Capturing Joy In A Crowded SeasonRelated Media
Today we want to talk about Capturing Joy in a Crowded Season. At Christmastime, doesn’t that sound like the Impossible Dream? Look around us, we are already crowded.
- Newstands- holiday magazines calling us to cook special holiday foods, decorate our tables and our homes
- TV – Christmas programs that promise to be the “best one” ever, you can’t miss it. Charlie Brown’s Christmas
- Stores- bursting with sales, rebates, merchandise that you need to buy for all those on your “list”
- Lists – how long are your lists? How many lists do you have? How many times have you lost your lists?
- Gifts- how are doing on that list? Have you figured out the perfect gift for each person?
- Christmas Card list? Did you write a special note on each one, or include a family newsletter?
Are you overwhelmed yet? And I haven’t even talked about your grocery list yet. It is a crowded season especially for us as women. There are other things that crowd our season. Things like
- Tension: Painful relationships- discord in your family, separation between family members
- Fear: loss of a job, loss of income, trying to sell a house in this market
- Health issue is overwhelming you, yours or someone close to you
- Memories of past Christmases- either good or bad
THIS IS A CROWDED SEASON…FOR ALL OF US
Let me ask you a question: I want you to think about the answer and then tell the answer to the person sitting next to you. Only going to take a minute, don’t tell your life story.
“Who or What might potentially “crowd” your Christmas this year?
Save that answer, we’re going to come back to it. We all are going to have a crowded season. But I believe we also all have an opportunity to capture joy, incredible, wonderful joy- “the good news of great joy”
So, let’s read about another crowded season READ Luke 2:1-7
JESUS was born into a Crowded world- There were so many people that Caesar Augustus wanted to count them. Imagine the traffic on the roads with everyone trying to get “home’ for the census. Picture the Lines that you would have had to stand in to fill out the forms. Where would you get food? or clothes or a doctor? When they show pictures of people sleeping in the airports during the holidays, the immense number of travelers, I think of the world that Christ was born in. A world crowded with people.
Ie Olivia’s story “too many people in my room”
On night when my granddaughter was little, I was tucking her into bed. We had read the story, said our prayers and were about to turn off the light when her mother came in and sat on the end of the bed and wanted to say goodnight. Then her brother came in and did the same, followed by her dad and granddad. Her little room and bed got very crowded and she was sleepy. Into the noise of everyone talking she said “There’s too many people in my room”! We couldn’t help but laugh and then leave but when I read the story of Mary and Joseph I’m sure they felt like Olivia …
There were too many people in Bethlehem too, too many for Mary and Joseph to find a hotel. The Inn had too many people, it was too crowded to give them a room. And yet, into this crowded space and time, Jesus comes and is born, his birth brings “great joy for all people.”
Truth: Our joy does not come from the absence of a crowded season, but our joy comes in the midst of it. You and I will not be insulated from this crowded, frantic Christmas season, we will live in the middle of it.
So the question becomes How do we, surrounded by the season, capture the joy that Christ came to bring?
I believe the answer is in the Story itself. The Scriptures tell us. Woven throughout the birth narrative are smaller stories of people impacted by the birth of Christ. Tonight I’d like to narrow our focus to 3 groups of people that show us 3 different ways we can Capture Christmas Joy.
1. Discover Christ
When Jesus was eight days old, he was taken to the temple to be consecrated to the Lord fulfilling what was required by the Law of Moses. Many Jews at this time were looking for the Messiah to come. Some believed a great Ruler would descend on the earth and overthrow all their enemies. But in contrast to them, there were also a few people who were known as “The Quiet in the Land”. These people had a different view of Messiah. They didn’t dream of armies but instead were Jews who lived a life of quiet prayer and faithful watchfulness until God would reveal His Messiah. This very day that Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple, there was a devout elderly man named Simeon who had been told by the Spirit of God that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. Along with Simeon was an elderly widow named Anna. Listen to what happens
READ Luke 2:27-32: 36-38
They discovered what they had been looking for all their lives. When they saw Him they knew this was the Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah. The word ”Knowing” here is not only an intellectual assent to a fact or to a proposition, like “ I know how to speak Spanish, or I know the name of the President of France” This knowing is that and much more. It is believing, trusting and putting one’s faith and hope in, knowing in the very deepest part of me, embracing with all my heart. Discovering Christ for yourself is believing that He is who He said He was. The Son of God, come to earth to be the Savior of all. Jesus, the unique God/Man, fully God and fully Man come to earth to redeem us from our sins. Receiving Christ is saying to God, I am a sinner- I am not perfect, no matter how good I try to be, I need a Savior, I trust that Christ to be my Savior and Lord.
That is the good news, the true Christmas Story.
Will Willimon writes about the contrast between the story of Christmas written by Charles Dickens and the one found in Luke’s gospel. In the Christmas Carol, Dickens tells us how we should give to others (and that’s good) but in Luke, we learn how essential it is to see ourselves first as receivers. That’s tough, we’d rather see ourselves as capable, self-sufficient, generous, caring givers. But the gospel, the good news, is for poor, needy, empty people who open their hands to the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ.
Have you ever done that? Have you ever trusted Christ? Discovered Him?
Ie: I was raised in a Christian home, baptized, faithful in my church attendance, but it wasn’t until I was grown and married that I understood, none of those things enabled me to truly “know Christ.” I had a religion but no relationship with God. When I put aside trying to control my own life, when I put my faith, trust in Christ- I came to Know Him. Do you know Him?
Joy in this crowded Christmas season, first comes with Discovering Christ, personally knowing the One whose birth we celebrate.
Meister Eckhart “The eternal birth must take place in you”
In a group like this, many of you have Discovered Him. Many of you have come to know Him, many of you have received Him as your Savior. But I think our challenge in this crowded season is to remember that no matter how long you have been a Christ follower, Jesus calls us to be “poor in spirit,” meaning to be continually dependent on Him. To release the daily the control of our lives to Him. The call for those of us who have received Him is to come to Know Him more.
Phil 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings becoming like Him.
Christmas= Christ- Mas= More Christ
The reason we want to Know Him more is to become like Him, to expand our faith, to grow up in Christ. This is the life of the passionate disciple.
Ie: Several years ago, we were in Israel and at the hotel we were staying there was a wedding outside in the courtyard below our room. As we walked by, in the breezeway we stopped and watched the ceremony- it was all just open. After they were married, the groom and the bride were carried around the terrace high up on chairs with everyone dancing, as they came by where we were, they tried to pull us into the dance- they wanted us to join them, spontaneous invitation. In a sense, we went to their wedding, but we didn’t know who they were and we couldn’t speak their language. We didn’t know them. Their wedding, as beautiful as it was, had little meaning for us. It is a nice memory, but it can’t in any way compare to the weddings of my daughter, daughters-in-law, my sons, who I intimately know and deeply love.
