It was Jesus’ final night with the disciples and he knew his time was short. They had just finished supper and Christ wanted to impart to his friends one last teaching while on earth. He summoned them, “Rise, let us go from here” (John 14:31, ESV) and led them on a walk. Along the way he gave them this analogy:
John 6 contains one of the hardest passages for me in all of Scripture. It’s a difficult text for pastors especially because it speaks of followers who end up rejecting Christ and turning away. The passage I’m referring to isn’t a teaching or prophecy. It’s a scene in which people literally left Jesus in droves.
He had just miraculously fed a crowd of thousands. The people were amazed and thrilled by what he’d done, ready to follow this wonder-working Messiah. But when Jesus challenged them about what they were really after, they scoffed and left by the masses.
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over” (Psalm 23:5). Of all the wonderful promises God gives us in the 23rd Psalm, this is one of the most glorious. He is pledging to set a table for us, spread wonderful food on it and serve us a feast. And he does it all in front of our enemies!
Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). Christ shared these words with his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion. It was meant to give them comfort and reassurance in what would be the darkest hour of their faith. Since that time Christians down through the ages have drawn comfort from Jesus' words here, to sustain them through their most difficult trials.
“The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep... The sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:2-3, NLT).
We all need guidance for decisions in life. Yet in a world as chaotic as ours, getting good guidance isn’t always simple or easy. Jesus says it’s different for Christians. He makes it clear in the above passage that his followers— “his own sheep”—know his voice and “come to him.” The picture is of a Good Shepherd providing his sheep with all the oversight and care they need.
All the Old Testament prophets foretold the coming of Christ. Upon his arrival, he would perform glorious blessings — binding up the brokenhearted, proclaiming liberty to the captives, healing the sick and building a new church (see Isaiah 61:1). He would “give...beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (61:3, NKJV).
It was the Passover season and Christ was teaching in the temple. A large crowd gathered because Jesus had a reputation for speaking profound words of love and performing powerful works of God. Yet no sooner had this crowd of commoners gathered than the religious leaders showed up.
I once conducted a funeral service for a young man from our church who died of cancer. When I arrived for the service, I was told the young man’s mother was the only surviving member of a family of five. Her husband had died three years earlier and her two other sons had also died. This was her fourth funeral and the third son she’d had to bury.
I grew up in New York, but when I was in high school my family moved to east Texas. During my first year there I wasn’t known as Gary but as “Yankee.” The longer I kept my New York accent, the more puzzled looks I got, along with a question: “What did you just say?”
My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips” (Psalm 89:34). The term “covenant” plays an integral part in the Christian faith. Yet in all my years I have never heard a preacher or teacher adequately describe the significance of “covenant” in a Christian’s life. The Bible itself is divided into two Covenants (or Testaments), Old and New. Throughout the Old Testament, God makes one covenant after another with humankind. What are all these covenants about? More importantly, what do they have to do with us today?