The Gospel of John Anne O’Brien’s
This study notes provide the core content of a group of bible studies in the Gospel of John. While the core message of the study has been captured for you to read, written text can not fully express the sense of anointing upon the discussion of the word or the joy of corporate fellowship. We encourage you to pray before you begin reading that the Lord would open your heart and mind to be receptive and responsive to God’s message contained within this study. There may be times when you find it difficult to reconcile God’s truth to your own opinion or worldview, God’s truth is eternal, it does not change, our understanding of the truth does change as we allow God to work in our hearts and minds.
6/01/10 The Gospel of John – chapter 1 This book was written towards the end of the first century AD, in Asia Minor, by the apostle John. The characteristics which distinguish this gospel from the others are: • an emphasis on the eternal nature of Jesus (Mark talks about “now” & actions) • an emphasis on the deity of Jesus (Matthew writes about the Shepherd King) • the titles and characteristics of Jesus • John doesn’t include the parables (unlike the other three gospels) • John writes from a philosophical perspective (rather than historical like Luke) • John shows us the heart of Jesus John is very keen to show the eternal nature of Jesus and his hand in Creation (see p.2) Read John 1v1-5 John starts from the very beginning. It reads like Genesis. Light and all creation came into being through the Word – the Lord Jesus Christ. The Word created: “Let there be ...” and there was. John skips the traditional Christmas story in favour of explaining who Jesus was. Read John 1v6-9 Introduction of John the Baptist who came first to tell people about Jesus – the Light. (He was Jesus’ cousin and only a few months older than Jesus.) John’s gospel is full of metaphors (he uses images which do not have a literal meaning). Jesus was literally the light at creation but now he has come as a light to illuminate people’s thinking and understanding and to lead them to God. Read John 1v10-14 Jesus came, as a Jew, to the Jews but they did not recognize him or receive him. But Jesus showed that God’s love is open to all, and the gospel is open to anyone to respond and become children of God. Jesus was full of grace and truth. He came as God’s Son to show us what God is like. Read John 1v15-18 (a summary of previous verses) Read John 1v19-28 John quotes from Isaiah 40v3 to show that he was fulfilling scripture, and the implication is that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. Read John 1v29-34 This is a stunning revelation by John the Baptist. Israel, as a nation had had no prophetic words from God for 400 years. They had become self-reliant, fighting under the Maccabees to keep their land. Israel was not a Godly nation at the time. But God chose this darkest of times to send Jesus (the light) and this is the message that John the Baptist brings. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus as a dove and John recognized that he was the Son of God. The rest of the apostle John’s Gospel goes on to prove this. 1
The Eternal Purpose of Jesus Christ John 17v5: Father glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. Genesis 1v1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Psalm 33v4 & 6: The Word of the Lord is right and true. By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made. John 1v1:
In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God and the Word was God.
Colossians 2v9: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. Hebrews 1v3: The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Colossians 1v15-16: Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things were created by him and for him. Colossians 1v17-20: Jesus is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church: he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead; so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things (whether things on earth or things in heaven) by making peace with his Blood, shed on the cross. Revelation 19v11&13: I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True . . . He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The eternal purpose of Jesus was: To glorify God The creation of all things To be the WORD of God – God’s expression To reveal the Deity of the Godhead to man To reconcile mankind to God 2
John the Baptist Jerusalem Summary of Luke 1 v 5-15 Zechariah the priest had a vision in the temple. His wife Elizabeth will give birth to John, who will be a prophet like Elijah. Jerusalem Luke 1 v 57-66 John was born The Wilderness Luke 1 v 80 He grew up in the Judean desert - a mountainous wilderness. The Jordan Valley Luke 3 v 1-17 In his early-thirties (he was slightly older than Jesus) he was called out of the desert and began ministry in the Jordan Valley. He called people to repent and be baptised. He taught them to pray, fast, share their food and clothes with the poor - and to drink no wine. Bethany (S.E. Jordan Valley) John 1 v 19-28 John is questioned by the Jewish authorities. He says he is not the Messiah but the announcer of His arrival. Matthew 3 v 13-17 John baptizes Jesus - the Lamb of God. Samaria John 3 v 23, 24: 4 v 37, 38 John travels to places in Samaria. Many hear his message and respond. East of Jordan - territory ruled by Herod Antipas Mark 6 v 17-20 John tells Herod his second marriage to his sister-in-law is wrong and he is imprisoned by Herod. Luke 7 v 18-23 In prison John doubts and sends some disciples to ask Jesus if he really is the expected one. Mark 6 v 21-29 Herod’s birthday. John is beheaded at the request of Herod’s step-daughter. John’s disciples bury him.
Acts 19 v 1-7 Years later, they continue to follow his teachings.
20/01/10 John’s Gospel Summary of chapter 1v1-34: John the Apostle writes about < > John the Baptist » who told people about » Jesus John the Baptist said, “He (Jesus) who comes after me has surpassed me, because he was before me. Jesus is God and Jesus is eternal, always there throughout eternity. Read John 1v35&36: The Lamb of God. The expression symbolizes and emphasizes that Jesus is the one who redeems us – i.e. he sacrificed himself for us. Read Exodus 12v3-7 & 12,13 When we trust in Jesus, God sees Jesus’ sacrifice for us (he sees the blood) and passes over us (we are saved from the punishment we deserve). Read John 1v37-39: John and Andrew stopped following John the Baptist and followed Jesus. As they followed Jesus spoke to them, “What do you want?” They acknowledged his greatness (Rabbi means My Great One) and wanted to spend time with Jesus. Read John 1v40-42: Peter, the Rock; Andrew the Bringer. Andrew recognized that Jesus was the Messiah. (Messiah:Hebrew / Christ:Greek / both mean “Anointed One”), Rocks and bringers are both valued, useful and vital to a growing church. Read John 1v43-46: Jesus left the south and went north, near to Galilee. Here Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael. (Nathanael must be Bartholomew who is mentioned in the other gospels.) Read John 1v47-50: Nathanael (Bartholomew) believes after initial scepticism. (Disciples list overleaf) Read John 2v1-11: The scene is a wedding feast, a great occasion, and possibly a family occasion as Jesus and Mary were there. Hospitality was very important, even if the family were poor, so it was a disgrace to run out of wine. Mary seems to recognize that Jesus’ time has come (this was the first miracle). In response to her “nudge” Jesus commanded that some stone water pitchers be filled with water (this would be water used for washing dirty hands and dusty feet). The miracle resulted in the equivalent of approx. 600 litre bottles of wine ready to drink!
Why? The miracle showed that God is not a killjoy! God provides in abundance! But the wine is a symbol of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. By his Spirit God can take nothing and turn it into something; something wonderful and exciting. Water and wine illustrates the difference between having Jesus in our life and not having him in our life. The Twelve Disciples
JOHN * Brothers ‘Sons of Thunder
SIMON PETER *
Son of Zebedee, a fisherman - and the ‘disciple whom Jesus loved’. Part of the core group of three. He wrote the Gospel of John, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Epistles of John and Revelation. He took care of Jesus’ mother after the Crucifixion.
Son of Zebedee and a fisherman - also part of Jesus’ core group of three. (This is not the James who wrote the Epistle - that was one of Jesus’ brothers.) He was put to death by Herod. (Acts 12v1,2) Also a fisherman and part of Jesus’ core group. Preached at Pentecost and was a leader of the Jerusalem church. He wrote 1st and 2nd Epistles of Peter. Also a fisherman who learned to become a fisher of men.
ANDREW PHILIP BARTHOLOMEW (NATHANAEL)
MATTHEW (LEVI) THOMAS (THE TWIN)
Also a fisherman. He was one of the twelve and therefore probably not the Philip mentioned in Acts 6 v 5&6 Occupation unknown. Commended for his honesty and straightforwardness. He was a Tax Collector - corrupt and despised but Jesus called him and changed him. He wrote the Gospel of Matthew. Occupation unknown. Often referred to as ‘doubting Thomas’.
JAMES (SON OF ALPHAEUS)
We know nothing of him other than that he was one of the twelve disciples.
