Greetings, everybody! Blessings of joy, peace, and God’s favor to each of you in the name of Christ, and welcome to Friday’s edition of EDiBS. I’m glad you’re here for some time in God’s Word today, where for the next little while we’ll open the Scriptures confident in love of our Savior, the forgiveness of our sins, and the hope of the resurrection, when we’ll be changed for all eternity! Today we’ll be closing off our look at John 10 by watching Jesus go back to a quiet place in which to do ministry. Let’s pray as we open our Bibles one more time this week.
Almighty God, we are astounded by your mercy – that in your great love for us and in your desire to see us brought back into a right relationship with you, you gave your one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. Help us to grasp, as much as we are humanly able, the awesome gift you have given to us in Christ Jesus. In His name we pray, amen.
As we get started today, having removed Himself from an increasingly hostile situation and mindful of His Father’s timeline, Jesus goes back across the Jordan River to change the focus of His ministry for a time. Our focus: recalling the early days.
40Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed 41and many people came to him. They said, "Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true." 42And in that place many believed in Jesus.
We had a bit of a problem at our house. Robin, one of our three beautiful lady dogs, had a boyfriend from the next property over named Max. Max was a wonderful, friendly labradoodle, and since he and Robin were both fixed, we didn’t worry about them being together. They were almost inseparable and we got a kick out of watching them play and cuddle and lounge around together. The problem we ran into was this: over time, Max and Robin took to running off together, and sometimes they’d disappear for more than a day at a time. In the country, we never chained up our dogs because to us that was no way for a dog to live, and our animals usually stayed at home anyway – but we also lived in the land of coyotes and mountain lions and the occasional overprotective rancher who might be quick with a gun, and there was also the hazard of fast cars driving on the county highway. So when things got to the point where we feared for the dogs’ safety, we had to do something that was very difficult: when Max would come across the hayfield in the morning to find Robin, we’d yell at him and send him home — and when Robin went over to see Max, our neighbor did the same thing to her. The only way we were able to keep them safe was to keep them apart...to keep them one pond and two pastures distant from one another.
Verse 40: In today’s reading we come to the end of John 10, and as we do so we find that we are coming upon a significant, if temporary, transition in our Lord’s ministry. It’s a transition only given to us in summary, but it’s important nonetheless and what we see is that it’s prompted, at least in part, by a need for Jesus to ensure His safety…the need for Him to remove Himself from an increasingly dangerous environment. There are hazards in His midst, and so the time has come to physically distance Himself from the threats that surround Him. As we look at verse 40, let’s be quick to say that our Lord fears nothing and to be sure, nothing can happen to Him without His allowing it to happen. But because the Jews have become blatant and open in their attempts to kill Him, and because it’s not yet His divinely appointed time to die for the sins of the world, Jesus departs Judea and goes to a somewhat lonely place back across the Jordan to the place where John the Baptist had baptized in the early days; to the place where Jesus Himself had inaugurated His ministry. It’s a good bit of wilderness and the fjording of a river distant from the hostilities of the religious leaders in Jerusalem, and it’s there, in that setting, where our Lord enjoys a period of time distinctly different from what He has recently experienced.
Verse 41: Verse 41 gives us the first inkling that this season and this setting is a departure from the contentiousness of Jesus’ time with the Pharisees. First, many people are coming to Him – and as they come to Him, we see that they come to Him in a different spirit and with a different mindset than others have. Recalling the ministry of John the Baptist and the things he had said about Jesus being the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, these folks come to our Lord with eagerness and an openness to Him and His teaching. In essence, here’s what’s going on: we are told that as they look back on all that John had told them about the coming Savior and in holding up his words as a comparison to what they have seen in the subsequent words and actions of Jesus, they find a match. John’s testimony has proved true.
Verse 42: Second, because John’s testimony has proved true, because the people have been able to test his witness and because they have found it to be in keeping with all that Jesus says and does, what happens? Verse 42 says that in this place beyond the Jordan, many come to believe in Jesus as the Christ. Once more we see that quite apart from the idea of a blind, unreasoned faith, these people across the Jordan have the opportunity to engage the Scriptures, to consider testimony, and to weigh the evidence as they reflect on the claims of Jesus. In doing those things and in finding that all John had said about Jesus to be true, they respond in belief.
As we wrap up for the day, so much our time together in this Gospel account has been an exercise in the very same thing: engaging the Scriptures, considering testimony, and weighing evidence with regard to the claims of the Lord Jesus. We could do that with any one of the four Gospels, of course, but John presents us with a unique perspective that, when put to the test whether internally or externally, leaves us with a powerful witness and an incredibly strong series of verifications that point to Jesus as being who He said He is – the Christ, the Lamb of God who does indeed take away the sin of the world. As we head into our weekend, I pray that you’re continuing to see more and more that builds you up and confirms you in your belief as we go through the Scriptures together. Do stay with us, because as always, there’s a lot more to come! I’ll see you back here on Monday. God bless you, and the joy of our Savior be your abiding strength. Take care!