Christmas Joy is like this. Joy in Knowing Him, knowing intimately why we celebrate this time of year.
But I do believe you can Know Him and still fail to Capture Joy in our crowded season. That brings us to another story. Along with Discovering Christ, there is a call on our lives to…
2. Treasure Christ
The Scriptures are unclear how much time passes between the birth and the visit of the Magi. We know that Wise Men “from the East” saw a star, a unique star that indicated to them a Jewish King had been born. They traveled to Jerusalem to get information, asked where were they to go to find this baby? They were told to go to Bethlehem. In Bethlehem, a ruler would be born who would be “the shepherd of the people Israel”
READ Matthew 2:1-11
Soren Kierkegaard makes this interesting observation about the scribes in Jerusalem. They
Could explain where Messiah should be born but they stayed in Jerusalem. They did not accompany the Wise Men to seek Him. Similarly we may know the whole of Christianity, yet make no movement…what a difference! The three kings had only a rumor to go by. But it moved them to make that long journey. The scribes were much better informed, much better versed. They sat and studied the Scriptures, but it did not make them move.”
The scribes knew but they did not seek, they knew but they did not adore, they knew but they did not treasure This could be true of us too. For us, this season, we must Know the Christ Child, be born anew with His Spirit but there is more. It was the Wise Men who pursued, continued to travel to find this new King. And when they found Him, they worshiped Him, gave Him gifts, they adored Him, they treasured Him.
I like this word TREASURE especially during this season. Most of us receive gifts at Christmas, among those gifts only a few become treasures to us. I treasure an angel that my daughter-in-law gave me the first Christmas she spent with our family- it has great meaning for both of us. I treasure a small Christmas tree pin my niece gave me about 10 years ago. I treasure this gold band my husband gave me many Christmases ago. Many gifts but few treasures. I’m sure that you have special gifts: large or small, that you treasure as well. However, God’s gift to us of His Son is His treasure to us, given so that we may Discover Him and Treasure Him.
You may ask How do we treasure Christ? The Wise Men started the giving tradition that we continue at Christmas. They gave from hearts of worship because Giving is the natural overflow of worshipping hearts. Look at the Wise Men. When they found Him, they were overjoyed, filled with joy- this very same joy that we want to capture this season- bowed down and worshiped Him, they adored Him, they honored Him with their gifts.
All of us can take the opportunity to offer our worship to Christ corporately in our local churches. But we also give to Christ our adoration in quiet private times of prayer and reflection. Those times RESTORE our SOULS and allow us to take deep breaths of JOY in a Crowded Season.
I know how difficult it is for young mothers or working women, seems impossible. Maybe you only have 5 minutes or maybe it’s an hour. Whatever, Devote that time to thinking about Him, telling Him how much you love Him, giving Him thanks. Pray about that Christmas list and the people on it. Your day will be different.
Some of the things that help me to treasure Christ:
- I read Advent devotions in December to prepare my heart to adore Him. I want my mind thinking about Christ during my day. I want to reflect on aspects of His coming to Bethlehem, leaving behind “Visited Planet” (Yan)
- I have a nativity postcard that I carry in my purse and keep another in the kitchen- to look at often to be reminded to adore Him. I don’t know about you but I get very distracted everyday but especially during Christmas. I’m a visual person. I’m the one that needs to look at bible verse cards and to look at pictures.
- Starting Dec 1, I only listen to Christmas music. My husband gets a little tired of it playing all day in the house but it’s another way I can praise God. The words to some of the Christmas hymns are so uplifting. Not just the traditional ones, I love all of them- because in some fashion- with every Christmas song- THE WORLD is celebrating Jesus’ birthday. Peace on earth, Goodwill to men- only through Jesus Christ will that ever be true.
Simple ways, but intentional.
What are some ways you can treasure Christ this season? Perhaps you could share with others ways that help you treasure Christ at Christmas.
Discovering Him and Treasuring Him leads us to another part of Christmas joy. During this season like no other we have opportunities in our family, with our friends and with complete strangers to talk about Jesus. To
3. Share Christ
To share the good news, to share the joy that knowing Christ brings, to share Him with others who may be frazzled, lonely or desperate for a glimpse of True Christmas Joy.
Let’s look back in the story to the first ones to share the transformation power of His birth.
READ Luke 2:8-20
This little baby boy born into a crowded world, at a crowded season of time, invades our universe, calls to us to Know Him as our Savior, He is born so that we are born anew. He is worthy of all our adoration, a treasured King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And this good news is to be shared.
The shepherds were the first to hear the news, they hurried, they ran “to see” about “this thing” the angels spoke of, as soon as they saw, they went and shared with others.
Martin Luther writes
(the fact) That there were shepherds means that no one is to hear the Gospel for himself alone, but everyone is to tell it to others who are not acquainted with it.
I have a beautiful, beaded silk pashmina, multi-colored with long black tassels. It’s one of my favorite things. I keep it wrapped up in tissue paper in a drawer so nothing can happen to it. It is precious to me, I love it. If you were to open that drawer you would see the tissue paper but you would have to unwrap it to see its beauty. Many of us keep our faith wrapped up in tissue paper and no one really sees the love we have for Christ because we don’t share it. We keep it hidden, private.
But if you know Him, and you treasure Him, you have a story to share with others. It’s how your own life story has been changed by Christ’s birth, His life, death and resurrection.
There’s an old saying “ Share the gospel everyday in all you do, wherever you are, when necessary use words.”
That implies that we are sharing the good news everyday with our actions. I know that this crowded season will give you and give me numerous opportunities to serve as Christ to others, to give ourselves away, to embody and reflect the Incarnation of Christ, the Christ who is born in us, is manifested to a watching world. Can you think of WHO in your circle of family and friends needs to hear or be shown the Love OF CHRIST?
Truth: This is Radical Christianity: it is in the giving of ourselves to others that we receive great JOY. This is where true, lasting joy will be found. This is not news to you. We all have felt the warmth inside when we’ve been able to help someone else, done a good deed. Radical Christianity calls us to give when it’s not convenient, when it’s not easy, when it hurts or costs us, when we have busy schedules, many demands, and no time to spare.
We’re to share Christ, to be like Christ in a crowded season.
- For many of us, it’s starts in the car: we’re called to be defensive drivers, but Christ calls us to be generous drivers, not upset when we’re cut off , willing to let others have the best parking place, count it joy.
- Move into the mall, or store. Being patient in a long line, sharing Christ’s smile to that frustrated salesperson, being radically different from all the other shoppers who are stressed to the max, count it joy
- At Christmas parties- whether it’s at your house or you are a guest, being more concerned that others are having a good time, everyone is engaged, going to the loner and striking up a conversation. being more concerned about others than yourself, count it joy.