THADDAEU S (JUDAS SON OF
JAMES) SIMON THE ZEALOT JUDAS ISCARIOT
Unknown occupation. He was a fierce patriot of the Jewish cause. Occupation unknown but he kept the purse for the disciples and betrayed Jesus by selling him for 30 pieces of silver.
27/01/10 The Gospel of John chapters 2 & 3 John 2v1-11: See last week’s notes. Read John 2v12-25: Throughout John’s Gospel we notice that the order of events are not as important as the message. The other gospel writers put this account towards the end of Jesus’ ministry, but John seems to want to emphasize the reason for Christ’s coming (v.19). The Passover – It was obligatory (required by Jewish Law) for every adult male Jew who lived within 15 miles of Jerusalem to attend the feast. But it was the desire and aim of every Jew, no matter where they lived, to celebrate at least one Passover in Jerusalem. (At times there could have been as many as two and a quarter million Jews in Jerusalem.) Every Jew over 19 years of age was to pay the Temple tax of a half-shekel (equivalent to nearly 2 day’s wages). Because people came from all over the world it was necessary for there to be money-changers, who it appears, were exploiting the thousands of worshippers by overcharging for this service. Most worshippers would have brought an animal sacrifice, and if bought in the Temple, it would have been sold to them at an extortionate rate (for as much as 20 times its value). Jesus’ anger was directed at the way God’s House of Prayer (Read Mark 11v17) was used, not just to make money but also to exploit innocent worshippers. Surely many a seeking stranger would have seen what was happening and left in disgust. Jesus expressed the thoughts of his Father, but also of the everyday person. The Jewish Leaders: were affronted, annoyed, had no control, wanted a sign of Jesus’ authority; but the words Jesus spoke were ambiguous (lest Jesus get arrested) and not understood until after his resurrection. See also Mark 14v58. Read John 3v1-8: Nicodemus: was a leading Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin (a Jewish council with judicial authority in the temple, largely made up of rich aristocrats and not necessarily spiritual). It was amazing, but Nicodemus came to Jesus by night (was it curiosity, or conviction or was he just led by God?) and was touched by Jesus’ message although he didn’t understand it at that point. But we do know he did become a follower and used his influence and affluence with Joseph of Arimathea for Jesus’ burial (see John 19v38-42). Jesus message was so simple. Nicodemus called him “Rabbi”, expecting perhaps some great theological proof of his Messiahship, but all Jesus said was, “You must be born again”. Read John 3v9-21: Nicodemus thought Christianity was something to be discussed, not something to be experienced – a common failing (v.9-11). Jesus used simple earthly illustrations like “new birth” and “Moses’ snake on a pole” (Numbers 21v4-9) to get his point across and more or less said if you can’t believe it’s because you don’t want to. They were simple truths: “You must be born again” and “Look and live” – the only way to eternal life. Verses 16-18 which are SO well-known encapsulate the message of Jesus and God’s purpose for all mankind. Jesus came to save, not condemn. Men and women’s own thoughts and actions bring condemnation but Jesus the Light came to help us see the truth. Read John 3v22-36: Again John the Baptist confirms the superiority of Jesus. He uses the example of a bridegroom. In the Bible God’s people are the Bride, Jesus Christ the Messiah is the bridegroom and here, John the Baptist is the Best Man, preparing the way for the arrival of the groom. He shows great humility, “He must become greater and I must become less”.
3/02/10 The Gospel of John chapter 4 The Samaritans: The Samaritans were Israelites but they were not Jews. When the tribes of Israel first possessed the land they were spread out from the Dead Sea up to the land beyond Galilee (about 120 miles, north to south. But the ten tribes in the north split away from the two tribes in the south. Eventually the ten tribes were exiled by Assyria (720BC) and many Assyrians came to live in the land, intermarrying with those who were left. These became the Samaritans. The two tribes in the South were the Jews, who were later to be exiled by the Babylonians. But the Jews kept their purity of race and eventually returned to Jerusalem, but despised the Samaritans for not keeping faith (by now a centuries old feud). Jesus came from the region of Galilee and he was a Jew (born of the tribe of Judah). But to travel between Jerusalem and Galilee meant either, passing through Samaria or, taking a long detour up the east side of the River Jordon. (See map) Read verses 1-9: Jesus stopped (at midday, “the sixth hour”) at a place that had many Jewish memories. Jacob’s Well was bequeathed to Joseph and when the Israelites went up from Egypt they took the bones of Jacob and buried them by the well (Genesis 33v18-19; Joshua 24v32). So here we see Jesus deliberately going against custom – travelling in the heat of the day, stopping specifically at a place of meaning, speaking with a woman – and she a Samaritan. In other words, he broke down all the barriers. (Apparently a strict Rabbi would not even talk to his wife in public!) Read verses 10-15: Notice a pattern? Jesus makes a statement (metaphorically talks about living water). The person takes it literally and misunderstands; then Jesus explains; and for those who want to understand the “light comes on”. But here, Jesus has to ask one further question, “Where is your husband?” Jesus didn’t “pussy foot” around. Read verses 16-26: Jesus’ word of knowledge convinced the woman that Jesus was special, perhaps a prophet (v.19). She queries the right place to worship – Gerazim near Samaria where the Samaritans worship or Jerusalem where the Jews worship (v.20). BUT, Jesus gave a further prophetic word (about worship which would have included sacrifice) saying that the whole order would change. True worship came from the heart and was of the Spirit, not dependant on place (V.23,24). Then the crux: “But only the Messiah can say these things” – “Yes, I am He”. Apart from calling the disciples, Jesus first miracle was to make 600 litres of wine and his first revelation of his true self and purpose for coming was to an immoral, Samaritan woman. In what ways are the actions of Jesus different to the way we would do things? Read verses 27-37: The woman was no doubt marginalized, but now she had a testimony which blotted out the past. As the disciples came back, she went back to her village to tell everyone about the Christ (Messiah). Jesus used further metaphors about food, and sowing and reaping. The harvest had begun! (v36) Read verses 39-42: As if to confirm that, the woman asks Jesus to stay and many Samaritans believe. Read verses 43-54: Jesus’ second miracle. Capernaum was about 20 miles from Cana. The Royal Official (notice how Jesus is meeting significant people) had a son who was dying. Following his pattern, Jesus makes a statement and waits for a response. The courtier shows his faith (v.49) and is rewarded with the recovery of his son. In all these events so far we see that Jesus is giving people an experience (not a theological debate) which changes and improves their lives and which cannot be argued against. In other words he gave them a testimony to share.
10/02/10 The Gospel of John chapter 5 Read verses 1-9: At Bethesda (which means ‘house of mercy’) there was a pool which was similar to the natural pool at Bath, into which the water continually flows from a subterranean stream. Every now and again there was a surge and the waters were disturbed. People believed the waters had healing properties. Superstition had it that an angel ‘moved the waters’ (as recorded in the A.V.) but not all manuscripts have this verse (v.4 missing in N.I.V). Jesus began, as he often did, by asking a question – did the man want to be well. Had hope died, had he got used to everyone doing everything for him? When Jesus recognized the man’s will to be well he told him to do the impossible, “Get up”! It was as the man obeyed that Jesus healed him. Do you know anyone who has been suffering for years and thinks that God won’t heal them now, it’s been too long? And we don’t read that Jesus healed any of the others by the pool, so why did he choose this man? Read verses 10-15: This took place on the Sabbath. We might expect that everyone was pleased for the man – but not the strict Jews. He was breaking (their version of) the Law by carrying a burden (his mat) on the Sabbath! The Law said you must not work on the Sabbath (4th of the Ten Commandments); but the Jews had set out 39 different classifications of work, including carrying a burden. When confronted, the man said that the person who healed him also told him to carry his mat. Jesus found him in the Temple (had he gone to sacrifice and worship) and there Jesus revealed his identity; he told him to sin no more – in other words, to be changed in mind as well as body. Read verses 16-20: So the Jews persecuted Jesus for healing on the Sabbath! The tense in verse 18 shows that this was something Jesus did often. And Jesus explained how that he only does what he sees God his Father doing. (God rested from his work of creation on the seventh day but he never rests from sustaining all things, or from judgment and mercy and compassion.) This inflamed the Jews even more because Jesus was in effect saying that he is God’s Son; this to the Jews was blasphemy. Read verses 21-30: Jesus continues to explain how he is doing his Father’s work. But consider how this would have sounded to the Jews. If they had ears to hear they would realize he was the promised Messiah (and some did). Already (even before the crucifixion) in verse 24, Jesus was saying that if people believed his words they would be saved (see also chap 4v36). Jesus often made these statements after a great miracle as if to show that it was a sign of his power and his truth. Read verses 31-40: Jesus argued in a way that the Rabbis would understand. There must be two witnesses to support his claim. 1) In verse 33-35 Jesus referred them to John the Baptist who was a light sent to help people see the truth about themselves and about the Messiah. 2) In verse 36 Jesus referred them to the works and miracles he was doing. 3) in verses 37-40 Jesus says that his Father testifies to him in the scriptures. Read verses 41-47: The scribes and Pharisees loved the praises of men. They had the front seats in the synagogue, they stood on street corners to pray. They measured themselves against each other instead of against what God required. They didn’t truly know God because they didn’t see him in Jesus; even though their great prophet Moses spoke about Jesus. No-one can condemn a person who has never heard – neither does Jesus. But the Jews had no excuse.
