The Difference in Jesus and the Difference Jesus Makes

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God (John 1:12).

The gospel of John will teach us more about Jesus as we study. John tells us who Jesus is, and we will better understand who Jesus is as we read, think, and pray. Because of Jesus and the kind of people Jesus will make us, the longer we live the more we will learn and the more we will love God.

In Genesis 1, we learn that God spoke the world into existence. In John 1:1 and 3, we learn that the Word was with God, the Word was God, and all things came into being through the Word. We exist and remain in existence because of the Word of God. The entire created universe exists and remains in existence because of the Word of God. In John 1:14, we learn “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” Jesus came into the world fully human and fully God. Jesus walked and talked to make the true God known and to make THE difference in our lives.

How do we know God and the characteristics of God that mean the most to us? In John 1:18, we learn, “It is God the only Son who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made Him known.” As an eyewitness, John saw and recorded how Jesus walked and talked. As we study John’s gospel we see and come to know God and the nature and characteristics of God. We see Jesus and understand many truths about the true God. As we study the Gospel of John, we will learn by experience the meaning of John 1:9, that Jesus is “the true light, which enlightens everyone.” In John 1, we learn that the Father and the Son (Jesus Christ) are one true God in two Persons. As we study and learn more from Jesus in John’s gospel, we will learn about the Holy Spirit who is the third Person in the one true God. The Bible reveals the fact that the one true God we trust and worship is three Persons who work perfectly together in us and in the world in different ways.

In his first chapter, John tells us three truths about Jesus that may mean more to us personally than many other truths. In John 1:14, 16, and 17, we learn that Jesus is “full of grace and truth,” that “we can receive from Jesus grace upon grace,” and “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” In his gospel, John will show and tell what these truths mean in the life of Jesus.

Someone may ask “What difference does all this make?” Jesus makes the difference. Jesus makes THE difference in our lives because He is full of grace and truth. All who believe in Jesus as the Bible reveals Jesus have received from His fullness “grace upon grace;” this means we receive ever increasing outpourings of God’s grace into our lives. Those who trust in Jesus have received the grace (mercy and unmerited favor) of the forgiveness of all our sins, the grace of cleansing from all our sins, the grace of Jesus sending the Holy Spirit (our Comforter, Guide, Helper, Power, and Advocate) to live and remain within us, and the gracious gift of eternal life in the presence of our holy and loving God forever—a new life that begins the moment we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. We can learn more about the grace of God as we read the Bible, but we will never be able to completely describe or explain every grace that we have received and will receive from Jesus day-by-day as we await His return.

In addition to receiving grace and the many gifts of grace from Jesus, we receive truth from Jesus, for Jesus is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). As we study John’s gospel, we will see that Jesus has told us the truth. Jesus declared that He is the Truth. The followers of Jesus can live with the grace and power of Jesus trusting the truth of Jesus, experiencing the love of Jesus for them, and knowing the reality of Jesus in the world as it is today. To understand the truth deeply, we must read the Gospel of John prayerfully and with the intention of living according to all the truth as quickly as we learn the truth.

In John 1:17, we learn, “The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Everyone except Jesus has broken the law of God given through Moses: the law of love that commands us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. No matter what we do, we cannot unbreak a broken law or remove our guilt and shame, but Jesus can remove our guilt and make us new creatures who can live before God the Father and Jesus as those who have never broken a law of God. In Jesus Christ, grace and truth came into our world to make us acceptable to God and acceptable to ourselves by forgiving us, cleansing us, and filling us with the Holy Spirit.

We will only live (and want to live) with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit now and forever, if we become children of God. Jesus came to make sinners into children of God, into new people, into people fit for God to indwell. How does He make this difference in us? John explained briefly in John 1:12 (we will learn more about this and how we do this as we learn more about Jesus from John): “To all who received Him, who believed in His name, he gave power to become children of God.” As you study the Gospel of John, you will receive grace upon grace, love upon love, truth upon truth, reason upon reason, and the fullness of God’s grace to believe in Jesus as the Bible reveals Jesus. God wills that when you receive Jesus and believe in the name of Jesus that Jesus will give you the power to become a child of God. As a child of God, you will be able to show and tell others: “The Difference in Jesus and the Difference Jesus Makes.” — L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

Begin a study of the Gospel of John, with verse-by-verse commentaries, Bible Lessons, Study Questions, Study Hints, Applications, Crossword Puzzles, True and False Tests, and Word Search Puzzles, and Prayers. — L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

When We Feel Poor and Needy

Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy (Psalm 86:1).

