Sunday, June 7, 2020
“The Anointed One Saves”
Service Orientation: When people recognize a need, they pursue what they think will satisfy that need. Those who thirst, drink. Have you discovered your need for Jesus? How are you pursuing Him?
Memory Verse for the Week: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
- By the time of Jesus, Jewish tradition had extended the themes of the feast to include an elaborate procession in which priests took water up to the Temple for various rituals during the week, and an impressive night show in which torches lit the Temple courtyard filled with jubilant crowds. Not by accident did Jesus offer “drink” to the crowds who were celebrating this symbolically rich feast. (Joseph Dongell, John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, 110)
- 25-27 Generally, the people were confused about the conflict between Jesus and the religious authorities. They wondered why he wasn’t censored if he was such a threat to the nation. The reason the authorities did not promptly have him arrested was that they were uncertain of the sentiments of the people. If they acted hastily they feared an uprising among the people that would most assuredly bring disciplinary action from the Romans. (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 85)
- Jesus’ strong declaration in verses 28-29 causes some of the people in Jerusalem to wonder if this might be the Messiah, the Chosen One. They think this not so much because of the content of His teaching, but because the rulers make no effort to restrain Him. (Roger L. Fredrikson, The Communicator’s Commentary: John, 147)
- There was a popular tradition that the Messiah would simply appear. It was just as mistaken as the belief that the Christ would be a military/political leader who would restore Israel’s greatness. Those who believed this tradition were ignoring the Scriptures that clearly predicted the Messiah’s birthplace (Micah 5:2). The popular tradition about the origin and appearance of the Messiah probably came what is recorded in 1 Enoch 48:6; 4 Ezra 13:1 ff., books that were not included in our Bibles because they were not considered authoritative (however, they were valued for personal study). (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 156)
The question to be answered is…
What’s up with the continued confusion and debate involving Jesus? What does this continued debate reveal about mankind?
Spiritual sight requires spiritual eyes, and a thirst can only be quenched if acknowledgement of it exists. Jesus came to offer living water, but that message fell on deaf ears; ones obstinately blind to their spiritual thirst.
The word of the day is… thirst
What should draw our attention in this account about Jesus and His mission?
- The continued debate over Jesus points to a deeper issue in all people; the fundamental need of a savior.
(Ps. 51:5; Ecc. 7:20; Is. 59:2; 64:6; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:23; 5:12, 18-19 Eph. 2:3; 1 John 1:8)
The beginning of all true Christianity is to discover that we are guilty, empty, needy sinners. Until we know that we are lost, we are not in the way to be saved. The very first step toward heaven is to be thoroughly convinced that we deserve hell. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John Vol.2, 30)
God promises us forgiveness for what we have done, but we need His deliverance from what we are. (Corrie Ten Boom, He Cares, He Comforts)
- The inability for Jesus to be arrested points to God’s sovereignty regarding his timing.
