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Welcome to Miller Avenue Baptist Church, an Evangelical* and Reformed Congregationdually aligned with American and Southern Baptists. We are a small congregation, always have been, and always will be. Our focus is on bold proclamation of the word of grace, the Gospel, and the discipling of followers of Jesus. Pastor Philpott thinks of himself as an old time Gospel preacher and Bible teacher. We have a Reformed theology—not rigid or legalistic—but grace oriented. *We claim the original, non-political, Biblical meaning of “Gospel Proclamation”
Our sermons are mostly verse by verse preaching from the Scripture. We are fairly liturgical in our worship, including the reciting of the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4), the Apostles’ Creed, and the Collect of the Day (a prayer said by Christians around the world every Sunday), with one or two sermons and receiving “Jesus in the Bread and the Cup” each Sunday morning. We like the old hymns and have no concern to be contemporary, but we do have guitars, singing, and piano playing of two Jesus People type choruses at each morning service, as well as a choir piece, usually in the Black Gospel genre.
More now is revealed about who the Immanuel of Isaiah 7:14 is. Chapters 8 and 9 depict great darkness coming upon the land. Israel, indeed the northern kingdom is lost and pressure is mounting against Judah. However, in the midst of this is the great announcement that a child is to born, picking up the revelation of Isaiah 7:14, and the child born, the son given, will carry the “government upon his shoulder,” and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Despite the enemies coming against Israel, both northern and southern kingdoms, and the time is about 735 BCE, Ahaz is the king of Judah and he fears attack from a league of Syria and Israel. In the midst of this, the LORD says there will be a sign given. That sign will be that a woman, an “alma” in Hebrew meaning a young virgin woman, will conceive and bear a son. This son will be called “Immanuel” meaning, God come to be present with us.
In addition, Isaiah tells Ahaz that the king of Assyria will be coming down upon them.
The first five chapters of Isaiah depict the moral decay of both Judah and Israel. In 740 BCE, the year that King Uzziah of Judah died, Isaiah had a vision of the LORD. Isaiah experienced a powerful sense of forgiveness, with his sin being atoned for. Then comes the call to be sent by the LORD to the people, a message that Isaiah is told will be ignored, and that Judah will be removed from the land. Yet, a promise is added, that a holy seed will remain.
Isaiah means “Yahweh is Salvation.” He prophesied to the southern kingdom Judah during the 8th Century BCE. There are two principle parts to the book, chapters 1 to 39 and 40 to 66, covering a period from 740 BCE to 538 BCE. It is speculated that there are two Isaiah’s, one the prophet and then his work continued by those members of his “school of prophets.” But then as a prophet of God, he could have foreseen what was to happen to ages far past his own life time. Isaiah’s descriptions of the Messiah perfectly fit the life and times of Jesus, and so very perfectly that the book is often described as the proto-Gospel.
The evening of the resurrection, Jesus suddenly appears to the disciples; Thomas is not there, but Luke tells us others are also present. He announces: “Peace be with you.” He then displayed His wounds, hands and side, to His followers so that they know it is really Him and that He is right there present. Thomas is not there but upon being told of the events announcing he will not believe until he sees for himself. One week later he gets that chance and expresses that indeed Jesus is his Lord and God. Then the writer, John, gives us a summary of his Gospel and makes it clear he wrote it that others might also believe in the risen Christ.
John mentions only Mary Magdalen coming to the tomb where Jesus is buried, early on Sunday morning, but the other Gospel writers mention other women are also present. Mary, upon finding that the large stone covering the tomb was not in place, runs to tell Peter and John what had happened and supposes that thieves had taken the body. Later, after Peter and John leave, Mary remains at the tomb and turns to see who she thinks is a gardener caring for the the tombs. But it is Jesus, the risen Lord, and He says, “Mary,” and instantly Mary knows this person is Jesus.
Try as we may to wiggle out of culpability, we have to acknowledge that Jesus was actually raising the bar for his disciples. Not just murder, but anger; not just adultery, but lust; not just avoidance, but taking away anything that causes anger or lust.
All of us, whether believers or not, go astray—sin—and often ignore it or even justify it. But since the LORD has laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all, Jesus can indeed take away all our hope for meeting the criteria for righteousness that He puts forth, leaving us in complete reliance on him.
John, our Gospel writer, an apostle, describes the death of Jesus. He is present at the crucifixion and is with a small group of women that includes Jesus’ mother, Mary. Due to the coming of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the bodies of the two criminals, and Jesus’ cannot be left out with sunset coming, which marks the beginning of a new day, Jewish time. A soldier, in order to make sure Jesus is actually dead, pierces Jesus’ side with a spear and blood and water flow out proving He is dead. Then Joseph of Arimathea is allowed by Pilate to take the body. Nicodemus, also a member of the ruling council of Israel assists with the burial.
Jesus is now being lead to the site of execution, a place called Golgotha. Though not stated by John, it is just before this is when Jesus is scourged, such a harsh beating that many died on the spot. Jesus was crucified with a criminal on each side of Him. Pilate had prepared an inscription reading in three languages, Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” This angered the religious authorities but Pilate refused to take the sign down. Toward the end of the ordeal we find His mother Mary, Mary’s sister, another Mary the wife of one Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Some commentators say there were only three women, and the disciple whom Jesus loved, clearly John the author of this Gospel, there in front of the cross. Jesus instructs John to care for Mary and for Mary to look to John as her care giver, which corresponds with Jewish life at that time.
