How can Jesus’ resurrection make a difference in our daily lives? Part 4

“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is to say, Teacher).” John 20:16

We have discovered that Jesus’ resurrection can make a difference in our daily lives by…

– Dispelling the darkness in our lives with the light of His resurrection (John 20:1).

– Providing evidence of His resurrection for our minds (John 20:2-9).

– Providing answers for our hearts (John 20:10-15a).

There is a fourth thing that happened to Mary Magdalene on that first Sunday after Jesus’ death and burial that helped her to see the resurrected Lord. And this is what we also need. If we are going to see Jesus’ resurrection in our daily lives, WE NEED A RELATIONSHIPFOR OUR SOULS (John 20:15b-18). That’s exactly what happened with Mary. There are two incredible recognitions that occur in one verse.

First, Jesus calls Mary by name. So Mary was able to say to Jesus, “You recognize me, Lord” (20:16a). At first,Mary mistakes Jesus for the gardener. After all, the tomb of Jesus was in a garden (John 19:41). So it makes sense that Mary assumes this man outside the tomb is the gardener. “She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, ‘Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ ” (John 20:15b).

The Son of God, the King of creation, had risen from the dead. And he was mistaken for a gardener!” 1  Her tears and her focus lead her to conclude Christ is the gardener. Even though she mistakes Jesus’ identity, her request for His body expresses her desire to assume the care of it, revealing her devotion to Christ. Did you ever wonder how is Mary going to carry Jesus? That is a lot of faith and strength for her to think she is going to carry a dead man’s body by herself.

Here’s the big question for our lives, “Who do we mistake Jesus for?” We may laugh at Mary and say how could she have mistaken Jesus for the gardener? But who do we mistake Jesus for? Perhaps we have mistaken Jesus for luck. Something has happened in your life and you have said, “I was so lucky! I can’t believe that car missed me coming around that blind curve. I can’t believe I did not die when that car ran the red light! I can’t believe I haven’t died from COVID-19! I am so lucky!” No. The resurrected Jesus Christ was there. That is why you are still alive.

Sometimes we mistake our risen Lord for fate. Or we mistake Him for our own intellectual ability, like somehow we figured everything out and did it ourselves. God does use our minds, our heart, and our strength. But it was Christ who was there for us. So who do we mistake Him for?

Mary mistook Him for the gardener, but Jesus would not let her stay there. I love the way that Jesus recognized her. One word, one name. “Mary!” (John 20:16a). In the native language – Mariam.  As the True Shepherd, Jesus “calls His own sheep by name” (John 10:3) and “they know His voice” (John 10:4). 3  

The incredible thing to me that the first word out of the mouth of the resurrected Jesus Christ is not some great words of theology. It is a name. The name of one of His devoted followers. “Mary!” It is the name she had heard so many times before. It is the name she heard when Jesus cast the demons out of her life (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2), when He called her out of a life of sin. She heard it again and again as He had taught her along with the other disciples day by day. But this time it took on new meaning because it helped her to recognize Jesus Christ is alive and He is here. He spoke her name in the midst of her pain and confusion and He does the same with us.

The resurrection of Christ moves from being an historical event to being a personal event when we hear Jesus Christ speak our name. It’s something personal. When Jesus calls your name, you see Him as a risen Jesus instead of a gardener. It becomes personal. Until Jesus becomes personal to you, there will be no lasting hope for you. Christ will be like a gardener to you. All you will have is dead religion. Other gods are not speaking our names because they are still dead in their graves or they are made by human hands and imaginations. But Jesus is not dead nor imaginary. He is alive and He comes to us speaking our name.  

Do you ever call a dead person? I know that sounds like a strange question, but really, do you ever call a dead person? I don’t. I call a living person. Some of us do not call Jesus or talk to Him because we think He is still dead.

If Jesus spoke your name what would it sound like? What do you think it sounded like to Mary? If Jesus came into your life right now and spoke your name, how would you hear it? We need to learn how to hear it. I’ll tell you how I think He spoke it to Mary. With tenderness, compassion, concern, and power all rolled up into one. It is a tone of voice that is filled with hope for you and what God can do in your life. He speaks it with a tone that knows everything you have done wrong, and yet it is a forgiving and compassionate tone of voice. That is how I hear Him speaking our names. 