(Job 42:2; Ps. 115:3; 135:6; Pro. 16:9; 19:21; Is. 46:10; Dan. 4:35; Mat. 10:29-30; Acts 2:23; Eph. 1:11; Rev. 4:11)
No group, however violent and strong, can change God’s plan, neither His time nor His method. It is the sovereign God who is making the moves, not the enemies of Jesus. It is the same today. Otherwise, none of us could sleep in peace in this mad, confused world. (Roger L. Fredrikson, The Communicator’s Commentary: John, 248)
God had decreed that the Saviour should be betrayed by a familiar friend, and sold for thirty pieces of silver. How, then, was it possible for these men to seize Him? They could no more arrest Christ than they could stop the sun from shining. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 393)
- Jesus’ offer of living water to anyone points to God’s available grace for everyone. (Luke 24:47; John 3:16; 5:24; 6:40, 47 10:16; Acts 10:43; Rom. 1:16; 10:13; Gal. 3:14, 28; 1 John 1:9)
Jesus’ offer, though simple, involves several key truths. Water is offered to anyone, revealing the universal scope of the gift. But no one will want to drink without a sense of thirst, without a sense of need for water. Jesus stands as the source of relief for such thirst. Drawing attention yet again to His central role in God’s saving activity. (Joseph Dongell, John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, 110)
Jesus’ offer of the Spirit is both universal and addressed to individuals: If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink (v. 37). The first requirement is thirst. Everyone has spiritual thirst, for it is part of the human condition, our need, our thirst, is what we bring to our relationship with God. This verse is one of many revealing, diagnostic texts in John. What do we thirst for? What do we really desire? Sin is our seeking relief from this thirst in something other than God. (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 196)
- Jesus’ solution of belief points to man’s responsibility to respond. (1 Sam. 13:13; Jer. 18:1-12; John 12:48; Rom. 10:11-13; Phil. 2:12-13)
Jesus’ offer of water to these is strong and clear. Here are two imperatives that are really one—”come” and “drink. “He is the rock from which eternal water flows giving life to all who will step forward. (Roger L. Fredrikson, Mastering the New Testament: John, 149)
Jesus invites those who know their need, those who are poor in spirit (cf. Mt 5:3), to take the initiative and come to him and drink (v. 37). Drinking refers to believing (cf. v. 38), which means aligning oneself with him, trusting him, receiving his teaching and obeying his commands. Such faith will enable one to receive the Spirit and enter an abiding relationship with Christ after his glorification. All of this is based on who God is and what he has done for us. When we believe we open our hands to receive what his grace offers—we come and drink. (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 197)
Conclusion…Have you settled the matter of who Jesus is? Who in this account do you most relate with?
- The Pharisees… You’re confident of your position, because you’re either too worried of what others think or too proud to admit otherwise. (Pro. 11:2; 16:5, 18; 29:23; Luke 5:32; 11:42; Rom. 12: 16; Phil. 2:3; Jam. 4:6; 1 John 2:16)
The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren’t actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them. (Kyle Idleman, Not A Fan, 25)
- The crowd… You’re content following the majority and avoid settling on anything.
(Mat. 4:8-9; 7:13-14; Acts 2:40; Rom. 12:2; Col. 3:2; Jam. 4:4; 1 John 2:15-18)
How easily we rationalize our ignorance and prejudices when we are afraid to face the real issues. (Roger L. Fredrikson, The Communicator’s Commentary: John, 147)
- The guards… You’re just content taking orders and simply checking your brains at the door. (Prov. 19:2; Rom. 12:2; 2 Thes. 2:9-11; 1 Tim. 6:19-21; Phil 2:4-8; 4:8; 1 Thes. 5:19-21; Jam. 3:16-18; 4:7-8)
No amount of culture or religious instruction can impart spiritual understanding to the intellect. A man must be Divinely illumined before he can perceive the meaning and value of the things of God. The truth is that the most illiterate babe in Christ has a capacity to understand spiritual things which an unregenerate university graduate does not possess. The plainest and simplest word from God is far above the reach of the natural faculties. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 400)
- Relentless skeptic… You perpetually question everything; not for the sake of discovering truth, but for the sake of fueling pride. (Mark 8:34-35; John 641-43; Phil 2:14; Jam. 1:6)
But while we value religious knowledge, we must take care that we do not overvalue it. We must not think it enough to know the facts and doctrines of our faith, unless our hearts and lives are thoroughly influenced by what we know. The very devils know the creed intellectually, and “believe and tremble,” but remain devils still. (James 2:19.) (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John Vol.2, 38)
- Humble believer… You’ve recognized your thirst and have settled to satisfy it with Jesus. (Ps. 25:9; 149:4; Prov. 11:2; 22:4; Mic. 6:8; Mat. 23:12; Luk. 14:11; Eph. 2:8-9; Jam. 4:10; 1 Pet. 5:6)
When God creates a hunger and a thirst in the soul, it is so that He may satisfy them. When the poor sinner is made to feel his need for Christ, it is to the end that he may be drawn to Christ and led to embrace Him as his only righteousness before a holy God. (A.W. Pink, The Beatitudes, 19)
Worship happens when thirsty souls find satisfaction in Jesus because He alone can satisfy what souls fundamentally thirst for. (Ps. 42:1-2; 63:1; Is. 44:3; Mat. 5:6; John 4:14; 6:35; 7:37; Rev. 7:16-17)
Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 75)
The Good News is only good news to those who have acknowledged their inner need and thirst for a savior and have trusted Jesus to satisfy that need.
