Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Having a home is important. I?ve never been homeless but I?ve spent some time talking to those who are. A few are the rugged individualist who likes sleeping out under the stars with a horse blanket and coffee that could double for concrete our on the prairie or the sidewalk. However, most have no home not by their own choice. It is hard for me to imagine having no roof over your head, no place to lie down, make a meal, or stay warm on cold rainy nights. Home gives us a ?homebase??a place of belonging.
We think that when we have a country, a town, a neighborhood and a house that we have a home. But as apprentices of Jesus Christ, as members of his country, his town, his neighborhood and his house?we actually are only temporary residents here.
1 Peter 2:11-12Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. ESV
That sense of real belonging is what Jesus came to bring us. He starts out this section with a pretty scary statement in 13:33
John 13:33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, \'Where I am going you cannot come.\' ESV
To a group of eleven men and some undetermined number of others, this would have been very unsettling?like someone being evicted from their home, facing the streets. Or it might be like the feeling of someone very special who is moving away and you aren?t sure if you?ll ever see them again.
So it?s no wonder Peter reacts the way he does:
Peter and the others had pledged everything to this man. They?d left jobs, businesses, families?everything. Back in chapter 6 after many people decided they didn?t really want to believe in someone like Jesus he said to his disciples ?Do you want to go away as well?? And Peter answered him, ?Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.?
So now faced with the idea that Jesus was going away?somewhere?Peter is feeling more than a little abandoned. Jesus goes away for two reasons: 1-to make a way so He can live with them forever, and 2-to provide a way for them to shine out that love and life so that many others can live with Him forever as well.
Peter couldn?t go with Jesus on that journey to hell and back. Jesus first had to battle and destroy death?something Peter couldn?t do in his own strength. But that doesn?t stop him from making what turns out to be a very foolish statement.
37 ? 38
This happened exactly as Jesus predicted. When we get there, we will draw a huge contrast between this denial, and the betrayal of Judas, earlier in Chapter 13. Two men turned their backs on Jesus?one is saved and the other condemned. Why are they different? It is the most crucial difference in your entire life and will determine your eternal destination.
For now let?s focus on this: Peter offers to lay his life down for Jesus. He doesn?t possess that power, not yet. He will do what he said, just not before Jesus goes to the cross, dies and rises from the dead, and then sends the Holy Spirit.
Jesus can tell the effects of his words are pretty devastating so He says some of the most marvelous words you can ever hear, and the focus of our message today.
This is a wonderful message of hope. It has six stages to it:
1-????? ?Don?t be agitated? what then?
2-????? Be believing??trust me.? Why?
3-????? Because there?s a better house with lots and lots of room (apartments, not mansions) and
4-????? I?m making a room for you
5-????? I?m making a way for you to come there
6-????? I will be with you there once again and we?ll never be apart.
Verse 4 can also read: ?Where I am going you know, and the way you know.? Once again, Jesus is trying to get his guys to look higher than what is around them. We can do the same. We sometimes feel abandoned by the lack of God?s presence in our daily lives. He is actually there with us, but we sometimes don?t see it or sense it. Or maybe we are just tired of going through so many trials and tribulations that we just want to sit down and give up.
Jesus says: you may feel alone, but you aren?t. You may feel homeless but you are not. Believe in me and believe me that I am furnishing a great space for you?one that will put Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to shame!
But even as Peter often speaks too optimistically, his counterpart, Thomas, puts the worst possible face on things.
5 ? 7
Thomas was a real literalist. I think sometimes that Thomas really bristled when Jesus spoke in symbolic and veiled terms. He was a real ?show me? kind of guy. There is nothing wrong with that, by the way. If you are a person who needs to examine the evidence before you believe that is just fine because there is plenty of evidence to examine. Just make sure that you come to that examination with an open heart and when truth strikes, embrace it.
But I?m so glad Thomas was a skeptic because Jesus? answer is one of the most profound and clear truths of the entire Bible.
Jesus didn?t say ?well, you go down the Jericho road six miles until you see a guy with a mule that has a lame leg, you turn right there and go seven miles to the well by Lemuel?s vineyard?? The ?way? to heaven is not a direction, it is a person.