First off Pilate has Jesus flogged. This is thought to be a light punishment and not the dreaded scourging. Putting the Gospel accounts together is seems that Jesus was flogged and taunted and humiliated, but later on, just before being sent to the site of the execution was scourged then. Now comes the crown of thorns and the purple robe. It appears that Pilate his vile treatment of Jesus would be enough to satisfy His enemies, but it is not. After some back and forth, where it is apparent that Pilate finds no reason to execute Jesus, he encounters backlash. Pilate finally gives in and allows Jesus to be crucified.
Annas, the father-in-law of the official high priest, Caiaphas, is the first to question Jesus. This is taking place early in the morning of Friday, Passover Day, and also known as Good Friday. Annas asks first about Jesus’ disciples then about His teaching. Jesus stands His ground, answers politely, and then Annas sends Jesus “bound” to Caiaphas. Peter, still present now inside the gate of the high priest’s compound, is asked again if he is not one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter denies it again, and yet again. Jesus is now brought before Pilate. Pilate asks the crowd what accusation they have against Jesus. Pilate tries to get the crowd to do with Jesus what they will, but they refuse. Pilate moves back into his compound, calls Jesus to himself and asks if He is the King of the Jews. Jesus replies that His kingdom is not of this world.
Following the prayer, Jesus enters the garden to a place where Jesus and His disciples often went. Judas knew of the location and arrived there with soldiers and officers, some Roman, some Jewish. Jesus approaches the group and asks who they are looking for. Jesus identifies Himself, and for reasons unknown, the armed bank falls back. Jesus does not hide but wants the disciples not to be harmed. Peter draws his sword and cuts off the ear of a servant of the high priest, named Malchus. No further trouble emerges. Jesus is brought before the high priest, Annas, first, then later Caiaphas.
Simon Peter had followed the group, and at the entrance proceeds to deny he knew Jesus two times.
The entire chapter is Jesus’ prayer, said somewhere along the road to the Garden of Gethsemane or while yet in the Upper Room, which is overheard by His disciples. To begin, Jesus lifts up His eyes to heaven, and doing so while standing most think. The focus of His prayer is that the Father would glorify Him, that is, bring Him once again into His presence as He had been prior to the incarnation. Part of the prayer is that His followers would be in US, would be one. Jesus prays that the disciples will be with Him, and to se His glory that was His before the foundation of the world.
Jesus continues to tell His disciples that He will be leaving them, leaving the world and going to the Father. His desire is they have peace, that is, an inner peace since being in the world they will experience tribulation. Now, hearing this, Jesus’ followers are quick to speak to Him of their loyalty and know for sure that Jesus is sent by God. The Twelve profess faith in Jesus who then tells them that a time is coming when they will all be scattered and go back to their homes. However, He lets them know that He has overcome the world.
Jesus’ comforting words are spoken either in the Upper Room, or while on the way to the garden of Gesthsemane. These will be Jesus’ last words to His disciples prior to His crucifixion. Despite appearances, there will be joy—that settled, peaceful, and hopeful mindset that cannot be perverted by external circumstances. In this passage, Jesus repeatedly uses the phrase in a “little while,” or mikron in the Greek. Jesus would leave, then appear, then leave, and then come again. (There are a number of ways of explaining Jesus’ intent here.) When Jesus leaves and His disciples see Him no more, yes, the disciples will grieve and the world, those who reject His Lordship, will rejoice. But His followers will have joy, which they will never lose. Again He invites His followers to pray to the Father, in His name, or because of His finished work, His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.
Jesus’ comforting words are spoken either in the Upper Room, or while on the way to the garden of Gesthsemane. These will be Jesus’ last words to His disciples prior to His crucifixion. Despite appearances, there will be joy—that settled, peaceful, and hopeful mindset that cannot be perverted by external circumstances. When Jesus leaves and His disciples see Him no more, the disciples will grieve, and the world, those who reject His Lordship, will rejoice. But His followers will have joy, which they will never lose. He invites His followers to pray to the Father, in His name (because of His finished work, His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension).
This passage presents the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in perfect harmony. Jesus, knowing that He is going to the Father, in empathy for His followers, tells them it is to their advantage that He is going away, because the Holy Spirit will be sent to them. And the working of the Spirit is one of convicting or conviction, proving the truth about what is reality. Jesus defines three ways in which Holy Spirit conviction is directed: regarding sin, righteousness, and judgment. The Holy Spirit convicts people of sin who do not believe in Him. Then righteousness because He goes to the Father, and judgment because the ruler of the world, that is Satan, is judged and condemned. This things are not easily grasped nor understood. Also the Holy Spirit will teach them all things, bringing to their remembrance those things He has spoken to them.