- In the workplace, what a great opportunity to listen to others who might find this time of the year difficult, listen with the hope of encouraging those who may be going through a loss, a health issue, financial problems, all the ups and downs of life – just maybe you’ll get the chance to pray for them, count it joy.
Illustration: I know all of us wrestle with situations that catch us off guard, situations we didn’t plan or abruptly confront us. A few weeks ago, I had an encounter with a homeless woman. She wanted money to buy food. After I said no and walked on to buy my lunch, I was compelled to turn back. I offered to buy her food instead of giving $. We went into a sandwich shop and I told her she could pick out anything to eat and drink. She thanked me and went outside to sit down and have her lunch. In a hurry, I got in my car and started to eat my sandwich. As I drove off I was feeling pretty good, when God impressed my thoughts “you could have stayed and eaten with her, heard her story, prayed for her…that would have been great Joy.”
Do you remember the question I asked you earlier?
“Who or What might “crowd” your Christmas this year?
Whatever your answer, the Truth is all of us will have a crowded Christmas ahead. But what will you do to Capture Joy in the midst?
Jesus teaches “we reap what we sow”…my kids like to say “what goes around, comes around”
When you choose to Discover Christ, to Treasure Him and to Share His love with others, it doesn’t matter how crowded your Christmas becomes, for you will capture the true Joy of the season.
I wonder if you will “reawaken” your commitment to Discover Him, To Worship and Treasure Him, and Share His love serving others this season- to have the Birth of Christ lived out in you- true Joy, eternal Joy, the Joy of the Good news of Glad tidings for all people.
Will you, surrounded by the crowded season, capture the joy that Christ came to bring?
The Hallmark Of A Good Gift: Caring Enough To Send The Very Best-- A Christmas Message from Genesis 4Related Media
It’s Christmastime—a season when company buffets of roast beef and honey-baked ham end with white elephant exchanges. Elementary schools hold food drives and Salvation Army volunteers patiently wait for their kettles to fill with coins. Icicle lights hang off eaves in neighborhoods where fruitcakes are sometimes still wrapped in red cellophane and received with polite appreciation. At home fires crackle, while at the mall window displays compete to lure in shoppers on search-and-destroy missions for “the perfect gift.” Those preferring to avoid mall traffic browse through stacks of catalogs or surf the Net—because, after all, it’s the season for gift giving.
What’s the most memorable gift anyone has ever given you?
When the great outdoorsman, Teddy Roosevelt, was president, an admirer sent him a coyote. (Unfortunately, when it arrived, it broke free and terrorized the First Family and the White House staff.) In O. Henry’s story, The Gift of the Magi, a husband sells his watch to buy his wife combs, while she sells her hair to buy him a watch chain. When my friend lost her hair to chemotherapy, her husband bought her a silver brush—expressing his hope for the future—and with it a matching mirror inscribed with “My Hero.” The sorts of gifts we give can reveal a lot about us and about our relationship with each recipient.
That was certainly the case in a different First Family—the children of Adam and Eve. In Genesis 4 we read about a murder that happened all because, simply put, one of the brothers gave a half-hearted gift. Unfortunately in this case, the recipient was the Lord.
But before we talk about details of the who-done-it, we need to set the stage. Prior to this story, our first parents had been expelled from Eden, where they had enjoyed a serene existence. But their choice to disobey God had resulted in God’s cursing of the snake and the ground. And it had also involved God’s pronouncement that there was going to be conflict. Adam and Eve probably could not have imagined how deeply they would feel the devastation within their own family, but their oldest child broke their hearts. And it had all seemed to start out so well.
The first verse we read after Adam and Eve leave Eden says, “Now the man had intimate relations with his wife, Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have created a man along with the Lord ‘“ (v. 1). The text actually says, “The man ‘knew’ his wife...” To “know” someone in the biblical sense is often used as a euphemism for intimate relations. So Adam ‘‘knew” Eve, and she got pregnant and had a son. Eve called him Cain because “Cain” sounds a lot like what she said when she gave birth to him. She chose a name that—in Hebrew—sounds like the word “create.”
That makes a lot of sense to me. You see, our daughter was eight months old when we adopted her. After a decade of infertility that included seven pregnancy losses and three failed adoptions, we finally had good news. Now obviously because of her age, she already had a name when she came to us. But we decided to change it as part of our bonding process with her. Because I had been unable to carry a child to term, we could not pass on to a daughter any of our genetics. So we chose to name our new arrival “Alexandra”—which is the longer form of my own name, Sandra. If, as her mother, I was unable to give her a part of my physical self, I wanted her to carry with her a different part of me. As she says, “Your tummy was broken, but I grew in your heart.” Like Eve I gave my child a name that sounds like something I wanted to communicate about her.
Hebrew parents did that all the time. For example, “Isaac” sounds a lot like the Hebrew word for “laugh.” And because Sarah laughed when told she was going to have to buy Depends and Pampers in the same aisle, the name seemed appropriate.
Just think about that. Imagine how you would marvel at the miracle of human birth if you’d never seen a tiny human. If for the first time you saw in the face of a son the reflection of your own humanity, unlike the animals you’ve seen reproduced, you’d stand amazed. After the agony of childbirth with no epidural or La Maze preparation, Eve must have stared at this tiny creature who looked back at her through eyes that blended her features with Adam’s. His nose. Her mouth. Her hair coloring. Her husband’s ears. “A little bit of you and a little bit of me.”
It is no wonder that Eve would give her son a name that reflects how this must have made her marvel. Often infertile couples express that some of the key losses not “solved” by adoption are the loss of their own genetic continuity, the loss of creating a miracle in cooperation with God, and the loss of a jointly-conceived child. In sort, they grieve the loss of the moment Eve seems to be describing; her expression wraps them all together: “I have created a man along with the Lord.” In partnership with God she has been a co-creator. Where did her “work” stop and God’s begin? It would be impossible to say.
The Hebrew word for man is “Adam.” So Eve’s reference to her son as a “man” rather than “child” or “infant,” as we might expect, seems to point back to God’s own creation of “Adam.” It emphasizes again the marvel of the creative process at work. Perhaps Eve’s expression is equivalent to what believing women typically say today after giving birth: “It’s a miracle!”
When I wrote books “with” my late co-author, Dr. Bill Cutrer, people would ask who wrote what. They expected me to say I wrote the relational stuff, and he wrote the medical scenes. But that’s not how it worked. He knew a lot about relationships, and I’ve experienced some medical procedures through the years. We dreamed up ideas. We argued. We compromised. We blended and we bent. I did some research; he added some stories from his medical practice. I tweaked it based on input received from ministry through the years. By the time each book was finished, it was such a synergistic blend of our thoughts combined with those of our spouses, edited by both—it was a complete co-creation. It would be impossible to carve out what was the effort of one or the other. We were co-authors. And I think that’s similar to what Eve expresses here about the miracle of birth: “I have created a man along with the Lord!”
