The Gospel of John. Standing with Psalms, Jonah, and Hebrews, it is one of my favorite Books of the Bible. According to the introduction in my Apologetics Study Bible, it was written directly to Believing Jews, who at the time were being driven from the synagogues and needed encouragement that they’d made the right choice in believing in Y’shuaJesus as Messiah. The Gospel also provided “ammunition” to evangelize Jews. The Book has a “unique writing style that, like the author’s selection of content and themes, differs noticeably” from the other three Gospels, according to this introduction. This is perfectly acceptable, as the author would have “written his account of what others said in his own distinctive style, being faithful to their meaning if not to their exact wording. His sense of being led by the Holy Spirit would have given him the freedom to couch things in his own words, believing he was being faithful to history at the same time.”
The Book of John declares up front that Y’shuaJesus is The Word, The Word that was with G-d, was G-D. . . John the Baptist tells us that “He is the one Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” John 1:33. Nathanael blurts out, “Rabbi, You are the Son of G-d! You are the King of Israel!” John 1:49. We are taken to a wedding in which Y’shuaJesus gives us His first sign backing up the Gospel’s declaration of Y’shuaJesus as Messiah: water becomes wine. John 2:11. This Gospel then takes us, along with other disciples, on a journey during which we see Y’shuaJesus challenging traditions, people’s conventional wisdom, and the religious leaders of the day. We see Y’shuaJesus “cleansing the temple.” “Get these things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” John 2:16. A Pharisee, Nicodemus, comes to Y’shuaJesus by night and confesses that G-d is with Y’shuaJesus, to which Y’shuaJesus replies that we must be “born again.” “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of G-d,” says Y’shuaJesus. John 3:5. We are amazed that Y’shuaJesus speaks to a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well. John 4:27. We experience the second and third sign in the healing of an official’s son and the healing at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. John 4:46, 5:8. We are feed along the shore of the Sea of Galileea, along with 5,000 others, from five loaves of bread and two fish, the fourth sign. John 6:9. We are with the twelve disciples for fifth sign confirming Y’shuaJesus as He walks on water. John 6:20.
It is after Y’shuaJesus fed the 5,000 then escaped to the other side of the sea, that we begin to understand that not all follow Him for His teachings and wisdom. “I assure you: You are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled,” Y’shuaJesus tells the people after they find Him. It is at this point that Y’shuaJesus begins to provoke these followers, perhaps to drive away those he don’t truly believe. They want bread, and more signs. He tells them that His Father gives them real Bread from Heaven, and that He is the Bread of Life. John 6:35. They aren’t satisfied, and complain that Y’shuaJesus is only the son of Joseph and that they know His father and mother. And Y’shuaJesus presses onward, “I assure you: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves.” John 6:53. “Therefore, when many of His disciples heard this, they said, “This teaching is hard! Who can accept it?” John 6:60. It was after this that many of Y’shuaJesus’s “disciples turned back and no longer accompanied Him.” John 6:66.
But wait, why is Y’shuaJesus being so hard? It’s not a very civil thing to do, is it? It is driving away people. There might be repercussions, like lost revenues and prestige. What happened to the gentle baby Who lay in the manger? Didn’t Y’shuaJesus come to bring peace on Earth?
There’s a story of a home church service in a country where it’s illegal to have church. [Yes, 53 nations restrict Gospel preaching.] During the service, a soldier enters with a weapon and says to the gathered, “Everyone who believes in this Jesus, stand up.” A handful of people do so. The soldier then tells the others to leave quickly. When only the handful, a remnant, who stood for Jesus are left, he says, “Okay. Now let Praise the LORD!”
Well, okay, we don’t do that sort of thing. We are too civilized. We invite everyone in to our well-appointed, comfortable churches. We don’t ask for loyalty oaths or any sort of pledge of allegiance. We say, “All who enter are welcome.” We want the unbelievers in our churches to hear the Word of G-d spoken, so that they might come to believe, too. And there’s a parable about such mixing, too. About the weeds among the wheat. And most of all, we want peace. We just don’t want conflict anymore.
But conflict is going to be there for us, regardless of what we want. Conflict and persecution and all the rest of the toils of living in a world spoiled by sin, corruption. The world is a beautiful place, nonetheless, it’s tainted with evil.
And so it is that Y’shuaJesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter- in- law against her mother- in- law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:34-39. [emphasis added]
“Ours isn’t to reason why, ours is to do and die.” We must be tried, and we must be proven. We must love the LORD more than anyone or anything. We must follow our LORD.
Writing about Matthew 10:34, Yves I-Bing Cheng, M.D., M.A., wrote: “The Lord Jesus. . .did not come to change the social structure of this world. He did not come to bring a social peace to a world that is living in sin and in disobedience to God.”
At the manger, the night Y’shuaJesus was born there was a “multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” Luke 2:13. [emphasis added] The Peace of the LORD is given, not to the entire population of Earth, but to those with whom the Lord is pleased. This peace is not necessarily an external peace that is free from trials and various burdens including disease. It is, however, a Peace that is Spiritual, a balm that heals our soul. What we need to remember, always, is that Y’shuaJesus asks, “Do you want to go away as well?” We must answer as Peter did, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine . . .