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Harmony Week 1 Bible Class Transcript
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Unique Women: Points of Interest from the Genealogies

This lesson goes with Week 1 of the Harmony. There were some technical issues with the video, but the audio is good.

00:32:23
Receiving Jesus

Presented for the Northside LaGrange congregation on January 1, 2023, in the 10:30 AM Worship Service.

00:21:44
Harmony Week 1 Bible Class Video (1/1/23)

This is the video from the Harmony of the Gospels Bible Class, January 1, 2023. It introduces the approach we will take to our year-long study of the Gospels under the theme, Christ in Me in 2023.

The class handouts can be found here:
https://normsnotes.locals.com/post/3296897/harmony-of-the-gospels-week-1-handout

The Bible class transcript can be found here:
https://normsnotes.locals.com/post/3296907/harmony-week-1-bible-class-transcript

00:44:27
The Acceptable Year of the Lord (audio)

From Harmony of the Gospels: Week 8
PM Sermon for 2-26-23

The Acceptable Year of the Lord (audio)
How Faith Grows (audio)

From Harmony of the Gospels: Week 8
AM Sermon for 2-26-23

How Faith Grows (audio)
Harmony of the Gospels: Week 9 Bible Class (audio)
Harmony of the Gospels: Week 9 Bible Class (audio)
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A Prophet Has No Honor in His Own Country

After spending two days with those who believed in Samaria, Jesus returned to Galilee. John 4:45 says that “the Galileans received Him” because they had seen what He had done in Jerusalem. There were Galileans there to see Him cleansing the temple (John 2:13) and the signs He did while there (John 2:23). They saw the same things that Nicodemus had seen, causing him to acknowledge Jesus as “a teacher come from God” (John 3:2). So, it seems strange that John would refer to Jesus’ statements about a prophet having no honor in his own country (John 4:44) right before saying the Galileans “received Him” (John 4:45).

The “testimony” John refers to is found a few times in the Synoptic Gospels (cf. Matthew 13:57; Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24). These passages record Jesus’ rejection in Nazareth of Galilee. Even though Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, He was consistently referred to as a Galilean because He was raised in Nazareth (cf. John 1:45; 2:12; 7:1-4, 40-43, 52). He was called “Jesus of Nazareth” (John 19:19). So, it may be, before John refers to Jesus’ reception in Galilee, he reminds the reader of how fickle they were in their treatment of Jesus. For example, it is right after this that Jesus rebukes their dependence on “signs” rather than the substance of His teaching (John 4:48).

This passage reminds us of something that often happens with those who teach the gospel. So frequently, we are warmly received in our initial interactions. Then, after revealing the necessity of obedience to the gospel, we are “dishonored.” If we’re just talking about the “fluffy stuff,” we are “received.” But when we preach, “repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38), we are rejected. People love us as long as we provide bread and fish. But as soon as we place any requirements on people, they reject us (cf. John 6:26-27, 60-66).

There are those who are only looking for what they can get, and there are those who want to give themselves to the Lord. The former will reject Jesus because He requires something of them. The latter will receive the gospel and serve the Lord out of love and gratitude for Him. May the Lord help us find the latter and not be overly burdened by the former!

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Jesus’ Response to Nicodemus
Harmony of the Gospels: Week 8

When Nicodemus came to Jesus, he recognized Jesus as “a teacher come from God” and that God was with Him. But Jesus doesn’t seem to acknowledge Nicodemus’ recognition of Him. He immediately tells Nicodemus about the new birth required to “see the kingdom of God.” So, what does that have to do with what Nicodemus said?

Nicodemus referred to Jesus’ teaching and recognized that it had divine authority. But what was Jesus teaching? “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). If Nicodemus recognized that to be a command from heaven, and he did, then he needed to know how to respond to that teaching. That’s why Jesus told him, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus had the same problem that all the Jews of Jesus’ day had. They placed all their hope in their physical birth, their genealogical connection to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They lived under a covenant of physical birth. A Hebrew was born a Hebrew based on their physical genealogy. But the kingdom Jesus was preaching about wasn’t a physical kingdom/nation like Israel. He was preparing people for a spiritual kingdom, His church. To “see” and “enter into” that kingdom would require being “born again,” not physically but spiritually. It is the new birth brought about by “water and the Spirit.”

John and his disciples, then Jesus and His disciples, were preaching “a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Luke 3:3; Jn. 3:22; 4:1-2). The Holy Spirit-inspired command was to “repent,” to change our “spirit” to be in harmony with God’s Spirit. And, having done that, to fully commit ourselves to God through the burial of the “old man” (i.e., the person we were before we repented) to be raised a “new man.”

John and Jesus were preparing people for the kingdom that was “at hand” in their time. Today, we enter that same kingdom the same way they were prepared for it before it came, by believing and being baptized (Mark 16:16), which is being born again by water and the Spirit. Just as we see being done on Pentecost in Acts 2:38, 41. They were “cut to the heart” by the Holy Spirit-inspired word they heard preached that day (Acts 2:37). They were “added to the church” (Acts 2:47) by “water and Spirit”!

What Jesus said to Nicodemus is exactly what Paul said to Titus. That is, we are saved by God “through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). And, again, to the Ephesians, that Jesus sanctified and cleansed the church “with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26).

Jesus told Nicodemus exactly what someone who acknowledges the truth of God’s word needs to hear!

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John, the Humble Baptizer
One of John's Greatest Characteristics Was His Humility

The first interaction we see between Jesus and John is when Jesus came to John to be baptized by him in the Jordan (Matt. 3:13). Later, Jesus would say that there was no one born of women greater than John, the Baptist (Matt. 11:11). We have studied about John in previous lessons. Still, there is another characteristic of John that needs to be observed, his humility.

From the first time we see John interacting with Jesus, John’s humility is a prominent feature of this greatest of all the prophets (Luke 7:28). He had already been preaching that he was the forerunner of the Greater One to follow (Matt. 3:11). The One John was sent to announce was so far above him that he wasn’t even worthy to carry that One’s sandals! When Jesus came to be baptized by him in the Jordan, John tried to prevent Him, saying it was Jesus who should be baptizing John (Matt. 3:13). He knew who Jesus was, the sinless Son of God! He always exalted the Savior, never himself. His message was always, “He must increase, I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30). His popularity was never about him!

He had the entire region coming out to hear his message. He was baptizing multitudes of people. His popularity was so great that people even asked him if he was the Messiah (Luke 3:15; Jn. 2:19, 20). “No,” was his answer!  He could have turned his popularity into his own religious movement. If not as the Messianic fulfillment himself, then as a great prophet to be followed above all others (Jn. 1:21). But, again, his answer was “no.” He was the forerunner of the truly great One, for Whom he would prepare them and to Whom he would send them. 

John was the very pattern of a humble preacher of the gospel! He always knew it wasn’t about him. All his work, his energy, and even his life was given to glorify the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” (Jn. 1:29). If we would be faithful evangelists for the Savior, we must follow John’s example of humility. It isn’t about us! No matter how popular we may be, no matter how many people we have the privilege to teach, baptize, and disciple, it must never be about us. No one will go to heaven because we made them our disciples! (cf. 1 Cor. 1:10-13). The only way to get people to heaven is by being humble messengers of Christ and following John’s example of “He must increase, I must decrease.”

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