So the scene begins beautifully, and I imagine this new mom, like any mother, had great hopes for her little blessing. And soon she has another one. In verse two we read that she names him Abel, and we get a little nervous. Though the text doesn’t say it, Abel means “breath” or “vanity.” If you’ve read in Ecclesiastes, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,” that is the word used here. And it makes us stop to wonder, Will the breath of “Breath man” be snuffed out before its time?
Well, time goes by and the boys grow up. Do you wonder if they wrestled? Did they find a pomegranate and play ball? All we’re told is their occupations: “Now Abel was shepherding a flock, but Cain was working the ground.” You’ve got a shepherd and a farmer. And notice that Cain worked the “ground.” Nothing wrong with that. But it is what God cursed. So we wonder if the author is foreshadowing here that there’s bad news ahead.
Now here’s where it starts to get sticky. In verses three and four we read, “And it happened in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the ground. But Abel brought of the firstlings of his sheep and of their fat.”
If we look first at what Abel brought, we notice it was “of the firstlings.” Those are the firstborn animals. Later in the law God will require the firstborn of everything to be offered to Him. We also see here that Abel brought of their fat portions. In our culture we appreciate non-fat foods, but most other places in the world, even today, have a different view. One time when my husband and I were in Russia, we toured a hospital that invited us to eat hors d’oeuvres. At one point Gary thought he was popping a square of mozzarella cheese into his mouth, but he discovered too late that it was raw fat. So he choked it down, trying to veil his disgust. But to the Russians it was a delicacy of the highest order, and they had offered us their best stuff. That’s exactly how God regarded the fat on animals. When offered to him in sacrifice, it made a most pleasing gift.
Contrast that with the gift Cain brought. The text says simply, “He brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the ground.” There’s nothing wrong with bringing grain or produce—the text calls what both brothers brought an “offering,” so it must have fit within the category of “generally allowable gifts.” But there’s a problem here. Where are the firstfruits? We don’t see the emphasis on bringing God the very best. He just brought some of the stuff he grew. Nothing special. It reminds me of a morning when one of the women in our Bible study brought leftover donuts as a joke. Only Cain was serious.
The first ten years of my life, I grew up in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, an incredibly fertile plain with a river running by the house. There was plenty of water and good soil. My dad worked a government job, but to help support his wife and five kids, he had a one-acre garden in addition to a pear orchard and a Christmas tree farm. He was good at it, too. Every year he would set aside the largest, most perfectly formed pears and exhibit them in the state fair. Sometimes his rhubarb was of good enough quality to enter, too. Or an amazingly large squash would sprout up and make it all the way to the judges’ booth. For his display Dad chose only the biggest and the best—the choicest fruit. And afterwards he lined his walls with award ribbons. That’s the quality that God wants from Cain here. You don’t take your leftovers to the Judge. You take the finest. Hebrews 11:4 tells us that “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts.”
Unfortunately, unlike his brother’s gift, Cain’s offering revealed a lot about his view of God. He didn’t bring anything that cost him anything; he saved the best for himself. And you know what? That’s not good enough for God. So we read in verse four, “And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard.”
Uh-oh. Big brother gets outdone by little brother. Big brother has spent his days working hard in the sin-cursed ground and he expects God to be like a gleaner—to come along after the fields have been harvested and accept what got dropped on the ground. And Cain probably even thinks he’s being generous here. Hey, at least he brought something! But while he has simply put together some veggies, his brother has, like the Hallmark slogan goes, “Cared enough to send the very best.” And God is smart enough to see and reward the difference.
Well, sure enough, when God prefers Abel’s offering, Cain gets upset. We read in verse five, “So Cain was very angry and his face fell.”
But God is also gracious, so he gives Cain a chance to make it right. He initiates a conversation here. We read in verse six, “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must rule it.”
It’s like God is saying, “Don’t worry. It’s not too late.” When we read that Cain’s “face fell,” it’s a lot like how we use that phrase today. Only here it has more the idea of anger behind it than sadness or dejection. But no problem—God makes sure Cain knows he can still offer an acceptable sacrifice. The Lord also warns Cain that he’s in a power struggle with sin and he needs to stop and choose wisely.
If you’ve ever seen the musical “Oklahoma!” you’ve heard the song, “Oh, the Farmer and the Cowhand Should Be Friends.” You’ve seen how the ranch hands and the farmers constantly competed. And that’s certainly true here, multiplied by some sibling rivalry. Cain is probably feeling all sorts of competitive instincts and negative emotions. His kid brother has shown him up, and he’s not going to take it lightly. In my junior year of high school my little sister—a sophomore—and I both played on the varsity soccer team. And at the awards banquet she got the award for “Most Valuable Player.” I got nothing. My little sis was a better soccer player than I was, and now everyone knew it. Was I happy for her, recognizing I could excel in other arenas? Are you kidding? Mostly I was jealous! It’s ugly, but that’s how we often think, isn’t it?
God acknowledges Cain’s jealous rage, and he warns him that sin is crouching.
Last Christmas we gave our daughter a kitten. And for the past year, every morning when we’ve opened our bedroom door, Princess Peaches has come in to join us on the bed. Our favorite game is to move our fingers under the covers, convincing her there’s a mouse under there. And she falls for it every time. So she hides behind my husband’s knee and waits for just the right moment. Then fast as a blink she jumps through the air and pounces on her prey with claws extended. She’s so good at it that we had to have her de-clawed, because sometimes when we thought the game was over, we’d take out our hands and a few minutes later, they’d be bleeding.
Now picture what a bigger feline could do...a lion maybe, or a cougar. It could devour a person in minutes. And the writer here paints that sort of image by personifying sin as a lurking animal, waiting for its prey’s most vulnerable moment for the pounce. Sin lurks here, just waiting for the opportunity to devour Cain.
So what does Cain do? Does he say, “Okay, let me go back and get the biggest apples”? No way. Verse eight reads, “Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And it happened when they were in the field that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and he killed him.”
Can you believe it? He lures him out into the field where no one can witness what’s going to happen and no one will hear the yells for help. And Cain kills his brother in cold blood. His own brother! Instead of mastering sin, he has silenced little “Buddy” for good.
So we’re barely four chapters into the book and we’ve already got a murder mystery. Who did it? The Lord knows and He shows up again. And He does the same thing with Cain that he did when Adam sinned. He asks questions first. That’s always a good idea when somebody’s messed up—give them a chance to confess. In verse nine we read that God asks, “Where is Abel, your brother?”