Many people today feel like many who lived in the days of King David and in the days of Jesus. For this reason, many who see themselves poor and needy, if not materially then spiritually, receive help from the Psalms written by David and the teaching and presence of Jesus. Even as David prayed, many can pray today, “Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy” (Psalms 86: 1). After David told God that he felt poor and needy, he prayed for what he knew he needed most from God. God answered David’s prayer in ways that David does not totally reveal. God also answered David’s prayer for us when God sent Jesus into the world and when Jesus comes to live with us, empower us, and guide us.

In Psalms 86:11, David asked the LORD, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” We do not know if David prayed this prayer when he was a poor shepherd boy or after he became king and was bowed down under his sins or the responsibility of leading Israel wisely according to the law of God. We do know that if we are spiritually poor and needy or physically poor and needy or conscious of our guilt and sin God answered David’s prayer and God will answer our prayers by God’s grace through faith in Jesus.

Notice: David asked the LORD, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth.” Even though David was poor and needy, he wanted to walk in the truth of God, which was more important to David than God meeting his personal needs. If or when we are poor and needy, do we want to walk in the truth of God? Is walking in the truth of God more important to us than having God give us what we want in material ways?

Though David committed some grievous sins, we know from his psalms that he practiced walking in the truth of God, though imperfectly, as the LORD led him. God also answered at David’s prayer for those who heard Jesus teach as He walked on Earth, and God does so for us when we turn to Jesus. Remember what Jesus promised in John 14:6- 7, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

If we seek God and pray, “Teach me your way, O LORD,” we only need to look to Jesus, Who is the Way, for our answer—just as Jesus has revealed himself in the Bible. The Way, the teaching of the Way, is not a new set of laws, commandments, or recommendations. The Way is the living Person, Jesus the Messiah, the only begotten Son of God. When we go to Jesus, we find Jesus is already near us, and He will empower us and lead us daily and personally according to His teachings in the Bible.

When we follow Jesus, He answers the second part of David’s prayer for us. David wanted to walk in the truth of God. When we walk with the Way and walk in the Way as Jesus leads, we walk in the Truth of God, Who is Jesus. When we walk in the Truth of God, we have spiritual life because Jesus is the Life. Furthermore, though we may be poor and needy in this world, Jesus, Who reigns as King of the universe, lives with us and within us, and He helps us day-by-day to trust Him and follow Him. Jesus gives us the Truth and the Life we seek as we walk with Him Who is our Way. Beyond all this, when we believe in and trust Jesus, Jesus will come to live within us and set up His kingly throne within our hearts. He will heal our divided hearts with His abundant love. With hearts made whole, we can pray with confidence and practice what Jesus taught in John 15:7-10, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

When Jesus comes and brings the love of God into our hearts, we will pray as David did in Psalms 86:12, “I give thanks to you, O LORD, my God (see how personal the LORD has become to David) with my whole heart (the LORD has made David’s heart whole as Jesus does for everyone who trusts Him) and I will glorify (keep Jesus’ commandments to love God and others) your name forever.”

Why did God do all this for David and why does God do all this for all who follow Jesus, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life? In Psalms 86: 13, David tells us why: “For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.” No matter what, Jesus loves. When we seek to follow Jesus, we experience His love more and more; we love Jesus more and more; we know Jesus’ deliverance from our deepest distress, and we know of His forgiveness of our worst sins—of ALL our sins. We know Jesus, His love, and His deliverance of us from the depths Sheol, as Paul wrote in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As followers of Jesus, we know something of the greatness of God’s steadfast love, and we pray for God to give us whole hearts to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and our neighbors as ourselves. — L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

Begin a study of the Gospel of John, with verse-by-verse commentaries, Bible Lessons, Study Questions, Study Hints, Applications, Crossword Puzzles, True and False Tests, and Word Search Puzzles, and Prayers. — L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

How to See Jesus

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).

When some Greeks found Phillip, they told him, “We wish to see Jesus” (see John 12:21). Today, increasing numbers of people, both followers of Jesus and others,  are saying, “We wish to see Jesus.” Jesus’ teachings in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John help us see Jesus. If you wish to see Jesus, you will begin seeing Jesus if you keep on reading.