When Mary hears Jesus speak her name, she recognizes Him. “She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is to say, Teacher).” (John 20:16b). Mary moves from saying, “You recognize me, Lord”to saying, “I recognize You, Lord.”Mary is saying, “I see You. I understand Who You are. You are my risen Lord.” Mary refers to Jesus as “Rabboni” which means “Teacher.” “The term ‘Rabboni’ was a respectful form of address more emphatic and perhaps more honorific than the simpler term ‘Rabbi,’ the traditional honorary title for recognized teachers of the Law. The Aramaic rab means ‘great’ or ‘great one.’Even after His death and resurrection, Jesus is still our “Teacher” Who passes on the truths of His Father.

“The men were quicker to grasp, intellectually, the meaning of the empty tomb, but Mary was the more devoted, and this Christ rewarded. Mary exemplifies the case of those whose hearts seek Christ, but whose minds are ill-informed. It is the heart God ever looks at. We may know much truth intellectually, but unless the heart is absorbed with Christ, He will not reveal Himself to such a one in the intimacies of love and communion.” 5

“Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them,’ ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ” (John 20:17). Mary embraces her risen Lord because she loved Him and did not want to lose Him again. When Jesus tells Mary, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father,” the Greek word translated “for” (gar) is an anticipatory conjunction, not a causal conjunction and is more accurately rendered as “since” instead of “because” or “for.” 6 So the verse is better translated, “Do not cling to Me. Since I have not yet ascended to My Father, go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ “ Jesus is telling her that it will be a while before He ascends to His Father so there was no need for her to cling to Him (cf. Acts 1:4-11).

Also the present tense verb “ascending” “might refer to Jesus’ ascension forty days later (without denying that He went to the Father often during that time). Compare 10:18 (‘I lay it [my life] down’) where another present tense clearly refers to a future event. The clause might be paraphrased ‘I will soon ascend.’” 7  The idea that Jesus ascended to the Father before He appeared to the disciples is not clearly substantiated by John 20:17. The main thing is that Christ has an important job for Mary to do now. She was “to go” to His disciples whom He now refers to as His “brethren.” This reminds us that believers in Jesus become members of the same family with God as their Father and Jesus as their Brother (John 1:12; Hebrews 2:11-12).

When Jesus told Mary, “I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God,” Jesus is not denying He is God as some conclude when He refers to God as “My God and your God.” This would be contrary to the entire argument of the gospel of John. Jesus simply acknowledges His Father is God. So many other verses also acknowledge Jesus is God in the gospel of John.

The beginning of the gospel of John establishes that Jesus is the eternal Creator God without beginning and the source of life and light (hope): 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:1-5).  

Later in Chapter 1 John informs us that Jesus is “the Word” (God) and human “flesh.” “14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (John 1:14, 17-18). Jesus Christ is presented in the gospel of John as one Person “with a fully divine nature and a fully human nature. He is deity poured into humanity. He is fully human so he cried as an infant, but he is fully divine and gave life to his mother! He is fully human so he had to sleep, but he is fully divine and can raise the dead back to life. Our God fully experienced what it is to be human—yet without sinning (see Heb 4:15).” 8

As the gospel of John progresses, we see the divinity of Jesus elaborated: He assumes dominion over all things (John 3:35); He identifies Himself as the promised Messiah-God to the woman at the well (John 4:25-26); He called God His Father, making Himself equal with God in nature (John 5:17-18); He claims to have the same power as God to give life to whom He wills (John 5:21); He claims to have the same privilege as God to judge the world (John 5:22); He claims to be worthy of the same honor and worship due to God (John 5:23); He declared that the Old Testament Scriptures testify of Him (John 5:39); His disciples said He was the Christ, the Son of the living God (John 6:69); Jesus identifies Himself as the Son of God to the former blind man who then worships Jesus, and Christ does not refuse his worship (John 9:35-38); When Jesus said He and God the Father “are one,” the Jews took up stones to stone Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God” (John 10:30, 33); Jesus asks people to have faith in Him as they have faith in God (John 14:1); He is the earthly manifestation of God (John 14:8); Jesus claims to be able to do whatever people ask in His name after He is gone, more or less implying that He has omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence (John 14:13); He is the King of another world (John 18:36–37); In addition, He admonishes His opponents that His identity is central to salvation (John 8:24) and that He perpetually preexists Abraham (John 8:58), in both of these cases using the divine name of Yahweh from the Old Testament, the “I AM.” Jesus said in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” This is the most indisputable claim by Jesus to be God. “I AM” is the name of God in the book of Exodus. Jesus’ audience knew full well what He was saying. “They took up stones to stone Him”(John 8:59) because they think He committed blasphemy, claiming to be God.

