|FCPO Newsletter and Bible Study
||The "thin blue line" covered by the blood of Christ.
Hope that everyone had a safe and blessed Memorial Day weekend. I've posted some wholly biblical devotions and related 411 about this day on
my FB page
for those interested.
Here on the Colorado Front Range, our
next FCPO chapter meeting (and the continuation of our ongoing study through the Gospel of
John) is set for Tuesday,
June 5th. Scroll down for the 411. Join us! Secondly, this week's Bible study is the recap from our last FCPO/Centurion chapter-by-chapter group study through the Gospel of
John that has powerful application both for us in law enforcement and all in general: scroll down to "
Come and See!"
Let's stay safe on the street but radically
bold in Christ!
(1) Are you serving but exhausted? Burned out? I'm pretty much there myself. Here's great encouragement from my former pastor (a cop's dad), Ed Taylor:
Advice for the Weary
(2) Another issue that comes up often is that of Christian "dating." Understand that God's design for it is VERY different from that of "the world" (modern, secular society). Here's a wholly biblical (and short) treatise on this much-misunderstood subject (and one that is often rejected by those intent on staying in their sin): "
What Does the Bible [God] Say About Dating/Courtship?
" Now standing by to see how many "unsubscribes" I'll get for sharing this inconvenient truth - <sigh>.
PRAYER REQUESTS/PRAISE REPORTS
(1) Pray for those impacted by the flooding in the South.
(2) Pray for Chief
(Chief Vernon is sort of the "father" of modern, Christian ministry to law enforcement) and his family. This is from Bob's family through FCPO Exec. Dir. Paul Lee, is the latest:
Update - Bob Vernon
(praising God for the improvements).
(3) Pray for a colleague suffering from severe kidney issues who is having surgery today. God knows the details -- just pray please.
Have a prayer request or announcement you would like included here? Need prayer?
! I also post prayer requests on my Facebook page ("friend" me).
(1) I don't always post my own seminars here but I'll be teaching my Centurion Church Safety & Security Seminar at Outpost Calvary on June 9th from 9 AM - 1 PM. All are welcome and the event is FREE. Be sure to register.
(2) Colorado Springs PD Officer
is hosting the
2018 First Responder Retreat
in the mountains near Wheatland, WY.
(4) FCPO-Canada is hosting their 2018 National Conference in Newfoundland & Labrador on August 3-5. You'll get to see a special part of Canada while hanging out with a great group of brother and sister officers.
(5) The Sheepdog Seminars is led by my friends Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, Officer/Minister Jimmy Meeks and fellow church safety expert Carl Chinn (among others). Outstanding, highly recommended training for every sheepdog (sworn and unsworn alike)!
The Centurion Law Enforcement Ministry
The Centurion Law Enforcement Ministry
is a national, FCPO-affiliated, evangelical Christian outreach to our own in law enforcement. These newsletters and Bible studies are part of this effort and past editions can be found on our
and our social media
) feeds. As always, feel free to adapt these messages for your own individual or group use and please share them with others.
The Centurion Ministry is lead by Police Officer and Chaplain/Evangelist Michael "MC" Williams, a 30-year law enforcement veteran and sought-after instructor and speaker at churches [including the well-received Centurion Church Security Seminar], retreats and both law enforcement and civilian conferences and seminars around the country. Contact MC via email for more.
Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers
FCPO-USA exists to provide biblical support ("backup"), accountability and iron sharpens iron fellowship to Christian officers first in the U.S. and throughout the world as well. Our metro-Denver chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers -- (aka FCPO Chapter 217) -- is a Centurion Law Enforcement Ministry affiliate. We meet most 1st and 3rd Tuesday evenings starting at 7 PM in Highlands Ranch (email me for details) for profession-focused/life-focused
Bible study, prayer and servant-warrior/sheepdog fellowship (the iron sharpens iron kind). Spouses are both welcome and encouraged to attend with their LEO.
Our next meeting is set for this coming Tuesday, June 5th. Hope to see you there!
"Come and See!"
And then "follow me."