The world, that is, those people who are not chosen or born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, these will and must hate both Jesus and those who follow Him. And at the same time, followers of Jesus are to bear witness to and about Jesus. The world will love its own, but since Christians are not of this world, they will be hated by the world. Whoever hates Jesus hates His Father also. And because Jesus has done signs, works that no one else did, they are guilty of sin. This hate then is without cause. And the promised Holy Spirit will, when He comes, will bear witness about Jesus. And Jesus says these things so that they will not be troubled, even be offended and scandalized, by the hatred that is coming.
A “vine” has long been a symbol of the Messiah for the nation of Israel, both in the Hebrew Bible and for Judaism to this day. Vine images have appeared on Jewish coinage and also by the door of the Holy Place was a golden vine. Here now is the 7th “I Am” saying of Jesus. Jesus is the “true” vine, and the Father is the vinedresser, thus the one who planted and tends the vine to make it fruitful. By abiding in the vine, a branch brings forth fruit, and Jesus’ disciples are the fruit. And, then by being in Jesus, the disciples, followers of Jesus, also bring forth fruit by abiding in Him. Again, Jesus restates His great commandment, that is to love one another as He has loved them.
The passage begins by Jesus saying that if His disciples love Him they will keep His commandments. And in response, the Father will give them a Helper, a Counselor, an Advocate, the Paraclete. Only those in Christ can receive this Holy Spirit. Jesus also states that loving Him means keeping His commandments, chief of which He had previously spoken, that is, to love on another as Jesus has loved them. And this means that “we” will come to them, indwelling them. And this Helps will teach them all things. He also states that He leaves them with His peace so that their hearts will not be troubled. Then He warns then that the “ruler of this world” is coming.
Here now is the 6th of Jesus’ “I Am” sayings. Here also Jesus summarizes His core teaching. He begins by stating that in His Father’s house is a place for them and He goes to prepare that place. He announces that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through or by means of, Him. The disciples press Jesus for more information. He wants them to believe in Him which is the same as believing in the Father. Here again we come upon the mystery of the Trinity. He ends this segment by saying that the disciples will do great works, even greater than He Himself, because He goes to the Father and that they can therefore pray to Him.
The Scripture has already called us to love God and our neighbor–this in the Law of Moses. Now something entirely new: We are to love each other, in the family of God, as Jesus loved us. Jesus loved us by going to the cross for us, this glorification, that we might be forgiven of our sin. This loving is how others will know they are Jesus’ followers. Peter now speaks up and asks where Jesus is going. Peter says that he will even die for Jesus, whereupon Jesus states that before the night is over, Peter will deny Him three times.
At the meal where Jesus washes the disciples feet He announces that one among them would betray Him. His followers did not know of whom He spoke. Upon request, Jesus says the betrayer would be the one to whom He gave a “morsel” to. He gave this morsel to Judas Iscariot, whereupon Satan entered into Judas. Jesus, speaking to Judas tells him to go about his business. The other disciples, hearing the words spoken to Judas, yet did not understand. Judas does leave and, then it was night.
This passage introduces Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse” and begins the second half of John’s Gospel. Jesus, rejected by the religious authorities, now turns to the new Messianic community. During a meal, some say the Lord’s Supper, Jesus assumes the role of a servant and washes the disciples’ feet. Here the disciples see their Master and Lord humbling Himself and doing the dirty work, as a message to them for their future roles. Peter objects at first, but once he understands, wants to be washed head to toe. Thus, this is how the disciples are to treat one another.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment." Harbored anger is destructive. We are not innocent just because we refrain from doing what is in our hearts: murder.
Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. . . . And, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus came to both keep the law's intent and to accuse the Pharisees of skirting responsibility to do so themselves.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." This is another way to see that we, as followers of Jesus, are sent into the world to shine his light that is in us.
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.” Salt was so valuable in 1st c. Palestine that to be called salt was a compliment and a responsibility that Jesus did not want his followers to take lightly.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Being a follower of Jesus is a double-edged sword!
“If the angels said at Jesus’ birth, ‘Peace on earth and goodwill toward men,’ why isn’t there peace on earth?” Does the Bible have it wrong? Or, is the word, Peace, misunderstood? Jesus is talking about changed character and disposition rather than actions and behavior. But actions come out of character; actions follow or emanate from character. Also, Jesus said to His disciples, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace."
Exposition on 3/8/2020
Bereket Jebessa brings Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Concentrate on three words: blessed, pure, see. In Greek, blessed is "makarios" meaning rich, happy. In Greek, pure is "katharoi" meaning unmixed with another substance. See is "hopsontai", but we have both physical and spiritual eyes, and we must live the Christian life with spiritual eyes.
Exposition on 2/7/2020
Vernon Philpott brings Matthew 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." Now the focus is outward after the first four beatitudes focused inwardly. What we do now will come back to us later, as in loving those who do not love us in return. All of the descriptions of those who seek God — poor in spirit, mourners, meek, craving righteousness, merciful, etc. describe the life of a Christian but go against the common culture.
Exposition on 2/16/2020
Daniel Dover brings Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." Craving righteousness, meaning being saved and in a right relationship with God is a high calling, again like King David, who craved God like "a deer panting." Daniel talks about the great miracles God has performed in his life, including taking him out of homelessness. Seeking righteousness is seeking God. He will be found!