17/02/10 The Gospel of John – chapter 6
Read verses 1-15 Where did the crowd come from? Verse 4 suggests that maybe they were en route to the Passover at Jerusalem. Jesus (as was his manner) asked a question to test his disciples. I wonder how often he does that to us, and we don’t realize. Philip took the question literally, but Andrew responded with something that Jesus could work with. His ‘small’ (you might even use the word pitiful) effort resulted in such a large result! As we give what we can to Jesus, he blesses and enlarges it (v. 11). There were 12 ‘backpack’ size baskets left over. Just as we might carry a small rucksack with provisions for a day, so they had bottle-shaped baskets of about the same volume. (N.B. In the miracle of the feeding of the 4,000 the baskets used there were more like the size of a laundry basket – big enough to fit a man in. There are two different words in Greek for the different types of basket.) The miracle made Jesus special in the people’s eyes, but it also made him vulnerable to the authorities (v.15). Read verses 16-24 Jesus was with his disciples: behind them, alongside them and in front of them. He is with us all the time. See expanded chart on reverse. Read verses 25-40 All they were thinking about was their stomachs and real bread. The people referred back to the bread that Moses gave them – manna. But Jesus pointed out that it wasn’t Moses who provided it, but God – Jesus’ Father. The manna was actually a symbol of the real Bread of God – Jesus himself. And then he comes to the crux of his message: “I am the bread of life – partake of me”. Without Jesus there is existence, but not real life (life with an eternal quality). And Jesus is the essential for providing eternal life. Read verses 41-59 But the Jews kept ‘murmuring’ (thinking rebellious thoughts), v41. Jesus reminded them that manna only sustained the Israelites in the wilderness one day at a time. But if they were to partake of him they would live forever (v48-51). Verses 53 is difficult. We have to remember that Jesus is using Old Testament symbols to get across a spiritual point. When the priest offered a sacrifice to atone for sin the flesh was eaten so this wasn’t such a strange thing for his listeners to hear. We are invited to partake symbolically of Jesus’ flesh, to identify with his body and with his sacrifice. But Paul also tells us that when we are in Christ we are all part of the Body of Christ. So when we share in the bread at Communion we are having spiritual fellowship both with Jesus and with each other – all part of the same eternal Body. The Old Testament says “the life is in the blood”. Jews are not allowed to eat an animal unless the blood has been properly drained. But Jesus says we should “drink of His Life-blood”, again in a spiritual (not literal) sense. John doesn’t include an account of the Last Supper but gives Jesus’ explanation here. Read verses 60-70 Now the disciples were grumbling! Those difficult words are spirit and life (63), and not all his followers accepted them (v.66). But for others the ‘penny has dropped’ (v.68). Peter recognized that Jesus is “The Holy One of God”. 9
John 6v16-24 Jesus sent the disciples alone in the boat across to Capernaum
Mark 6v45-50 They boarded the boat in Bethesda on N.E. coast of Galilee Jesus went up the mountain to pray
It grew dark. A strong wind rose and the waters grew rough. Jesus SAW the disciples straining at the oars. The disciples had rowed three and a half miles (nearly there).
The disciples saw Jesus approaching on the water. The disciples were terrified. Jesus told them not to be afraid.
It was the fourth watch of the night (about 3 oâ€™clock in the morning). Jesus was also walking across the lake, about to walk past them. The disciples thought Jesus was a ghost.
Peter walked on the water towards Jesus, but began to lose faith. When Jesus got into the boat, the wind and waves died down. With Jesus in the boat they immediately reached the other shore.
They landed at Gennesaret, further down the N.W coast than intended. The disciples were amazed.
The crowd followed them in the morning.
The crowd brought sick folk with them. Jesus healed them.
Feast The Sabbath
To commemorate Creation of the world The Angel of Death passing over, blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintels Leaving the old behind To celebrate the barley harvest The later harvest (wheat) - 50 days after Passover 50th day after The Passover - in memory of the giving of the law. To celebrate with trumpets the first day of every month (lunar) The trumpet sounded to proclaim the beginning of the New Year To ask for Godâ€™s pardon for all sin committed during the previous year
Reference Genesis 2 v 2, 3 Exodus 20 v 8 - 11 Exodus 12 v 12 - 14 Leviticus 23 v 5
The Feast of Tabernacles (tents)
Leviticus 23 v 39 - 43
The Sabbatical Year Jubilee Year
Every seventh year At the end of every 7 X 7 years (50th)
Leviticus 25 v 1 - 7 Leviticus 25 v 10
The Passover A lasting ordinance
The Feast of Unleavened Bread The First Fruits The Feast of Weeks
The Feast of New Moons
The Feast of Trumpets
The Feast of Expiation (the Day of Atonement)
Leviticus 23 v 6 - 8 Exodus 12 v 14, 15 Leviticus 23 v 9 - 14 Leviticus 23 v 15 - 20
Exodus 19 v 1 - 3
Numbers 10 v 10
Leviticus 23 v 24, 25 1 Thessalonians 4 v 16
Leviticus 23 v 26 - 32 Hebrews 9 v 7 - 15
The Feast of Tabernacles This feast was also known as the Feast of Booths or Tents – so called because the people camped outside in temporary shelters for eight days. They erected shelters (usually from palm fronds and branches) on their flat roofs or in the streets. This was an autumn festival at the end of the olive and fruit harvest; it was a celebration of God’s provision: a) in remembrance of His provision in bringing the Israelites safely through the wilderness and into the Promised Land: b) in thanksgiving for the yearly harvest (that is why it is sometimes also referred to as the Festival of Ingathering. This was the last of the feasts prescribed by Law. It began 5 days after the Day of Atonement and lasted for 8 days. During the week the people would take palm branches into the temple and march round the altar. A priest would take a two-pint jug to the Pool of Siloam and fill it with water. As he carried it back the people would recite from Isaiah 12v3: With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. They praised God for his gift of water, in memory of the water which sprang from the rock when they were in the wilderness (consider this when reading John 7v37). All the Jewish feasts have a Christian parallel – they are shadows of the REAL things. Passover: the blood speaks of the sacrificial blood of Jesus Unleavened bread: speaks of repentance First fruits: new life in Jesus Pentecost: God’s communication (first through the Law, then through the Holy Spirit) Atonement: forgiveness for all Israel once a year. Our sins eternally forgiven (once for all) Tabernacles: the final harvest: important for all people in the End Times (Zechariah 14v16-18) 12
24/02/10 Gospel of John – chapter 7 Read verses 1-13: Times were getting difficult for Jesus. Some Jews were wanting to kill him; even his brothers did not believe him (v5) or understand his purpose. For this reason Jesus let his brothers go ahead of him to the Feast of Tabernacles (at least if people asked them where Jesus was, they could honestly answer that they did not know); and he followed on later, in secret (v10). (See p.2 for explanation of the Feast of Tabernacles.) Read verses 14-20: Although many people were looking for Jesus, he was able to keep a low profile in the crowds until it was the time for him to speak out. When he did, they were amazed at his ‘learning’. Again, Jesus tells them that he is speaking from God – helping the ordinary people to believe, but at the same time making a statement about what is really happening i.e. that they are seeking to kill him. Read verses 21-24: I think a lot more was said than is recorded by John. However, referring back to the miracle he did the last time he was in Jerusalem (John 5v1-16), Jesus challenges the people on their hypocrisy. His reasoning was: how can you blame me for making a man’s body whole on the Sabbath, when you carry out circumcision on the Sabbath (which is a mutilation of the body). Read verses 25-36: Here we see the debates and doubts in people’s minds. Verse 27 is not from scripture so it must have been a saying. Verses 30 and 31 show the 2 reactions. God protected Jesus because ‘his time had not yet come’. Jesus was talking about returning to His Father (v33,34) but they had no understanding. Read verses 37-44: With reference to the explanation on page 2, we can now see why Jesus said what he said about being ‘living water’. To the Pharisees it must have appeared that he had ‘hijacked’ their ceremony and focused all the events on himself (we know it is because he is the fulfillment of all these Old Testament feasts, but they did not have eyes to see). Jesus wanted them to see that the water they used in celebration was (like the water from the well of Samaria) only physical water, useful and vital for their bodies. But he offered water which would quench the thirst of their souls. His water was the very Spirit of God. Interestingly Paul picks up on this, with a startling revelation in 1 Corinthians 10v4. Verse 42 shows that the people didn’t really know much about Jesus. Read verses 45-53: The Pharisees were scathing of the guards and the people (and even Nicodemus), as if by belittling them they could strengthen their own argument. But it is encouraging to see Nicodemus looking at events fairly, and even speaking up for Jesus. We just cannot judge who will respond to the call of Jesus; we just pray for all that they will. 13
