Thought for the Week - 24th MarchPastor Gareth Watkins
John 3: 22-36
22 Then Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. Jesus spent some time with them there, baptizing people.
23 At this time John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there; and people kept coming to him for baptism.
24 (This was before John was thrown into prison.)
25 A debate broke out between John’s disciples and a certain Jew over ceremonial cleansing.
26 So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.”
27 John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven.
28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’
29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success.
30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
31 “He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else.
32 He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them!
33 Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true.
34 For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit.
35 The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands.
36 And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”
These are the words of John the Baptist, speaking of who’s to come. I want to focus on the wonderful description that John has towards Jesus Christ, but also verse 36:
And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life
It doesn’t matter if we haven’t got a theological degree or were brought up in church. If we believe in God’s son, we have got eternal life. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we’ve done. Anyone who believes in God’s son has eternal life.
As humans we tend to categorise people. What about this person? That person? That person is good, that person isn’t a good person. That person is a worker, that person is lazy. We categorise people, and by way of categorising them we determine what we think about them and how we relate to them. God doesn’t think like that. He makes it very simple – anyone who believes in His son has eternal life. God looks at things very differently to you and to me. That’s the categorisation of God.
God is looking at something very different to the external qualities of a person. He doesn’t look at how they speak or how they look in front of other people. He looks at the heart of a person, and their faith before Christ; do they believe or don’t they believe. It’s very simple. God’s categories are straight forward. That’s all God requires from somebody. Faith and that they believe.
Verse 31 tells us great things about the Messiah:
He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else.
What a tremendous thing to say about Jesus Christ! Sometimes Churches can make the devil very, very big. But Christ is the greater of the two. He has come from above and is greater than anybody else! He is over all things! We need to see Christ in the right place, where He’s over all things and bigger than all things.
In Verse 33 we read:
Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true.
God is truth. When we listen to people speak, it doesn’t seem like that. If we listen to the news and politicians, what is truth? Jesus Himself said “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). When it comes to who Jesus Christ is, He is truth. But our minds, because of the way we want to rationalise things, we can’t always accept what truth is. Sometimes we’ve been brought up in such a way where we’re told Jesus is this and that. But He is the truth. And later in life, when He comes to bring that judgement, He will bring the truth. All will stand before Him (2 Corinthians 5: 10) and He will be that truth.
We have to learn some things again and again. We need to relearn some things. We get above our stations and think we know more than we do. There is more to learn.
John the Baptist himself says that anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. It goes for the prayers we say, going to church. There’s more to go and I want to encourage you to go on in your faith, and learn new things. Anyone who believes the testimony of Jesus Christ can affirm that God is true.
In Verse 36 we read:
And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life
Do we really believe in eternal life? Are we meant to be here for three score years and ten, and that’s our lot? Or is there an eternal life meant and created for us by God? There’s an eternal life meant for us, created for us to go into. We can only go into it through Jesus Christ. Eternal life has been lost in come measure within the church at large, which is more about having a good time and the here and now. But the sole purpose of our lives is to glorify God. The good times come. God gives them to us. But the purpose for our lives is to glorify Him as we go onto that which is eternal.
Finding Christ is the greatest moment in your life. It starts you on that road which leads you unto eternity. There is more to go in knowing who Jesus Christ is. Walking closer with Christ is what it’s all about. God is interested in the part of our being that goes beyond the natural time and goes onto eternity.
Is that true for you today? Do you have that sense of eternity and who Jesus Christ is in your life? Is your soul safe unto eternity? Is your soul safe with God?
God’s categories aren’t black or white, rich or poor, nation or nation, professional or labourer. They’re darkness and light, sin and righteousness, and truth and lies, life and death. God is interested in the inner parts. That is what we are going to bring before the judgement seat.
In Matthew 13: 44-46 we read:
44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.
45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls.
46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!
Jesus preaches these words, but is speaking of Himself. Is the above the sense of what we’ve got in our faith? That we would go out and sell everything we had and were worth, and be with Jesus Christ? To know Jesus Christ, to know eternal life?
It’s described as a pearl of great price. It’s a precious thing to know Jesus. It’s not about just going to church and have a good time. It’s about knowing Jesus Christ as your saviour, takes you onto eternal life, with a relationship as a pearl of great value. Nothing can comprehend the value of that walk with Jesus.
A person has to find that central place for Jesus in their life. John had it. When John was speaking, he knew that Christ was central in the whole of creation, that Christ was the Messiah that was promised to come. John knew that John himself should diminish, while Christ was to increase and take over. John knew that he was only the mouthpiece of that what was to happen.
Do we believe that only those who believe in Jesus Christ will have eternal life? Do we believe that’s for today?
The bible talks about the sheep and the goats, the ones who don’t hear His voice, and those who refuse to hear His voice. Those who believe and obey go onto better things. Remind yourself of who Jesus Christ is to you.
In Isaiah 9: 6-7 we read of who Jesus is as a baby:
6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
This child is to be called Mighty God, wonderful counsellor, everlasting Father! This child will rule in fairness and justice from His throne for all eternity. This Jesus Christ is huge! He’s only being born and He’s being called everlasting Father and the one who is going to rule for all eternity. So when people play around with the name of Jesus, blaspheme it, and don’t know what they’re talking about, come back to this. This person that they’re talking about, the one that John the Baptist proclaimed, is going to rule for eternity! He was the one that was born who is going to rule for eternity!
We need to see Jesus Christ in a new way. That new way includes all aspects of Jesus Christs’ nature. Only some are shown here. We need to move on, which takes us on unto eternity.
Do you believe in that Jesus? This is a big Jesus! Not a small Jesus, with demons that rule over everything. This is a big Jesus who is over all things! He created the universe, He forgives our sin, and He’s part of God who gives us eternal life.
In John 1, John writes of who Jesus Christ was before the beginning of time. He writes:
10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.
11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.
12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
What a wonderful God! What a wonderful saviour we have! His own didn’t recognise Him. His own rejected Him. But who all who believed and accepted Him, He gave them the right to become children of God.
That is our place today.