Exposition on 2/9/2020
Katie Philpott brings Matthew 5:5 "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." The beatitudes are a prelude and/or summary of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount. Explaining the Aramaic and Greek grammar and vocabulary. "Meek" does not mean weak or retiring or even "nice." It means humble and teachable and accepting the necessity of salvation and relying on Jesus for rest for their souls.
Exposition on 1/26/2020
Vern Philpott brings Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5-6-7 has some of the most difficult teachings of Jesus. Since those who are poor in spirit recognize they are spiritually bankrupt, they grieve and come close to Jesus for His comfort, as did King David when he recognized his sin and came before God in confession.
Exposition on 1/19/2020
Daniel Dover brings the first beatitude of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Since the Kingdom of Heaven is for the saved believers, and since the presence of God in the Holy Spirit indwells the believer, the poor in spirit are seekers. They are blessed for knowing this and looking upward for salvation. It has nothing to do with poverty of material possessions.
Pastor Kent introduces the Sermon on the Mount in preparation for the next several months of Bible expositions to be presented by lay preachers and teachers at Miller Avenue Baptist Church. Jesus has started His ministry, and "great crowds followed Him." He uses this "sermon" to prepare his disciples for their own Christian walk and as representatives of Him. Their lives will daily be a reflection of Him and these teachings.
In front of the Passover pilgrims Jesus cried out that whoever believed in Him actually believed in the Father who sent Him. Not only that, but whoever saw Jesus, saw the Father. Here we find the core doctrine of the Trinity, though impossible for us to fully grasp, is nevertheless the reality of who God is. Indeed, those who reject Jesus reject the Father as well. Those who reject His words have a judge, and that judge is His own word. And this word, Jesus’ message, is what the Father had told Him.
Jesus, in ear shoot of others, said that he was troubled, knowing His death was imminent, yet yields to the design and plan of His Father. He then announces that what is to follow is judgment, and even that the ruler of this world, meaning Satan, will be judged and cast out. In the same breath He says that He will be lifted up, meaning crucified. The crowd does not understand, but Jesus urges them to believe what He is saying. At this point Jesus departed and hid Himself, since despite the many signs He had done, still there was massive unbelief, just as Isaiah had prophesied centuries before. Still many of even the religious authorities believed in Him.
Palm Sunday, this is the day of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem for the great Passover Feast. He did so along with perhaps as many as 2.5 million others of this pilgrimage feast. Along the road from Bethany to Jerusalem, a two mile stretch, grew palm trees and these were used to celebrate the arrival of Jesus, about whom much was said and upon whom were great expectations. He rode, not on a full grown animal, but upon a young donkey whose small stature meant Jesus would have had to hold His legs up off the ground. The event prompted the Pharisees to worry since it seemed the whole world held Him in a high place. Then among the throng that came for Passover were some Greeks who approached Philip hoping to gain an audience with Jesus.
Some six days after Lazarus is raised from the dead by Jesus, at a dinner given for Jesus, Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anoints Jesus’ feet. Judas complains that the perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Then, after a large crowd at gathered hoping to see Jesus, the chief priests determined that Lazarus must also be murdered.
Rather than be grateful for a great friend, Lazarus, being raised to life, the religious authorities are fearful that many might look to Jesus as Messiah, and so determine to kill Him. At an informal hearing of the Council of Israel, the high priest, Caiaphas, states that it is better for one man to die than the whole nation be lost. He meant that it is best for Jesus to be murdered.
For reasons unexplained by the Apostle John, the author of this Gospel, there is no reason given for Jesus’ weeping. It is thought the tears demonstrated Jesus’ love for Lazarus and the family. Jesus then proceeds to Bethany and the grave site and calls Lazarus out of death unto life.
Jesus is informed that his friend Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany, is dying. Jesus remains where He and does not rush to the grave site. At this point He announces the fifth “I Am” saying, I Am the resurrection and the Life.
This is the beginning of the Farewell Discourse, the second half of John’s gospel. Jesus turns his attention to the “new Messianic community” that started with the disciples. Kent discusses whether foot-washing is an ordinance or a symbol of cleansing or a call to Christians to be humble servants to fellow believers, Jesus’ own. Does this occur on Maundy Thursday? Kent also discusses how Judas Iscariot becomes the devil’s tool and how Peter must be convinced that Jesus must wash his feet.
Major themes here are (1) the inner-connectedness of the Trinity, (2) Light versus darkness expressed as judgment, and (3) hearing and keeping Jesus’ words. A conclusion one must draw is that no one can believe in the Son and reject the Father, and conversely, no one can believe in the Father and reject the Son. Perhaps this passage should have followed v. 36a. Hear why this might.
Two truths are presented here: War amongst the nations, but the larger war is conflict between man and God. The book of Genesis shows this starting in the third chapter and continues all the way through to Revelation. Jesus here is troubled, because He knows he will soon die a horrible death, but it will also mean that, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” The good will be, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
The next day large crowds gather in Jerusalem as Jesus enters the city, crying, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel, showing they think He is the Messiah after raising Lazarus. He rides in on a donkey, fulfilling Zechariah 9:9. Then Gentiles come to the disciples seeking Jesus, but Jesus only talks about his coming hour of glorification and how “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in the world will keep it for eternal life.”