One of my challenges in sharing a recap here from our verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter inductive Bible studies is finding a way to present them here in a format that you will find useful in your own walk with God and also does credit to the text. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will help me to do just that. Let's dig in!
I entitled this study "Come and See" based on the fact that this unique, three-word passage is repeated twice in our text and has powerful application for our lives. Praise God, this short but profound expression is one that we cops can most certainly appreciate as well. Let's dig in!
Let's look first at verses 19-28 in which the author, the apostle John, shares the testimony of John the Baptist:
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." So they said to him, "Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight[a] the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said."
(Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie." These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Again, we have here another great example of a believer's "testimony." Notice that the "religious" (and incredulous) Jewish leaders want to know who this John is. John the Baptist responds by giving short, court-esque "yes" and "no" answers in denying that he is the Christ, Elijah or "the Prophet" (a reference to Moses from Deuteronomy 18:15). However, John is much more descriptive in emphatically explaining who he actually is in relation to Jesus: he rightly describes himself as the advance man of the great King (a kind of public information officer, if you will) when he states, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness" (v. 23). More importantly, he places Jesus in the forefront where He belongs (great lesson for us all).
Secondly, John's water
baptism was a preparatory cleansing that conveyed the idea of getting all "cleaned up" -- akin to putting on our Class A uniforms in anticipation of a most important (important in this case being the highest kind of royalty) visit or even a promotion ceremony to a high office. Promotion to what? Ultimately heaven, as a child of the King, for those who respond to Jesus' invitation to "follow" Him as Lord and Savior!
In understanding John's baptism (and in general with all Scripture), context is everything:
he Jews of that time typically reserved water baptism (by immersion, not sprinkling) for Gentiles who wanted to become Jews. So to submit to John's baptism, a Jew had to identify with the Gentiles (non-Jews), and most "religious" Jews wickedly considered the Gentiles to be lower than dogs (talk about prejudice). Accordingly, to submit to John's baptism was a genuine sign of repentance and humble surrender.
And speaking of humility, what is the meaning of v. 27 ("...the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie")? Given the lack of sanitation (open sewers, for example) of that time, untying the strap of a sandal (before foot washing) was a duty assigned to the lowest household servant (and this was how Jesus Himself would later demonstrate the call to true servant-leadership when He washed His disciples' feet -- including the gospel's author -- in John 13:1-17). In short, John is truly expressing his humble status in light of Jesus' status as God and King.
Now let's look at verses 29-34: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. ' I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water. " And John bore witness, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."
Who is this "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world"? At the very dawn of His human ministry, Jesus is greeted with words that remind Him of dispatched "call of service" in coming to earth as "God with skin on" to be "sacrificed" (as in the way lambs were sacrificed by the Jews for the remission of sin) on the cross to rescue mankind from the just penalty of our sin. Here we see the very shadow of the cross being cast over Jesus' entire ministry.
For He was before me
: We know from the other Gospels that John the Baptist was actually born before Jesus (
). More importantly, when John says
He was before me
, he refers to the eternal pre-existence of Jesus (referring back to
in the beginning
..."). In short, the Holy Spirit had revealed the truth to John that Jesus was in fact God in the flesh.
Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit: God gave John the Baptist the sure sign to know the Messiah. He would be the One upon whom the Holy Spirit would descend. John is therefore a wholly reliable "expert" witness regarding who Jesus is, because he had confirming
evidence from God Himself.
I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God: John the Baptist gives his solemn, indisputable testimony that this Jesus is the Christ -- God the Son -- who perfectly declares the nature and personality of God the Father.
As I shared in our first message in
John 1, this section of our text emphasizes John's role as a witness and not as a baptizer. Witnesses give testimony as to what they have seen and experienced in an effort to establish the truth. Moreover,
John is revealed here as an unimpeachable, wholly reliable witness who knows who Jesus is because of what he has seen with his own eyes and what has been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit.