In what some consider the climax of the gospel, a disciple named Thomas realizes who Jesus is and exclaims in affirmation, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) to which Jesus responds, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29). Jesus does not correct Thomas when he said Jesus was his Lord and his God. Why? The answer is obvious. From the first to the last, John’s gospel identifies Jesus as God. You cannot ignore those verses and be honest with God’s Word.

“Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.” (John 20:18). Mary did as Jesus commanded her and faithfully told the disciples all that Jesus spoke to her. Don’t overlook that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was first announced by a woman. In first-century Judaism, a woman’s testimony wasn’t considered credible. So if the disciples were going to invent a resurrection story, they wouldn’t choose women to be the first to see and declare it. Such testimonies would have been rejected by the Jews. Thus, the fact that the first witnesses were women (see Matt 28:1-10) provides evidence for the historicity of the resurrection. It also affirms the communication gifting of women as long as the gift is exercised under the legitimately authorized spiritual authority and covering of the home and the church (see 1 Cor 11:5, 10).” 9

What Mary says to the disciples is the best thing we can say about any moment of our lives – “I have seen the Lord.” I’ve seen the Lord give direction for my family. I’ve seen the Lord comfort me in this painful situation. I’ve seen the Lord show me His will in this decision. I’ve seen the Lord’s presence even in this place that I don’t want to be in. I’ve seen the Lord heal my friend of a deadly disease. I’ve seen the resurrected Lord.”

Are we seeing Jesus’ resurrection in our daily lives? If not, it is becausewe need the darkness in our lives to be dispelled by the light of His resurrection. We need evidence for our minds. We need answers for our hearts. And we need a relationship for our souls. This is not about a religion or philosophy. It is about a  Person Who loved us so much that He died in our place for all our sins and rose from the dead. And He is alive today and He is speaking your name. The risen Lord Jesus wants to be personally involved in our lives. He wants to have a love relationship with us.

Would you like to begin a relationship with Jesus now that lasts forever? All He asks is that you come to Him as a sinner, realizing He died for your sins and rose from the dead, and then believe or trust in Him alone for His gift of everlasting life. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). Christ is alive today and He has the power to freely give you a future bodily resurrection and never-ending life. All He asks is that you believe in Him alone.

Prayer: My faithful risen Lord Jesus, thank You for rising from the dead and speaking my name with compassion and love. You are not some impersonal force who is far away from His creation. You still speak my name in the midst of pain and confusion which comforts and soothes my soul. You are involved in my life every day, teaching me truths from the Father. I have seen You give direction for my family. I’ve seen You comfort me in this painful situation. I’ve seen You show me Your will in the decisions You have led me to make. I’ve seen Your presence even in places that I did not want to be in. I’ve seen You protect me from careless drivers. I’ve seen You in the every-day circumstances of life. I praise You, my resurrected Lord. And I beg of You to have mercy on those who are rejecting You at this time. Please send Your Word to them so they may believe You are the Resurrection and the Life who guarantees a future resurrection and never-ending life to all who believe in You. Glorify Your name my risen Lord! In Your matchless name I pray. Amen.

ENDNOTES:

1. Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman. The Tony Evans Bible Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 1827.

2. Tom Constable, Notes on John, 2017 Edition, pg. 370.  

3. Edwin A. Blum, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Gospels, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, (David C Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), pg. 697.  

4. J. Carl Laney, Moody Gospel John Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), pg. 363 cites F.F. Bruce, The Gospel of John: Introduction, Exposition and Notes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), pg. 389.

5. Tom Constable, pg. 372 cites Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, Vol. 3 (Swengel, Pa.: I. C. Herendeen, 1945; 3 vols. in 1 reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1973), pg. 279.

6. Laney, pg. 363 cites Michael McGhee, “A Less Theological Reading of John 20:17,” JBL 105 (June 1986): 299-302.

7. Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Zane Hodges; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach. The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 564.

8. Tony Evans, pg. 1748.

9. Ibid., pp. 1827-1828.

Receiving Life Freely – Part 7 (Video)

This is the seventh video in a series about the gospel of John – the only book of the Bible whose primary purpose is to tell non-Christians how to obtain eternal life and a future home in heaven (John 20:31). This video looks at the seventh miracle of Jesus recorded in the gospel of John involving the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-45).