3/3/10 Gospel of John – chapter 8 Read verses 1-11: The Pharisees (who took it upon themselves to be moral watchdogs) approached Jesus as they would approach a Rabbi, but their motive was to trap him, not to learn from him. From the purely legal point of view they were correct in what they said. Would Jesus betray himself (he always judged in love and mercy) or would he betray the Law and justice? As was his way, Jesus turned the attack back on themselves, but without resorting to argument. He simply wrote in the sand. In his knowledge and wisdom was he writing the sins of each person who was accusing the woman? We are not told. We only know what he said, “If you are without sin, you throw the first stone”. It seems they all left (inc the crowd of v.2). Jesus was the only one without sin (and therefore the only one with the right to judge) who could have condemned her, but he acted with love and mercy AND with justice. Many of us can say, “There but for the grace of God, go I”. Jesus gave the woman a second chance, he didn’t condone what she had done (Go and sin no more) but gave her the opportunity to have a changed life. Read verses 12-20: Remember that Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Tabernacles (he had already taken the opportunity during the water ceremony to say how he is the true fountain of water, speaking of the Holy Spirit). Now, Jesus seizes on another of the ceremonies where 4 candelabra were lit and illuminated a large area. So, in verse 12 it is like Jesus is saying, “You’ve seen these illuminations, but I am the true Light of the World (v12). Jesus says that his followers walk in that light. To the Pharisees Jesus was proclaiming that he was the Messiah. See Isaiah 60v19. They said he had no witness to these claims. But Jesus said his witness was his own words and deeds; and the words of his Father in the scriptures. Read verses 21-29: Of everyone, the Jews (especially the Pharisees) had the greatest opportunity to believe in Jesus. With opportunity comes choice. With choice comes judgment. The Pharisees own self righteousness stopped them from believing, and yet many others believed. Jesus made reference to the cross in verse 28. He knew where he was headed. He knew the end from the beginning. Read verses 31-41: Here is the motto for our Bible study group! “If you hold on to my words, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” It is by reading, knowing and obeying God’s word that we show our discipleship; that we grow spiritually; and that we know freedom from fear, from self, from sin. If we sin (and we all do!) we can becomes slaves to sin. When we know Jesus we sometimes sin, but we are no longer slaves to sin because we are sons and daughters of God. (We cannot be a son and a slave at the same time.) The Pharisees reply that Abraham is their father (v39) and then that God is (v41). They missed the point once again. Read verses 42-46: Jesus couldn’t be any blunter!! If they could not accept the truth, they must be sons of the father of lies – Satan. Verse 46 is a challenge to them – can Jesus be proved guilty of sin? He never could. Is this perhaps relating back to what was written in the sand in v.6?) Read verses 48-59: Now the Pharisees adopt ‘politician speak’ – “if we can’t win the argument, let’s just try and discredit him”. They call him a (despised) Samaritan and say he is demon-possessed. Jesus replies with an even greater claim: if anyone keeps his words he will never know death. When the Pharisees drew on their (literal) knowledge of Abraham Jesus counteracted with the amazing statement that Abraham saw His day (v56) and presented them with another claim: before Abraham was, I AM. Jesus was saying he is eternal, timeless.
10/03/10 The Gospel of John – chapter 9 Read verses 1-5: The disciples are talking to Jesus. When things go wrong, or illness strikes, it is a natural tendency to ask “why” or “what went wrong”. Here, Jesus says, “No-one sinned, no-one is to blame, but this has happened so that God can be glorified”. Jesus reminds the disciples that there is more at stake than the physical and it is almost like he is saying, “I’ll show you that I am the Light of the World by bringing light into this man’s world”. Read verses 6-12: As so often happens in Bible healings a kind of humbling took place, as spittle and mud was put on the man’s eyes. Jesus told the man to go and wash, and healing came with obedience: e.g. Naaman – Go, dip 7 times in the Jordan Lepers – Go, show yourselves to the priest (as they went, they were healed) Luke 17v14 Centurion – Go home – your son is healed The neighbours noticed and wanted to know what had brought about the change in him. Read verses 13-16: O dear, it happened to be a Sabbath!!! And again, it had to be investigated by the Pharisees. Their law stated that it was O.K to pull an ox out of a ditch on the Sabbath, but apparently not O.K to heal – they just couldn’t see the absurdity of their arguments. It just shows how strict religion can warp your thoughts. However, the man’s testimony was simple and clear, “All I know is, a man put mud on my eyes, I washed it off and now I can see”. Read verses 17-23: The Jews didn’t believe the man’s testimony. Can we sometimes be guilty of that, perhaps by trying to explain away the miraculous? The man was of age and apparently he parents were frightened of the Jews. It was a form of persecution – they couldn’t tell the truth because they would have been put out of the synagogue. Read verses 24-27: Verse 25 should be the spiritual testimony of all of us, “All I know is: once I was blind, but now I see”. The man’s comment in verse 27 is a good retort, but inflammatory. Read verses 28-34: Once again, the Jews refer to Moses, and they actually seem to revere Moses (& their extension of Mosaic Law) more than God himself. In other words, they knew Moses writings, but they didn’t know God. The only response to the man’s testimony was contempt – a result of pride. Read verses 35-41: Jesus went looking for the man (see also ch.5v14) and revealed himself as Messiah (the Son of Man). Although the man had experienced God’s touch on his life, he still had to make an individual expression of belief (confessing Jesus as Lord) and worship. Do you think it is possible to experience God’s love and/or healing touch and be thankful, without ever coming to the place of personal encounter and acknowledgement of Jesus as Saviour and Lord? 15
