As 2016 gets underway, RT Kendall urges Christians of all denominations and backgrounds to commit to a Bible reading plan
Source: How much do you read your Bible?
As 2016 gets underway, RT Kendall urges Christians of all denominations and backgrounds to commit to a Bible reading plan
Source: How much do you read your Bible?
We have finally reached the end of our year of Daily Readings. I don’t know about you but I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Thankyou if you have read any of the notes and my prayer is that many will have begun a great habit of reading the Bible every day. Our prayer has always been that people will start to read the Bible and apply it to their lives.
After a lot of thought and prayer I have decided not to continue with daily notes in 2016 for a number of reasons but mostly it’s because I have other responsibilities and I feel it’s time to give them a bit more attention. We do plan to run a couple series of Bible notes, possibly running up to Easter and Christmas etc. through 2016.
If you like the idea of daily readings there are a number available;
I’ve been really encouraged by the response so thank you to all of the guest contributors (all of whom are very busy and have made time to do them) and of course the readers without whom it would be a pointless exercise. Most of all we should thank the Lord for giving us the Bible, it’s such a precious gift.
Come and dine. It’s a quote from the King James Version but it has more of a ring to it than the (more accurate) NIV’s ‘Come and have breakfast’. I know this was covered by Jackie yesterday but it does lead in to the conversation between Jesus and Peter. Jesus invited a failure to eat with him. It’s was a big deal to eat together in ancient times and there are a number of disputes in the New Testament as to who should eat together. Jesus’ invitation to Peter rings out across the centuries to other failures like me and perhaps you;
‘But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”’ (Luke 15:2)
Come and serve. Jesus had a plan for Peter even before he had denied his Lord (Luke 22:31-32). He instructed Peter three times to care for his sheep (21:15, 16, 17). There was work to be done and Peter had responsibilities and needed to put all of the training Jesus had given into practise. I think we can easily become absorbed with our own issues but Jesus’ method with Peter was to challenge him to follow in his Lord’s footsteps and serve others. It’s a basic principal of the Church of Jesus.
Come and die. Jesus explained to Peter what following him would mean. It would cost Peter his life. Peter’s response was to ask about John; what would happen to him? Jesus patiently drew Peter back to what really mattered; following. Jesus never promised that it would be easy but he promised that it would be worth it. The same goes for us, following Jesus is unlikely to cost your life as it may for our brothers and sisters in some parts of the world but it may cost you a job or a relationship. Paul, who knew something about suffering for the Gospel wrote in Romans 8:18;
‘I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.’
Let us pray that we will truly follow Jesus in 2016, may his Spirit guide our actions and may we bring glory to the Father.
May God bless you in the coming year and please keep reading the Bible.
‘Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.’ (2 Peter 2:2-3)
Guest contributor today – Jackie Lewis!
In considering this passage, I am reminded of numerous camping trips with my family where Phil and our three son-in-law’s have gone fishing – apparently to bring back some wonderful fresh fish for us to cook. On a number of these occasions they have come back empty handed and we have cooked pasta! Phil reminds me that they went ‘fishing’ not ‘catching.’ You can feel the disappointment as they return! In this passage we also learn about a return with no fish, but more unusual, as they are experienced fishermen who had earned their living in this way and not amateurs. I think they knew exactly where to fish and what bait to use.
I wonder if they had felt at a loss and so had returned to their old way of life, uncertain of what to do, doing something familiar. The passage tells us there were seven of them. Or were they following Jesus’ instruction. This is in the region of Galilee – Jesus had previously said to them;
“But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” (Mark 14:28).
They had fished through the night as before and yet as we have thought caught nothing. Jesus knew exactly where they were and I’ve no doubt knew exactly how they were feeling; maybe tired, wet, hungry and despondent. We see here the resurrected Jesus is standing on the shore, calling out to them, but they did not initially recognise him. This is now the third occasion where Jesus appears to the disciples following his resurrection (in the Gospel of John), he showed up at their place of work. Jesus directs their next steps and meets them exactly where they are.
‘He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some”. When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.”’
Jesus made a strange suggestion to His disciples. There was no logical reason why fishing in the morning light would be better than fishing at night, or why fishing on one side of the boat would be better than the other side. It wasn’t even directly a test of trust in Jesus, because they did not know it was him until the fish were caught. I don’t know why they followed the instruction but we know they did, and it’s a miraculous success beyond anything they might have expected. Jesus is always able to do so much more than we can imagine or expect. I wonder if they were immediately reminded of a previous miracle a time when the net was broken and the boat began to sink, (see Luke 5:1-11) because they immediately realise who it is:
‘Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.’
I love the way Peter responds here, his eagerness, he jumps straight in and rushes to get to Jesus, I need to be more like that.
I don’t know why it mentions there were 153 fish except that they were fishermen and when Phil and others have been successful in ‘catching’ they always want to talk numbers!