The movie clip subtitles are from the Good News Translation. All other Scripture are from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted. Gospel of John pictures are used with permission from  www.GoodSalt.com, John Paul Stanley / YoPlace.com, www.LumoProject.com, or they are creative common licenses. The copyrights of the images of the movie belong to Jesus.net. The Gospel of John movie clip is used with permission from Jesus.net. You may view the entire Life of Jesus movie at https://jesus.net/the-life-of-jesus/.

Lesson 1 Part 5 – Avoiding unclear gospel invitations (Video)

This is the fifth video of our Lesson 1 discipleship training. It will review the gospel by which we are saved from hell. It also addresses how to be more effective in evangelism by avoiding unclear gospel invitations.

Is Jesus Christ Alive Today? (Video)

This video is about the everlasting hope that is found in the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Why do millions of people around the world celebrate Easter? What evidence is there that Jesus Christ is alive today? Discover the answers to these questions and much more. Please share this video with those you want to see in heaven.

Scripture are from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted. The song “Because He Lives I Can Face Tomorrow” by Jesusman, is Public Domain Mark 1.0 and is therefore not subject to copyright. Pictures are used with permission from Good News Productions International and College Press Publishing/ www.Freebibleimages.org, www.Goodsalt.com, or they are creative common licenses.

Connecting in a Disconnected World of Covid (Video)

Although this video was prepared for a church anniversary in the Philippines, its biblical principles can apply to any culture. We will not only look at the challenges of connecting with other people during this age of COVID-19, we will also turn to the Bible to discover how we can connect with one another in more effective ways. If you are feeling all alone and without hope, this video is for you.

How to Cope with Stress during Covid (Video)

This video was created to help high school teachers in the Philippines to cope with stress during Covid. The biblical principles in this video are based on the life of Jesus Christ and can be applied to stress in general. Please share this with those you know who are battling stress.

How can we find peace under pressure? Part 4

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ ” John 14:6

We live in a world today that teaches there are many different ways to God. Many people insist that all religions lead to the same God (Universalism). Is this true? The God of the Bible has told us Himself  that “besides Me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11). If God had said there are many ways to Himself, then, yes, there are many ways to Him. But He has not said that. He says that He alone is the “savior.” 

In our verses today, the Lord Jesus Christ makes it very clear that He is the only way to God the Father in heaven. This is essential for us to understand if we are going to find peace under pressure. So far we have learned that we can find peace under pressure by focusing on Jesus’ promises of peace of heart, a prepared place in heaven, and His presence in heaven. The fourth and final way is to focuson Jesus’ PROMISE OF A PREPARED PATH TO HEAVEN (John 14:4-6) for those who believe in Him.

Christ makes it clear in response to Thomas’ question that for anyone to enjoy the prepared place in heaven, he must know the prepared path to heaven. “And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (John 14:4). Jesus affirms that the disciples “know” both “where” Jesus is going and “the way” to get there. Throughout His ministry Jesus had taught His disciples the way to heaven.

Now Peter had an answer to his question, “Lord, where are You going?” (John 13:36a). Christ was going to His Father’s house. Even though He must first go alone, He would return and take them to His Father’s House where they would be with Him forever. This seems to have satisfied Peter as he asked no further questions. But Thomas did not fully understand what Jesus was saying.

“Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?’ ” (John 14:5). Thomas did not understand Jesus’ reference to His Father’s House. Thomas renews the doubt about Jesus’ destination including the path that would take one there. Thomas was honest and uninhibited as he expresses his confusion. Jesus had said they could not come with Him at this time (John 13:33, 36b). How then can they know the way?

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ ” (John 14:6). Since Jesus is going to the Father’s House, He now makes it clear that He is “the way” to His Father’s home. Jesus did not rebuke Thomas for his lack of understanding and we must not either. We are to be gracious with those who may not see things as we do.

The Lord explains to Thomas, “I am the way” to My Father’s House. Jesus did not say He was “a way” to heaven, leaving open the possibility of other ways to heaven which is commonly taught today. There is only one “way” to heaven and that is through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (John 3:5, 15-16; 10:9; Acts 4:12; I Timothy 2:3-5).