Well, unlike his father, Adam’s son shows no shame. He starts out with a lie: “I don’t know.” But then he adds a smart-alecky “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Or the actual word order here is “Keeper of my brother, am I?” The word “keeper” here is the same word that described what Abel did. He “kept” sheep. And it’s like Cain is saying, “Am I the keeper of the keeper?” “Am I the shepherd of the shepherd?” It’s a less-than-subtle dig that suggests God is being unreasonable in even asking.
Do you sometimes get this attitude toward God? Do you blame him for stuff that goes wrong when you’ve made bad choices to begin with? Last year I caught Alexandra, then five years old, sucking her thumb, and I told her to stop. And do you know what she said? “Well, God should not have given me an arm with a hand on it.” In other words it’s God’s fault that I’m sucking my thumb! It starts early. We’re all prone to mistrust God—to think He’s really demanding and unreasonable and out to hunt down and slay our happiness. We want to blame him rather than take responsibility for our own sin. Back in the orchard Adam told God he ate the fruit because of “The woman you gave me,” as though God Himself were responsible for Adam’s choice. Now his son acts the same way, times two. Since the first human and the first sin, we’ve had this tendency to blame God. It’s much more comfortable than owning up to our wrongs.
So Cain smarts off and blames God. And what happens next in the Genesis story amazes me. If it were up to me, I’d do lightning right here on the spot. Capital punishment. Show no mercy to this selfish, smart-mouth.
But God—our gracious God—asks another question. Verse ten reads, “And He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.’” From the ground God had cursed, the ground that Cain had worked, the ground that received Abel’s blood, we see the evidence of Cain’s evil. And here’s the penalty. God says, “And now you are being cursed from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive the blood of your brother from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer continue giving its strength to you; you will become a homeless roamer in the land.’”
What? He doesn’t kill him? At this point we expect Cain to say, “Wow. Thanks for not doing to me what I did to my brother. Thanks for not giving me what I deserve.” But nooooooo. What does Cain say? Read verse 13: “Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear!”
Can you believe it? This guy is clueless. He’s getting mercy and he still thinks he’s being mistreated. He continues in verse 14 with, “Look, you have driven me out today away from the ground, and I must hide myself from your presence; and I will be a homeless roamer in the land, and anyone who finds me will kill me.”
“They’ll kill me!” he complains. Can you imagine? They might want to do to Cain what he did to his brother. How unfair!
Now you might wonder who these people are who are going to kill him. If Cain was the firstborn of Adam and Eve, how could the earth be populated? We’re not really told, but it’s possible that by now Adam and Eve have had a lot of other children, and if so, all of them would be outraged at Cain’s actions—for killing their brother. And we have to figure that if the ground will no longer cooperate to yield produce to Cain, he may have to beg his family members for food. Again, we expect God to say, “How does it feel?” Or “Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.” Or like the Eagles’ hit, “Get Over It!”
But not this God. Instead, he shows mercy yet again. In verse 15 we read, “So the Lord said to him, ‘No, if anyone kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.’” If you wonder what sevenfold vengeance is, it may help to know that back then they considered seven the perfect number. It was often associated with completeness. So it’s like God is saying, “I will completely avenge anyone who kills Cain.” When Gary and I went camping back in the eighties, if he’d see a mosquito flying nearby, he’d say, “I’ll kill him to the max in a second without mercy.” Then smash. And although “to the max” is an outdated expression, perhaps it helps us understand what’s being expressed here. It’s as though God is saying, “If anyone messes with you, I’ll avenge your murder to the max.”
Then the text goes on to say, “And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest anyone who came upon him should harm him.” Now in our world full of street signs, billboards, and store signs, we usually think of a sign as a visual image, perhaps something reminiscent of the Grateful Dead’s “Dire Wolf” like a placard saying, “Don’t Murder Me.” But this word could mean something a little different from that. In Joshua 2:12, when Rahab asked for a sign, she received protection for herself and her family. So the sign could simply be God’s protection. Other signs in the Hebrew Bible included a broad range of options like Noah’s rainbow reminding everyone that God would never again destroy the world with water. Or when Moses asked God for a sign that He would deliver his people, God told him the sign would be that His people would someday serve Him on the mountain where Moses confronted the burning bush.
It’s also been suggested that this could have been a special hairstyle, a mark like a tattoo—even a growling dog, though if you’re going to go there, I think a skunk might be more fitting. That would keep anyone from going near the guy. We aren’t told what the sign was, but we do know its function—to protect the murderer from anyone who might want to injure him.
What? Protect him from injury? Yes, one more time we see God’s grace. The word “murder” has been used in this chapter up until now. But when God promises to protect Cain, we see a different word—he says “lest anyone injure Cain.” In other words, he’s not just protecting Cain from those who would murder him, but from anyone who would beat him up!
So how does the story end? Verse sixteen tells us, “Then Cain departed from the presence of Yahweh and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” East of Eden is the direction Adam and Eve went when driven from the orchard. And “Nod” means wandering. So Cain went to the land of wandering—away from the presence of the Lord.
Eve’s miracle baby has caused nothing but heartbreak. And the couple who departed from God’s presence now see their son departing even further from His face.
And that is where all of us would remain without Jesus Christ. Because of Him we are no longer in the process of departing further and further from God. Through the reconciliation brought by the most pleasing sacrifice of all time, we are invited back into fellowship with the Father no matter what we’ve done.
And knowing that should evoke in us a desire to return to Him what Cain should have given—not our leftovers but our best.
What do we give to the God of grace? Do we give him our sleepiest hours or our most productive energy? Do we give him our spare change or do we give generously and sacrificially? Does our offering cost us or is it simply convenient? Do we treat His children with neglect or respect? How deliberate are you in showing how much God means to you by what you give back to him?
It’s Christmastime—a season when we get so frenzied attending company Christmas buffets and hanging the icicles on the house that we lose sight of the greatest Gift ever given. We get all wrapped up in giving gifts to others in honor of His birthday, but like Cain we offer Him—the Reason for the Season—the leftovers. Our leftover time. Some leftover canned goods we didn’t plan to use anyway. A little leftover energy. A few coins of leftover pocket change in the kettle.
So we need to stop. And in the midst of the hustle and bustle, let’s carve out some time to prepare our best, most memorable gift. If it’ll help, consider using the visual reminder of wrapping a box and putting it under the tree as a “sign” of a decision to give God His due.
What does our God of extreme grace really want from us? If we asked the Spirit to tell us His heart’s desire, what would top His Christmas list? What would really please the One who would “rather die than live without us”? No longer does he want animal fat and first fruits. Romans 12:1 and 2 tells us that he wants us—our lives—as living sacrifices. More than anything, the Father wants the love and devotion of each “miracle” child’s whole and undivided heart.