What can the world give you without Jesus? His absence is hell; his presence, paradise. –Augustine
George Whitefield often declared that, to be saved, we need to repent of two things: our sins and our righteousness. It’s obvious why we have to repent of our sins, but it’s less obvious why we have to repent of our righteousness. He knew we had to repent of what’s not wrong with us too, because otherwise we will think we are saving ourselves. (Noel Jesse Heikkinen, Wretched Saints, 56)
Spiritual Challenge Questions…
Reflect on these questions in your time with the Lord this week, or discuss with a Christian family member or life group.
- Which of the people mentioned in the passage do you most relate to? What brought you to that conclusion? What might need to change in light of that?
- Have you ever experienced wanting more of something after you got what you wanted? Why do you think we feel that way sometimes?
- What are needs in life people try to satisfy? How have or do you attempt to quench your various thirsts in life?
- Who is Jesus to you? Who is Jesus to your friends, family and neighbors? How might Jesus be calling on you to reveal Him to skeptics you might know?
QUOTES TO NOTE:
The diversity of the crowd becomes evident in that those who lived in Jerusalem knew about the Jewish leaders’ desires to kill Jesus, desires unknown by others in the crowd: Isn’t this the man they are trying kill? (7:25; see verse 20). What puzzled these Jerusalemites was the failure of these leaders to enact their deadly plans. Did this failure of nerve not imply that the Jewish leaders had now actually concluded that [Jesus was] the Christ? (7:26b). (Joseph Dongell, John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, 108)
Yes, they knew something of His origin—on an earthly plane! But regarding His supreme origin in the Father who sent Him, they had no knowledge. In fact, Jesus charged, they did not know the One who sent Him. The implication of such language was not lost on those who heard it, for it set into motion yet another attempt to seize Him. Yet none of these aggressive moves toward Jesus succeeded, since all events in Jesus’ life were unfolding according to divine plans not human plans: His time had not yet come (7:30b). (Joseph Dongell, John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, 109)
So diverse was the crowd that even among those who were trying to seize Him stood those who put their faith in him (7:31). (Joseph Dongell, John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, 109)
this gift of abundant water fulfills the longing of God’s people, a longing witnessed by the Old Testament. No specific Scripture is quoted, it would seem, because “water” appears repeatedly throughout the Old Testament as a symbol of life, salvation, refreshment and joy (for example, Jeremiah 17:8; Psalm 1:3; 42:1; Isaiah 55:1-2; 58:11). All of the deepest desires of humankind are richly supplied in the water Jesus gives. (Joseph Dongell, John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, 111)
The attempt of the Jews to work out some kind of explanation of Jesus’ going where they cannot come is a caricature. Does this strange man, who so angers them, plan to lose Himself among the Gentiles in their dispersion, spreading His heretical message? Where else could He go and not be found? Of course none of these Jews would contaminate themselves by going among these unclean heathen. But how prophetic is their explanation. Little do they realize that the presence of the resurrected Christ will come to be known and accepted throughout the whole Gentile world. (Roger L. Fredrikson, The Communicator’s Commentary: John, 148)
30 Jesus’ enemies attempted to seize him, but they failed because the hour of crisis had not come. Not only did “the hour” restrain him from sudden independent action (2:4), but it assured him of divine protection until the moment for action came (cf. Luke 22:53). (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 85)
42-44 The ignorance of the crowd in Jerusalem concerning Jesus is revealed by their uncertainty about his origin. On the basis of Scripture (Micah 5:2), they decided that Jesus could not be the Messiah since Micah’s prophecy said the Messiah would come from Bethlehem and Jesus came from Nazareth. The confusion was such that no decision was made concerning his person and no action was taken to arrest him. Perhaps this is another illustration of Johannine irony, for Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The very passage that convinced his critics that he could not be the Messiah was one of the strongest to prove that he was. (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 87)
Jesus’ teaching about the sabbath and his reference to the people seeking to kill him (w. 19-23) leads some Jerusalemites to conclude that he is the man the authorities are trying to kill (v. 25). They realize Jesus is claiming to be the Messiah (v. 26), so the fact that he is speaking publicly and without interference from the authorities raises the question of whether the authorities have concluded that Jesus is the Messiah after all. If false teaching is not opposed, then people get the impression that either it is not false or it is not significant. (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 187)