Many people today think there is more than one way to God. They are placing their trust in people or religions that will only lead to eternal destruction (cf. Matthew 7:13-23). Jesus warned His disciples that there are many “false prophets” (Matthew 7:15) who stand in front of the “broad… way” that “leads into destruction” (Matthew 7:13). These false prophets are dressed in “sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15) and appear to be Christians.

But Jesus will refuse to let them into heaven because they were trusting in their confession of Jesus’ lordship (“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ ”Matthew 7:21) and their works that they did in Jesus’ name for His glory (“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’” – Matthew 7:22). They were not permitted entrance into “the kingdom of heaven” because they failed to do “the will of” the “Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21) which is believing in Christ alone for everlasting life: “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40; cf. Matthew 18:3; 21:31-32).

Jesus said you may know these false prophets by “their fruits” (Matthew 7:16-20) which are their “words,” not their works (Matthew 12:33-37). Any teacher who says you can go to heaven through some other way than faith alone in Christ alone, is a false prophet and must be avoided (cf. I Timothy 6:3-5).

When Jesus said, “I am the truth,” He is referring to the truth about the Father. Even though the disciples may have felt strange going to His Father’s House because they had not met the Father, yet since they knew Jesus, they did know the Father as well because Jesus and the Father “are one” (John 10:30). To see and know Jesus was to know and see the Father because Jesus is the perfect reflection of the Father as God the Son (John 14:7-11; cf. 1:1; 12:44-45).

As “the truth,” we can believe in Christ’s promise of everlasting life to those who believe in Him (John 3:15-16; 36; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 11:25-26) because He never tells a lie. He is always faithful to keep His promises.

When Jesus said,“I am the life,” He was saying that He is the only Person who can provide “the life” or relationship (John 1:4, 12; 5:21; 17:3) that is needed to come to the Father’s House. Jesus claims that He is the exclusive way to the Father, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” The path to heaven is a Person – Jesus Christ Himself. You can begin a personal relationship with Him simply by believing in Him alone for His free gift (John 3:15-16; 17:3).

Jesus’ claims in this verse are very personal. Jesus did not merely claim to know “the way, the truth, or the life” as if it is some formula to give to the ignorant. He claims to be “the way, the truth, and the life.”

One continuing concern about American tax structure is the problem of loopholes. Some people spend more time looking for loopholes than they do figuring how much tax they owe. Corporations hire experts to look for legal ways to avoid taxes – and they find them. The result for the U.S. government is the loss of millions of dollars – all because of loopholes.

Some people develop a “loophole mentality” in their relationship to God. For example, when comedian W. C. Fields (1880-1946) was on his deathbed, a visitor found him reading the Bible. Asked what he was doing, he replied, “Looking for loopholes, my friend. Looking for loopholes.” 1

The Bible says that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and that we must believe in Him alone as our Savior (John 3:15-16; 10:9; 14:6). But some people secretly feel that when they die and stand before the judgment seat they will find some other way to get in. They refuse to believe the Bible’s teaching that salvation is through Christ alone (John 3:5, 15-16; 14:6; Acts 4:12) and that eternal punishment awaits those who reject Christ (John 3:36; Revelation 20:15). They have convinced themselves that they will somehow escape the final judgment and its terrible consequences.

But they are wrong. Jesus is the only “way” to heaven. According to Jesus Christ, there are no other ways to God the Father. You may ask, “What right does Jesus have to make such an exclusive claim?” The Bible affirms that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power… by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). The proof that Jesus rose from the dead was that He was seen alive after His death by over five hundred eyewitnesses (I Corinthians 15:5-8).

The resurrection of Christ is the most attested fact of history. Thomas Arnold authored a three-volume history of Rome and was appointed to Oxford’s Chair of Modern History. Concerning the evidence behind the resurrection of Jesus Christ, he said, “I have been used for years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than that Christ died and rose from the dead.”  2 

The early followers of Jesus made it clear that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12) other than Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 4:10-11). The Bible, God Himself, and His followers teach that there is only one way to God and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ. To believe or teach something else means you must deal with the authority of the Bible and the credibility of Jesus Christ. 3

If you have never understood and believed this, listen to what God says in Isaiah 45:22: “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” God the Son, Jesus Christ, now invites you to believe or trust in Him alone to save you from eternal death and give you His free gift of everlasting life. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26). When you believed in Jesus, the Bible says you can “know” you have eternal life. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” (I John 5:13).

