But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you (John 14:26—NRSV).
No follower of Jesus Christ goes through life abandoned or alone. Jesus still gives His faithful followers the gifts and promises He gave His first disciples. As followers of Jesus Christ encounter an unknown future, they have Jesus’ assurance that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit dwell within them, work within them, and go with them. They have the assurance that the Spirit of Holiness and Truth will help them stand firm and keep loving Jesus, obeying Jesus, and trusting Jesus no matter what they encounter. They know that as they continue doing what they have learned from Jesus that the Holy Spirit will teach them how to act in every situation. As they read and study the Bible day-by-day, they know that the Holy Spirit will remind them of all the truths they need to remain strong and do right—even if they suffer afflictions or persecutions. In the world, Jesus’ followers have always encountered enemies and the one Jesus called “the ruler of this world,” but through His death and resurrection Jesus promised and proved that the ruler of this world has no power over Him (John 14:30). The enemies of Jesus have no ultimate power over Jesus’ followers. Through his faithful obedience, John learned that, “the One who is in you (believers) is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Because Jesus has given believers His peace and many precious promises, we can trust Him when He said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
“Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country” (Luke 4:14)
Jesus and the Holy Spirit worked closely together. In chapter four of his gospel, Luke wrote that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit after He was baptized. Jesus obeyed God and followed the Holy Spirit when the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, where Jesus was tested by the devil. After Jesus passed every test, He was filled with the power of the Spirit and began His public ministry. Jesus honored His heavenly Father by doing everything the Father wanted Him to do and by living according to every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Jesus honored the Holy Spirit and declared that the Holy Spirit worked within Him when He preached from the prophet Isaiah and proclaimed, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” (Luke 4:18). Jesus honored His Father, the Holy Spirit, and himself by keeping His focus on doing the will of God according to the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit honored Jesus by working signs, miracles, and wonders through Him. At the conclusion of His public ministry, the Father honored Jesus when He raised Him from the dead. Jesus’ disciples learned from listening to Jesus and from watching Jesus work in the power of the Holy Spirit. They learned the importance of obeying and trusting in God. They obeyed the teachings of Jesus; for Jesus told them, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). However, they could not do Jesus’ work effectively until the Holy Spirit came and filled them on the Day of Pentecost.
“The Magi asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him’”
Some believe that the Magi were Gentile wise men and the first Gentiles to worship Jesus. But the Magi could easily have been descendants of the Jews who did not return to Jerusalem after their seventy years of captivity in Babylon. Daniel and his three friends rose to high positions in the Babylonian court, and there is every reason to believe that they and others like them advised King Cyrus of Persia and many other subsequent rulers in the East where their descendants made their homes for the next 500 years. Some Jewish Magi probably knew to look for the Messiah and His star. The Hebrew Scriptures prophesied: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17). When some of them saw the special star that announced the Messiah’s birth, they traveled perhaps 800 miles to find and worship Him. Upon their arrival in Jerusalem, King Herod, the high priests, the teachers of the law, and the people were disturbed to learn of the Magi’s expectation of finding the newborn Messiah. The chief priests told King Herod and the Magi about the prophecy that predicted the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. King Herod wanted to murder the Messiah, and we have no indication from Matthew that anyone other than these Magi sought Him to find Him to honor Him. When the star appeared again, the Magi found the house where Jesus and His family stayed. They were overjoyed, and they worshiped Him.
International Bible Lesson Commentary
(Matthew 1:18) Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
Matthew’s gospel includes a short summary of facts about the birth of Jesus that highlighted important truths: the Messiah was to be named “Jesus;” He was born of a virgin named Mary; He was conceived by the Holy Spirit (not Joseph, who was only engaged to her at that time). Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father, but Joseph took Mary as his wife and adopted her Son as his own son. Jesus was sent by God to save His people from their sins. Mary must have told Joseph about the angel’s appearance to her; perhaps after she had visited Elizabeth (as recorded by Luke).
(Matthew 1:19) Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.
Though Joseph and Mary were engaged to be married and were not living together, the community considered their engagement as binding as a marriage. Perhaps Joseph felt unworthy to become the adopted father of the Messiah and wanted to dismiss her quietly so God could do what was best for Mary and His Son. Perhaps he was afraid (see Matthew 1:20) he would offend God if he went ahead and took Mary as his wife if God had other plans. Perhaps he wanted to open the way for God to care for His Son in the way God wanted without being a hindrance to God.
