8:46-59, for the 5th Sunday in Lent, Judica (Judge), "Vindicate Me"

Sermon Outline
  • Judica Sunday—Introit: Vindicate me against the ungodly, deceitful, and unjust. Ironically, the most truthful and only innocent man (Jesus) also needs vindication. Truth and uprightness don’t stop slander from coming against the innocent. Jesus also appeals to God as Judge…was He promoting His own glory, or God’s? Telling the truth? Unjust accusations against Him. “God, be Judge!”
  • “The words of God” and “truth” interchangeable here. Dividing line—two sides of humanity—hear and believe vs. don’t hear and don’t believe. Keep vs. reject. Believe and have life vs. hate Jesus, seek His death.
  • Jesus’ words and bold confrontation make it impossible to remain undecided as to who He is. Fall down on the side of Truth or error. Cannot long waver between two opinions.
  • On the side of error: can’t bear His Word, follow the devil’s lying and murderous desires, enraged by His teaching. These were supposedly religious people…claiming they were children of Abraham! Words and actions proved otherwise. Calling yourself “religious” is no guard against rebelling against Jesus’ words.
  • Why such a reaction? “The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12-13). Jesus lays bare the thoughts of our heart by His Truth. No one wants to feel naked and exposed before the eyes of God’s judgment. Adam and Eve—hid behind fig leaves. Cain—hid behind sullenness, anger, and excuses. Pharisees hid behind ancestry of Abraham, their supposed good works. No hiding place can hide us from God’s Word. His truth pierces to the innermost recesses and secrets of our hearts. If we are determined to say we have no sin, we will only deceive ourselves and make ourselves miserable trying to make an impossible defense to God who knows better.
  • Are we lying to ourselves? Hiding our sin? Or rejecting the freedom and truth that is given to us by the Son? Why not accept the truth instead, by confessing our sin, and receiving His forgiveness, His defense and covering for our sin and nakedness?
  • At the piercing end of God’s Word, that sharp two-edged sword, we might cry out in pain—“God, you’re killing me!” And we might double take when He answers, “Yes, I must kill in order to make alive.” God must put our sin to death, so that we can be made alive with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is how Jesus can promise them, “If you keep my word, you will never see death.” But when we see that Jesus wields the sword of His Truth for our own good, to kill and to make alive, then we need not be afraid.
  • Pastor Harrison’s remark—first commandments are the big ones. They were not worshipping the true God, but manufacturing their own. Dishonoring Jesus, calling His work evil. They could not receive Him as God’s Son. Hard to imagine, He as a man, was greater than Abraham or the prophets.
  • Jesus showed their supposed respect for Abraham and the prophets was a sham. Would have rejoiced like Abraham to see Jesus, the promised Savior. Would have believed the prophecies that pointed to Jesus.
  • Clincher—trying to dismiss Jesus as a presumptuous teacher: “too young to have seen Abraham”—Jesus replies, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Unmistakable claim of divinity and eternity—Jesus directly uses the name or self-identifier that God speaks to Moses from the burning bush. Jesus raises the stakes all the way to the max, and there’s no sitting neutral toward Him after this. Jesus is saying, I AM He, the same God whom Abraham and Moses worshipped. The God who brought Israel out of Egypt, when your ancestors dwelled in tents in the wilderness. The very festival you are celebrating. Enraged them. Blasphemy? Stones. Want execution with no proof or just trial, foreshadowing the crucifixion.
  • Jesus demonstrates that His claim is true, not false, as they had no proof that He had sinned or spoken anything but the truth. He also says He must admit that He knows God, or else He would be lying. Not pride or arrogance, but the truth. Later, by His death and resurrection, He provided conclusive evidence that He was the Son of God, and had power over death, just as He claimed.
  • Are we ready to hear the Word, believe the Word, and keep the Word? This is only possible by the Holy Spirit at work in us. We cannot respond to the Word except as the Holy Spirit empowers us. To do so is to gladly have His truth expose our hearts, and set us free, as He taught just a few verses earlier—“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” It’s to rejoice at Jesus, the true Son of God, the Great I AM, who has defeated sin and death so that if we believe in Him, we will have eternal life. It’s to rejoice that Jesus did all this, not seeking His own glory, but the glory of the Father, which He did by dying on the cross, humbly becoming obedient to death, to secure forgiveness and life for all of us. God the Father glorified Jesus and vindicated Him, by raising Him from the dead. We began by talking about Judica Sunday, and those words of the Introit, a prayer for God to vindicate or judge him innocent against the accusations of the deceitful and ungodly. And in the end, God did just that for Jesus. He judged that Jesus was innocent, and upheld Jesus’ true claim, that all He was doing was for the Father’s glory and our good. Because Jesus is the great I AM, and in His resurrection life, we have forgiveness of sins and new life. And by His Spirit we keep His Word, believing in the Great I AM until one day He delivers those who keep His Word, into eternal life In His Name, Amen.

Sermon Talking Points
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  1. The setting for John chapters 7-8 is the “Feast of Tabernacles” (a tabernacle is a tent or booth). It was one of the 3 major holidays of the Old Testament calendar, and commemorated God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and how they lived in tents in the wilderness (Leviticus 23:39-44).
  2. Why were they unable to hear and believe His Words? John 8:39-47. How were they breaking the first and second commandments? How did they accuse Jesus of breaking the same commandments, and what did they try to do, because of it? John 8:47-59.
  3. Why is Jesus’ innocence, and their inability to convict Him of any sin, (John 8:46), so central to Jesus’ story? Isaiah 53:9; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:21-24. What did His innocence gain for us?
  4. Whose glory was Jesus seeking, and whose was He not seeking? John 8:50, 54. How would Jesus glorify the Father? Who would glorify Jesus? John 13:31-33; 17:1-3.
  5. There are three responses to God’s Word/the Truth, that Jesus describes for us in John 8, and they are three verbs. What are they? Vs. 46-47, 51. What is the result of this Spirit-directed response to God’s Word? v. 51
  6. The Jews could not believe that Jesus was greater than Abraham or the prophets, who, while uniquely blessed by God, was still a mortal man and a sinner. How did Jesus show that He is greater than Abraham in both ways? What astonishing claim did Jesus make in relation to His own existence and knowledge of Abraham? John 8:55-58.
  7. What Divine Title did Jesus take upon Himself in 8:58, and how did this, and what He says in v. 54, make it absolutely clear that Jesus was claiming to be God? Cf. Exodus 3:14-15. What did the Jews correctly understand was the penalty for a human falsely  claiming to be God? What did Jesus do to prove that His claim was true? John 20, esp. v. 28