We want a set of instructions, like a recipe. Start with a big bowl, throw in some eggs, plenty of good works, leave out the anger, put in a pinch of tithing, a sprits of water, ?and a worship song or two and put it in the oven at 350 for an hour and voila you have heaven.
Living in God?s dimension is not a ?where? or a ?how? it is a ?who.? Jesus IS the way. Not only that but He is the truth and the life. Jesus is the truth, the evidence, that Thomas was searching for. Thomas, for one, is not yet convinced. That will come after the cross. But Jesus says it very clearly that no man can come to the Father except by him. That is a very exclusionary statement. No room for Buddha or Mohammed or Krishna or Joseph Smith.
His next statement should have blown them out of the water. ?If you had known me you would have known the Father.? But Philip doesn?t quite understand the magnitude of what Jesus is saying.
8 ? 11
?Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.? What I don?t understand is why the men didn?t fall down for fear of being struck dead. Surely they would know Exodus 33:20 ?No man shall see me and live.? ?Maybe it?s because it didn?t sink in or perhaps because they knew Jesus so intimately that they couldn?t imagine him striking anyone dead. See, this reveals something incredible about God. It is not God?s character that wipes us out if we come into his presence, it is the presence of impurity in us.
Jesus took on human form in order for us to see him and touch him. He did not reveal the full glory of the Father or they would have been destroyed.
And he tells them: believe it because I say it or believe it because I proved it through what I?ve done. These are the two ways that we must choose whether to believe or betray the Son of God.
12 ? 14
What a promise in these verses. Not only can we know God the Father in Jesus, not only can we live in God?s dimension in special quarters made just for us, but in this age we will do the works of Jesus and even greater works.
The reason Jesus said this is because 1) going to the Father meant he could send the Holy Spirit who would multiply Jesus a billion times over in the heart and life of every believer, thus 2) doing ?greater? works than Jesus could accomplish physically alone during this ministry on earth.
But notice the character of this. We think?boy I can do the works of Jesus and we want to wield it like a ray gun or a magic stick and turn to someone and say ?be healed? and ?bam!? they would. Pretty neat trick. Or how about that one where Jesus pulled money out of a fish? Maybe I could pull a gold bar from a really big fish!
No, the key here is that the things we ask for must ?glorify? the Father in the Son. So anything that results in praise towards God and focus on God?s Son as the ?way the truth and the life? will be answered by the Father. As we progress in our relationship with him as apprentices, we find our minds transformed so that we begin to desire those things that God desires so we ask for them and God answers them.
You cannot follow Jesus on your own strength or your own sense of direction
If it could be done, Peter would?ve done it. But on our own we are unable to follow him consistently. It is only by Him putting His life in us, changing us from the inside, that we are able.
We can also not trust our own sense of direction to find the way to God?s dimension. All the maps humans have drawn only lead in circles back to man. Jesus is the only one who came from God?s dimension and knows the way back?through him.
Are you longing for a home?
If you feel unsettled, like you don?t really belong, maybe that?s because you don?t belong here. You may be going through difficulties, but know this, that if you belong to Jesus he is preparing a personal home for you where there is joy indescribable and full of glory!
2 Corinthians 5:1-10 For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened?not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. ESV
Bottom line: We are only really at home when we are in God?s presence. We can only get there by one man, Jesus Christ. While we are here, we should feel a sense of unease while we wait to go there. But in the meantime we find peace by the guarantee of the Spirit sent into our hearts (more on that next time) and we occupy the time here by letting him prompt us to do good works that will be reviewed when we are finally home!
Maybe you are homeless by choice?
You may hear the offer of Jesus for a permanent home and a place of belonging. But like some people who have chosen to be homeless you don?t want that offer. May I encourage you to examine your reasons? Perhaps you are skeptical like Thomas. That didn?t stop Thomas from believing in Jesus and it shouldn?t stop you. The evidence is out there and the witness to it is in your heart if you will just open it to the Lord speaking these words to you?that home is with Him and nowhere else.