(Matthew 1:20) But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
Joseph had Mary’s testimony to him as one fact to consider with regard to how he should proceed. As a righteous man, Joseph lived by faith, prayer, and true love for God and others; therefore, he probably thought he had made the right decision according to the law of God. In this verse, Matthew reaffirmed through the words of the angel that the adopted father of Jesus was of the line of David. The angel told Joseph that what Mary had told him was accurate and no delusion. Truly, Jesus really had been conceived by the Holy Spirit; and Mary and Jesus were both were also wholly within the will of God. Joseph should not be afraid to take Mary as his wife, because God the Father wanted him to raise the Son of God as his and Mary’s son. Knowing that Jesus was adopted by Joseph should encourage all who are adopted, and in the Bible all of Jesus’ true followers are called adopted children of God.
(Matthew 1:21) She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
The angel said specifically that Mary would give birth to a male child. When Joseph took Him as his son, he was to name him “Jesus,” which means “God is salvation.” When the Messiah came, His primary purpose was to save God’s people from their sins (not overthrow the Roman Empire). Jesus would save God’s people not only from the eternal consequences of their sins but also free them from slavery to sin and empower them to love and obey God according to the Bible’s teachings.
(Matthew 1:22) All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
What the angel told Joseph would take place had been planned and prophesied for centuries before God scheduled Jesus to be born. Jesus came and throughout His life He fulfilled various prophecies, and He said that He had come to fulfill the law and the prophets. Jesus did what the Scriptures said the Messiah would do, and more remains for Him to do as priest and king in heaven between now and after He returns.
(Matthew 1:23) “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”
Mary was more than just a young woman. In fulfillment of the Bible’s prophecies, she had never done anything toward the physical conception of a child before the Holy Spirit overshadowed her as the angel told her and she conceived Jesus. Her Son would be “Emmanuel.” From what Jesus said about himself and did, He convinced people that He was God with them, the Son of God. When God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, God affirmed and endorsed all that Jesus said about himself and did. Jesus, God with us, humbled himself, came to serve us, and saves believers from their sins.
(Matthew 1:24) When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife,
Joseph believed what the angel told him. He acted in faith when he did what the angel told him to do. Joseph showed that he was a righteous man when he obeyed God. Joseph did not act only on the basis of what the angel said. The angel referred Joseph to what the Bible said through the prophets and the promises of God. So, Joseph had not only the words of the angel and Mary before he acted in faith; Joseph also had the words of God’s prophets. Joseph believed the Bible, the Word of God written, and the Bible confirmed what the angel told him; then, he acted in faith.
(Matthew 1:25) but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
As a righteous man, Joseph did not do anything that might hurt Mary or compromise the birth of the Son of God. The Bible certainly implies that Joseph and Mary maintained a normal, healthy marriage after Jesus was born, and they raised Jesus as devoted parents. Joseph named their Son “Jesus” as the angel commanded, and they raised Him in a devout home (for example, taking Jesus to the temple when He was 12).
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another (John 13:34).
After Jesus had shown His disciples how much He loved them, and after Jesus had loved them perfectly for three years, Jesus gave them a new commandment. When Jesus gave His disciples this new commandment, He also expected them to love the LORD their God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love their neighbors as themselves. Unhappily, we all love ourselves imperfectly and this affects how we love others. Jesus made His way of loving the perfect standard for Christian love. Jesus said that those who believe in Him needed to love their fellow believers as He loved all those who believe in Him. Jesus said that everyone should recognize Christians by the way they love one another. Christians love one another differently from the way they love others. For example, Jesus loved everyone, including the ones who wanted to kill Him or betray Him. He wanted what was best for everyone, so He told everyone the truth about God, the world, and how His Father loved them so much that He sent His Son to help people overcome their self-destructive tendencies and ways. Christians love others when they share this good news about God’s love in Jesus for everyone. When the followers of Jesus maintain a common faith in Jesus and the Bible, they love one another. They praise God and share their God-given joy and love with their fellow believers. Christian love enables Christians to feel heartfelt happiness when they gather to worship and work together. When serving others, Jesus’ love within Christians draws others into the circle of God’s love.
If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them (John 13:17)
As I walked out of a store recently, a customer behind me said to me, “Have a blessed day!” Though I have received that blessing before, I was truly blessed to hear it and receive it again, and I turned and thanked her. In today’s world where we hear so many cursing others, it is truly a blessing to hear someone bless you, for the blessing can send happiness into your heart. “Have a blessed day” is a Christian blessing; so how can we always enjoy a blessed day? After Jesus humbly washed His disciples’ feet, in John 13:13, Jesus said to them, “You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am.” Jesus taught and showed His followers how to serve others, and He said, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” Three fundamental or key elements in the Christian faith bring blessings to Christians. First, Christians accept Jesus as their Teacher. They believe what He taught about God, himself, and reality as revealed in the Bible. Second, Christians accept Jesus as their Lord. Christians believe Jesus is the Lord over all of life, and they kneel before Jesus because they have received Him as the Lord over all their life. Third, Christians face the world and all they see and hear with hope and happiness because they know their everlasting future is secure in the hands of their Savior. Building their lives on these foundational truths, Christians receive God’s blessing when they live according to what they know and believe to be true; when they love and serve others as Jesus commanded. Have a blessed day!