One day, a scribe went to see Jesus and he recognized the sincerity of Jesus’ as He answered questions well, so he asked Jesus, “ Which commandment is the first of all?” (see Mark 12:28-37). In Jesus’ answer, we learn something about Jesus, and we begin to see Jesus as He is. Jesus said that those who follow the first commandment will love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. When someone asks what we mean when we say that Jesus lived a perfect sinless life, we can answer by saying, “Jesus loved the Lord His God with all His heart, mind, soul and strength.” The four gospels, especially the Gospel of John, show us Jesus, the Son of God, doing everything He did for people (including everyone today) because He loved God His Father and He knew that His Father loved Him. When we see Jesus doing anything during His short time on Earth and throughout His ministry, we know that He did everything because He loved His Heavenly Father and wanted to do everything His Father asked Him to do—even die on a cross as the Savior of the world. “And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14).

But wait. You still only see part of Jesus. This is not the total picture that we need to see. Notice how Jesus also obeyed the second greatest commandment, for Jesus loved His neighbor as Himself. Think carefully. In following the first commandment, Jesus loved God; Jesus loved His Father, Himself (Jesus is the Son of God), and the Holy Spirit. Jesus loved Himself (deservedly so) and in the second commandment Jesus has told us to love ourselves, in addition to loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Trying to obey the second commandment without putting the first commandment first will only lead to a self-love that is in reality only a selfish self-centeredness, which is a sin that will lead to increasing lawlessness. Jesus obeyed both commandments; therefore, His love for God and us was not and is not selfish or self-centered. When Jesus loved Himself with all His heart, mind, soul, and strength, He also loved and loves us as He loves Himself. Jesus loves us with all His heart, mind, soul, and strength, and we see Jesus’ total love in the way Jesus treated everyone He met and how He met the needs of everyone in every way that He wisely could. See how Jesus loved. Knowing Peter would deny Him, He still loved Peter and made him an apostle. Knowing Judas would betray Him, He still loved Judas and felt sorry for Judas because He knew the consequences of Judas’ betrayal. Knowing Jerusalem would soon be destroyed by the Romans, Jesus wept for the people He loved and came to save but who rejected God’s offer of salvation through faith in Him, God’s  Son and Messiah. In the four gospels, we see Jesus loved (and still loves) everyone with all His heart, mind, soul, and strength because He died on the cross and rose again to save us from our sins while we still lived in rebellion against Him, His Father, and the Holy Spirit. Look at Jesus. If you are a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, He loves you as He loves Himself with all His heart, mind, soul, and strength. If you have sinned and want to change, look to Jesus to forgive you, and save you, because Jesus loves you with all His heart, mind, soul, and strength. Trust in Jesus because Jesus loves you and He came to save you and give you eternal life. Are you beginning to see Jesus more completely?

Carefully consider these words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:7-11 as you see our loving Jesus dying on the cross for us, for you, and rising from the dead for us, for you:

“Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath (our deserved judgement and punishment) of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Jesus came and died and rose again so those who believe in, love, and follow Jesus will not receive the just judgment and punishment of God that they deserve. If you look to Jesus and see Jesus as He is, you will believe in Jesus, you will love Jesus, and you will follow Jesus. God knows that in this life, you will not love and follow Jesus perfectly, but you will strive to obey His commandments; knowing this, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to live within His followers to guide and empower them to live in love as God intends according to the Bible. Listen to Jesus’ words in John 14:15-16, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.” Do you see? God is love and God sent His Son to save you from the just punishment you deserve. As followers of Jesus Christ, we try to obey the Law of Love, these two commandments, the Holy Spirit being our Helper, that Jesus explained to the scribe. The Apostle John tells us more about Jesus and His loving presence with His followers in 1 John 4:14-21:

“And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”

If you truly want to see Jesus and see Jesus better, I suggest that you begin with the Gospel of John.

The True Life and The True Light

The life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:4-5).

We learn from the Gospel of John that any life anyone has was given to them and is maintained within them by Jesus. Any mental or spiritual light or truth anyone has was given to them and is maintained within them by Jesus. Anyone can learn these truths about God.

In Psalm 19:1-4, David declared, “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;  yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” From just looking around, David learned that the existence and character of God was obvious. So, why do some people refuse to believe these truths about God?

