11 Sept 2013 by Adeline Lum CM-
On Sept 8th, Eaglepoint had a combined service of church members of Eaglepoint Damansara, Puchong, and Penang with over 600 church members at Bukit Jalil Golf and Country Resort.
After a powerful worship, they had a Baby Dedication Ceremony for 12 babies (based on 1 Sam 1:27-28 and Luk 2:40), followed by a welcoming speech by Sr Pr Timothy Loh for the return of Joshua Hoh Si Peng to serve in Eaglepoint. Joshua had been serving in China for more than 10 years at the prime and young age of his life.
Pr Kevin York from Midland, Texas was the guest pastor that morning, expounding on John 8 for the subject of confusion.
“If you leave confused, I did not do a good job. I will call the Spirit to ask you not to be confused,” joked Kevin. “There is much confusion between bondage and freedom. I have been in Christ for life but I still don’t know that I was in bondage until I had been freed.”
Of the four canonical gospels of the Bible—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—the book of John is the most unique gospel because John was Jesus’ best friend.
“How many of you know that if you’re going to write about the gospel of Jesus, what you write would be very different from a best friend’s perspective?” said Kevin.
Written in the 90 AD, John only started writing when he became an old man; a period after Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul have wrote the gospel.
“He had the privilege to read all the gospels before he began to write. John was a deeply intellectual man, he was thinking deeply of what to say about Jesus and being led by the Holy Spirit, he finished the book of 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John.”
“It is not surprising that the book of John is not the same with other gospels… He didn't want us to mix the book of John with the other books,” said Kevin.
About three-quarter of the first three gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are the same but John’s gospel only had about ten percent of its content similar to the first three gospels.
Furthermore, John was the disciple that Jesus assigned to take care of his mother.
“How many of you know that when you live with Jesus’ mother, you would talk about Jesus?” said Kevin explaining John’s unique perspective on Jesus.
But why would John want to write about Jesus? The reason lies in John 20:30-31:
30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
“John is saying, ‘I am writing it for only one purpose. When you read the book of John, you would believe that Jesus is the son of God and not only believe, you will sell out your life for Him,” said Kevin.
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”
14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”
19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”
“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.
John wrote that the Pharisees did not believe Jesus was the ‘light of the world’ because Jesus had no one else to testify that He is the ‘light’ (John 8:13).
How would the situation be at that time? Drawing a hypothetical illustration, Kevin imagined that Jesus was in the temple of Jerusalem at that time during the Feast of Tabernacles. Standing in the Court of Women, Jesus stood amongst resplendent lamp stands, which casted light upon the limestone that reflected the light back. The temple glowed in the dark!
“It was called the Shekinah glory of God, where the reality between our world and God is very thin,” said Kevin.
But when the Babylonians took the Israelites captive, God was not present with them anymore because they turned their back on Him. So, the Israelites lit their own light or the ‘fake’ light to shine without God’s presence.
“You could imagine the scene of stadium lights that are intensely bright. But they just manufactured lights that reminded us of God’s glory,” said Kevin.
The Pharisees were unaware of their spiritual darkness but it was plain to Jesus. That is why Jesus said to them, “I am the light of the world (John 8:12).’ This first sentence would have annoyed the Pharisees because Jesus was challenging the exclusivity of the Israelites to the privileges to God. ‘The world’ suggested extension of the Kingdom to those outside of the Israelites.
33They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
34Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father. ”
39“Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41You are doing the works of your own father.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
Jesus continued saying that they would be set free if they knew the truth (John 8:32). The Pharisees answered that they had never been enslaved before (John 8:33), which is incorrect. The Israelites had been under the authority of the Babylonians, Romans, and Persian in the past. But Jesus is not talking about national slavery; what he meant was slavery to sin (John 8:34).
And when the Pharisees defended that they were from the lineage of Abraham (John 8:39), Jesus told them that there are only two spiritual lineages, which is either the lineage of Jesus Christ or God and Satan (John 8:42-47).
“How many of you have walked in the bondage of sin without Christ in your life? There is no in between or other places to be than these two places,” said Kevin.
The Pharisees’ annoyance with Jesus soon escalated into anger, to the point of wanting to stone Jesus at the end (John 8:58). Why were they so angry? God recognized his Holy Name as ‘I AM’ (Exo. 3:14). Yet, Jesus started his testimony in the temple courts by saying “I am the light of the world (John 8:12)” and ended his stand by a more poignant stand, “before Abraham was born, I am (John 8:58)!” Jesus is literally proclaiming that He is God by saying that He is ‘I AM.’
During those days, the word ‘I AM’ was so holy that even when the scribes wrote that word, they would put down their pen and take another pen set aside for writing this holy word. The priest would also stop preaching when arriving at God’s Holy name but stopped to worship Him instead.
“To the Pharisees, they were so furious just like a person initially exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ because the Pharisees had been thinking they were spiritually ‘cool’ and ‘great.’ And Jesus was about to show them that the light shown is fake light,” said Kevin.
Although Jesus was good news, it was bad news to the Pharisees because they could manufacture the fake light instead of relying on God to provide them the true light.
10 Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.
11 But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.
In a period of darkness, we have two responses, which is to either trust in God alone or make our own fake light through our own intelligence or customized religion.
“When Jesus is your Lord, you have been given light in yourself. Why call your friends who are not in Christ as torch lighters? Rely on God and let Him bring His light and wisdom to you,” said Kevin.
He shared a testimony of a friend who was in darkness but found light in Christ. A good-looking and tall Texan drummer, he returned to confess to the judge of acrime he was released due his to clever manipulation.
He said to Kevin when he just accepted Christ, “I don’t know Jesus well but I am hearing him telling me something. I believe that Jesus asked me to tell the judge the truth,” to which Kevin reminded his friend that God forgives.
But his friend replied, “I know Jesus forgives. I am serious about Jesus and I feel that I don’t want to live like that anymore. I need to pay that price before the judge and honor him.”
His friend was jailed for two years and lost his job and home. But six months later, he was released for being a ‘model prisoner’, found a better job, got married with a woman he knew from church, and had wonderful children now.
“He is no longer manipulative, lighting fake torches thinking that he’s right. But he is totally relying on God. Only Jesus and Jesus alone can break that spell of our lives. John wants to make sure that it was Jesus who breaks that darkness out of our lives,” said Kevin.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
If Jesus set us free, then truly we are free because he is the one true light! Let us not light our fake torches anymore.