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I would do my part.
O what can I give Him?
Give Him my heart.
The Simple Blessing Of ChristmasRelated Media
These are the author's speaking notes for a message she gave to a women's luncheon.
So glad to be here with you- Aren’t the tables beautiful? Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to transform this room into such a beautiful display.
Let me tell you about a story when my family and I experienced the simple blessing of Christmas; I was pregnant with Natalie, my second child, and I was determined she would be born early, as in before Christmas (her name means “Christmas child”). I didn’t even want to drive the hour and a half to Slidell or New Orleans where our parents lived. I had my babies pretty quickly.
My mom and my stepfather came to see us before Christmas day and brought some gifts for Sheree and for my husband and me. She also brought some puzzles that were hand-me-downs from my sister-in-law. Sheree unwrapped two stuffed toy bunnies and checked out her new puzzles (always such a bright little thing) and said, “Look at all my nice new toys!”
I pray that today we could all have that joy and be able to say, “Look at all my nice new toys! Isn’t the blessing of Christmas good?”
On Christmas Eve, sometimes we can’t help but envy our children the stars in their eyes, especially when our own eyes are dull with exhaustion. Christmas is so much simpler for a child. Can we open our tired, adult eyes to that same simplicity?
Unfortunately we have built up some awesome expectations by Christmas:
(Just look at the descriptions on magazines’ December issues)
- Best Christmas ever
- Biggest Christmas issue ever
- Most delightful
I can’t even get a handle on all the superlatives.
Apparently magazine editors are very aware that our memories are faulty. We have had the most incredible Christmas issues several years ago and every year since.
Here are some actual examples of the Christmas Magazine siren song, from my 1992 collection: “Holiday Stress-Busters”, “Quick Gifts to Craft for Christmas”, “Make-Ahead Tips”, “630 Merry Ideas to Make Christmas Happier, Saner, More Meaningful”, and of course, “Drop 10 Pounds by Christmas.”
Isn’t this what we all want? A stress-free, merry, beautiful, delicious, organized and slender Christmas? Of course it is--so into our shopping basket jumps the Christmas Magazine.
The advertising industry definitely wants you to spend a lot of time, effort and especially money on your holiday preparations.
Consider your Christmas planning today.
If you are like me you have already been inundated for months (since September, at least, in some stores) with images of the perfect holiday. We have read magazine articles on how to trim the most beautiful tree, wrap the most adorable packages, and prepare the most delicious food, blah, blah.
There is no shortage of perfect holiday stories in literature or in Hollywood, either.
Who could forget the beautiful Christmas celebrations of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s childhood in the Big Woods or on the Banks of Plum Creek?
Or Little Women with all the sweet daughters gathered around Marmee bestowing gifts of love on a much beloved mother?
Or the wonderful hearted Whos singing in the town square even after the Grinch had stolen all of their Christmas goodies? Dah hoo doray, dah hoo doray.. or whatever those words are…
Why is there such a proliferation of feel good stories at Christmas? Because there is a hungering in every heart for a perfect time of celebration. THERE IS A HUNGERING IN EVERY HEART FOR A CELEBRATION THAT HAS MEANING. WE ARE LOOKING FOR THE SIMPLE BLESSINGS OF CHRISTMAS.
We long for happy endings, winning teams, a great sale, and wonderful surprises. We cry with joy over at Hallmark commercials.
We all want something to cheer about and, if necessary, we go to great lengths to insure that we have something to cheer about each Christmas.
I work hard cleaning my house especially on Christmas Eve so the pictures we take on Christmas morning won’t show what my house usually looks like but what it looks like for company.
We are scrambling to have the perfect Martha Stewart Christmas.
For some of us, a perfect holiday extravaganza comes easily. For some of us, it is not so easy. Whether it comes with stress or not, it definitely come with extra work or expense.
Sometimes in all of our hustle and bustle, we get confused about the meaning of the celebration. We forget that the party is for someone special.
We are looking for ways to bring meaning into our celebrations but too often we buy into advertisers’ solutions.
And we miss out on the simple blessing of Christmas.
A few months ago I went to a wedding.
It was a beautiful location—a balcony overlooking a luscious hillside. There was an abundance of flowers. The scent of roses growing on the hillside was wafting through the air. The weather was perfect, the gown was exquisite, and the food was scrumptious.
Now at this wedding, the bride and groom were obviously in love with each other. It was beautiful to see them together. But what if that was not the case: what if the bride didn’t love the groom? What if I told you that she didn’t even know him? Not in an arranged marriage kind of way but that all she was really wanting to do was to have a perfect ceremony with her closest friends and family and give them a party to remember?
Then why, you might ask, didn’t she just have a party? Why did she say it was a wedding?
Then you would have concluded, “That wedding had no meaning.”
That sort of reminds me about some of our Christmas celebrations. If we don’t know the One whose birthday we are celebrating then we might as well just call it a winter celebration.
Because we miss out on the simple blessings of Christmas… we have celebrations without meaning.
Think back with me to a favorite Christmas memory.
What made it so special?
Was it the gifts? Ex. Mr. Microphone tape recorder
I loved my Mr. Microphone tape recorder. I had a talk show on Christmas day as I walked around our living room and interviewed all the guests. Later, I recorded myself singing painful songs with the radio.
Was it the food? One word: Cranberries
Was it the decorations? Our most sacred decoration was never even put up in my memory: It was a large (door sized) Christmas tree shaped door hanging, filled with pine cones
Was it who came to celebrate with you?
How do those memories fit with our planning and expectations today? Have we bought too much into the myth of the Christmas magazine?
EVEN THOUGH WE LONG FOR THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER, WE MISS OUT ON A CELEBRATION WITH MEANING. WE MISS THE SIMPLE BLESSING OF CHRISTMAS
The reality is that a lot of us have our parties without a thought to the bridegroom—without a thought to the Savior. We just want to have a beautiful time of celebrating with our family. But don’t forget what we are celebrating. It is not just the winter solstice. It is a celebration and thanksgiving of God giving us the very best gift we could ever have: the potential for a relationship with Him.
But all too often we miss that gift and we miss the simple blessing of Christmas: knowing and treasuring Jesus in your heart.
But the reality is that the Christmas magazine too often fuels my discontent. It gives me more ideas for glories we have planned and dreamed about—I mean… visions of sugarplums dancing in your head?