The Apostle Paul tells us why in Romans 1:18-22, 25, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse;  for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!”

Because people have lived in darkness and their foolish minds have become darkened, God the Father sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to save people from darkness and death. God came in Jesus Christ to reveal the truth about God in ways and words that anyone can understand if they truly want to turn from darkness to find and understand God. After the heavens declared the glory of God, in the fullness of time God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to declare the love and glory of God in speech and action.

We live in a world today where increasing numbers of people and those in positions of leadership in almost every area of life worship the creation rather than the Creator and they want everyone to become like them. They have exchanged the truth about God for a lie. Increasing numbers of influential people keep proclaiming lies about God and creation in every way and place possible. Too many people are more concerned about saving creation than serving their Creator, the Creator and Sustainer of all creation. Though they think themselves wiser than others, they worship and serve mere creatures and the powers of darkness that would destroy God’s creation and all human life. If people truly worshiped and served the Creator, they would wisely do what is best for creation and every creature.

To solve the world’s problems, more people need to turn from darkness to Light, from death to Life, from fear to faith in God, from serving the ruler of this world to serving the true Life and Light—the Lord Jesus Christ. The Light of Jesus Christ shines brightly in the world despite the efforts of the ruler of this world and its followers to put out the Light. The worst the ruler of this world and its followers could do was crucify Jesus and kill him on a cross. But after three days in a stone-cold tomb, Jesus rose from the dead and He ascended into heaven where He rules over all creation. Whereas the heavens declare the glory of God, Jesus also declares the glory of God as He lives, reigns, and shines within every one of His followers. The darkness could not overcome Jesus with the worst it could do, and His Light still shines in the darkness. Jesus promised in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Jesus’ true followers are also the light of the world as Jesus lives, gives life, shines, and works within them (see Matthew 5:14).

Likewise, the darkness and those who prefer living in darkness cannot comprehend Jesus. Remember what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:21, “For though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened.” Because their senseless minds are dark, unbelievers cannot comprehend or understand the Light, the Truth. The KJV and the NASB translate John 1:5 using the word comprehend: “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” If someone prefers living in darkness instead of living in the Light, prefers living in a lie instead of living in the truth, they will not comprehend the teachings of Jesus or the Bible. They will not learn the truth and they will not stop living a lie.

If someone wants to come out of the darkness, they can turn toward the Light, and the Holy Spirit will help them comprehend the Bible’s teachings so they can believe in Jesus Christ. The Truth of Jesus that the Bible reveals will help them turn from darkness to Light, to trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin and death, to walking in the Light according to Jesus—the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In John 14:6, Jesus declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Those who turn from darkness to Jesus will be able to rejoice in God as King David did in Psalms 27:1-4, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh—my adversaries and foes—they shall stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident. One thing I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple”

When we turn to follow Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we can come to know God as King David, John, and the Apostle Paul, and others have come to know God. We will know Jesus is our Light and Salvation.

To learn more about Jesus Christ and the way of salvation, Begin or continue a study of the Gospel of John, with verse-by-verse commentaries, Bible Lessons, Study Questions, Study Hints, Applications, Crossword Puzzles, True and False Tests, and Word Search Puzzles, and Prayers, by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

The Light of the World is Jesus — John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:2He was in the beginning with God.

Throughout the Good News of John, he makes plain that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Word. The Lord Jesus Christ is eternal, the eternal God. Jesus, the Son of God, did not begin to exist, for He always existed. He existed before and when God made the heavens and the earth. He will live forever.

The Lord Jesus Christ is a Person distinct from God the Father. The Father and the Word are two Persons; for the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Lord Jesus Christ is not a created angel, but God. As the Son of God, Jesus Christ is not inferior to God the Father. The Father and the Son are the One Perfect God in unity from eternity past into eternity future.

John 1:3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being John 1:4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things, the Creator of all that exists (other than the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: these three Persons are the One true and eternal God ). The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have always been and will always be. Jesus made all created things and beings. Nothing was made without Jesus. Beginning with nothing, Jesus (the Word) made the universe, the form of the universe, and all the universe contains. Those Jesus made in the image of God also create, but they create out of “something” that Jesus made. They think and create with the brain and the mind that Jesus gave them. Jesus made all material and spiritual existence in the universe, for in Jesus was and is life and light. All spiritual life and light come through Jesus. Whatever spiritual life and light we have is from and through Jesus Christ. Jesus gives new life and light to all who believe in Him, and they love and follow His life and light.

