Continuing in Christ’s Word
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 8:22-24 (Holman) So the Jews said again, AHe won=t kill Himself, will He, since He says, >Where I=m going, you cannot come=?@ AYou are from below,@ He told them, AI am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.@
The leaders perceived what Jesus was saying, and brazenly threw a cutting taunt in return. The leaders, convinced they were going to Heaven, taunted Christ as if He were going to Hell.
The leaders believed the darkest regions of Hell were reserved for those who committed suicide. They were saying in essence, AIf you are going to the lowest part of Hell, we most assuredly will not come there.@
Such an insinuation was diabolical, and revealed the evil condition of their hearts. Jesus had Heaven in His soul. They had Hell in theirs.
Jesus again warned them against unbelief. They could not perceive how serious it was.
Unbelief is like quicksand. The person who walks on it will ultimately sink and be lost forever.
John 8:25-28 AWho are you?@ they questioned. APrecisely what I=ve been telling you from the very beginning.@ Jesus told them. AI have many things to say and to judge about you, but the One who sent Me is true, and what I have heard from Him B these things I tell the world.@ They did not know He was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said to them, AWhen you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on My own. But just as the Father taught Me, I say these things.@
ALift up@ (v. 28) was used not only of a physical action, but also figuratively denoted a climax. When the leaders lifted up Jesus physically, in the crucifixion, they brought history to a climax. The cross was the zenith of human wickedness, human suffering, human-divine shame, and of God=s acts of love.
To the world the crucifixion looked like failure. To Jesus it was merely the planting of a seed in the ground. The cross by no means ended His influence.
When the leaders murdered Jesus, they felt they were rid of Him forever, but it was only the beginning. They had merely given Him opportunity to demonstrate the full extent of His love for sinners.
As a result of their own cruel deed, many of their kinsmen would believe in Jesus. At Pentecost alone, 3000 Jews did become believers.
The cross, coupled with the sweeping tide of the Holy Spirit, did what argument had not been able to do. The hearers were pricked in their hearts. They who had persecuted Him honored Him; they who had killed Him let Him live in their hearts; they who shed His blood received His blood.
John 8:29 AThe one who sent me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, because I always do what pleases Him.@
Jesus was undaunted in the midst of overwhelming opposition. What supported Him? What was His power source? He knew the Father was with Him. The Father=s presence gave Him power and encouragement.
AI always do what pleases Him@ should be every Christian=s motto. Jesus our example was a doer.
It is not enough to talk or pray about doing. Do not merely feel charmed about virtue or fascinated with duty. Actually carry it out. Don=t let good deeds be strangled in their birth. Let them be born into actual deeds.
John 8:30-31 As He was saying these things many believed in Him. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, AIf you continue in My word, you really are My disciples.
Some in the crowd made gestures toward accepting Christ=s words as truth. Jesus, sensing their commitment did not go very deep, gave a litmus test for proving genuine discipleship. AIf you continue in My word, you really are My disciples.@
Continuing in Christ=s word requires, first, meditation. Our access to Jesus= words is through the Bible, God=s written word. As we read the written word, be still and dwell on the message. Meditation helps free us from worldly thoughts, and makes us focus on Him.
Continuing in Christ=s word requires, second, repetition. Continuing requires repeated study. No other path leads to continuous learning. A shut mind ends discipleship, for the word Adisciple@ means learner.
The first disciples were sometimes slow to learn, but they stayed at Jesus= feet, and were ultimately successful because they kept listening and never quit learning. This remains true of Christ=s successful disciples.
No one can read God=s Word once and absorb all its wealth. Even a life-time of study cannot exhaust its full meaning.
I have read the whole Bible annually since 1976, and never find it an unprofitable practice. Scripture is always fresh, almost as if I=m reading a new book each year.
Continuing in Christ=s word requires, third, intimacy. Learn to be at home with the Bible. Dwell in it as a man dwells in his house, which is his center, rest, and refuge. Let the word be our atmosphere. Live in it and let it live in us.
The teachings of Christ must be the element in which Christians live. Saturate yourself with it, or Satan will use our shallowness as one of his devices against us. When we have little spiritual nourishment, our fruit withers, for the world chokes it.
Read and re-read, repeat and re-repeat, absorb and re-absorb, meditate and re-meditate. No other keys unlock the treasures of Scripture.