Verses 35-39: Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi" (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), "where are You staying?" He said to them, "Come and see. " They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour). (added emphasis mine)
Again, John repeats, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"
John already said this of Jesus in verse
. Why repeat it? John is heralding and adding vivid emphasis to the fact that Jesus's destiny is the cross.
Come and see (added emphasis): Why is this expression so significant? Here Jesus, as God and King, is giving a personal invitation for John and Andrew (and
ergo, to us) to be a part of His life. He was and isn't some kind of cloistered, hyper-religious monk but a living, breathing personable Lord who seeks to personally disciple (train, mentor) others and allow us to live in an intimate, personal relationship with Him!
Now it was about the tenth hour: Three quick points here: (1) This was such a memorable occasion for John (the apostle) that he remembered the exact hour that he met Jesus. (2) This is a clue that one of the two disciples who came to Jesus was the apostle John himself. (3) The time is significant -- John establishes not only the "who," "where" and "what," but also the "when" (and, in this case, the 10th hour in the Jewish system which equates to about 4 PM). In addition, this shows the powerful impact that Jesus had on John's life in much the same way most of us know the exact time and place that we came to know Christ as Lord and Savior (and as such part of our own testimonies).
Verses 40-44: One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, "You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas" (which is translated, A Stone). The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me. " Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
He found his own brother: Those who come to genuinely know Christ as Lord and Savior (Christians as God defines it) will desire to share that experience with others -- to not just "come and see" but also "
go and tell" (again, part of a Christian testimony).
You shall be called Cephas
: In giving Simon a new name (Cephas or Peter, literally a "stone"), Jesus tells Andrew's brother what kind of man he will be transformed into. At the time, and throughout the gospel, Peter may have looked like a "rock" on the outside, but was really anything but on the inside. Yet before Jesus is done with Peter, he will be
a stone (rock)
of stability for Jesus Christ and His message (with the proper biblical understanding, of course, that Jesus never rose Peter up to be a "pope: -- see "
Was Peter the first pope?
We have found the Messiah: This is Andrew's expert, evidence-based testimony about who Jesus is (
the long-awaited Messiah).
(added emphasis mine): Jesus simply says "
" -- in this context, an invitation rather than a command -- and Philip responds in faith by doing just that. While whole books have been written on this simple expression, here's a short article that covers it nicely: Follow Me.
Verses 45-51: Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote; Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!" Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. "Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
How much more expert, evidence-based testimony does anyone need?
Here is Philip's expert witness testimony about Jesus Christ. He rightly declares that Jesus is the Messiah and Savior predicted more than 300 times in the Old Testament.
Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Nazareth was a poor town with a less than stellar reputation (definitely not prime "real estate"). With this, Nathanael prejudices himself against Jesus. If Jesus comes from Nazareth, that is all Nathanael cares to know about Him (meaning Jesus could not be someone of any great importance). But wait...!
Phillip responds with, "
Come and see"
(again, added emphasis mine): Instead of arguing against Nathanael's prejudice, Phillip simply invites him to meet Jesus for himself. What a powerful pattern this is for us today! Moreover, the pattern God is giving us here is twofold: (1) to have a "come and see" heart in sharing Christ with others; and (2) to live in a "come and see" expectation for what God will do in our lives when we place our whole trust in Him.
Under the fig tree, I saw you: "Under the fig tree" was a phrase Jewish religious leaders used to describe meditation on the Scriptures. In short, and despite his prejudice, Nathanael is found having "quiet time" with the Lord by meditating on the Scriptures. Jesus reveals Himself to Nathanael by showing He was supernaturally aware of Nathanael's devotion! Friends, know that our Lord is very much aware of the time we spend with Him in prayer and the study of His Word!
Nathanael, his eyes now open, gives his testimony regarding Jesus:
You are the Son of God, the King of Israel. Understand what this means -- Nathanael emphatically KNOWS that Jesus is God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity!
You shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man: Jesus promises Nathanael an even greater sign than he has just seen.
But what does Jesus mean by the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man?