John 1:5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

The darkness is the spiritual darkness and sin in the world as it now exists apart from God and in opposition to the Father, the Son (the Word), the Holy Spirit, and all Their adopted children (the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ). Throughout the ages, the vast majority have refused to walk in the light or follow the light, but they have not comprehended or overcome the light. What light they do have, if any, has come from Jesus Christ, who is the life and light of all people, for He created all people in the image of God. Jesus is the Lord and Savior of all who follow Him. He lives with and He lives within all His followers, as the Good News of John and the Bible teach us. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

The Light of Jesus’ Face in Psalm 4

Responsive Reading and Prayer From Psalm 4

It’s almost NEW YEAR! Begin or continue a study of the Gospel of John, with verse-by-verse commentaries, Bible Lessons, Study Questions, Study Hints, Applications, Crossword Puzzles, True and False Tests, and Word Search Puzzles, and Prayers.

What Were Mary’s Expectations? — Luke 2:1-17

“This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

The Bible does not reveal many of Mary’s thoughts after the angel told her that she would be the mother of the Messiah. Because God had shown her favor as the mother of the one and only Son of God, she might have expected that her life would become easier; however, many events made her life more difficult, especially as the time of Jesus’ birth drew near. Instead of relaxing at home and preparing for Jesus’ miraculous birth, an emperor decreed that she had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Instead of God leading her to a comfortable palace where He could give His Son the best of everything, Joseph found no place for them in an inn. Instead of a bed of luxury fit for the mother of a newborn king, Mary had to rest on a bed of hay. The nearest thing available for Jesus’ bed was a manger in a stable. Instead of rejoicing with their family at Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary probably celebrated alone in the company of curious animals. Reality may have contradicted all of Mary’s expectations, and she may have wondered with Joseph, “What has gone wrong!” Unexpectedly, God reassured them with the arrival of some shepherds. They told Jesus’ parents what the angel of the Lord had told them about their child, “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Those who commit themselves to serving God sometimes find their life more difficult, but God always finds ways to reassure them with His peace, power, and presence.

Thinking Further

  1. Why do you think God used the decree of Emperor Augustus so Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem instead of just sending the angel Gabriel to tell them what to do?
  2. What might Mary have expected when she went to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus? Do you think she left Nazareth expecting the King of kings to be born in a stable? Give a reason for your answers.
  3. If Mary had concerns or questions about the humble location of Jesus’ birth and what that might mean, how do you think God helped her answer her questions?
  4. What three titles did the angel give Jesus? What do these three titles mean to you?
  5. What kind of peace does Jesus give to those who trust in Him?

Study the International Bible Study
Commentary and Lessons On Matthew
or
Begin A Study of the Complete
Gospel and Letters of John
by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

Is Jesus Christ God? — Luke 1:46-56

“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior’” (Luke 1:46-47).

The Holy Spirit inspired Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, to ask Mary, “Why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” (Luke 1:43). Through her inspired question, the Holy Spirit revealed to Elizabeth that the child within Mary was her Lord. Mary’s first words to Elizabeth were, “My soul magnifies the Lord;” the child within her, Jesus the Messiah, was Mary’s Lord too and worthy of adoration. Mary magnified the Lord by proclaiming truths about God that would enable Elizabeth and all who would hear or read her words to see more clearly and understand with greater detail how God, the Mighty One, the holy and merciful God, would work in the world to bless and save people.

When Mary magnified the Lord, the first fact she revealed was how her spirit rejoiced “in God my Savior.” Though she did not know exactly how God would work in the world, she knew that in some way her child Jesus would grow up and be involved in saving her and all of His people. She knew that God her Savior would work in and through her Son because the angel Gabriel had said that her son would be the “Son of God” (Luke 1:35). An angel of the Lord had also told Joseph that Jesus would “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). In the days and years ahead, Mary would learn more from others and from Jesus himself about Jesus and how He would accomplish God’s saving work. As her Savior, Mary would follow Jesus to His cross and see Him raised from the dead.

Thinking Further

  1. What truths in Luke 1:46-56 have been magnified for you as you have studied this lesson so you understand these truths of God better?
  2. When someone first realizes that God is their Savior through Jesus, what new reasons do they have for rejoicing in God?
  3. When someone has followed Jesus as their Lord and Savior for a long time, what additional reasons might they have from experience for rejoicing in God?
  4. What type of person does Mary say God will be merciful toward?
  5. What are some of the actions God will take to help those He will be merciful toward?