At the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) in late December, Jesus is walking in the temple when a crowd surrounds Him and demands that he tell them if He is in fact the Christ. Jesus counters by pointing to the signs/miracles He has done, which they witnessed and lets that be His answer. The angry reaction leads Jesus to go further and announce that He and the Father are one. This they consider to be blasphemy and pick up stones to kill Him. They try to arrest Him, but Jesus slips away.
The theme of shepherd and sheep is a familiar one in the Hebrew Bible. “Shepherd” is a Messianic title. Jesus states that He is the Good Shepherd who gathers His sheep and safeguards them, and they in turn will hear His voice and follow Him. All others are thieves and robbers and do not care for the sheep. Thieves come only to kill, steal and destroy. Jesus knows His sheep, and the sheep know Him.
The religious authorities confront the now seeing man and attempt to get him to renounce Jesus. They insist that Jesus is a sinner since He worked on the Sabbath, but the healed man reacts to this and refuses to speak ill of Jesus. He reasons, how could a sinner do such a miracle? The parents of the man are also grilled. Jesus later seeks out the now seeing man and speaks of the blindness of the religious authorities. Opposition to Jesus escalates.
Here is the ancient idea that past sin of a person or the parents, etc. results in misfortune down the line. Jesus heals a man born blind, makes clay, puts on the man’s eyes, tells him to go to the Pool of Siloam to wash the mud off. The blind man sees. Trouble arises for both the healed man and the Healer, since the event takes place on a Sabbath day, and making mud is work. A confrontation arises between the religious authorities, the healed man, his parents, and of course, Jesus.
Being a descendant of Abraham was a claim to special position and authority for the religious leaders. Jesus now, and using the term, “I Am” to refer to Himself, is thus making a direct claim to deity. He even says that before Abraham was “I Am,” meaning He is and always has been. This so infuriated His hearers they picked up stones with which to stone Him to death, but Jesus hid Himself.
In the continuing confrontation with the religious authorities who are attempting to cast Jesus into a false light, He tells them that the truth, and He is the truth, alone can set them free. These leaders look to their heritage, descendants of Abraham, for their righteousness. Abraham is their father, they boast, but Jesus says, no, you are actually of your father the devil.
Following the attempt to compromise Jesus in the situation with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus states that He is the light of the world. This is the second “I Am” statement, and it is a direct claim to be God. It is set against the blindness of those who are envious and jealous of Jesus, as crowds of people attending the Feast of Booths are gathering around Him. He also speaks of His crucifixion, saying that when this occurs they will understand who He is.
Enemies of Jesus, the religious authorities, hope to compromise Jesus, endanger Him by bringing a woman caught in the act of adultery. These people want Jesus to agree that she ought to be stoned to death, per the Law of Moses. If Jesus says yes, the Roman authorities would have a claim against Jesus, since Rome alone held the power to do this. If Jesus declines, then it would appear that He is in violation of Moses’ laws. Jesus does not answer but writes on the ground, stands, and states, “He among you without sin cast the first stone.”
On the last day of Feast, when water drawn from the Pool of Siloam is collected, poured into a funnel, and emptied at the foot of the altar of burnt offering, Jesus declares that out of person who believes in Him will flow rivers of living water. Now the people are further confused about Jesus. Meanwhile, the officers sent to arrest Jesus return empty handed. Nicodemus then sides with Jesus saying that Jesus at least should be given a chance to defend Himself.
At the middle of the Feast, Jesus goes alone to the Temple and begins to teach. The religious authorities say He must have two witnesses when Jesus declares that God is His Father. Jesus accuses the leaders of breaking the Law of Moses by seeking to kill Him. They say Jesus has a demon. Jesus points out that the leaders break Moses’ Law by working or circumcising on a Sabbath day. Some of the hearers begin to wonder whether the religious authorities actually think Jesus might be the Christ.
The last of the Fall Feasts is Booths or Tabernacles, celebrating God’s providing for Israel while in the wilderness following the exodus from Egypt. Jesus’ brothers—James, Jude, Joseph, and Simon—not cousins, but children of Joseph and Mary, urged Jesus to go to Jerusalem for Booths and declare Himself. Jesus declines but goes alone later. In Jerusalem there was much debate as to who Jesus was. Some said one thing, others another. Here we see the typical confusion as to who Jesus really is.
Jesus said that unless one eats the flesh of the Son of Man and drinks His blood no life will be in him or her. The hearers complained it was a “hard saying,” but Jesus urges them not to take offense, that they will believe when they witness His ascension, thus proving His resurrection. And if they walk away from Him now, they will miss out. Jesus makes it clear that no one will believe in Him unless it is granted by the Father, a clear reference to the great truth of election.
Jesus uses physical objects as metaphor to teach spiritual realities. Here His body is likened to bread and His blood to wine. The crowds misunderstand that He is pointing ahead to the cross where He will die and His blood be shed. As that which is physical gives life, bios, so does the death of Jesus: His broken body and shed blood bring life that is eternal in nature. To trust in Jesus as Savior is to “ingest” Him, and then it can be said that Christ is in us and that we are in Christ.
