Are the Red Letters Any More Important Than the Black Letters?

If scripture is inspired and from God are the words of Jesus any more or less important than all the rest of the Old and New Testament? And for a related brain teaser – who is speaking in John 3:16? Does John the apostle begin to narrate his own commentary about the events or is Jesus still talking to Niccodemus?


Giving Death a Makeover

There is little wonder that a dead and dying world wants to give death a makeover. Why turn and have life when you can just give things new names?

Instead of pro-death they call abortion “pro-choice
Instead of adultery they call it “open marriage
Instead of calling sexual activity with underage children rape the school system calls it practicing “safe sex

On and on the list could go but the end result is the same. A dying world tries to repackage and redefine its way back to life rather than take an honest look at what it is really doing and realize something has to change.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” – John 1:1-5

What a shame. When life and light and truth showed up, death and darkness and lies tried to cover it up and even kill and destroy it. But in the end life wins. Let me say it again, LIFE WINS!

A Twist on the Divine Name

“Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers sent me to you’, and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am sent me to you.'” (Exodus 3:13-14)

Not only is that one of the hardest verses in the Bible to figure out where to put the quotation marks, it also gives us some insight into the nature of God. The name “I am” implies eternal existence. Jesus repeatedly expressed his identity this same way in the Gospel of John – the two most significant being in 8:58 – “before Abraham was born, I am!” and in 18:6 & 8 at his arrest. Jesus is clearly expressing his divinity in these passages in John.

In contrast to Christ, the I am, are those who are not the “I am.” Two stand out in the Gospel of John:

John the Baptist, when asked if he was the Christ (the I am) replied – “I am not the Christ” (John 1:20)

When confronted by the campfire outside the residence of the high priest Peter was asked if he was one of Jesus’ disciples. To that he twice replied, “I am not“. (John 18:17,25).

Just one more reminder that “He is God and we are not!”

John’s Chronology of The Woman Caught in Adultery – John 7:53-8:11

Many contend that the story of the woman caught in adultery found in John 7:53-8:11 was not written by John. Several of the earliest manuscripts do not contain it. It does not seem to fit well in the narrative of John 7-8. It is abrupt, out of place, and is sandwiched between two important symbols from the Feast of Tabernacles Jesus uses to teach about himself.

Symbols of the Feast of Tabernacles:

The first symbol was discussed in the previous post. In that post we learned about the water ceremony and Jesus’ fulfillment of it. Jesus alludes to the second symbol in John 8:12 when he said, “I am the light of the world…” Each year at the Feast they would have a festival of lights. Lamps were placed in the court of women in the temple and were lit by priests. Their old priestly garments were used as wicks. The people danced and celebrated God’s provision of the pillar of fire by night in the wilderness following the exodus. There was a second meaning to the light, a Messianic one. They anticipated the time when God had promised to shine his light upon them and the kingdom of God. Jesus is saying, “like the water ceremony, I have fulfilled the festival of lights as well.”

John’s Theological Use of Chronology:

Sandwiched between those two statements is the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11). What makes that difficult is that John tells us it is on the day after Tabernacles (John 7:37 + John 7:53-8:2). That would make Jesus reference to being the light of the world in 8:12 after the ceremony rather than during it. That is just not quite as dramatic now is it?!? But that is only if we read John’s chronology concretely. By now we should all realize that John is fairly loose with his chronology (e.g. his placement of clearing the temple). He is not writing a newspaper piece or a scientific report. He places his stories in specific places for theological impact and purpose. In other words, just because John 8:12 “I am the light of the world” comes after the woman caught in adultery does not mean that what happened in 8:12 came after what happened in 7:53-8:11. Just because a new day has dawned in the story line does not mean John 8:12ff did not happen at the Feast of Tabernacles.

John’s Theological Reason for Sandwiching 7:53-8:11

The question then is, what would John’s theological reason be for John starting a new day in the middle of the narrative in which he tells the story of the woman caught in adultery and then go back to the Feast? In John 7:53-8:11 the setting of the story is the Mount of Olives. The timeline is on a new day. Why is that important? One of the key Old Testament passages associated with the Feast of Tabernacles is Zechariah 14 references all of these things. Carson believes this may have been part of the reading during the 8 days of the Feast (Pillar, 338). Let’s have a look at Zechariah 14:

A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city…On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south…It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime—a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light…On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea…The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name…Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. (Zech 14:1-2,4,7-9,16-17).