17/03/10 The Gospel of John – chapter 10 Read Ezekiel chapter 34 (from The Message) Read John 10 verses 1-18: Jesus had just been accusing the Pharisees in chapter 9. He now uses a “figure of speech” (v6) – a parable – to talk to them. Who was Jesus referring to when he talked about: The one who climbs over the wall, the thief and robber (v.1) The man who enters by the gate (v.2) The watchman who opens the gate and leads the sheep (v.3&4) The stranger (v.5) The gate (v.7-9) The thief (v.10) The Good Shepherd (v.11,14&15) The hired hand (v.12&13) The other sheep (v.16) How many times does Jesus talk about “laying down his life” (in verses 11-18) Once again, the people were found with differing opinions and responses (verses 19-21). Jesus is the Good Shepherd, so therefore: We are known to him by name, the onus is on us to follow and respond. He will always lead us in the right direction and in goodness. He will always protect us, and even in death we should fear no evil. He will always feed us and provide for us, we will never be in want. The Jewish leaders had failed in their God-given task of shepherding the people. They had, in fact, led them away from God. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, never fails. He always shepherds his people well, even to the point of laying down his life for them. All people have the opportunity of hearing the shepherd’s call and responding. It is important they hear the voice of the true shepherd and not a stranger to God. Read John 10v22-42: A couple of months later – it was the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah, usually around Dec 25th) and Jesus was again speaking in the Temple courts. The people challenged Jesus again to reveal his true identity. He referred to the fact of being the True Shepherd of Israel, and that God himself had given him charge of the sheep (verse 29); and concludes with the statement that “I and the father are one” (v30). He said, “Believe in the miracles, that you may know and understand that I am one with the Father” (have the Father’s power). It appears that the further away from Jerusalem that Jesus went, the more people believed in him. There were hundreds around Galilee, many across the Jordan (North and south) – see verse 42 - and even many in Samaria. The Pharisees and Jewish leaders in the Temple at Jerusalem were indeed “thieves and robbers” stopping people from following the Good Shepherd, Jesus. They were the “hired hands” who were not shepherding in the way the Lord expected them to. What sort of onus is on our leaders today? What onus is on us, as sheep, to make sure we listen to leaders who are true, and called by God? 16
23/03/10 The Gospel of John – chapter 11 Read verses 1-6: N.B. Verse 2 refers to ch.12v3, which we will look at next week. Remember, Jesus was staying on the east side of the Jordan (ch.10v40), probably for his own safety’s sake. Normally he would have stayed with Mary, Martha and Lazarus when he wanted to visit Judea; this was a family he was very close to (loved them – v.5). But they were apart and Lazarus had fallen ill. Jesus prophesied that he, himself, would be glorified through what would happen to Lazarus. Why did Jesus wait two days before going to see them? a) perhaps he wanted no dispute over the fact that Lazarus was dead b) perhaps it was because he wanted it to be the greatest miracle of all time c) perhaps it was to show that Jesus will do things in his own way and in his own time Or is it a mixture of all three? Jesus knew he was shortly to die, and to show that resurrection was possible and believable, he wanted to perform this miracle in Lazarus, with many witnesses. Read verses 7-16: Times were getting dangerous for Jesus – he knew the Jews were looking for every opportunity to seize him. When questioned, Jesus again used the analogy of day and night, light and darkness. What he was about to do would throw light onto people’s understanding. And he explained how that Lazarus had died which had brought an opportunity for them to see God’s hand at work. Thomas was referring to the fact that to go with Jesus to Judea, could mean death for the disciples too (verse 16). Read verses 17-27: In Palestine, burial followed death quickly because of the hot climate, and everyone who knew the family would come and mourn with them, so there would have been a gathering of people as Jesus arrived. Martha came first and spoke a mixture of words of reproach and words of faith. And Jesus replied with that amazing statement, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” Jesus was on the threshold of doing the greatest physical miracle of all in order to prove that he could offer the greatest spiritual miracle of all – resurrection life. Read verses 28-37: Now Mary came to Jesus, fully believing that if Jesus had been there Lazarus would have been healed. Why did Jesus cry? I believe he cried because Mary and Martha had had to suffer in order that he could carry out his purpose. He cried for them – it’s reassuring to know that he identifies with us in our grieving and suffering. Sometimes we suffer when we are in God’s will and we don’t understand why. But we have to trust that it is all part of his greater plan. Read verses 38-44: With the crowd looking on Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb. How could anyone now not believe? This is a tremendously powerful symbol of spiritual rebirth, too. When we have new life in Jesus he calls us as we are, “stinking” and bound by worldly things. And then he sets us free and releases us from the “graveclothes”. Read verses 45-57 : Jewish “informers” told the Pharisees, who felt threatened and worried about their place and their nation. Caiaphas, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit prophesied that Jesus was the One who would give his life for the nation and for the gentiles, too. But the Pharisees were so blind they could not see, and determined to kill Jesus (ironic really, because they were helping to fulfill the prophecy!). Jesus went into hiding, but the Jews were told to look out for him when Passover came. This was the beginning of the end, or was it the beginning of the beginning?
31/03/10 The Gospel of John, chapter 12 Read verses 1-19:
Who was it? Verse 1: Jesus
Verse 12: The crowd who were going to the Passover.
What did they do? Arrived at Bethany near Jerusalem for the Passover. Martha served and gave of her time & energy as she always did. Lazarus reclined at the table with Jesus. Mary worshipped and gave of the most precious thing she had. Judas objected to Mary’s extravagance. They all turned up (uninvited) at the house in Bethany. They made plans to kill Lazarus as well as Jesus! They heard that Jesus was en route for Jerusalem.
Verse 16: His disciples
The disciples didn’t understand.
Verse 17: The crowd who saw Lazarus’ miracle. Verse 19: The Pharisees
These people continued to spread the word about Jesus. All they could do was to comment. In relation to Jesus, what are we doing or saying or feeling?
Verse 2: Martha Verse 2: Lazarus Verse 3: Mary Verse 4: Judas Iscariot Verse 9: A large crowd of Jews Verse 10: The Chief Priests
How about us?
Why did they do it? It took extreme courage but Jesus knew this was his destiny. This was Martha’s way of showing her love to Jesus. Now a celebrity, he knew he’d find rest in Jesus’ presence. This was Mary’s way of showing her love to Jesus. Judas’ motives were pure selfishness. Sensationalism? Curiosity? Some seeking truth. To destroy the evidence and to maintain their own position. They saw Jesus as the Messiah, who would free them from the Romans. They didn’t know the scriptures referred to Jesus. They wanted people to meet Jesus (v. 18) They were frustrated and helpless. What are our motives for the way we live our lives?
Read verses 20-26: The Greeks were seekers of knowledge and truth; they were philosophers. Philip is a Greek name, so maybe that’s why they asked him if they could see Jesus. Once again, it was Andrew who brought people to Jesus. Jesus speaks the truth plainly, but in a parable that was also a paradox: only by death comes life. Seeds are useless unless buried, and then they will bear much fruit. There is a famous phrase, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Read verses 27-36: v.27 says, “Now my heart is troubled”. John doesn’t include the account of Gethsemane; but still shows us how Jesus was struggling and yet how he overcame. The voice of God himself encouraged Jesus (v.28). Jesus was referring to Calvary in verse 32, which was the exact opposite of what the Jews were expecting from their Messiah. Jesus explains his motivation for coming – to help them trust in, and walk in, the light. Read verses 37-43: Jesus quoted first from Isaiah 53v1 and then from Isaiah 6v9,10. Imagine you have car windows that are dirty or greasy. When the sun shines on them (or car headlights) you can see even less through them. The light makes the person blind. In this way Jesus, the Light of the World, blinded the Pharisees. It was their own imperfections that stopped them from seeing. Notably, in verse 42, we read that there were secret believers. Read verses 44-50: Jesus sets the perfect example: to be obedient to the Father and to represent the father’s purpose on earth – not to condemn but to save.