When you believe in Christ, He comes to live inside of you through His Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39; Romans 5:5; 8:9-11; I Corinthians 6:19; 12:13; Galatians 3:2; 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14). Then you can begin to experience His promise of peace of heart and look forward to a prepared place in heaven where you can enjoy His presence forever unhindered by sin and shame. But it all begins when you realize and accept that the only way to heaven is through a Person – Jesus Christ Himself.

If you have never made the decision to believe in Christ alone for His gift of everlasting life, you can do so right now because there are no loopholes. You can simply tell God through prayer that you are now believing in His Son, Jesus Christ, as your only hope of heaven.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I come to You now as a sinner who deserves to be separated from You forever. I now realize that You are the only way to heaven. You proved this through Your words and works, the greatest of which was when You died for the sins of the world and rose from the dead. Lord Jesus, I am now believing or trusting in You alone (not my religion, my prayers, or my good life) to give me everlasting life and a future home in heaven. Thank You for the everlasting life I now have and the future home I will have in heaven. In Your precious name I pray. Amen.

If you just believed in Jesus as your only hope of heaven, we would love to hear from you. Simply send a message to us through the “Contact Us” page. To grow in your new relationship with Jesus Christ, please explore this website or www.knowing-jesus.com. Thank you, and may Jesus richly bless you.

ENDNOTES:

1. See Our Daily Bread, October 5, 2002 – https://odb.org/2002/10/05/looking-for-loopholes/.

2. Arnold Thomas, Sermons on the Christian Life – Its Hopes, Its Fears, and Its Close, 6th ed. (London: T. Fellowes, 1859), pg. 324.

3. See EvanTell’s The Evangelism Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2014), pg. 776.

Words you do not want to hear from Jesus

“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” John 8:24

The second implication of Jesus’ claim to be the light of the world is this: CHRIST’S CLAIM DEMANDS THAT WE DEAL WITH THE FUTURE (21-24). “Then Jesus said to them again, ‘I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.’ ” (John 8:21). Those words will ring in their minds for all eternity! “You… will die in your sin.” The word “sin”(hamartia) is singular and refers to the sin of rejecting Christ (cf. John 16:9). Can you think of anything more horrifying than to hear such a statement from God Himself? To die without forgiveness of sins? Jesus says, “Where I go you cannot come.” Where did Jesus go when He died and rose again? He went to heaven to be with His Father (Mark 16:19; Acts 7:55; Rom. 8:34; Col. 3:1; Heb. 10:12; 12:2).

But in the after-life those in hell cannot transfer over to heaven (cf. Luke 16:26). Once the door is shut on that prison cell there is no escape. It is not like these work release programs where a criminal is free to go out during the day to work a job as long as he is back in his cell that night. There is no work release program in hell. The Pharisees would not be able to join Jesus in heaven because of their refusal to believe in Him for everlasting life. 

But the Pharisees don’t get it. Their response reveals another obstacle that keeps people from coming to the light – self-righteous pride. “So the Jews said, ‘Will He kill Himself, because He says, ‘Where I go you cannot come’?” (John 8:22).The Pharisees believed that those who committed suicide went to the deepest place in hell, where there was a special torment reserved for them. Hence, they thought Jesus was talking about killing Himself and going to hell, and therefore they would never follow Him there because they were too good and decent for God to send them to hell or shut them out of heaven. But listen to how Jesus responds to them:

“And He said to them, ‘You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.’ ” (John 8:23). Jesus exposes their basic problem. Jesus was born from above; they were born in sin from below as a part of fallen humanity. They were a part of the ungodly world system; Jesus was not. They were born sinners who deserved to be separated from God for eternity.

Just as you cannot mix oil and water or light and darkness, you cannot mix that which is from above with that from below. Though they could not recognize it they were going to meet the supreme disaster… Jesus told them, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24). Jesus says that if you do not believe that He is the light of the world, the only One who can give you eternal life, then you are going to die in your sins, separated from God forever. 
           

This is what many people today say they don’t want to hear – they do not want to hear anything about hell. But, in the New Testament Jesus is the one who says the most about hell (cf. Matthew 5:22, 29-30; 13:40, 42, 50; 18:8-9; 23:15, 33; 25:41, 46; Mark 3:29; 9:43-48; Luke 12:5; 10:28; John 3:18; et al.). In this passage He says, “Where I go you cannot come.”These Jews could not go to heaven where Jesus is going because they have rejected Him and His provision for their sins.