Zechariah predicts a new day that will come when justice will be served. A battle will rage. The mount of Olives will be split. Living water will be poured out, light will shine when there should be no light (evening), those who have undergone being taken advantage of sexually will be made right (in some ways similar to this woman who was probably set up for an encounter just to be taken advantage of to make a fool of Jesus). When? At the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.

On one side of the story of this woman Jesus declares himself the source of living water. On the other side of this story Jesus declares himself the source of light that shines even though it is evening. In the middle Jesus stands on the mount of Olives and serves as a dividing line between those going into spiritual exile and those who remain in God’s holy city. Why start a new day in the middle of the Tabernacle narrative? Because that is exactly what the story of the woman caught in adultery illustrated. That was John’s theological point. A new day had come.

Does John 7:53-8:11 Belong in the Gospel of John?

The textual evidence points against these verses originally being in the gospel of John. Other manuscripts have this section in other places in the Gospel. From the perspective of the narrative and John’s theology it actually fits quite nicely here. No one can say with 100% certainty that John did not pen these words, who did, or why their location differs in different manuscripts. I hope this posts offers some clarity on the selection and location of these verses in the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles.


Sorry, no application this time. I will let you write that part in the comments 🙂 How would you apply anything discussed so far in John 7-8?

Jesus Fulfills the Feast of Tabernacles – John 7

When the woman at the well ran to town to tell about the man who told her “everything [she] ever did,” she brought back a crowd of people Jesus referred to as a field ripe for harvest (John 4:35-39). The harvest was an important component of ancient life. The need for harvest was the reason the people of Ugarit developed their Baal and Asherah mythology, which vividly depicted annual cosmic warfare that resulted in the seasons and the fall harvest. The Israelites had their own fall festival of the harvest. It was called in the Feast of Tabernacles. In Leviticus 23 they are given the reason for their celebration – “So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the LORD for seven days…Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.‘ “” (Lev 23:39,42-43). They recognized that the harvest did not come from Baal or Asherah. It came from the Lord. He was the one who brought them out of Egypt. He was the one who led them through the wilderness. He was the one who gave them the promised land. He is also the one who brings the harvest. As God provided food for them in the wilderness he also provided the harvest after they were in the promised land.

You have to remember the Israelites were not farmers. They survived by raising animals. Remember the reports from the spies who reported on what they saw in Canaan? They saw a huge amount of produce. Who better to ask how to farm the land than someone who was able to grow HUGE clusters of grapes and other crops? What instructions would a Canaanite have given on how to grow crops? You sacrifice to Baal because he is god of the storm and the rain. You plant your seed and pray and do more sacrifice and low and behold, a huge crop sprouts from the earth. God did not want his people falling into idolatry. Instead he wanted them to remember that he is the source of blessing. He provided a festival for them to remember where the crops really come from, the Feast of Tabernacles. This festival also pointed toward a time God would again dwell with his people through his Messiah.

In John 7 we find Jesus faced with a decision of whether or not to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus in Jerusalem at the Feast for some would have been like singing, “Here Comes Santa Claus” in the living room when all of a sudden Santa himself comes down the chimney for all to see. They talked about it, thought about it, wished it…but how do you respond when it actually happens (of course you know I am not putting Jesus on level with Santa Claus!). Jesus presumably spends a day or more addressing their concerns about why Jesus could not be the messiah (healing on the Sabbath, apparent blasphemy, and their knowledge of where he had come from). We are not exactly sure of the time line but we do know he was there multiple days because on the last and greatest day of the Festival Jesus made an earth-shattering proclamation, “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38). Presumably Jesus had been sitting as he taught. Here he stands and in a loud voice declares that he is the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles.

When the messiah came the Jews believed that streams of water would flow from the temple and fill the valleys. It would run into the Jordan and fill the Dead Sea, which would become vibrant and fresh. New life would come. And so for generations at the Feast a priest would leave the temple at dawn with a procession of people. They would go through the Water gate to the Pool of Siloam. There he would take a golden pitcher and fill it from the pool while the people sang Isaiah 12. They would return to the temple where trumpets would sound three times. The priest would walk around the altar while the people sang the Hallel Psalms (113-118). He would then go up a ramp at the side of the altar, raise the pitcher and pour out the water into a funnel next to the altar. As the water fell to the ground another priest would pour out wine on the opposite side of the altar. The people held a lulab (branch) in their right hand and held a piece of its fruit in their left. At the last word of the psalm they would shake the branch and once the water and wine were poured they would shout, “Lift your hands!” It was a very exciting time as the people looked back on a good harvest from God and looked ahead to a better harvest of new life and the messiah which was to come.