For John, truth is objective reality—that which corresponds to reality and reveals it (cf. Dodd 1953:177). The Father is the source and standard of all truth, so truth is based on relationship with him. Jesus has such a relationship, and his opponents do not, as Jesus says flat out: You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me (vv. 28-29). (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 189)
These Jerusalemites claim to have knowledge, but they do not. Jesus is the one who knows God, knows who he himself is and knows the truth about his opponents. The opponents are out of touch with reality. (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 189)
Part of God’s judgment is to withdraw access to his revelation. The ”judgment will consist in the very fact that he has gone, and therefore that the time of the revelation is past…. They will long for the revelation, but in vain; for then it will be too late; he will no longer be accessible to them” (Bultmann 1971:307). Those who seek God’s word and wisdom with their unfaithful hearts cannot expect to find what they seek. Jesus, as the incarnate Word and Wisdom of God, must be sought with a heart that wills to do God’s will. (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 191)
Thirst (7:37-39) John now takes us to Jesus’ shocking, clear claim made on the last and greatest day of the Feast (v. 37). On each day of the feast there was a procession of priests to the pool of Siloam to draw water (m. Sukka 4:9). The priests returned to the temple, where the water was taken in procession once around the altar with the choir chanting Psalms 113-118, and then the water was poured out as a libation at the morning sacrifice. All-night revelry lead up to this morning libation. This was a time of joy so great that it was said, “He that never has seen the joy of the Beth he-She’ubah [water-drawing] has never in his life seen joy” (m. Sukka 5:1; cf. Deut 16:14-15; Jubilees 16:20, 25). This joy was associated with Isaiah 12:3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” On the seventh day of the festival the priests processed around the altar with the water not once but seven times (Bloch 1980:200; cf. Beasley-Murray 1987:113 for a more detailed description).
At this high point of the festival Jesus dramatically cries out loudly, If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink (v. 37). (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 193)
What Jesus offers is the fulfillment of the very things they were celebrating. Here is grace upon grace (Jn 1:16). Here the Son is repeating the offer of the Father, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters” (Is 55:1). Indeed, he is fulfilling the role of God, who “will guide them and lead them beside springs of water” (Is 49:10). His offer shows he is far more than just a prophet or an agent; here we have God himself offering us life. (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 193)
It is highly probable that all of us who reach heaven will receive surprises there. Some whom we expected to meet will be absent, and some we never expected to see will be there. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 391)
“Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come” (7:30). This verse sets forth a truth which should be of great comfort to God’s people, and indeed it is so, when received by unquestioning faith. We find here a striking example of the restraining hand of God upon His enemies. Their purpose was to apprehend Christ. They sought to take Him, yet not a hand was laid upon Him! They thirsted for His blood, and were determined to kill Him; yet by an invisible restraint from above, they were powerless to do so. How blessed, then, to know that everything is under the immediate control of God. Not a hair of our heads can be touched without His permission. The demon possessed Saul might hurl his javelin at David, but hurling it and killing Him were two different things. Daniel might be cast into the den of lions, but as his time to die had not then come, their mouths were mysteriously sealed. The three Hebrews were cast into the fiery furnace, but of what avail were the flames against those protected by Jehovah! (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 393)
“Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Here is the Gospel in a single short sentence. Three words in it stand out and call for special emphasis — “thirst,” “come,” “drink.” The first tells of a recognized need. Thirst, like hunger, is something of which we are acutely conscious. It is a craving for that which is not in our actual possession. There is a soul thirst as well as a bodily. The pathetic thing is that so many thirst for that which cannot slake them. Their thirst is for the things of the world: pleasure, money, fame, ease, self-indulgence; and over all these Christ has written in imperishable letters, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again.” (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 401)