Oh we might get the look of the Southern Living dream house by our own talent or someone we hire but there is almost always something that goes awry. Like the year we had a fresh cut Christmas tree from a local tree farm. We brought it home with great smells and a little gift that was to hatch later. Our tree was the warm and cozy home of a nest of spiders. Let me assure you that sweet angel ornaments take on a whole new look when they are infested with baby spiders. At least they waited to hatch until after Christmas morning! There can be other disappointments: maybe a gift isn’t quite appreciated like we had hoped. Why oh why didn’t my husband like the tiny light for his sock drawer? These are the very minor disappointments. The Christmas season is certainly not exempt to great tragedies of illness and loss.
We often suffer from loneliness that can be a part of Christmas.
A friend who was single at the time told me that Christmas Eve more so than New Years’ Eve or Valentines’ Day was the hardest holiday to be alone.
Even if we aren’t alone, we have stress from too much to do. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I don’t really have anything to do so I will be able to complete my Christmas to-do list easily”? Could you introduce her to me? I have some things to share.
The stress from all the holiday busyness leads some people to forego most of their old traditions altogether.
“Simplify Christmas” is a growing drumbeat that sounds in contrast to the buy more, do more, celebrate more.
(My Google search got 1,440,000 hits on “simplifying Christmas.”)
It is fine to simplify but sometimes I think we simplify out of frustration with our frantic lifestyle instead of from a desire to get more meaning into our holidays. Sometimes we simplify and still miss the simple blessing of Christmas.
Please note that even a simplified celebration could leave you empty as well an extravagant one: You will just have a smaller credit card bill in January. Even if you set your heart on small celebrations, there can easily be disappointment.
You could still have a Christmas without meaning.
You can simplify and still miss the blessing of Christmas
The bottom line is that regardless of how much we do or don’t do, how many gifts we buy, or how many hundreds of cards we send or not send: our heart preparations are the key to the holiday. Our heart is the key to the simple blessing of Christmas: the key to treasuring Jesus.
What do we do to get ready?
Proper preparation of our hearts moves us from self-preoccupation to humble expectations.
In the Old Testament, God directs the people of Israel very specifically about how they are to worship Him. He tells them exactly what kind of celebrations He wants them to have. The heart behind every celebration is acknowledging the Lord, thanking Him for His blessings in their lives, and being in a right relationship with Him. God isn’t opposed to big celebrations but in the Bible it is clear over and over, we are told that the most important thing is what is going on in your heart.
The heart is most important.
There is a hungering in all of our hearts for a perfect time of celebration.
Why have a party for Christmas?
Because this is the time to remember the most exciting event in history-
When God came down from heaven and became one of us
Let me introduce Him to you.
Many years ago, before the first stocking was hung or was even a thought, an angel appeared to a young woman named Mary. Now she lived in the Middle East and there were problems with that area with warring governments and terrorists’ threats even then. This angel told the young woman that she was going to have a baby. That surprised her because Mary was a virgin. Furthermore, this baby was going to be the Son of God and it was He who would save His people from their sins. He was the long awaited Messiah.
Just so you know God is not opposed to big celebrations, in the gospel of Luke, we read that an angel came and announced Jesus’ birth.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
The best thing about this blessing of the first Christmas was that Jesus wasn’t just born to be the center of our nativity sets at a really fun holiday in America. The angel told Mary this baby was born to be the Savior, the One who would save His people from their sins. That is really good news. But it has some bad news tucked in—The fact is the reason Jesus came is that the Bible says we are all sinners. We all have chosen to do our own thing and the Bible calls that sin. The even worse news is that what we earn because of our sin is death, or spiritual separation from God.
The whole reason for Christmas is God’s way of bridging the gap between Him and us. He provided the payment for our sin in the form of a tiny baby who would grow up to be a man, live a sinless life, then die on a cross as a payment for our sins. He took the penalty for us. After three days, He rose from the dead and is waiting for us today at the right hand of the Father. He wants us to know Him.
The very best news of all is that if we place our trust in Him as our Savior, He removes the consequences of our sins. We won’t be guilty any more. He gives us eternal life with Him.
Jesus wants us to celebrate that. In the book of John chapter 10, Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Or as a friend of mine translates it “That they might have a party.”
How will we make this Christmas different? What can we do to begin to experience the simple blessings of Christmas?
What if there still remains the twinge of wanting a Martha Stewart Christmas?
Aren’t we all still buying and studying our Christmas magazines?
If producing the perfect Christmas look isn’t in your skill set or your budget then let it go. Be content with a few things and rejoice that you have less to put away after the holidays.
Focus on the simple blessings of Christmas.
Focus on the birth of the savior of the world; the coming of the King of Kings.
That kind of renewed mindset is not going to happen without a little effort.
I want to challenge you to add one more thing to your to do list. I want you to add thinking about how you can focus on the simple blessings of Christmas, how you can treasure Jesus in your heart.
Your table hostesses have a list of ideas that you could try and even add some of your own.
I want to leave you with a few practical ways to add meaning to your Christmas celebrations. They have been helpful to my family and me.
There are twelve Bible passages listed there. The story may be familiar to most of you but I’d like you to read them and ask yourself: How did the individuals in these verses respond to Jesus? Am I looking at Jesus with tired, adult eyes? How can I change how I respond to Him?
I would encourage you to put a few of these on your calendar and focus on the simple blessings of Christmas. Focus on a celebration with meaning.
Celebrate for the right reasons.
Celebrate because you know the bridegroom and He knows you.
Celebrate because you have entered into a perfect love relationship with the Creator of the universe.
Celebrate because you know the simple blessing of Christmas.
When Mary was confronted with the reality of who Jesus was and what that would mean for the world, the Bible says Mary did just what God wanted her to do: She treasured these things in her heart.
The simple blessing of Christmas is treasuring Jesus in your heart. Pondering the good news that you are so deeply loved by the Creator of the Universe that He sacrificed His only Son for you. He gave His Son so that you could have an abundant life with Him forever.
Treasure Jesus in your heart. Rejoice in knowing that He is the King, the Savior who has come into the world to set things right, come into the world to rescue us from the dominion of darkness. He has come to save you from a meaningless existence of self-service. He wants to be your king and bring you into His kingdom of marvelous light, life and love. What a celebration that will be when you join Him in His kingdom! What are you waiting for? Come on in and join the party. It is a big one.