Now we encounter the first of seven “I Am” sayings. The construction of the Greek phrase “I Am” matches the name God spoke to Moses when Moses asked who it was who was sending him to the Egyptian Pharaoh (see Exodus 3:13–15). There is bios, or physical life, but then there is zoe, or spiritual life. To “eat” of Jesus gives eternal life. And in this passage we find the statement that only those whom the Father gives to Him will come to Him, and these will never be cast out.
Miracles stir up the crowds, and they set out to find Him. They find Him in Capernaum. It is noted that Jesus never alludes, in any way, to either the feeding of the 5,000 or the walking on water. They are seeking Jesus to feed their stomachs. But Jesus tells the people to do the “work” of God: to believe Him on whom He has put His seal. He warns then not to work for that which perishes. Miracles do not yield saving faith. Salvation in Jesus produces something far deeper and more significant.
Two miracles of nature, defying the laws of science. 5,000 men plus women and children are fed from one boy’s basket of food. Then 12 leftover baskets of food are collected. When the crowd sees the miracle, they want to make Jesus king, but He slips away. Then Jesus walks on water across the tip of the Sea of Galilee. These are signs as to who Jesus is. The miracles are stated in a simple manner and not trumpeted.
Jesus continues defending Himself by showing that He has witnesses to His claim to be equal with God the Father, witnesses that are needed according to the law that requires two or more. First the Father witnessed to Him, then John the Baptist, then are the works Jesus performs, the signs and wonders, and also the Scriptures, the words of Moses. Jesus concludes the presentation of His witnesses by stating if they do not believe Moses, they will not believe Him.
When the religious leaders hear Jesus say, “My Father,” they accuse Him of blasphemy, since He claims equality with God. Jesus proceeds to identify Himself as equal with God to the point that He says the Father has committed all judgment to Him. He goes on to say that to dishonor Him is to dishonor God the Father. If Jesus’ claims are not true, then He is guilty of blasphemy. Now again Jesus and the religious authorities are in conflict, which will continue.
In Jerusalem was a pool where the ill came hoping to be healed. Jesus finds an invalid man there and asks him if he wants to be healed. The man says he cannot get into the pool quickly enough, and Jesus tells him to get up, take up his bed, and walk. He does, but religious authorities accost him for carrying a bed on the sabbath—a sin. Jesus later finds the healed man and tells him to sin no more. When the religious leaders question Jesus He tells them “My Father is working, and I am as well.”
An official, probably attached to Herod Antipas at Capernaum, had a son who was near death. He travelled to Cana hoping to bring Jesus back so Jesus could heal his son. Jesus responds that unless someone sees “signs” they will not believe. Jesus tells the man that his son will live. The man believes Jesus’ word, starts for home, and on the way his servants tell him his son is recovering, which began at the very time Jesus told him his son would live.
Jesus heals the son of an "official" from a distance, and the man and his household "believe" in Jesus. What does this mean for the process of coming to faith? Must we see miracles in order to believe? Is it our faith itself that is the key, or is it Jesus, the object of our faith?
At Jacob’s well near the Samarian town of Sychar, Jesus engages in conversation with a Samaritan woman. The disciples return from town to find Jesus speaking with the woman, who then rushes back to her town to tell others that she has found someone who may be the Christ. The disciples want Jesus to eat, and He tells them He has food to eat they know nothing about. The food is doing the work the Father has sent Him to do. Citizens of Sychar come to the well, and after seeing and hearing Jesus, they become convinced Jesus is the Savior of the world.
After learning that the party of the Pharisees knew of His growing numbers of followers, Jesus leaves Judea and begins a journey to Galilee and in doing so travels through Samaria. The disciples, leaving a “weary” Jesus beside Jacob’s well, go onto Sychar for provisions. A woman of Samaria had come to get water, about noon, and he initiates a conversation with her. Jesus tells her that she could receive “living water” from Him. Jesus proceeds to tell her that she has had five husbands and the man she is now with is not a husband. Shocked, the woman grasps that she is talking with a prophet.
John the Apostle now writes of the ministry of John the Baptist. John continued to baptize, and Jesus began baptizing as well. (Jesus did not baptize, only His disciples. See John 4:2) Over time those following Jesus outnumbered those following John. Envy thus arose among John’s followers, and the Baptist responded by saying Jesus must increase while he himself must decrease.
The most memorized verse in the Bible is John 3:16. These words of Jesus express the why God sent His Son into the world. Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness, yet we loved darkness rather than the light, because our deeds are evil, and we fear exposure.
The most famous quote in the New Testament (Greek Bible) is, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." Pastor Kent preaches verse by verse through this passage and gives new insight.
What actually happened on the first Pentecost in Jerusalem 40 days after Jesus ascended to heaven? Kent Philpott gives a very credible explanation.