Jesus’ strong declaration in verses 28-29 causes some of the people in Jerusalem to wonder if this might be the Messiah, the Chosen One. They think this not so much because of the content of His teaching, but because the rulers make no effort to restrain Him. On the other hand, they argue among themselves. “We know that this man comes from Nazareth and Galilee, and the Messiah is to have hidden, unknown origins.” They assume that takes care of the matter. How easily we rationalize our ignorance and prejudices when we are afraid to face the real issues. (Roger L. Fredrikson, Mastering the New Testament: John, 147)
The attempt of the Jews to work out some kind of explanation of Jesus’ going where they cannot come is a caricature. Does this strange man, who so angers them, plan to lose Himself among the Gentiles in their dispersion, spreading His heretical message? Where else could He go and not be found? Of course none of these Jews would contaminate themselves by going among these unclean heathen. But how prophetic is their explanation. Little do they realize that the presence of the resurrected Christ will come to be known and accepted throughout the whole Gentile world. (Roger L. Fredrikson, Mastering the New Testament: John, 148)
On the seventh day, the crowd circumambulated the altar seven times to celebrate God’s gift of water when Moses struck the rock in the wilderness at Meribah. It was at this moment in the midst of the celebration that Jesus stood and cried, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (v. 37). The symbolism of this dramatic invitation ran deeper than the outpoured water at this festival. It was rooted in that moment and place when Moses faced that vast thirsty crowd at Sinai crying out for water, and almost in desperation, he struck the rock “and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank” (Num. 20:11). (Roger L. Fredrikson, Mastering the New Testament: John, 149)
but in their ignorance about the origin of Jesus, these wondering people unknowingly speak the truth. John is a master of so arranging his material that mistakes or ignorance become a subtle means of underlining the truth. It is ironic that these people, who are so tenacious about tracking Jesus down, are not even familiar with His place of birth. (Roger L. Fredrikson, Mastering the New Testament: John, 151)
Often people look at Jesus and draw conclusions about him based on faulty ideas of God and the world. But the Christian message insists that people must learn afresh who God is, what the world is, and who we ourselves are, by looking at Jesus. That is the right way round. And the challenge is often needed just as much inside the churches as outside them. (N.T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part 1, 102)
God’s Word proves itself true to those who will sincerely do it. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe New Testament Commentary, 253)
The Jews depended on education and authorities and received their doctrine secondhand, but Jesus insisted that we experience the authority of truth personally. The Jewish leaders were attempting to kill Jesus, yet at the same time they claimed to understand God’s truth and obey it. This proves that an enlightened and educated mind is no guarantee of a pure heart or a sanctified will. Some of the world’s worst criminals have been highly intelligent and well-educated people. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe New Testament Commentary, 253)
If we really seek God’s will, then we will not worry over who gets the glory. All truth is God’s truth, and God alone deserves the glory for what He has taught us. No teacher or preacher can take the credit for what only can come from God. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe New Testament Commentary, 253)
Our Lord used the very law of Moses to refute the enemy’s argument, but He knew that they would not give in. Why? Because their standard of judgment was not honest. They evaluated things on the basis of superficial examination of the facts. They judged on the basis of “seems” and not “is.” Unfortunately, too many people make that same mistake today. John 7:24 is the opposite of verse 17, where Jesus called for sincere devotion to truth.254
They were wrong in saying that they “knew where our Lord came from.” They meant no doubt to say that He was born at Nazareth, and belonged to Nazareth, and was therefore a Galilean. Yet the fact was, that our Lord was born at Bethlehem, that He belonged legally to the tribe of Judah, and that His mother and Joseph were of the house and lineage of David. It is incredible to suppose that the Jews could not have found this out, if they had honestly searched and inquired. It is notorious that pedigrees, genealogies, and family histories were most carefully kept by the Jewish nation. Their ignorance was without excuse. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John Vol.2, 20)