This time he was there among them. He watched the ceremonies. On the final day he declared that it was fulfilled. No longer would the streams of water need to flow from the altar and down from the temple. Jesus was the sacrifice and as he said in John 2, he was the temple. He was the one who would be on the altar of the cross and have blood and water flow from his side and run down the hill to bring new life. Jesus brings a whole new meaning to their understanding of the Feast. Those who believe in Jesus will be sustained by the power of God and his Holy Spirit. It was not really about the Dead Sea or physical streams of water or the valleys growing crops. This harvest would come from the inside out. As with the Samaritans in John 4 this harvest would be a harvest of people for God’s kingdom.

We can ask the application question, “What harvest have you seen God bring in your life?” but that really doesn’t capture what Jesus is saying. Realize, Christian, that there is a harvest growing in your life that comes only from God. It does not result in new cars or fancy clothes. It results in something far greater – new life. When we reduce the Gospel to a dollar amount we miss what God is really trying to offer and we sell it out for something far cheaper and short sighted. Our pockets may at times be empty but it doesn’t matter if the Holy Spirit dwells in you and brings new life.

In the next post we will discuss how Jesus fulfilled another aspect of the Feast of Tabernacles – Jesus, the light of the world.

Was Jesus Being Unreasonable? – John 6

“Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.” – John 6:53-57

In continuing the Exodus and wilderness wondering themes in John 6, Jesus continues the thought by paralleling himself with the mana their forefathers ate in the wilderness. John has a lot of double meanings (some call it double entendre) but usually Jesus is more subtle about it than he is here. Why didn’t Jesus just say, “Very soon the Passover festival is going to change. You are still going to eat unleavened bread and drink wine but the meaning will change. You will remember me when you eat the bread because just as you break the bread so my body will be broken. You will remember me when you drink the wine because just as wine is poured out as an offering my blood will be poured out as an offering for you.”

Why would Jesus be this confusing? Following the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 we have the following conversation,

The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?…This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ” ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. – Matthew 13:13-17

Jesus later references this same scripture in John1237ff in regard to those who disbelieved even though he had done so many signs and wonders before their eyes. Those who want to follow Jesus will trust that what he says is true whether they understand it or not. At face value, Jesus seemed to be telling them to violate the law – drinking blood and eating human flesh would have been an abomination. How could Jesus have expected them to understand his words any other way? It is no wonder the disciples responded the way they did, “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” – John 6:60.

The answer is found in the concluding verses of the chapter,

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

The grumbling is another clear parallel of the wilderness journey of their forefather who, although presented with bread from heaven, grumbled against it. Jesus’ generation is no different. Even when presented with bread from God they reject it and not just any bread – bread that brings life. Jesus said all of this knowing which of them would leave. A genuine follower of Jesus would have the same response of Peter, an understanding of who Jesus is, “to whom shall we go?…you are the Holy One of God,” and what Jesus is offering, “You have the words of eternal life.” If you don’t start with that understanding the words of Jesus will only result in grumbling and rejection.

Was Jesus being unreasonable? Only if he was not able to deliver on what he promised. What do you think?

No Longer Ordinary – John 5

In John 5 we have the story of Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath. Like we saw in John 4, Jesus does not always do things that fall in line with our expectations. Before we get to that let’s have a look at the conversation with the lame man. It starts with a condition, paralysis that leads to a question, “Do you want to get well?” I think that parallels our relationship with Jesus quite well. The one who has the power to heal comes to us in all of our weakness and asks us the same question. If we respond through faith in the affirmative, he will come and make us whole as well.