Hell is a place of eternal separation from Christ. In other words, hell is the opposite of being with Christ. It is the absence of God, it is the absence of all that is beautiful, true, lovely, exciting, living ,and fulfilling. But please understand – God does not send anyone to hell. People send themselves there by refusing to hear and believe the claims of Jesus Christ (cf. John 3:18).

Isn’t it amazing to see how much Jesus deals with these men in their blindness. These are not words of anger or accusation or condemnation from Christ. This is an earnest pleading on Jesus’ part: “You will die in your sins unless you trust in Me alone as your only hope of heaven.” But in their pride, they were blinded to the truth of Christ’s claim. They rejected Jesus’ word because they thought they were good enough already; they thought they did not deserve any rejection from God.

Imagine coming to the end of your life and you hear Jesus say, “You will die in your sins” without forgiveness or everlasting life. Why? Because you refused to believe or trust in Christ alone to forgive all your sins and give you everlasting life. Once you die,  there is no second chance. The Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27). Are you prepared to face Jesus Christ as your Judge?

If not, He invites you to come to Him in faith just as you are right now. Why would you want to put this off? What could possibly be more important than where you live after death? Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this” (John 11:25-26). Christ guarantees a future resurrection  and a never-ending life to all who believe in Him alone. He promises that those who may die physically will live spiritually (“though he may die, he shall live”) if they choose to believe or trust in Him alone. He guarantees that those who believe in Him will never die spiritually (“whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die”). They will live with Him forever in heaven.

Do you believe this? Do you believe that Jesus guarantees a future resurrection and never-ending life to all who believe in Him? He alone has the power to do this because He died for all our sins on the cross and rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:1-6) ,proving that He is God (Romans 1:3-4). No amount of our prayers or good works can take away our sins (Isaiah 64:6). But because God loves us so much, He sent His Only Son, Jesus Christ, to earth over two thousand years ago. Christ lived a perfect life and died a criminal’s death on the cross to pay the full penalty for all our sins (John 19:30). Three days later He rose from the dead and He is alive today offering eternal life freely to those who will believe in Him.

Make this the best day of your life by taking Jesus at His Word when He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this.” (John 11:25-26).

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I beg You to rescue those who are perishing without Your gift of everlasting life. Many people think that heaven is a reward for doing good. They fail to understand that their performance cannot save them from eternal punishment. Only Your shed blood on the cross can save them. Heaven is reserved for those who trust in You and Your finished work on the cross alone as the only basis for entrance into heaven. Lord, You do not desire that anyone will perish in hell, but that all will change their minds about whatever is keeping them from believing in You, and then believe in You alone to provide a future bodily resurrection and never-ending life. Then and only then can they avoid hearing You say, “You will die in your sins.” In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

Is Jesus Christ Alive Today? (Video)

This video contains a message of everlasting hope that is found in the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Please share this video with those you want to see in heaven.

The song “Because He Lives I Can Face Tomorrow” by Jesusman, is Public Domain Mark 1.0 and is therefore not subject to copyright.

When the Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want for goodness and mercy

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Psalm 23:6a

Satchel Paige, one of the best baseball pitchers to ever throw a baseball, and also one of the oldest, was asked the secret of his long and happy outlook. He replied, “Well, I never look behind me – cause you can never tell who’s comin’ up and gaining you.” Satchel seems to be saying, “Don’t think about tomorrow because it may be filled with trouble.” Some of us cannot look at tomorrow without worrying. Our tomorrows end up ruining our todays.

As a mature man, King David had learned to place his future in the hands of God. He writes, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (23:6a). In this last verse of the Psalm, David addresses his present and future life with God. In the first five verses he talked about his past experiences of God’s faithfulness. David had experienced God’s faithfulness at work in the past, and because of that, he had hope for the years to come.

Notice that God sends “goodness and mercy” to follow David. “Goodness” is receiving those things from God we do not deserve such as His forgiveness and love. “Mercy” is God withholding those things we do deserve such as His justice and punishment.