7/4/10 Gospel of John – chapter 13 First read Luke 22v24-26 This passage may explain why it was necessary for Jesus to give the disciples an example of servanthood at the Last Supper. They all sought honour, not humility. Read John 13v1-5 – an explanation The setting: the evening meal, Jesus’ last meal with them before the crucifixion. What was to come would now show them the full extent of his love. Verse 3 said Jesus knew. He knew all that was to come. He also knew he had to prepare his disciples. What he proceeded to do must have seemed very strange and even unacceptable to them; because Jesus was doing what the slave or servant would normally do. We sometimes respond to that kind of situation in one of two ways. We can say, “well I don’t think it’s my job to do this or that” (e.g clean up other people’s mess) or we can take it for granted that other people do serve us and the church. Neither is right. Read John 13v6-11 – a parable Peter’s pride took a knock. He didn’t understand at that time that he, like everyone else, needed to be cleansed by Jesus (v.8). But “a person who has bathed needs only to wash his feet” (or maybe in our culture – his hands). As believers, we have been cleansed by the saving blood of Jesus. God looks at us and sees us as clean, because of what Jesus has done in our lives. But sometimes “we muddy our feet” from being in the world, and we have to humbly ask for forgiveness (allow our feet to be washed). Read verses 12-17 – an example The messenger is never greater than the one who sends him. God the Son is not greater than God the Father. None of the disciples is greater than another. Jesus said we will be blessed if we follow this example. Read verses 18-21 – a prophetic word “Sharing bread” – sharing a meal is a sign of friendship and loyalty. Jesus quotes from Psalm 41v9 (read). Jesus is preparing the disciples for the betrayal which he knows will come. He wants them to know that he knows; and he wants them to know that the series of events to come are all known about and allowed by God – and Jesus chose to allow them to happen. Jesus wasn’t killed – he chose to die. Read verses 22-30 – a deceiver, liar and thief. Judas had taken in all the disciples, but Jesus knew his heart. Although verse 27 says that “Satan entered into Judas’ heart” he had already shown Satan’s characteristics in his life. The disciples all thought he was ‘one of them’ – a friend. Even when Judas left the meal, they still didn’t take it in! Notice verse 30 says, “It was night” – symbolic of the light about to be extinguished. John makes special mention in his gospel of Jesus, the Light of the World. (John 11v10) We choose whether to walk in the light or to walk in darkness. Read verses 31-38 – a new command Maundy = mandatum = command. Jesus left them with one command which summed up all Ten Commandments: Love one another as I have loved you. Jesus isn’t talking about defeat in this passage, he is talking about being glorified. What is glorification? Glory is the amazing, powerful, indescribable presence of God himself. The crucifixion will be the greatest thing God has ever done to reveal himself to mankind. Peter, being Peter, wants to do something. He wants to save Jesus! He has an important lesson to learn, and when he has come through it he will understand all of what Jesus was teaching in this chapter. He will see that Only by dying to self we can have life, Only by being humble can we be raised up Only by walking in the light of God’s glory can we avoid darkness Only by loving one another and serving each other can we be true followers of Jesus.
14/04/10 The Gospel of John – chapter 14 Read verses 1-7: In a short time life for the disciples (as they had known it for the past three years) was about to fall in. Nothing was going to be the same. And here, Jesus is trying to prepare them. He knew that for a little while they would feel let down, disappointed, bereft, angry, fed up, perplexed and many other emotions. No wonder then that this passage is so often quoted at funerals. Jesus understands that we go through these feelings. Often what we don’t understand causes us the greatest worry. But He says to us: Don’t allow yourselves to get in such a state. Trust in God, and trust in Me. He has gone ahead. He has already conquered death and prepared a place for us – FACT. Jesus makes a way where there is no way because He IS the Way. In him is truth and life. When we believe his truth and accept the life he offers we are already on our way, through him. He has given us his word (v2). Read verses 8-14 To see Jesus is to see what God is like. He is his father’s son – like father like son. We have his words as witness, but we also have the record of the miracles (v11). In this passage Jesus makes two claims which are difficult to understand: 1) You will do even greater things than these (miracles) because I am going to the Father (v12). While on the earth Jesus was constrained by time and space. His ministry all took place in Palestine. But, after Jesus ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit was given, all at once there were people everywhere through whom the Spirit could work. There were indeed more people saved and healed through the early church than through the ministry of Jesus. Should this still apply to us today? 2) You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it (v14). When we pray we must honestly say “Can we make this prayer in the Name of Jesus”? When we pray in the Name of Jesus we are calling on his authorization for our request. It’s like someone saying, “In the name of the Queen I ask you to ...” The prayer, which in the end says “Thy will be done” is always granted. Read verses 15-20 The test of love is obedience. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to those who love him. Here in verse 16 He is called the Counsellor. The Greek is Parakletos, meaning: Intercessor – the Holy Spirit prays and intercedes for us, on our behalf Consoler – the Holy Spirit soothes us, gives us solace, relieves us, encourages us and cheers us Advocate – the Holy Spirit advises us and teaches us (v26), argues for us, sticks up for us, he champions and defends us, he supports and upholds us, he promotes our cause. Comforter – the Holy Spirit commiserates with us and lifts us, he invigorates us and refreshes us, he heartens us and strengthens us, he gives us a sense of well-being. Jesus said the Holy Spirit lives within us. In other words we are his dwelling place. Jesus lives in us in the person of the Holy Spirit. And here, Jesus was trying to get the disciples to understand that he would no longer be with them in bodily form, but that he would come back to them in the Spirit. And then, he says, they will understand about the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Read verses 21-24 God will reveal himself to those who seek him – he will not force his presence on nonbelievers. Fellowship with God and the revelation of God are dependent on love, and true love is dependent on obedience. Read verses 25-31 Another work of the Holy Spirit is to remind us of all that Jesus says. Here Jesus promises to give us yet another thing – peace, His peace. He has prepared the disciples for what will happen as best he could. We are not always prepared for what will happen to us in this world, but these promises all apply to us. Jesus reminds us that the “prince of this world – Satan” has no hold on him. Jesus chose to take the road he took. And he had complete trust in His Father for the outcome.
28/4/10 Gospel of John – chapter 16 Read John 16v1-4: Jesus is warning the disciples that everywhere they went they would be rejected religiously, socially and economically. This is the kind of persecution faced today by many of Jesus’ followers, especially in Muslim countries. Did the disciples lose their lives for the faith? History is full of people who killed, thinking they were offering God a service. Read John 16v5-11: It’s not surprising that the disciples were filled with sorrow and grief (v.6) because: Jesus had said that one of them would betray him; He told Peter that he would deny him; He told the disciples he was about to leave them. He is now saying they will be rejected everywhere they go and end up being killed. BUT He will send the Counsellor – the Helper (Remember from chapter 14 all that that meant?) But now in verses 8-11 we see a further facet of the work of the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit can bring comfort and peace but He can also bring conviction. Jesus says: He (the Holy Spirit) will convict people of a) guilt, in regard to sin – because they don’t believe (he can work in the hearts of non-believers) b) righteousness – because Jesus won’t be there to teach (he can lead, guide and instruct) c) judgement – because Satan is already condemned and there will be a final judgement (salvation) The Holy Spirit can work independently, but often he chooses to work through us, because he is living in us. Read John 16v12-15: Jesus was saying it was impossible for them to bear everything in their own strength, but the Holy Spirit would teach them and enable them (v.12&13). Notice the order: Jesus receives from God, the Holy Spirit receives from Jesus, and we receive from the Holy Spirit. Verses 14&15 show the work of the trinity. Read John 16v16-24 Still they did not understand and although they spoke to one another Jesus knew what was in their minds (v.16-19). Jesus gives the example of a mother in labour whose pain is forgotten when the child is born. Four times he mentions “joy” in these verses. And Jesus is saying no matter what will happen in the future no-one will be able to take away your joy. Is verse 24 saying, “Ask for the Holy Spirit and your joy will be complete”? Read John 16v25-28: When the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the disciples some 50 days after the crucifixion, he will help them understand all things and there will be no need for figurative language. They will no longer ask Jesus for help, but pray directly to God the Father. This right is given to us – all of us who believe. Praying to anyone other than God (Mary, Saints, idols) is idolatry and is strictly forbidden in the Bible. Read John 16v29-33 The penny has dropped – and yet their actions over the next few hours and days will show that they haven’t understood all that much! In the light of reality, if we were questioned, informed on and persecuted what would our actions demonstrate about our faith and belief? “In the world you will have trouble” – we are not promised a ‘bed of roses’ are we? BUT, Jesus has overcome the world and only in Him can we know real peace (V33).