Like this lame man, when the initial invitation comes from Christ for spiritual renewal, we probably will not completely understand the offer – we may equate it with things other than Christ. The words of Christ break ground in a life that has formed its opinions by what the contemporary culture has said in the past – try dipping in this pool or that, try to get in first or last, go here or there…these words of Christ give a seed of hope to a life that has heard all of the empty promises before. Faith starts to take shape as this new message competes with all of the old. As the conversation unfolds it becomes clear that healing is not found in pools or by magical or angel empowered water, it comes only through the Son of God. The next thing you know the legs have feeling again and the 38 year perspective of seeing things from three feet off the ground expands as he takes to his feet for the first time in decades and sees the Christ eye-to-eye.
The Jews had a real problem with Jesus healing on the Sabbath. It all boils down to an authority issue. Since they believed Jesus was not the Son of God then he certainly didn’t have any right to work on the Sabbath. The Jews acknowledged that some work was done on the Sabbath, one out of seven circumcisions would have been performed on the Sabbath, but that was an exception because God required that it be done (that is probably part of what Jesus was referencing in 5:17 – “my Father is at work to this very day.”). For Jesus to legitimately do work on the Sabbath was to put himself on level with God. That is precisely what he was doing. The Jews didn’t message the message behind the actions and that is why they wanted to kill him. He could have waited until Sunday or Monday or come a day early and done it on a Friday but he didn’t. He had a point to make – God is not constrained by our presupposition of what he can and cannot do. Neither is Christ, as God in the flesh bound by them. If they were we would have authority over them and they would have to fall in line with our opinions, rules, and regulations. Thank goodness they don’t!

Jesus goes on to talk about life that comes through belief in him and a resurrection that is in store for those who have faith in the Christ. We are reminded that believing in Jesus is not “ho-hum,” “run of the mill,” or “ordinary.” Many of us have believed since our youth that is seems quite ordinary to believe in Jesus. In reality it goes counter to all the messages that the world has to send our way. It is a light in the darkness, truth amongst lies, life in the midst of death. Church is plagued with people who have fallen into “status quo” Christianity, people who believe the message of Christ is quite ordinary. Tell me, when was the last time you saw God die for someone? Is that happening every couple of weeks to make it seem quite ordinary? I sure don’t think so. Let’s live mindful of the fact that the message we have for the world isn’t and never has been ordinary. No, it is extraordinary.

The Woman at the Well – John 4

There are many points we could make about the story of the woman at the well in John 4:

  • The history of why Samaritans were disrespected and loathed by the Jews
  • The fact that this woman is a social outcast
  • The misunderstanding that this woman has in trying to get past the physical water and well and what Jesus is actually talking about
  • We could talk about worship and how the Samaritans worshipped at Gerizim because they only believed in the first five books of the Old Testament and that was the authorized site for worship they came up with.
  • We could also look at Jesus’ response to that inquiry and how worship is not about location but about whether or not it is done in Spirit and in truth.
  • We could describe the differences between this woman who came to him at noon and Nicodemus who came to him at night and how this uneducated woman gets it while Nicodemus does not quite seem to be ready.

I want to focus on one thing and one thing only – Jesus does not always do what we expect him to. He does not always go to who we think he will go to, teach what we think he will teach, and do what we think he should do. He doesn’t toe our line because often our concerns don’t line up with his concerns, our agendas sometimes don’t line up with his agendas, and our compassion is often times not as full and rich as his. In this short conversation Jesus has broken all of the “rules” and in doing so receives a harvest that would have otherwise been abandoned.

Thank you God that you don’t live up to my very small expectations because if you did, things certainly wouldn’t happen as well as they do.

Jesus and Nicodemus – John 3

“Rabbi, We know that you are a teacher who has come from God.
For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

From the title of this post you probably already know who said this. It was not one of Jesus’ disciples (at least not yet!-19:39? ). It is not someone Jesus has just healed. John introduces us to this man by saying, “Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.” (John 3:1). The Jewish ruling council is another name for the Sanhedrin. For the text of John 3 click here.

Nicodemus surely had tension regarding what had just taken place. In the previous chapter Jesus had thrown the money changers out of the temple with a homemade whip (John 2:12-22). A few days later still in Jerusalem John says that, “many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men.” (John 2:23-24). This is the same conflict and tension that John mentioned in the prologue to the gospel, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” (John 1:10-12).

If there was anyone who would should have recognized him it should have been a Pharisee. For as many hours as the studied the scriptures and committed so much to memory it is amazing that they did not recognize him when he showed up in the neighborhood. At the same time Jesus didn’t make it easy on them. He didn’t try to ease them into the idea that he was the Messiah, his teachings, signs, and wonders were confusing and did not fit the matrix of what a Messiah was supposed to look like and which rules he was supposed to comply with.