“‘Ananias,’ Peter asked, ‘why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land?’” (Acts 5:3).
Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a Christian. Ananias appeared to be a Christian. He went to church with the Apostle Peter, and he even gave some of the proceeds from a land sale to the church, but he sold the land for more than he said and kept the difference. Peter then explained that personal property and money belong to Christians to save, spend, or share as they choose. No Christian is under compulsion to give any of his money or property to the church. Ananias and Sapphira lied and gave because they wanted people’s praise for their giving, but Jesus taught that the best giving is done secretly (Matthew 6:3-4). Ananias committed a great sin by lying to the Holy Spirit and to the church, but why did Satan fill his heart to lie? Jesus taught, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Ananias loved money; so he came to hate and despise God just as Jesus warned. Therefore, Satan filled his heart and left no room for the love of God. Ananias became similar to Judas. Because Judas loved money he came to hate and despise Jesus; therefore, Satan entered him (John 13:27). Both proved that “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10).
International Bible Lesson Commentary
Acts 4:32-5:11 Archive
for November 22, 2020
(Scroll to Acts 4:32-5:11 )
And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me (John 12:50—NRSV).
When we think of a commandment, we sometimes think of the Ten Commandments that the LORD gave Moses. We know that Jews and Christians have an obligation to obey the Ten Commandments because they are the Moral Law of God or Law of Love. We do not often remember that God the Father gave a commandment to His only Son before He sent Him into the world. Jesus served as a perfect example by obeying all the commandments of God. In John 12:49, we learn the special commandment that the Father gave Jesus was “about what to say and what to speak.” We know that the Father’s commandment was vitally important because Jesus told the crowd when He spoke to the masses for the last time that He came to save the world, and “on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge” (John 12:48). Jesus spoke what His Father commanded Him to speak to save people from destruction. When Jesus declared that God the Father’s commandment is eternal life, we need to know what Jesus taught about eternal life. In John 17:3, speaking to His disciples, Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” To “know” does not just mean intellectual knowledge. Jesus meant that eternal life involves a personal relationship with the Father and the Son based on knowing God as revealed in the Bible. In John 12:45, we learn how to know them both, for Jesus said, “Whoever sees me sees Him who sent me.”
1. If you believe in Jesus, who did Jesus say you also believe in? If you see Jesus, who did Jesus say you also see?
2. How did Jesus come into the world?
3. Why did Jesus come in that way into the world?
4. On the last day, what will serve as judge of those who reject Jesus?
5. What commandment did the Father give Jesus? What did Jesus say about His Father’s commandment?
Discuss the above questions by making a comment
Study the International Bible Study Commentary
and Lesson on John 12:44-50
Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in Jesus. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God (John 12:42-43—NRSV).
Most of the elite in Judea did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah or a prophet. They loved the power, prestige, and position this world offers too much to risk all they valued to follow a poor Galilean carpenter turned preacher and kingdom-wide sensation because of His many signs. The people followed Jesus gladly and openly because of His loving and powerful works that only God would and could do. The elite ignored them, but they knew God loved them. Jesus showed divine compassion to the blind, the lame, and the bereaved that He healed and raised from the dead. Jesus went from town to town to teach the truth about God and the Scriptures to any who had ears to hear, whereas many of the elite thought thinking about the disadvantaged was not worth their time. Still, John reported that some of the elite did believe in Jesus. They knew Jesus was worthy to be followed as one sent from God. However, John also said that some of these elite believers would not confess their faith in Jesus and openly follow Jesus because they did not want to suffer separation from their friends and fellow rulers in the synagogue. They loved to seek the success this world offers to those who conform to the values held by those of this world, so they
refused to seek honor from God and the gift of eternal life that Jesus offers to all who truly believe in Him.
1. What should have convinced those who saw Jesus to believe in Him?
2. What questions did Isaiah ask? How were these questions answered?
3. Why were some people unable to believe in Jesus?
4. Why do you think the Lord did this to these people?
5. Why did some who believed in Jesus prefer not to confess it? Do some still have this problem today?