This probably connects with the dream of Jacob in
, where Jacob saw a ladder from earth to heaven, and the angels ascending and descending upon it. Jesus says that He is the ladder, the link, between heaven and earth. When Nathanael comes to understand that Jesus is the mediator between God and man, it will be an even greater sign (
you will see greater things than these
And why is this important? Many scholars suggest that this was extremely meaningful to Nathanael because it was possibly the very portion of Scripture he had been meditating on under the fig tree!
Son of Man
: The idea behind this phrase is not "the perfect man" or "the ideal man" or "the common man." Instead, it is a reference to
, where the King of Glory coming to judge the world is called the
Son of Man
Jesus used this title often because in His day as it was a Messianic title free from political and nationalistic sentiment. When a Jewish person of that time heard "King" or "Christ" they often thought of a political or military savior who they thought would come to rid them of the Roman occupiers. Rather, Jesus emphasized another term, often calling Himself the
Son of Man -- the Messiah -- who had arrived to save them (and us) from their/our sin.
And so the summary application for us in today's passage? Pastor and commentator David Guzik wrote that it shows
four ways that one can come to Christ in faith:
(1) Andrew came to Jesus because of the preaching (testimony) of John the Baptist.
(2) Peter came to Jesus because of the witness of his brother.
(3) Phillip came to Jesus as a result of the direct call (invitation) of Jesus.
(4) Nathaniel came to Jesus as he overcame his prejudices through a personal encounter with the Savior.
Finally, Guzik adds that this section of Scripture shows us four different
witnesses giving unimpeachable TESTIMONY to the identity of Jesus:
(1) John the Baptist testified that Jesus is eternal, that He is the man uniquely anointed with the Holy Spirit, that He is the Lamb of God, and that Jesus is the unique Son of God.
(2) Andrew testified that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.
(3) Phillip testified that Jesus is the One prophesied in the Old Testament.
(4) Nathaniel testified that Jesus is the Son of God (God in flesh) and the King of Israel.
Finally, understand the two invitations Jesus gave in our passage:
(1) "Come and see"
(2) "Follow me"
Both come out of love (and, as we'll soon see, include loving warning as well) and with a sense of wonder and excitement. Most importantly, He is giving this same invitations to you and I today! Accordingly, I too invite you to "come and see" as we continue our journey through the Gospel of John while also pleading with you to respond to His invitation to "follow" Him NOW (tomorrow is guaranteed to no one). So how will YOU respond? Again, consider the following:
I. Think you "deserve" or can otherwise "earn" or badge your way into heaven? That you don't need Jesus? Take
Good Person Test
and see how you do. Pass? Then the following:
esus' first recorded words in His earthly ministry were and remain: "
Repent and believe in the Good News
is a "180" -- a complete, radical change of mind and heart as it relates our sin. To
(pisteuo in the original Greek) as Jesus intends it here is to cry out to God for your salvation and wholeheartedly
surrender to Christ in faith
in the same way we have "faith" that our body armor will do its job against the rounds it is intended to stop, that our weapons will function properly in when facing criminals intent on destroying us, or that a sky jumper's parachute will open when it is supposed to (we stake our very lives on it)!
III. This same concept of "
" (the saving kind) is further revealed in
where Jesus says, "...
you must be born again.
" Note our Lord's emphasis on the word "
" (not "may" or "should"): this is ultimately the
personal relationship (and NOT "religion") with Jesus Christ that I stress here every week (see
What does it mean to be a born again Christian
?) through which we are in fact made "righteous" before a just and Holy God.
Still in doubt (as in the "
" we'll learn about in
)? Check out this powerful, short video message by my friend, fellow officer and noted trainer,
Cops and Salvation.
Now, if you've responded to Jesus' invitation to "come and see" -- to follow Him as Lord and Savior -- but don't know what to do next, click on Now what? Understand that the "Now what?" has to include regular fellowship with other believers -- including other mature Christian officers -- who can help support you, encourage you, disciple you and yes, hold you lovingly accountable. Message me for how you can do that!
My hope for you in this week's study is that, like His disciples, you too will "
come and see
" and then being to "
go and tell
" as you begin
" Christ our Captain.