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READING: John 8 – The Truth Will Make You Free

Jesus was confronted by scribes and Pharisees with a “set-up.” They brought a woman, taken in the act of adultery. (Where was the man? It takes two to commit the act of adultery.)” Then they said to Him,Moses commanded us to stone such women. What do you say?He stooped and began writing in the sand. They kept questioning Him while the woman stood, naked before them. Jesus finally said,Let one without sin cast the first stone.” (8:6-7)

Again, “He stooped and wrote in the sand (Other ancient authorities add, ‘the sins of each of them,’ NRSV footnote). They began to leave, one by one, the elders first. Jesus was left alone with the woman. Jesus straightened up and said, ‘Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one sir.’ And Jes us said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go… do not sin again’” (8:8-11). The Law said witnesses were to cast the first stone, and it took two or three witnesses. Hence, with no witnesses, Jesus could not condemn her under the Law. He outsmarted those who tested Him. 

Jesus spoke again, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” The Pharisees complained He was testifying of Himself. In a lengthy testimony, He said He knew what He was talking about, and the Father who sent him also knew. He reminded them the Law required two or three witnesses. “I testify on my behalf, and the Father testifies for me.” (8:12).  

They asked where His Father is. He replied, “You know neither me nor my Father.” He said this in the Temple, but no one arrested him because His hour had not come (8:13-20). 

Continuing the conversation. He said, “I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” They wondered if He was going to kill Himself. Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am He.” While He said these things, “Many believed on Him.” (8:21-30). 

He turned to speak to those who believed in Him. “If you continue in my word, you are truly m disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free… I know you are descendants of Abraham; yet you want to kill me because there is no place for you in my word” (8:31-38). 

There was a lengthy discussion of their relation to Abraham, Jesus insisting true descendants of Abraham would do what Abraham did, while they relied on their genealogy. Jesus said at the end,Abraham saw my day and was glad.” (8:39-51). 

“They said, ‘Have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said, ‘Before Abraham was, I AM.’” They picked up stones to throw, but Jesus hid and left the Temple.  

The True believers of verse 31 were frozen out of the conversation. When people come with malice, everything else is ignored. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  


Father, why do the little people get squeezed out when angry people come to the forefront? Even when Jesus was teaching, they had to butt in with that poor woman who had been abused by many men. Sometimes, I feel like that in Bible class. I am afraid to ask a question because I will expose my ignorance. Thank you, my Father, in the heavens and in the very air I breathe. Help me to keep faith and hope alive in my heart by loving me. In Jesus’ Name, I pray, AMEN.  

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for myself)  

Father, why are we humans so prone to judge others by our own standards, when all judgment should be left in your hands. When the hypocrites come to “expose” someone they think is a “false teacher,” they never seem to look at themselves. Help us, our Lord, to recognize such people and admonish them gently, but if they continue in their foolish arguments after a second admonition, let us learn to have nothing to do with them. In the Precious Name of Jesus, we pray, AMEN. (See Titus 3:9-11.) 

READING: Acts 7 – Stephen’s Defense

You stiff-necked people resist God’s Spirit. Your fathers persecuted the prophets, killing those who prophesied of the Righteous One, whom you murdered. You received the Law and did not keep it.

Acts 7:51-53

Stephen’s defense reviewed Israel’s history from Abraham. God sent him to Canaan but gave him no inheritance there. He promised his descendants would receive the land after they suffered affliction in another land for 400 years and came out with God’s mighty hand. Abraham had no child. Later, God gave the covenant of circumcision and his son Isaac.  

Isaac’s son, Jacob, fathered twelve sons; Joseph was the favorite. The older ten hated Joseph and sold him into Egypt. “God rescued him from affliction, giving him favor with Pharaoh, who made him ruler over Egypt. A famine came to Egypt and Canaan. Jacob heard Egypt had grain and sent our fathers for food. On their second visit, Joseph made himself known and summoned Jacob’s family to Egypt.” (7:9-16) 

Another king arose in Egypt who enslaved Israel, making them expose their sons in the Nile. “Moses was born beautiful in God’s sight. Three months he grew up at home; exposed afterward, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him.” (7:20-22) 

When forty-years-old, “He tried to save Israel. Seeing a wrong, he avenged it, killing the Egyptian. He sought to reconcile two quarreling Hebrews. The man in the wrong said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? Will you kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Moses fled to Midian. (7:26-29) 

After forty-years “An angel appeared in a fiery bush. As Moses drew near, he heard the Lord’s voice, ‘I Am the God of your fathers.’ Moses dared not look. God said, ‘Take off your sandals; you are on holy ground. I saw the affliction of my people in Egypt and come to deliver them. I send you to Egypt.” (7:30-34) 

They rejected Moses whom God sent as ruler and redeemer. Moses led them out, performing signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty-years. Moses said, ‘God will raise up a prophet like me.’ Moses received living oracles for us. Our fathers refused to obey Him, thrusting Him aside, telling Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us.’ They made a calf and worshiped it. God turned away, as prophets wrote, ‘You took the tent of Moloch… and I will send you in exile beyond Babylon’.” (7:35-42) 

The accused became the accuser as he spoke the words in the first paragraph. They rejected Jesus as Israel rejected Moses; He was the prophet raised up like Moses. as Redeemer, Ruler, and Judge.  