Then there is the issue of Jesus’ confusing speech. He replied to Nicodemus, “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.” (3:3). We toss that phrase around today but think about how confusing that would sound to the uninitiated. Nicodemus was certainly confused. His conception of the requirements of seeing the kingdom of God was that you were born into the Jewish lineage, a “child of Abraham.” Jesus said there is another birth that must take place. When a child goes from the womb into the room things will never be the same again. So it is with the kingdom of God. When you are born you go from the darkness of the womb to the light of the world. The sounds that you once heard in the womb that told you there was something more to life than being in a tightly confined womb come to reality when you meet those who had been talking to you even though you had never met them. So it is with the new birth. In it you find life and light and freedom that can only come through Christ.

Jesus clarified – this new birth comes by water and the spirit. It is not as some have suggested that water is our first birth (the water of the womb) and the spirit the second birth (receiving the Holy Spirit). Water and the Spirit both describe the new birth. The second birth comes by the waters of baptism and the gift of the Spirit (both again linked in Acts 2 and both experienced by Christians in the conversions in Acts). Jesus then uses a play on words as “wind” and “Spirit” are the same word in Greek – “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (3:8). You cannot control the wind. It does what it is going to do. God is going to do with his kingdom what he wants to. He will eventually even include Gentiles who are not born of the correct physical lineage from the Jewish perspective. If they have faith in Christ and are “born again” by water and the Spirit they are of the correct spiritual lineage to be the people of God.

Nicodemus response to all of this…”How can this be?” Still confused 🙂

Jesus rebukes Nicodemus and launches into language that is even more confusing than the first. He references something in addition to the new birth – his being lifted up like the bronze snake Moses lifted up in the wilderness (3:14-15 – See Number 21). There were three ways Jesus was lifted up – on the cross, from the grave and from the earth. Each of these builds faith in who he is that leads to eternal life. Then come those favorite words recited by millions – “For God so loved the world that he actually gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish by have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). [See Raymond Brown, ABC, 134 for “actually gave”].

How did God give Jesus? He gave him first in the incarnation that we will be celebrating in a couple of weeks at Christmas. The second way God gave us Jesus is through his crucifixion. Jesus didn’t have to do either of these things but freely chose both. It is a little unclear if this is John speaking about Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus, a teaching of Jesus at another time, or if Jesus actually said all of this to Nicodemus (the red letters aren’t inspired you know! Jesus probably spoke through 3:21). It is not unusual for Jesus to speak of himself in the third person as he did that on occasion. What is even more strange is that Nicodemus referred to him in the third person at the beginning of the chapter and to his face (3:2). Either way the message of the remaining verses are clear – Jesus came to save the world for those who understand the “light.” Those who do not are in darkness and have no fellowship with the light.

One last point that has an implication on how we deal with our sin. Jesus said those in the darkness hate the light and will not come into it for “fear that their deeds will be exposed. But those who live by the truth come into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” There is a fundamental difference between those who live in darkness and those who are in the light – trust. Those in darkness fear their secrets will be exposed. They do not trust God enough to stand exposed. Those who walk in the light are honest with their shortcomings. Christians should rather their shortcomings be exposed rather than the alternative – to walk in the darkness.

We need better outlets for this within the church without getting into a big accountability mess that some churches have experienced in the past. This can only come through offering people a safe environment to be themselves and express their honest concerns and struggles. This can only come through time where we don’t feel like we have to smile if we aren’t smiling on the inside and don’t have to say everything is fine if it really isn’t. In one word – Authentic.

Spiritual Murder (John 10:10)

In Jesus’ lesson to the Pharisees in John 10 Jesus compares himself to a shepherd and to a gate. Notice what he tells the Pharisees in 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.” (TNIV).

In the context of what Jesus is saying in John 10 I cannot come away thinking anything short of this, Anyone who preaches a gospel other than the life giving message of Christ and fills their coffers with gain from skinning the sheep commits spiritual thievery. Like any robbery gone wrong the result is often spiritual murder. Let’s call it what it is. It is the worst kind of murder – murder of the soul. It is not just false teaching or incorrect doctrine. Such terms are necessary but they dull down the sense of what is actually happening as much as a doctor calling a fatal heart attack a myocardial infarction. It sounds fancy but it is just a nice way of saying “Heart attack.”