5/5/10 Gospel of John – chapter 17 Jesus Prays for Himself Read verses 1-5: Verse 1: should we bow our heads to pray – or look towards heaven? Jesus knew his Father God’s presence, his perfect timing and his purpose for his life. “The time has come ...”. Verse 2: He recognized the authority that was given to him – that it was he (Jesus) who gives eternal life, to those that God brings to him. Verse 3: The purpose of eternal life is that we might spend eternity knowing (being in close relationship with) God. That is why God created us. Verses 4&5: We see what Jesus has given up (the glory of heaven) in order to glorify his Father by bringing us into relationship with Him.
Jesus prays for his disciples Read verses 6-9: Jesus prays specifically for the twelve. He had called them and nurtured them and taught them and revealed God to them. Jesus acknowledges it was God who had given them to him. Do you think, in his humanity, that Jesus needed the disciples? Do you think we should pray for and encourage the leaders that God gives us? Read verses 10-12: Jesus is praying for protection for those that the Father has given him. His love for the disciples is evident. They were probably the same age as Jesus but we see God’s Father-heart being revealed in the words of Jesus. As Christians we are in the world but not of the world. Some of us have family who are still of the world, but we can pray in the power of God’s name for protection on them. Read verses 13-19: What does verse 13 tell us about joy? What does verse 15 tell us about protection? How does verse 17 say we can be sanctified (made holy, set apart for God’s use)? Jesus set himself apart for the disciples (an example, a sacrifice) so that they would be sanctified – no longer fishermen, tax collectors, woodworkers, politicians etc. but God’s children and workers.
Jesus prays for US Read verses 20-23: The central point of Jesus’ prayer for all Christians, for his church through the ages, for Us here and for all groups of believers is that we will know the same unity that Jesus has with his Father – as if we are one: just as the trinity is 3 individual personalities, but one God. We experience this sense of oneness when we worship together, but Jesus’ prayer is that we demonstrate it to the world (v23). Think Russian dolls: Christ is in us, and the Father is in Christ; but at the same time we are in Christ and He is in the Father! Read verses 24-26: Jesus actually wants to reveal his glory (the wonder of his presence) to us! Notice the connection between v.5 and v.24. And he wants to continue making God known to people in the world, throughout the ages. Jesus is still making God’s love known 2010 years after he prayed these words as he daily makes his presence felt in people’s hearts. The previous three chapters were all about the way that Jesus and the Holy Spirit work together. This chapter is a unique insight into the closeness of God the Father and God the Son. It shows Jesus’ love and obedience to his Father and his real desire for us to be part of that, too.
12/5/10 Gospel of John – chapter 18 Read verse 1: Jesus left the city, crossed the valley, and went to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. (Matt 26, Mrk 14 & Lk 22 all record Jesus’ anguish and prayer here.) Read verses 2-6: Jesus had eluded the authorities so many times, they obviously thought they would be prepared; and so they came with a detachment of soldiers (probably at least 200), and officials from the Chief Priests and Pharisees – all carrying torches, lanterns and weapons – determined to find and capture Jesus. They were probably very surprised when Jesus stepped out to meet them! And when Jesus said, “I am He” they fell to the ground. Jesus gave himself freely, they did not capture him. Read verses 7-11: Were they stunned? They obviously didn’t accept that Jesus was who he said he was. Why didn’t they recognize him? Jesus’ first thought was for the protection of his disciples, “Let these men go” (v8). Jesus reiterated his words of John 6v39: I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up at the Last Day . Does this apply to us, too? Jesus reacted to the arrest courageously and with authority, but with no sense of defeat. Peter’s reaction demonstrated his desperation and confusion when he cut off the servants ear. Why was Peter carrying a sword anyway? I wonder where it came from. Jesus, still in control, heals the servant (Luke 22v51). Read verses 12-14 and 19-24: In Old Testament times the High Priest held the office for life – anointed by God. In Roman times the High Priest held office as long as he was willing to cooperate closely with the Roman Governor. Annas was such a High Priest. He was also responsible for the “Bazaars of Annas” – the place in the Temple courts where animals for sacrifice were sold at extortionate rates. He had good reason to oppose Jesus because it was Jesus who had turned over the tables in the Temple, and condemned the exploitation of the people and the misuse of God’s house. Annas was a meddling Father-in-Law, he was no longer High Priest! Caiaphas, the High Priest, had unwittingly spoken the truth about Jesus when he prophesied that one man would die for the people (John 11v50). Jesus was open and truthful but he was treated despicably by the Jewish authorities. Meanwhile ... Read verses 15-18 and 25-27: The other disciple could have been John; but possibly it was Nicodemus – because, as a Rabbi, he would have more contacts in the Temple. Peter failed whist trying. He was very brave. Everyone else had fled. As Peter warmed himself by the light of the fire 3 people recognized him and challenged him. After Peter had denied knowing Jesus he wept bitterly (Matt. 26v75). Peter was later to find out that Jesus loves us because he loves us, not because of what we are or what we do. Read verses 28-40:There are 4 sets of characters here: the Jews; Pilate; Jesus; and Barabbas. (see next page) 23
The Jews They wanted Jesus dead, but they had no right to carry out the death penalty. If they thought they could get away with it, Jesus would have been stoned. (They were vicious – v22) But, Jesus had spoken about being crucified (“lifted up” – John 12v32). Also the Jews didn’t want Jesus’ blood on their hands so they were seeking to involve others – namely Pilate. The Jews would not enter Pilate’s palace (because of ceremonial uncleanness) – but they wanted Jesus crucified!! Q. In what (perhaps smaller) ways can we be hypocritical like the Jewish leaders? The Jews knew that the Romans would not execute Jesus for their charge of blasphemy (He claimed to be the Son of God) so they accused him of claiming to be King (He often spoke of His Kingdom) knowing that the Romans would not let this charge go. Pilate Pilate was an ineffectual leader with an eye to ambition and promotion. He didn’t really want to get involved. He tried to put the responsibility back onto the Jews (v.31). When he spoke to Jesus he was out of his depth and it wasn’t until Jesus spoke to him (and virtually gave him the reason to charge him!) that Pilate decided what to do. Even then he didn’t want to charge Jesus, but decided upon letting the crowd choose. (Today we might call him a wimp!) He gave the crowd the choice and put the responsibility back onto them. They chose to save Barabbas and chose to crucify Jesus. Jesus Throughout this chapter, although Jesus might be referred to as the victim He is actually seen to be in control – in the garden and before Pilate. He suffers at the hand of the Jewish authorities, the very people he came to save. Before Pilate, where he is allowed to speak, he talks about His Kingdom and Truth. In verse 36 Jesus refers to his servants. Who might they be? Barabbas Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion – symbolic of all sinners? Christ died in his place, and in the place of all sinners. We may not have done too many wrong things, but we have all rebelled and we have all been proud. Jesus died and took our punishment so that we, like Barabbas, could go free. 24
19/05/10 Gospel of John – Chapter 19 (Keep a marker in Matthew chapter 27 for additional information this week)
Read John 19v1-6 Pilate found no basis for a charge, and yet he had Jesus flogged (tied naked to a whipping post and whipped with a leather thong studded with stones) – just to appease the Jews? Pilate now dissociates himself from Jesus claim, the soldiers’ cruelty and the cry of the Jewish officials to “crucify” Jesus. Why? Matthew 27v19 is a possible answer: Pilate’s wife had had a disturbing dream. Q. How might God speak to us – Christians and non-Christians - today? Read verses 7-16 When the Jews insisted on their charge of blasphemy, Pilate was even more afraid. Again we see in verse 11 how Jesus speaks the truth and stays in control, despite the circumstances. Pilate’s statement, “I have the power” (v10) has no effect on Jesus. Pilate, an ineffectual, ambivalent leader (albeit with grand ideas and ambitions) was uncomfortable in the presence of Jesus. Compare his words, “Here is your King” (v14) with, “Here is the man” (v5). Pilate was frightened of Caesar, the Jews and Jesus. It was the threat of Caesar that finally persuaded Pilate to hand Jesus over to be crucified. Matthew 27v24 tells us that at this point Pilate publicly washed his hands to absolve himself of responsibility. He seemed to be struggling to avoid doing what is wrong. Jesus had been declared innocent and yet he was sentenced to death! Read verses 17-24 Crucifixion was a Roman penalty, but not usually for Romans! It was the death penalty for slaves, criminals, the rebellious and criminal foreigners. The Cross bore the inscription: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. The public walk with the cross was not only designed to humiliate, but also it gave one last chance for people to come forward with evidence to prove the innocence of the condemned man. Nowhere is it recorded that anyone came to help Jesus, such was the fear of the Romans. They went to Golgotha (Hebrew) which is Calvary (Latin) – the Place of the Skull. It had the same connotation as “the killing fields” of today. The soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ seamless tunic (in fact, a priestly garment), they were indifferent to Christ’s agony. Read verses 25-27 Mary, the mother of Jesus (Salome?), his mother’s sister Mary, the wife of Clopas Mary from Magdala John, the disciple
These were all at the Cross, whilst others had fled. Perfect love casts out all fear. Jesus made sure his mother would be cared for.