The Apostle Peter, in a certain place, speaks of some as “willingly ignorant.” (2 Pet. 3:5.) He had good reason to use the expression. It is a sore spiritual disease, and one most painfully common among men. There are thousands in the present day just as blind in their way as the Jews. They shut their eyes against the plainest facts and doctrines of Christianity. They pretend to say that they do not understand, and cannot therefore believe the things that we press on their attention, as needful to salvation. But, alas! in nineteen cases out of twenty it is a willful ignorance. They do not believe what they do not like to believe. They will neither read, nor listen, nor search, nor think, nor inquire, honestly after truth. Can any one wonder if such people are ignorant? Faithful and true is that old proverb–“There are none so blind as those who will not see.”(J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John Vol.2, 20)
There is a mine of deep truth in the words before us, which deserves close attention. They show us plainly that all our Lord’s sufferings were undergone voluntarily, and of His own free will. He did not go to the cross because He could not help it. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John Vol.2, 21)
It is far too much forgotten that there is such a thing as finding out truth too late. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John Vol.2, 22)
The Lord Jesus says, “He that believes on me, from within him will flow rivers of living water.” These words of course were meant to have a figurative sense. They have a double application. They teach, for one thing, that all who come to Christ by faith shall find in Him abundant satisfaction. They teach, for another thing, that believers shall not only have enough for the needs of their own souls, but shall also become fountains of blessings to others. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John Vol.2, 31)
But in one way or another, probably, almost all believers will be found to have been fountains of blessings. By word or by deed, by precept or by example, directly or indirectly, they are always leaving their marks on others. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John Vol.2, 31)
From Jesus’ proclamation we can gather that it is important to know, not from where Jesus came, but from whom he came. To recognize this origin requires revelation. But the people did not know Jesus because they did not know the one who sent him. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 156)
Jesus towers over human history. How we respond to him is foundational to how we see the world. Historians are very clear about two things concerning Jesus—he existed and he was crucified. No serious thinkers doubt those two facts. There are few events of ancient history with better evidence than this. If we cannot be sure Jesus lived and died, then we cannot be sure of almost any event in history before the modern era. That a man lived and was crucified two thousand years ago is not unusual. Even being a great teacher, working miracles, and founding a religion does not make him unique. It is the claim of an empty tomb that marks Jesus as totally different from every other major historical figure. From an historical perspective, can we be sure that the tomb was indeed empty? What exactly happened those many years ago? Can any other explanation account for the explosive growth of Christ’s church and its persistence throughout history? (Adrian Warnock, Raised With Christ, 30)
Man is the neediest creature on God’s earth, because he is a sinner. There is no need so great as that of sinners: poverty, hunger, thirst, cold, sickness, are all nothing in comparison. Sinners need forgiveness, and they are utterly unable to provide it for themselves; they need deliverance from a guilty conscience and the fear of death, and they have no power of their own to obtain it. This is the need the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to relieve. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” [1 Timothy 1:15] (J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion, 284)
Because of Jesus we need never question God’s desire for intimacy. Does God really want close contact with us? Jesus gave up heaven for it. In person He reestablished the original link between God and human beings, between seen and unseen worlds. (Phillip Yancey, Reaching for the Invisible God)
Those who believe the gospel the deepest are most acutely aware of their own sin and increasingly gracious toward others when they sin. They act on their belief. (Noel Jesse Heikkinen, Wretched Saints, 68)
The concepts of “repent” and “believe” are necessarily linked. You need to repent (change your mind, turn around) to believe something new—the good news of Jesus. (Noel Jesse Heikkinen, Wretched Saints, 75)
You won’t know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have. When Jesus is all you have, then, and only then, will you know that Jesus is all you need. (Steve Brown, A Scandalous Freedom, 213)
Tell me, what is evil? What is the definition of evil, that which appalls the universe, that causes the angels of God to say, “No! It can’t be!” According to Jeremiah 2:12–13, evil is looking at God, the fountain of all-satisfying, living water, and saying, “No, thank you,” and turning to the television, sex, parties, booze, money, prestige, a house in the suburbs, a vacation, a new computer program, and saying, “Yes!” That’s evil. (John Piper, An All-Consuming Passion for God, 21)