An esteemed Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin comes to Jesus by night. Nicodemus, who will one day become a follower of Jesus, speaks well of Him. Jesus states that to enter the kingdom of God one has to be born from above. Nicodemus is dumbfounded and either sarcastically or sincerely declares such is impossible. However religious one is, it is no avail in terms of seeing the kingdom of God. Nicodemus, and all people, are utterly dependent upon the saving work of the Holy Spirit.
At Passover every male is to make a sacrifice and pay the temple tax. Hundreds of thousands descend upon Jerusalem to do this. For a fee, agents change travelers’ money into the proper currency. Animals for sacrifices have been moved into the Court of the Gentiles. A noisy, stinky den of robbers awaits all who desire to obey the Law. Jesus disrupts the entire proceedings. Jesus will not entrust himself to those in charge; he knows what is inside of human beings—inner corruption and pollution.
Jesus’ first sign occurs at a wedding in a town near Nazareth. Jesus’ family, mother Mary, and his disciples are part of the wedding party. The wine runs out, and Mary informs her son Jesus. After an unusual exchange between them, a miracle occurs. Jesus directs that stone jars be filled to the brim with water. New water from the same source is discovered to be very good wine, perhaps signaling that the Jewish rites of purification are ending, and something new is come.
Two men who are with John the Baptist hear John point out the Lamb of God as Jesus walks by. These two men, Andrew and an unnamed one (John the Gospel writer?) spend time with Jesus and acknowledge that this Jesus is the promised Messiah. Andrew then finds his brother Peter and tells him about Jesus.Then Jesus calls Philip to be His disciple who then testifies to Nathanael (this is likely Bartholomew of the Synoptic Gospels) who tells him he has found the Messiah.
John the Baptist, coming in the spirit and power of Elijah, prepares the way for the arrival of the Lamb of God, that sacrificial offering for sin. John is not the Christ, he is not Elijah of Malachi 4:5, nor is he the prophet of Deuteronomy 18:5 in answer to those Jewish leaders sent to get answers. But John points to another one who is presently among them but whom they do not know. John knows Him for he saw the Holy Spirit descend on Him. This one does not baptize in water but in the Holy Spirit and fire.
Here we are introduced to John the Baptist who came to bear witness to the fact that “light” was coming into the world and this light is Jesus Himself. (Jesus would later declare that He is the light of the world.) Also all that exists in the created cosmos came through Jesus, and without Him, there would be no universe at all. Jesus reveals the very glory of God, glory being the actual presence of God. To see Jesus is to behold God in the flesh.
The first five verses of the Prologue of John’s Gospel are presented beginning with a profile of the Apostle John. John’s essential theme is that Jesus is the promised Messiah and Son of God, and that by believing in Jesus there is eternal life. The Logos or Word of God, who is later identified with Jesus, is God in His entirety. John is essentially reaching out to a Graeco-Roman audience who would have acquaintance with the concept of a Logos.
Which is more important, the crucifixion or the resurrection? It is very clear that both are completely necessary; you cannot have one without the other. On the cross Jesus took our sin away, and the proof of this is in the resurrection. We have the Suffering Servant of God dying on the cross, fulfilling Isaiah 53 and other prophetic passages, and then the Conquering Champion of God defeats death.
The word “peace,” in both the Hebrew and Greek Bibles, can mean either peace with individuals, nations, religions, etc., or an inner peace that God gives to those whose sin is covered by the act of justification by Jesus’ dying on the cross. Still, while the Christian has peace with God, s/he is at warfare with those who are not believers, even family members. Paul speaks in Ephesians 6 of the believer’s warfare with the powers of darkness, namely Satan and his demons. Thus, Christians are at peace but wage war with the demonic kingdom.
In John 6:47 Jesus says, “whoever believes has eternal life” and then in verse 54 Jesus says, “whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” Does one equal the other? Yes, says those who see the Lord’s Supper as an ordinance, a memorial and a command to observe, the great event to be remembered. However, many who claim it is a sacrament say that the bread and the juice become the actual body and blood of Jesus, or that the body and blood is within the elements. The former sees salvation by faith; the latter sees salvation by an act of the Church’s priests.
Resting comes first—ceasing to try to save ourselves. Rather it is Jesus who took our sin upon Himself, dyed in our place, was buried, rose from the grave, and is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Jesus’ work is complete, and now we rest in His work, ours being irrelevant. However, once safely resting in Jesus Christians strive to honor and glorify God via committing ourselves to the finished work of Jesus, growing up into the fullness of Christ, and seeking to do what He commands.
On the one hand God knows our needs before we ask Him, yet we are to make our needs known to Him in prayer. Both of these are true and actual at once. Even the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with “groaning” too deep for words. Prayer is surrounded in mystery, but at the heart of it is the concept of fellowship, which John speaks of in his first letter. The Creator God desires fellowship with His Chosen people, and until we are with Him in heaven, we have prayer.
The Hebrew Bible paints two pictures of Messiah, also called The Anointed One, whom God sends to His people. One is Messiah Son of Joseph, the suffering servant of Israel who redeems the chosen people. Isaiah and the Psalmist in Psalm 22 prophesy about one who is sacrificed for sin. Joseph was the 11th son of Jacob (Israel) who was betrayed by his brothers, sold as a slave into Egypt, but who saves all of his family Israel. Then Messiah Son of David, after the great king David who reigned over his people in the golden era of Israel. Jesus has come as Messiah Son of Joseph and will return as Messiah Son of David.