Jesus is ready, when they come to shore He already has the fire going and fish cooking, with bread at hand. He encourages them to bring some of the catch with them. Our risen Saviour again shows his humility, he has prepared the fire, he is preparing and serving the meal for his disciples before they even land the fish. The greatest miracle here is that Jesus seeks them out and wants to dine with them. Jesus is often seen eating with his disciples after his resurrection. This is a picture of intimacy and relationship.
“They ate the bread and fish that morning, I doubt not, in silent self- humiliation. Peter looked with tears in his eyes at that fire of coals, remembering how he stood and warmed himself when he denied his Master. Thomas stood there, wondering that he should have dared to ask such proofs of a fact most clear. All of them felt that they could shrink into nothing in his divine presence, since they had behaved so ill.” (Spurgeon from Enduring Word Media)
If Jesus asks us to do something, however strange it may seem we need to obey his Word, when Jesus is with us we will see the miraculous and the abundance of his grace ‘pressed down and running over’. Let’s pray that we will be as eager to spend time in his presence. He is with us in every situation and wants to have an intimate relationship with us, He wants to dine with us;
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Rev 3:20).
News of the resurrection had reached the disciples. It was wonderful news but surely some of them must have been nervous about seeing him again; they had let him down after all. They needn’t have worried, Jesus came, not with judgement, but with a greeting of peace (three times! 20:19, 20:21, 20:26).
The disciples were understandably afraid. The events of the previous week had been traumatic. Jesus greeting must have thrilled them, he was alive, it was true and just to make sure it was him; he showed them his hands and his side. It’s an incredible thought that in the beauty of heaven there is something manmade; the nail prints.
John did not record the Great Commission like Matthew but here we have it summed up in ten words from Jesus. “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus commissioned his disciples and by implication, all believers, to share the Good News with everyone. As I heard someone say; it isn’t the great suggestion.
Jesus didn’t expect the eleven to go off in their own strength; he equipped them with the Holy Spirit. He had told them about this on his last night and they would not receive the Spirit in his fullness until Pentecost but they certainly received a measure of the Spirit. In Luke we are told that Jesus; ‘opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures’ (Luke 24:45).
Verse 23 is difficult so here is what it says in Zondervan NIV Commentary;
‘God does not forgive people’s sins because we decide to do so, nor does he withhold forgiveness because we will not grant it. We announce it; we do not create it. This is the essence of salvation.’
One of the disciples, Thomas, was missing at Jesus’ first appearance to his disciples and he was extremely sceptical of their claim. I suppose it was understandable, he had witnessed Jesus being brutally tortured to death. But a week later Jesus made another appearance to the disciples and this time Thomas is present. It seems this appearance was just for Thomas and Jesus knew exactly what Thomas had said a week earlier. So he isn’t surprised when we have doubts. Jesus didn’t demand an apology, he met Thomas in his doubts; “Put your finger here; see my hands”. I feel a bit sorry for Thomas, forever labelled ‘Doubting Thomas’. He had shown a willingness to die for his Lord earlier (11:16) and according to tradition, died in India having travelled there so share the Gospel. He doesn’t sound like a doubter to me. Of course he doubted the truth of the resurrection but when he was confronted with the risen Christ, he uttered one of the greatest statements about Jesus; “My Lord and my God!” it sums up what John has been telling us for twenty chapters.
I’ve referred to verses 30-31 a number of times as we’ve journeyed through this Gospel. They are perhaps the keys verses in the account. They reveal John’s motivation;
‘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.’
The question is; do you believe? The evidence has been stacking up!
‘I believe in God our Father,
I believe in Christ the Son,
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
Our God is three in One.
I believe in the resurrection,
That we will rise again,
For I believe in the Name of Jesus.’ (Ben Fielding, Matt Crocker)
Jesus could have appeared to anyone, Nicodemus, Peter, John or any of the disciples. In fact it’s a good study to look at the people to whom Jesus did appear. But who saw him first and to whom did he entrust the most important message of all? That privilege went to a woman, Mary Magdalene
You have to love Mary, she had sat opposite the tomb when it was sealed (Matthew 27:61), she had arrived early before dawn to tend to the Lord’s body (20:1), and she had run to Peter and John with the news of the empty tomb (20:2). She must have then returned to the tomb, perhaps he couldn’t run as fast as Peter and John who was even faster but she must have made the journey because when they went home she stayed there and was outside the tomb weeping.
John doesn’t mention Mary looking into the tomb on her first visit but now having seen Peter and John enter she looked inside. She saw two angels sitting inside the tomb and they asked her why she was weeping. Mary’s response is heartfelt;
“They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him.”
She then noticed another figure there, who asked her the same question. Why didn’t she recognise that it was Jesus, possibly because she wasn’t expecting him to be alive and speaking to her and perhaps because she was weeping and couldn’t see him through the tears? I love Mary’s words here, she wanted to know where the body was so that she could ‘get him’, as with yesterday’s reading, Mary didn’t spend time planning exactly how she was going to achieve this.
