Saturday, March 30, 2013

Seeking God for the Wrong Reason

"The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto His disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples were gone away alone; (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:)  When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither His disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.  And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said unto Him, Rabbi, when camest Thou hither?  Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.  Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed."  John 6:22-27

   God can be sought for the wrong reasons.  This principle is clearly taught in the Bible.  As God's servants we must beware of allowing people to continue in an illegitimate search of God when it is obvious that their motives are not pure.  Rebuking bad motives in people is not unloving; in fact, it can save their souls from certain death.

   The crowd that had just tasted Jesus' miracle bread was astonished to find Him missing the next morning.  They knew that only one boat had been there, and they also knew that Jesus had not gone into that boat with His disciples.  So where could He be?  After taking shipping themselves, they find Christ on the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  When they had found Him, they asked Him, "Rabbi (Master), when camest Thou hither?"  The very fact that He was on the other side of the sea when He had no boat to get Him there forced them to come face to face with the reality that some miracle had brought Him over.  At this point, this group of people had every reason to believe in the divine Person of Christ.  He had fed them to the full with five loves of bread and two fish.  He had miraculously traveled to the western side of the Sea of Galilee, and yet, their hearts were still hardened toward faith in His Person.  This fact is revealed by Christ's rebuke.

   He says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled."  What an amazing statement!  Most people would have answered the question instead of dealing with the root issue.  Christ did not coddle them in their unbelief.  He was not satisfied with the mere fact that they were looking for Him.  He took the situation a step further and dealt immediately with their issue of unbelief and carnal desires.  If people are simply left alone to bask in their misguided motives they will never be helped.  True, Biblical Christianity is confrontational.  It is loving.  True love is confrontational, because people have a sin problem, and sin cannot be dealt with apart from confrontation.  Jesus declared to them their heart condition because He loved them dearly and desired their true conversion.  At this point, most so-called Fundamentalists would have been content to have such a following and would not have cared about motives, but this is not God's way.  He wants true followers and will accept no substitutes.

   The Lord then gives them direction for their misguided hearts.  He says, "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed."  Their interest in Jesus extended no further than their carnal desires.  Little has changed today.  Most people become interested in Jesus out of a desire to have some fleshly lust fulfilled.  He shifts their focus from the temporal to the eternal, from the physical to the spiritual.  Though they had seen such a notable miracle done by Him, their hearts remained hardened.  How destructive and prideful is man's unbelief!  It will send him straight to hell!  These people were not seeing Jesus Christ for Who He is; therefore, He directs their attention to Himself as the Giver of this eternal bread.  He uses the title, "Son of Man."  This title bespeaks especially of His role as man's substitute for sin.  Only a man could die for the sins of a man, and this Man has the special approval of God the Father.  The phrase, "for Him hath God the Father sealed"  speaks of God's divine approval of Christ.  The Father has given only the Son the authority to impart eternal life.  Jesus is the true bread which will forever satisfy the spiritual hunger of the lost and dying soul.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Walking on the Water

"Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.  When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force, to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone.  And when even was now come, His disciples went down unto the sea,  And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.  And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.  So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.  But He saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.  Then they willingly received Him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went."  
John 6:14-21

   The freshly fed followers were not eager to be humble disciples, of the one true God; they were enthralled with the miracles, and were seeking liberation from Roman rule.  However, immediate coming of the kingdom of heaven was not the will of God.  Jesus did not come to build the empires that men desire; He came to fulfill the will of the Father which involved dealing with man's sin problem.  Many people view Jesus as a means by which their kingdoms may be built, and they do not understand that He is in control.  No one "makes" Jesus a king.  He is the King (Ps. 24), the King of glory.  In His time and in His way, He will establish the true kingdom upon this earth.

   Having dismissed His disciples, He departs into a mountain alone to pray.  He knew that they were about to face a great storm without Him and that they would need His prayers.  The Lord will often send His own people into a storm so that our faith may be strengthened when we see Him work on behalf of us.

   They did not get far without Christ's power.  The text says they went a mere "twenty or thirty furlongs (Greek stadia- which is about 600')."  In the middle of a dark and tempestuous world no one will go far without Christ.  The Christian will vainly struggle against the great powers of darkness without success when Jesus is not in the boat.  Yet, they were in this situation at His bidding because He wanted to demonstrate to them their weakness and His incredible power.

   After they had rowed two or three nautical miles (6,000'), the text says, "...they see Jesus walking on the sea...."  This is an awesome demonstration of His deity through the display of His creative power over nature.  By Him all things were created (Col. 1:16); therefore, it is only fitting that He should be seen treading upon the power of the angry waves.  This picture of Christ walking calmly over the impossible should bring great peace to any Christian's soul.  What is not possible to a Master who can walk through such chaos undaunted?  He is supreme.

   His disciples respond in fear, but, as is so often His way, He says emphatically, "It is I; be not afraid."  The Greek text would literally read, "I, I it is!  Stop being afraid!"  What a message for the heart of the troubled soul!  Child of God, nothing is to hard for the LORD.  He is the King of all the earth.  After they heard this, they "willing received Him into the ship."  So often we do not fully appreciate the presence of the Lord in our lives, but when we are in the middle of a storm we tend to appreciate more His power, love and concern.  Let us have a conscious awareness of His goodness day by day whether or not we are directly in a storm.

   After Jesus was allowed into the boat, they were immediately at the desired destination.  What a difference it makes to have Jesus on board!  We can vainly row ourselves or we can bring Christ on board and let Him be the Captain!  I suggest we do the latter, because He is the Captain, the Captain of our salvation (He. 2:10).

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Declaration of Deity

"Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, and against the man 
that is My fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, 
and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn Mine hand 
upon the little ones."  
Zechariah 13:7

   Christ referred to this verse just prior to His arrest by the Jews (Matt. 26:31), thus confirming its prophetic significance.  He said to His disciples, "All ye shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad."

   This prophetic verse here in Zechariah is an amazing declaration of the deity of Jesus Christ, the True Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (I P. 2:25).  The great Jehovah God of Israel is speaking here directly and says that the sword shall be against the man that is "My fellow."  The noun fellow is used predominately in Leviticus where it is translated neighbor.  It can be translated neighbor, associate, or relation.  It has the meaning of one who is equal with another in nature.  Neighbors share a common bond.  They are both human.  They both have basically the same needs.  The fellow spoken of here is no ordinary man, but one who is a direct relation of the great God Almighty.  He is God's associate, one who shares the same nature.  This perfectly describes Jesus Christ.  He is Light (J. 8:12).  He is separate from sinners and absolutely holy (He. 7:26).  He is the Jehovah God of the Old Testament.  In fact, speaking of Himself, the LORD said in Zechariah 12:10 concerning the end times after the Great Tribulation, "...they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced."  Only Christ was pierced in His hands, feet, and side for the sins of mankind.

   Should this one passage be the only one in all the Bible which speaks of the deity of Christ, it would be sufficient.  What further proof do we need.  Christ is declared to be the neighbor, associate and relation of Jehovah God in a single divinely inspired Hebrew word.  Praise the Lord!