Study the International Bible Study
Commentary and Lessons On Matthew
or
Begin A Study of the Complete
Gospel and Letters of John
by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

The Holy Spirit Creates New People — Luke 1:26-40

“The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God’” (Luke 1:35).

Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were too old for Elizabeth to conceive and bear John the Baptist; therefore, God used supernatural means to help them. Even though John had human parents, the Holy Spirit supernaturally indwelt him before he was born (Luke 1:15). For this reason, the Holy Spirit called John “the prophet of the Most High,” and John prepared the way for Jesus and His successful ministry (see Luke 1:76).

Unlike John, the angel Gabriel told Mary that Jesus would be called “the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). When Mary asked how this could happen because she was not yet married to Joseph, the angel explained that the Holy Spirit would achieve this miracle when the power of the Most High overshadowed her. Just as the presence of God overshadowed the tabernacle Moses set up and later the temple King Solomon built, so the presence of God would conceive Mary’s child without the need for human intervention. She only needed to wait in a way similar to how Jesus would tell His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them. The Spirit of God actively participated in the creation of the world, in the conception of Jesus the Messiah, and in the new creation of everyone who trusts in Jesus as the Son of God and their personal Lord and Savior. Because of the work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit all believers can now serve God “without fear, in holiness and righteousness” (Luke 1:75).

Thinking Further

  1. If you were God the Father, what type of girl or woman would you want to choose to be the mother of Your only begotten Son?
  2. What does the angel say to Mary so she will not be afraid?
  3. What does the angel say about Mary’s Son that makes Him special and what are some of the ways Jesus is different from John the Baptist?
  4. How is Mary’s reply to the angel a good example for all who claim to be Christians?
  5. How would many churches be different today if every church member had the attitude of Mary each day?


Study the International Bible Study
Commentary and Lessons On Matthew
or
Begin A Study of the Complete
Gospel and Letters of John
by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

Who Were the Magi? — Matthew 2:1-12

“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’” (Matthew 2:2).

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.

Thinking Further

  1. What does the name Jesus mean and what name was Jesus to be called? How did He get this name and why was He to be called by the other name too? See Matthew 1:18-25.
  2. What are Magi and from where did they come? Do you think they were Jews or Gentiles?
  3. Describe some features of the star and its purpose and appearances.
  4. Who did King Herod and the Magi consult to find where the Messiah was to be born? Why were they given accurate information?
  5. Where did the Magi find Jesus?


Study the International Bible Study
Commentary and Lessons On Matthew
or
Begin A Study of the Complete
Gospel and Letters of John
by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

Facing Liars in the Church — 3 John 1:10

So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing in spreading false charges against us. And not content with those charges, he refuses to welcome the friends, and even prevents those who want to do so and expels them from the church (3 John 1:10).

Remember these encouraging words: “Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:12-13). When persecuted, Christians can face persecution the way Paul did: “When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure” (1 Corinthians 4:12). The Apostle John suffered persecution from a powerful church leader, who even expelled from his church those who disagreed with him. Different translations reveal that Diotrephes spread “false charges” or “wicked nonsense” or “malicious words” about John and others. Not content with just lying about John and others, he refused to pass on John’s letters to his church and he refused to welcome the true believers that John sent to his church. Indeed, Diotrephes was going “from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived.” Because Diotrephes was destroying the spiritual well-being of some, preventing others from being saved through a true faith in Jesus Christ, stopping the spread of the Gospel through Christian missions, and not walking in truth and love, John wrote that if he visited Diotrephes’ church that he would “call attention to what he is doing in spreading false charges.” We do not know if Diotrephes repented of his sins and turned from putting himself first to a true faith in Jesus Christ. We do know that Gaius and Demetrius were prepared by God to replace a godless church leader.

Thinking Further

  1. Give some reasons John loved Gaius.
  2. Why do you suppose it was well with Gaius’ soul?
  3. What gave John “no greater joy”?
  4. How did “the friends” conduct their ministry?
  5. When we support true Christian workers, what do we become?


Study the International Bible Study
Commentary and Lessons On Matthew
by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

Or Begin A Study of the Gospel and Letters of John
by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.