One word brought clarity; ‘Mary’. Jesus called her by name and immediately she knew it was him. The evidence had been mounting up, the empty tomb, the angels and now a word from the Lord himself. Mary was the first person to realise that wonderful truth, Christ is risen! She was certainly not the last.
Understandably, she seems to have clung on to him but Jesus had a word of assurance; “I have not yet returned to the Father.” of course he would return to the Father but not yet. Jesus sent Mary to the disciples and there must have been great encouragement for them in his words. Remember they hadn’t exactly come through this experience walking by faith, they had failed but Jesus called them his brothers (20:17) that is amazing but not quite as amazing as him being unashamed of us and calling us his brothers and sisters.
‘So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.’ (Hebrews 2:11)
‘Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!’ (Bill Gaither)
There are a number of facts that prove the resurrection but two key things are; firstly Jesus being present with the disciples and secondly that his body was absent from the tomb and it’s the second one we will be thinking about today. The tomb was empty and it still is!
From the other Gospels we find that Mary Magdalene was not alone on that Sunday morning, she was accompanied by the other women but she is certainly very prominent in the resurrection accounts. She is one of my heroes in the Bible, when so many are failing, she just seems to be concentrating on Jesus. She had watched as he was buried and sat there watching the tomb after the stone was placed there (Matthew 27:61). Very early in the morning, before the dawn she was heading back to the tomb. From Mark we get that she was bringing spices to anoint the body. Had she slept at all? How was she going to remove the heavy stone that she had watched rolled over the entrance to the tomb? There were also the issues of the guards and the Roman Seal on the entrance. I suppose she was not one of those people that needed to have everything planned out before she moved, she went in faith not knowing how the hurdles would be overcome. One thing is clear; she had unfinished business with Jesus.
For the disciples we have to wonder about their collective state of mind. It’s obvious they were not exactly excited and counting down the hours until the resurrection. Interestingly, the religious authorities did take note of Jesus’ words regarding the resurrection; they went to Pilate and petitioned to have a guard posted and the tomb sealed. Perhaps the disciples had given up but the Lord had not given up on them. It seems that the empty tomb was God’s means of preparing the disciples for a huge shock. Surely they must have thought; if he isn’t here, where is he?
The empty tomb is important information. There were people who hated Jesus so much they had lied and plotted to have him crucified. In a few weeks the disciples would be proclaiming the fact that Jesus was alive and his enemies must have been seething with anger. The obvious way to stop this movement of Jesus’ followers was to go to the tomb and produce the body, it would have stopped Christianity in its tracks and it would have ended up just another little known fact of history. But they couldn’t, there was no body, the tomb was empty because Christ has risen and that changes everything. Halellujah!
‘The ground began to shake,
The stone was rolled away,
His perfect love could not be overcome,
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated.
Forever, He is glorified,
Forever, He is lifted high,
Forever, He is risen,
He is alive,
He is alive.’
(Kari Jobe, Christa Black Gifford, Jenn Johnson, Joel Taylor, Gabriel Wilson)
“I am thirsty”
In many ways it’s an unremarkable thing to say, all of us have said it at some point, but this was clearly very different. Jesus spoke seven times from the cross and each statement is highly significant so why are these three words important?
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (4:13-14)
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (7:37-38)
He is the source of living water but on the cross he was thirsty. The eternal life he brings is only possible because he died. The soul satisfying living water that we drink is available because he was thirsty for us.
“It is finished.”
It wasn’t the despair of defeat; it was a shout of victory. Christ has triumphed! He did not say ‘I am finished’, he said ‘it is finished’. The work he came to do was completed, the perfect life, the perfect death, it was mission accomplished.
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span
At Calvary! (William R Newell)
“They will look on the one they have pierced.”
Jesus died, John wanted to make sure that everyone knew this truth so he gives us his witness statement. There is no room in any of the Gospels for the idea that Jesus passed out and woke up later in the tomb. Roman soldiers knew about executions and if they messed up they would have been crucified themselves. The body of Jesus was taken from the cross and laid in a tomb. The two men responsible for this were Joseph of Arimathea and our old friend Nicodemus. I love the thought that these two men, one of whom had visited Jesus in secret, nail their colours to the mast at the death of Jesus. It wouldn’t have been without cost, in touching a body they were excluding themselves from taking part in the Passover and we can be sure there would have been a cost in identifying with a condemned man. I think they were perhaps two of the first to look upon the crucified Christ and be changed. They certainly weren’t the last. Hallelujah!
‘I believe as they beat on his beautiful face,
He turned a torturer’s chair to an altar of grace.
Where the worst we can do met the best that God does.
Where unspeakable hate met the gaze,
Of unstoppable love.
At the crux of it all there he hangs.
I’ve placed my hope in a crucified man.’ (Graham Kendrick)