Read verse 28-37 Jesus gave up his Spirit (v30), he was still in control. He gave himself for us. They didn’t need to break Jesus legs to quicken death (as they did with the others). Instead they pierced his side to satisfy themselves that he was dead. Two prophecies were fulfilled: Psalm 34v20 and Zechariah 12v10. John bore witness (v35). In Numbers 9v12 it is stipulated that the Passover Lamb would have no broken bones. Read verses 38-42 It was Sabbath Eve and no work could be done on the Sabbath so Joseph and Nicodemus acted quickly to give Jesus a fitting burial. Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin (court) and Nicodemus was a Pharisee (a member of the leading council). Both were secret followers of Jesus. Nicodemus brought enough spices for a King’s burial and Joseph supplied the tomb (see Matthew 27v59&60). For handling a dead body these two men would be classed as unclean; they would have been barred from the synagogue and the Passover celebrations. They were very likely excommunicated. They had burned their bridges, there was no way back – only a glorious way forward. The power of the Cross gave these two secret disciples the power to act.Q. The people who ministered to Jesus were, surprisingly, the women and the Jewish elders – where were the disciples (apart from John)? How would you have acted or reacted to the unfolding events on that day?
26/05/10 Gospel of John – chapter 20 Read verses 1&2: Nothing could be done on the Sabbath (Saturday, the 7th day of the week), so early on the Sunday morning – before dawn – Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. It was so dark she probably wouldn’t know the tomb was empty; but saw that the stone had been rolled away. (See Matthew 27v65&66) Her first thought was that maybe someone had stolen the body and she ran to Peter and John for help. (Despite his denials of Jesus, Peter was still there and was still perceived as the leader.) Mary would have been beside herself with misery. Read verses 3-9: John (possibly quite a bit younger) outran Peter to the tomb. But it was Peter who, impulsive as ever, went straight in and saw the empty graveclothes. But John’s observation of the graveclothes, lying there in their regular folds as if the body of Jesus had “evaporated” out of them, caused him to believe in the resurrection. Peter was first and foremost, up till now, a man of action, but Mary and John loved Jesus deeply. Love in his heart gave John the ability to perceive and understand and believe. And Mary loved much because she was forgiven much – she couldn’t keep away and obviously followed Peter and John back to the tomb. Read verses 10-18: Mary’s love and devotion is rewarded. She is the first to see Jesus, although she thinks he is the gardener (because she is so tearful and it is still dark?). But when Jesus calls her by name she responds with the reverential word, “Rabboni” which means master or teacher. There are often stories about the closeness of the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, but her response here shows that her love is simply that of a devoted follower. And she had so much to be thankful to Jesus for (Read Luke 8v1-3). Verse 17 shows that Jesus had work to do in the spiritual and heavenly realms after his crucifixion and before he showed himself to his disciples. (Ephesians chapter 4 talks about Jesus ‘descending and ascending’ and how that Jesus released the Old Testament captive believers and opened the gates of heaven.) Jesus, having endured the cross, having been raised from the dead still had to “report back” to his Father as the perfect intermediary, before his task was complete. Read verses 19-23: The disciples would have come together in fear for their lives. Jesus just appeared, proclaimed peace, gave them the evidence they needed and then gave them the commission to go out and tell others. We can hardly imagine their joy! They needed Jesus, but now Jesus needed them to carry on his work with the help of the Holy Spirit. The giving of the Holy Spirit followed their understanding and belief – as happens with all who come to faith in Jesus. The anointing of the Spirit was yet to follow (See Acts chapter 2). The Holy Spirit always has a quickening effect, like new life being breathed into a person. Read verses 24-29: Thomas stayed alone with his grief. He withdrew from Christian fellowship and missed Jesus’ coming. Consequently he spent a week unnecessarily worrying. How often have we done that – stayed away and not received the blessing that God may have had for us? But once again, Jesus appeared in the locked room; and in his grace he spoke directly to Thomas, who acknowledged him as his Lord and his God. There is nothing wrong with questions and doubts, so long as we seek the truth. Read verses 30&31 Jesus had done so much throughout his time on earth but John wants to make it clear that the aim of the gospel is not to tell stories or give information but to give LIFE.
2/6/05 Gospel of John – chapter 21 The symbolism of fishing and the net Read verses 1-3 Jesus had told the disciples to leave Jerusalem and wait for him in Galilee (Tiberius) – see Matthew 28v7 – so they had returned to do what they were familiar with, i.e. fishing. Seven of the disciples were in the boat; notice Peter is still the leader, despite his failings. As if to emphasize their emptiness, they had caught nothing. Read verses 4-6 At dawn (probably between 3-6a.m) Jesus calls out with advice: Cast your net on the other side – don’t restrict the area in which you fish. Their obedience brought about the miracle. The net represents God’s “church” – open to all, Jews and gentiles. Jesus had told them before - Mark 1v17 - that they would become “fishers of men”. Read verses 7-14 True to type, it was John who recognized Jesus’ voice and Peter who sprang into action, jumping into the water to meet Jesus – at least he put his clothes on first! a)There is a picture of the church sharing all things as Jesus invites the disciples to add some of their fish to the ones he already has cooking. Here is also a picture of the universality of the church. (It is suggested in some books that 153 represents the number of different known fish at the time; and therefore symbolic of the fact that people of all nations are welcome in God’s “net”, his church.) b) This passage is also a further proof of Christ’s resurrection. His appearance was different (glorified) but he was still 100% human as well as divine and he proved this by eating the meal with them.
The symbolism behind the words Read verses 15-19 In John 1v42 Jesus had told Simon that his name would be Peter (a rock). But here we see Jesus addressing him three times as Simon, son of John. Simon means ‘one who hears and obeys’. Jesus was talking informally and personally with someone he loved. And he asked him 3 similar but searching questions (paraphrased according to the meaning): 1) Simon, do you love me more than your fishing, more than your friends? (Comparative love) If so, this is your work now –feed my lambs. (Possibly ‘lambs’ are symbolic of new believers – those who are young in the faith.) 2) Simon, do you have a Godly love for me? (Agape/divine love) If so, look after my flock, take care of my sheep. (Usually the term ‘sheep’ refers to Israel) 3) Simon, do you love me as a brother? (Phileo/brotherly love) If so (in the context of family) feed all those who belong to me (including the gentiles). Three times Peter had denied Jesus, three times Jesus gave him the chance to affirm his love. Jesus foretold that eventually Peter would himself be crucified (stretch out your hands – v18). Until now, Jesus was the shepherd, but he handed over the responsibility to Simon Peter – what an enormous, awesome task. Read verses 20-25 We believe that John lived until he was nearly 100, and this passage supports that. And John’s task was to bear witness to all that he saw and heard; John faithfully fulfilled this task to the end of his life. He was able to bear witness to the truth because he lived and walked with Jesus. In essence Jesus says to Peter: never mind the job I have given to someone else, your job is to obey Me. John ends with the limitless abundance of the work of Jesus (v.25) throughout eternity.