Saving faith is a gift of grace. Salvation cannot be earned but is given to us by the working of the Holy Spirit. And yet, we are urged, commanded even, to believe in Jesus Christ. Jesus even said that to do the work of God is to “believe in him whom He has sent.” Therefore the paradox: salvation is at once a gift yet we are told to believe in Jesus.
The paradox: God is ultimate love yet judges at the same time. If God were not to judge and put away sin into hell, then He could not be a God who loves His creation. Biblical love is to act for the benefit of another, to bring them the very best. Therefore, injustice will not reign but will be banished all together. Scripture speaks of the resurrection to life and the resurrection to death and is seen in His putting away sin and Satan and all those who belong to the demonic realm forever.
We Christians are both perfect and sinners at the same time. We are perfect in that all our sin has been “nailed to the cross” of Jesus Christ. All our sin, from day one to the last day of our lives. Gone and forever. The born anew believer in Jesus is cleansed from all sin. However, we continue to sin. And this is the paradox: completely forgiven yet still sinners who are to confess sin regularly. God is not bound by time, but we are. Christians do not have a license to sin; no, the Christian will be sensitive to their sin and will need, to be spiritually and emotionally healthy, to repent of sin on a continuing basis. See Romans 7:4–25; 2 Corinthians 5:16–21; Colossians 2:6–15; 1 John 1:8–2:2; Revelation: 7–10.
All the religions of the world except biblical Christianity teach that the Creator rewards those who do good deeds and think right thoughts. Biblically oriented Christianity teaches that this avails nothing but deception and cannot earn for us forgiveness of sin or salvation. Rather, good action and thought flow from the grace of God in the new birth. Thus, grace comes first, that free gift that only God can give, and works follow. See Romans 10:5–17; Ephesians 2:8–10; James 2:14–26; Hebrews 11:1–3; 12:1–2.
The problem of evil, known to us as the “theodicy,” will never be completely understood. It is plain in Scripture that both exist side by side. God’s creation is good, but an evil presence invaded creation and brought sin and disaster to what God had made. Humans suffer, God dies to redeem us from the curse, and we wonder what this is all about. Paul said we see through a glass darkly (KJV), or in a mirror dimly (ESV), but one day we will understand even this incredible mystery. See Genesis 1:31; 3:1–13; Isaiah 14:12–20; Romans 8:18–25; 1 Corinthians 13:1–13; Hebrews 2:14–15; Revelation 22:1–5.
The “Logos” (Greek for ultimate and ageless truth and wisdom) who was and is God, became flesh and lived with humans. This Logos is Jesus, in whom “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” What Jesus said and did is the exact “Word” and God’s full revelation to us. Jesus is and did what God foretold by His prophets as found in His written word. See John 1:1–18; 20:24–29; Colossians 1:15–20; Hebrews 1:1–4.
Where did we get the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures? Philpott walks us through the books of both the "old" and "new" testaments. And, according to 2 Timothy 3, the words are God-breathed or inspired.
From Paul in Philippians 2:5–11, we see that Jesus emptied himself and became man. How is a mystery, but God came to be with us—"Emmanuel" and the why was to reconcile us to God.
Our passage is John 1:1—Now that it is plain that God the Son became fully human, did He retain deity? The biblical material, and again both from the Hebrew and Greek Bibles, shows that Jesus is fully God as well as fully man. A seeming absolute contradiction, yet this is clearly the evidence from Scripture.
Passage: John 1:14—
The core biblical paradox has to do with Jesus; who is He? Is He God? Is He man only? Could Jesus be both God and man at once? The answer is that indeed He is both at once, eternally, the God-man.
In this opening sermon the case is made, based on the biblical material alone, in both the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the Greek Bible (New Testament), that He is both God and man. This reality is summed up in John 1:14, where the Apostle John declares Jesus is the Word, or Logos, become flesh.
Recorded live at Miller Avenue Baptist Church in Mill Valley, CA, this is another sermon rendition of the "Two Debtors" parable of Jesus. Jim Daley preaches once a month at MAC, and has a completely different style than Pastor Kent Philpott. This parable looks at the inter-related issues of love, forgiveness, and grace as demonstrated by the woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears and hair. She, in turn, is the example of gratitude that the two debtors would have in differing amounts according to how much they were forgiven.
Nineteen parables are summarized here, and briefly the central points of the parables are enumerated. It is seen that so much of what Jesus taught and preached are contained in His parables.
Here is a parable given in the midst of a real-life event. Jesus is the guest of a Pharisee named Simon, when a woman, likely a prostitute, enters in and washes His feet with her tears and hair, then anoints His feet with a costly perfume. Simon thinks Jesus could not be a prophet seeing He allowed a sinful woman to touch him. Jesus then gives a parable to Simon about two men who were relieved of debts, one much more than the other. His question is, who will love the more? Simon answers, the one forgiven the most. Jesus turns to the woman and points out her behavior showed how much she had been forgiven. This would be startling to Simon since he knew only God can forgive sin.