They gnashed their teeth at Stephen who said, “I see heaven open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” They rushed at him, dragged him out of the city, and stoned him. He cried, “Lord, receive my spirit!” and “Do not hold this sin against them” as he died. (7:54-60) 

Saul of Tarsus watched the clothes of those who killed Stephen, thinking it was God’s will 



Father, help me train my conscience so I may know when I am doing your will. Amen. (See Acts 7:58 and 23:1.) 


May we not grieve the Holy Spirit with our hard-heartedness. The chief priests KNEW Jesus rose from the dead, for they bribed the guards to tell a lie about his disappearance from the tomb. Yet they did all in their power to stop the apostles, and now Stephen instead of repenting. (See Acts 7:51 and Matthew 28:11-15.) 



After fleeing to Egypt, Joseph & Mary took Jesus to Nazareth. We know little of him until he was 30, except one incident in the Temple at age 12. There, he was about his Father’s business, asking and answering questions, amazing scholars of the Law

But God was moving in Israel. Continue reading

The Lord & His Prayer – A Book Review

Lord & His PrayerThis book, first published in 1996, is available from Amazon.com for kindle at $7.60. For a book that old, this seems to be a bit high for a kindle edition (especially since the paperback is available for only $8.00) – but it is well worth it. There are six chapters, each focusing on a segment of the prayer. As is true of many of N.T. Wright’s books, this one began as a series of sermons, these during the Advent season of 1995. The prologue declares:

We live, as Jesus lived, in a world all too full of injustice, hunger, malice and evil. This prayer cries out for justice, bread, forgiveness and deliverance. If anyone thinks those are irrelevant in today’s world, let them read the newspaper and think again. Continue reading

SIMPLIFIED JOURNEY (25): Jesus – Conflict with the Jews

With the post-exile Jews and their traditions having such a focus on the external observances of the Law plus the traditions and Jesus’ focus on the heart, conflict was inevitable. The same thing happens today when one group in the Church focuses on grace while another group’s emphasis is on observance of the letter of the law. One group looks at the other as lawless libertines while the second group thinks the first group is legalistic.

It did not take long for the conflict between Jesus and the Jews to begin. Over the course of His ministry, it grew from Continue reading

OTHER VOICES: Keith Hodges

A dear friend, Joyce (widow of one of my early teachers, Jim Massey), recently referred me to this blog by one of Jim’s students, Keith Hodges. I have only read one of his offerings, but if this is a fair sample I will want to be back for more!

Here it is, or you can see it in its native habitat at http://www.keithshodges.com/.


Posted on May 24, 2010 by admin

If you are learning to truly love Jesus, it’s because you’ve come to know Him and (to some extent) understand some things about Him. Likewise, those who understand grace appreciate it deeply. But did you ever think about Jesus and the principle of grace being practically synonymous?
Continue reading


Jesus & the Pharisees

Jesus had already had run-ins with  Jews from Jerusalem who came to Galilee to check Him out. In Matthew 9, we were not told these were Pharisees – but their actions were  like the Pharisees.

Those wondered why He dared to forgive sins when none but God could do that. To show He had power on earth to forgive sins, He healed the paralytic. They asked His disciples why He ate with the tax-collectors and sinners. He said it is sick people who need a doctor, not those who are well. Along with John’s disciples, they asked why His disciples did not fast. He said they could not fast while the bridegroom was with them. They were like dogs nipping at His heels because He did not follow their traditions.

This heated up in chapter 12, Continue reading

MATTHEW 8 – 9: “What Kind of Man Is This?”

What Kind of Man Is This?

Sometimes a few words can capture the theme of a large section of Scripture. I believe these words capture the theme of Matthew chapters 8 & 9. This is the question the disciples asked when Jesus, awakened from sleep by his fearful disciples, said to the wind and the sea, “Peace! Be still!.

What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!” – Matthew 8:27

What kind of man, indeed? If you read these two chapters with this question in mind, you will get some important answers. Continue reading

The Temptations: Matthew 4:1-11

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. – Hebrews 4:14

Soon after baptizing Tony and Sheryl, I was talking with them about their walk with Christ. I warned them that sometime within about six weeks they would begin to wonder, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” I explained that this was a common human reaction to anything new. We start with a burst of enthusiasm, and there is a “let down” later. I pointed out that even Jesus had a period of intense temptation about six weeks after He was baptized. Continue reading

Armed for Battle – Ephesians 6:10-17

Courtesy of Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) at USF

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. – Ephesians 6:10-17

Reading this text, I remember a line from a gospel song I heard years ago: “It’s a battlefield, brother, not a recreation ground.” Our call to follow Jesus is not a call to a life of ease, but to a battleground with an angry, powerful, and implacable foe. The enemy is strong – but He who is with us is stronger. That is why this text on preparation for the fight begins by Continue reading

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