19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said. (John 2:19–22, NKJV)
The Jewish rulers challenged Jesus when He drove out the merchandisers from the temple during the Passover. They asked, “What sign do you show to us, since you do these things?” (John 2:13-18). Jesus replied that the resurrection of His body from the dead would be the evidence they sought. They completely misunderstood His answer, supposing He was talking about the Jerusalem temple. It was the temple of His body of which He spoke. Scripture had foretold the Messiah’s resurrection (Psa. 16:8-11; Acts 2:24-31; Lk. 24:44-47). The word of Jesus proclaimed it (Matt. 12:38-40; 16:21). After He was raised and He appeared to His apostles, they believed “the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said” (John 2:22). You and I haven’t seen the resurrected Christ. But, the evidence for our faith is the same. Jesus rose from the dead, fulfilling Scripture and confirming His word. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). The question is, do you believe the Scripture and the word of Jesus that He is the risen Christ, the Son of God?
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34–35, NKJV)
God had commanded the children of Israel to love one another (Lev. 19:18). But Jesus commands a new (“fresh”) love, new in quality and nature, defined and exemplified by His love for His disciples. Christ’s love is always and ever active goodwill – complete, sacrificial, and unselfish. His love was not seen before, namely, the sinless Son of God giving His life for the redemption of sinners (John 15:13; Rom. 5:8). Christ “loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:25-26). Disciples of Jesus are commanded to love one another as He has loved us. We follow His command to love because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts (Rom. 5:5-8). Christ’s love is merciful and just, forgiving and forbearing, serving and sacrificial (Eph. 4:32-5:2; Phil. 2:1-4; 1 Pet. 2:18-25). God’s great love toward us in Christ compels us to imitate the Son’s love: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11). People will know we are disciples of Jesus when we love each other like Jesus loved us. So the question is, do people know we are disciples of Jesus when they see how we treat each other?
14 When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: 15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mark 7:14–16, NKJV)
We can understand the teachings of Jesus by listening to them. It concerns us when Christians take exception with that simple statement of trust in the inspired word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Eph. 5:17). When we reduce the teachings of Christ and His apostles (who taught His commands, 1 Cor. 14:37) to personal and relative “interpretation,” we have elevated ourselves above the Lord and surrendered our allegiance to His authority (Matt. 28:18-20; Col. 3:17). In today’s passage, Jesus taught that spiritual corruption does not occur because of what one eats, but is due to what comes out of the heart (Mk. 7:17-23). Understanding that evil proceeds from the heart and is identifiable is not a personal, relative, or so-called traditional interpretation of the Scriptures – it is what Jesus said (read Mark 7:20-23). We ought to ask ourselves, “Do I have ‘ears to hear’ Jesus?” If so, you will understand Him. Do not be deceived by attempts to persuade you that understanding God’s word amounts to accepting a tradition about the Scriptures. Truth is not open to different interpretations or opinions. Therefore, neither is understanding it. We open our hearts to the devil when we close our ears to the word of God by reducing an understanding of it to “our tradition.”
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21–22, NKJV)
We are impressed by the love, forbearance, and compassion it takes to forgive those who sin against us. Peter may well have thought forgiving his brother seven times went over and beyond the normal expectations of forgiveness. But, Jesus used Peter’s figure as a springboard to explain the limitless nature of genuine forgiveness. His hyperbole of “seventy times seven” is not to be taken literally, but as emphasizing the boundless nature of forgiveness. His lesson is driven home as we contemplate our heavenly Father’s complete (and repeated) forgiveness of our sins. Moved with compassion, God forgives us completely when we seek His mercy (Matt. 18:23-27). Refusing to forgive those who sin against us reveals an unmerciful heart that prompts God’s just anger against us (Matt. 18:28-35). Let us meditate on how God forgives us. He does so promptly, compassionately, lovingly, completely, and repeatedly. We marvel at the depth of God’s compassion for us, at the breadth of His forbearance toward us, and at the magnitude of His love that readily takes us back into His fellowship (1 Jno. 1:9). “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You” (Psa. 86:5). How we forgive others must imitate God’s forgiveness of us.
54 And when they came out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, 55 ran through that whole surrounding region, and began to carry about on beds those who were sick to wherever they heard He was. 56 Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.” (Mark 6:54–56, NKJV)
Do you recognize Jesus? I do not mean the imaginary images painted and sculptured centuries after He walked the earth. Nor do we mean the fictionalized thoughts of our own hearts. Do you recognize the real Jesus (the Jesus of the Bible), who He is, what He has done, and what He can do for you? Do you recognize His character? His gospel? His heart of mercy? His power to save you from your sin? His truth that sets you free from sin’s bondage? Do you recognize Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16)? These people ran to Jesus with their loved ones because they knew of His power to heal. We ought to run to Jesus for our souls to be healed of sin. They tried to touch the hem of his garment, for when they did, they were made whole. We can’t touch His garment, but we can contact His saving blood that redeems us from sin. That happens when we have the faith to be baptized into His death. When we do, we die to sin and have new life in Christ (Rom. 6:3-4; Acts 22:16). Run to Jesus. Believe and obey His gospel for salvation. He is merciful. He will save.
“one Lord, one faith, one baptism;” (Ephesians 4:5, NKJV)
God’s “One-derful” plan of unity continues in Ephesians 4:4-6 with the emphatic declaration there is one Lord. That simple truth is forgotten whenever religious, moral, and social division occurs. I am not Lord. You are not Lord. Not “Lord Krishna,” not “Lord Buddha,” not any other person who has lived or is living now. Only Jesus Christ is Lord (1 Cor. 8:6). Through Him we have life and all things. He alone has been given “all authority in heaven and on earth” by God the Father (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23). Christ’s word is truth and settles every issue concerning “life and godliness” (Jno. 1:14; 8:31-32; 2 Pet. 1:3). He rules, and by His authority (the “name of our Lord Jesus Christ”) we can “speak the same thing,” reject dissensions and be joined together “in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). This takes faithful effort by each Christian, no question about it (Eph. 4:15-16). Division arises when we follow men or women instead of following Christ (1 Cor. 1:11-12). We must ever remember that Christ is not divided (1 Cor. 1:13). Humble submission to the one Lord will guard unity and glorify God: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17).
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” (Colossians 1:15, NKJV)
God strictly commanded Israel not to make carved images to bow down before and serve (Exo. 20:4-5). Through Moses, God explained He did not show them any form or image when He spoke from Mt. Sinai, lest they make carved images and worship them (Deut. 4:15-18). Humans have frequently changed God’s incorruptible glory “into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Rom. 1:23). God gave us an image of Himself when He sent His Son to the world. Just as a coin bore Caesar’s image (whom most had never personally seen, Mk. 12:16), Jesus is the image of the invisible God (whom none of us have seen). Jesus is the image of the character and will of God. He is not the image of the Father’s physical features and fleshly appearance (like face, hair, eyes, etc.), since God is Spirit (Jno. 4:24). Jesus is the image (likeness) of the Father in moral character, attitudes, motives, thoughts, words, and actions. This is why Jesus could say, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known me, Philip? He who has seen men has seen the Father. So how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’” (Jno. 14:7-9). To know God, we must learn about and know Jesus. To go to God, we must follow Jesus (Jno. 14:6).