When David says “surely,” he is absolutely certain that God’s “goodness and mercy” would follow him all the days of his life. This is a remarkable statement when you consider all that David endured. This is the man who had to flee from King Saul (1 Samuel 18-26), and he was an adulterer and a murderer (2 Samuel 11-12). Under God’s discipline, he endured prolonged agony which included physical weakening and inward grief and guilt for almost a year (Psalm 32:3-5; 51:8); he watched his baby die (2 Samuel 12:15-23); his son, Amnon, raped David’s daughter, Tamar (2 Samuel 13:8-14); his son, Absalom, entered the royal harem (2 Samuel 16:22) and led a rebellion against David (2 Samuel 13-19);  and David endured a terrible plague from the Lord as a result of his sin of numbering the people (2 Samuel 24).

David was no perfect man and he had to endure several painful consequences for his sins. Yet David was certain (“surely”) that God’s “goodness” would follow him all of his life. God’s “goodness” provides for our needs. He knows about the hardships we face due to COVID-19. He knows about the doctor bill, the car in the shop, the mortgage that is due, the job that is needed, and the loneliness that weighs you down. Those of us who trust that God is good can be sure He will provide for these needs. God is a good Father and He will not spoil us by giving us all that we want.

For example, a good parent won’t give their child poison no matter how much he begs for it. You do what is best even when your child cannot understand. Ingredients of a cake include good and bad tastes mixed together to make a delicious cake. But some of those ingredients alone such as salt, baking soda, and flour are not pleasant to our taste buds. Our Good Shepherd uses good and bad events in our lives to help us become what He wants us to be (cf. Romans 8:28-29).

David was also sure that God’s “mercy” would follow him all the days of his life. “Mercy” refers to God’s compassion, forgiveness, help, kindness, and patience. God did not give David justice after he committed adultery and murder. He gave David mercy. Oh how much all of us need God’s mercy! If God gave each of us justice we would be condemned forever because God hates sin, and we all have sinned  (Psalm 45:7; Proverbs 6:16-19; 8:13; Isaiah 59:2; Zechariah 8:17; Romans 3:23; 6:23; Colossians 3:5-6; Hebrews 1:9; Revelation 2:6; 20:15). But God in His mercy pardons our sin the moment we believe in Jesus because of His death and resurrection (Acts 10:43; Colossians 2:13-14; Titus 3:5-7).

Surely “goodness and mercy” shall pursue me all the days of my life because God has never failed me in the past. “Surely” because God does not begin a work that He does not complete (Philippians 1:6). “Surely,” because the united testimony of all of God’s people agrees with David that our Good Shepherd never fails us nor forsakes us.

How would our lives be impacted when we wake up each morning if we were certain God’s “goodness” and “mercy” would follow us all day long? How would it influence our lives if we were convinced that God’s “goodness” and “mercy” would follow us tomorrow and the next day and the next day!?! God is not some cruel dictator in heaven just waiting to smack us with His holy hammer the moment we mess up. He is a good good Shepherd who longs to meet our daily needs and extend His mercy and compassion toward us.

The greatest expression of God’s goodness and mercy is seen in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, God’s “goodness” freely offers us what we do not deserve – His everlasting life and forgiveness through faith alone in Jesus alone (John 3:16; Acts 10:43). And because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, God’s “mercy” withholds the justice and punishment we deserve for our sins the moment we believe in Jesus (John 3:36; 5:24; Titus 3:4-7).

If you have never understood this, Jesus now invites you to believe or trust in Him as your only hope of heaven. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this” (John 11:25-26)? Jesus is not asking you to go to church or to clean up your life because He never said whoever goes to church or cleans up his life shall never die. He is not asking you if you pray or meditate every day because He never said whoever prays or meditates every day shall never die. Jesus is asking you, “Do you believe in Him alone?” because He said “whoever… believes in Me shall never die.” If your answer is “Yes,” Jesus guarantees you a future resurrection of your physical body which will never be subject to disease or death. And He also guarantees you life that never ends.

Prayer: Precious Good Shepherd, thank You for the certainty of Your goodness and mercy following me all the days of my life. No matter what happens in my life, I can be confident that Your goodness will provide for my daily needs and Your mercy will display Your kindness and compassion to me. Thank You for the greatest expression of Your goodness and mercy to me through the Lord Jesus Christ Whose death and resurrection make it possible for me to receive that which I do not deserve – Your everlasting life and forgiveness. Through Jesus, I also experience Your mercy which keeps me from experiencing what I do deserve – Your justice and punishment for my sins. Help me to live a “thank You” life for You now by honoring You with my lips and my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.