An Introduction To The Gospel Of JohnRelated Media
I. Author: The Apostle John, Son Of Zebedee
A. Strictly speaking, the Gospel of John does not name its author--it is anonymous. But there is evidence which can lead to the conclusion that is was the Apostle John
B. External Evidence: Early church tradition is unanimous in ascribing the fourth gospel to John
1. Ireneus (c. A.D. 130-202) was the first to name the gospel of John and said that it was written after the other gospels from Ephesus1
2. John was either cited or named as authentic during the first four centuries by the following2
a. Clement of Rome (c. 95-97)
b. Polycarp (c. 110-150)
c. Papias (c. 130-40)
d. Irenaeus (c. 130-202)
e. Justin Martyr (c. 150-155)
f. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215)
g. Tertullian (c. 150-220)
h. The Muratorian Fragment (c. 170-200)
i. The Latin Marcionite Prologue (c. 200)
j. Origen (c. 185-254)
k. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-386)
l. Eusebius (c. 325-340)
m. Jerome (c. 340-420)
n. Augustine (c. 400)
3. Eusebius specifically identified John with the Gospel which bares his name when he writes, “of all those who had been with the Lord only Matthew and John have left us their recollections....”3
C. Internal Evidence: The information from within the Gospel itself supports the universal tradition of the early church fathers who assigned the work to the Apostle John:
1. The author was a Jew:
a. He understood and quoted from the OT (12:40; 13:18; 19:37)
b. He knew and understood Jewish customs:
1) Wedding feasts 2:1-10
2) Ceremonial purification 3:25; 11:55
3) The manner of burial 11:38,44; 19:40
c. He knew and understood the Jewish expectation of the coming Messiah 1:19-18
d. He perceived the religious differences between the Jew and the Samaritan 4:9,20
2. The author was a Jew from Palestine:
a. He knew the pool of Bethesda had five porches 5:2
b. He knew that Bethany was only fifteen furlongs away from Jerusalem 11:18
c. He knew that Ephraim was near the wilderness 11:54
d. He knew that the Garden of Gethsemane was on the other side of the brook Kidron 18:1
e. He knew that there was a paved area outside of the praetorium 19:13
f. He was aware of the region of Samaria and that Jacob’s well was located in Sychar (4:5-6), and that it was deep 4:11
g. He knew about the sacred mountain of Samaritan worship 4:20-21
h. He was aware of Galilee 1:44,46; 2:1,2
3. The author was an eye-witness of what happened
a. He does not state his name, but there are traces of his own hand in the Gospel
b. “We beheld his glory” 1:14
c. He knew the number of pots used at the wedding at Cana 2:6
d. He knew the value of the anointing perfume 12:5
e. He was at the crucifixion 19:33-35
f. He knew the distance from the shore of the apostles boat and the number of fish caught 21:8,11
g. “This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true” 21:24
4. The author was an Apostle, probably John:
a. He refers to himself often as the disciple whom Jesus loved 13:23; 19:26; 20:2 21:7,20
b. The identity of this “one whom Jesus loved” is narrowed down to be John through the following correlations:
1) From 21:7 the “disciple” may be identified as one of the seven persons mentioned in 21:2
a) Simon Peter
b) Thomas called the Twin
c) Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee
d) The sons of Zebedee
e) Two others
2) He must be one of the Twelve since only they were with the Lord at the last supper (Jn. 13:23-24; cf. Mk. 14:17; Lk. 22:14)
3) He is not Peter:
a) He sat next to the Lord at the Last Supper, and Peter motioned to him 13:23-24
b) His future is distinguished from Peter’s 21:20ff
4) He is closely related to Peter and thus seems to be one of the inner three (James, John and Peter ) [20:2-10; cf. Mk. 5:37-38; 9:2-3; 14:33)
5) James (John’s brother) died in AD 44, therefore, he was not the author (Acts 12:2)
6) Therefore, if it is true that he was an apostle, and one of the inner three, and he was not Peter, or James, then he must have been the Apostle John, the son of Zebedee
c. Raymond Brown discusses the possible candidates of Lazarus and John Mark as the “disciple whom Jesus loved”4
II. Date: Probably Between AD 85 And 95
A. The Gospel of John provides no explicit evidence regarding its date. This conclusion is arrived at through external and internal considerations
B. External Evidence: Allows for a date between 90-98
1. Extant manuscripts argue for around the turn of the century:
a. The earliest evidence is in the Rylands Papyrus 457 (p52), an Egyptian fragment of John 18:31-33,37-38, dated in the first half of the second century (c. 98-150)5
b. Other papyri (p66, p75 c. AD 175-225) offer significant sections of John
c. The Egyptian witness, Papyrus Egerton 2, supplies a composite work from c. AD 150
d. The above evidence suggests copies of the gospel circulating around Egypt in the first and second halves of the second century. This suggests a date for John to be at least around the turn of the century
2. Ireneaus stated that John remained in Ephesus until the time of Trajan (AD 98-117). This would place John’s writing during the last decades of the first century
3. Therefore, if John is the author of the Gospel, then a date between 90-98 seems to be possible
C. Internal Evidence: may argue for an early date (pre-AD 70)
1. The present tense in John 5:2 “there is” suggests a time when the gate is still standing, unlike after the destruction by Titus (But this could be a part of an earlier writing wherein John expresses its existence at the time and then edited it into his gospel account). This is a strong argument
2. The correct tradition of Palestinian places, situations, and customs argues for a time before or shortly after AD 70 when the scenes could be remembered as they were (but the author could tap his own memory without tying his writing to that period)
3. John 21:18-23 imply the passing of time until the later death of Peter (especially 21:19). This would argue for a later date rather than an earlier one
1. It is possible that the Gospel was written just before or just after AD 706
2. It is also possible that the Gospel was written in the latter part of the first century--around the turn of the century (AD 80-98) which allows for the writing of the three epistles and Revelation by John (external evidence)
3. Eusebius identifies John as the last Gospel written after Matthew, Mark and Luke: “The three gospels which had been written down before were distributed to all including himself.”7 This would support a later time for John more than an earlier one
4. Therefore, it seems best to date John along with many scholars between 80-98
III. Place Of Origin And Destination: Ephesus To Ephesian Gentiles
A. There is no explicit evidence for the place of origin or for the destination of the Gospel of John
C. Ephesus was not far from Phrygia, the center of the Montanist movement which made early use of John’s Gospel
D. The primary audience may have been Ephesian Gentiles:
1. The various Jewish feasts are identified for the readers
2. The geographical locations are identified for the readers
3. Jewish names are translated for the readers
4. Jewish usages are explained for the reader
5. The introduction of the “Greeks” in chapter 12 may also reveal the author’s interest in the Gentiles
E. Other considerations are Antioch and Alexandria, but with less evidence
IV. Purposes Of The Gospel Of John:
A. John 20:30-32 states the purpose for the “book:”
“Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing you may have life in his name”
1. Chapter 21 need not be considered a portion later added to the original conclusion of the Gospel. While 20:30-31 relay the purpose of the book, chapter 21 is then presented as an epilogue illustrating the result of faith -- restoration into life abundant
2. The two pronged purpose statement for the book relates to the two pronged thrust of the book10
a. The first half of the book of the seven signs (chapters 1--12) are given so that all people “might believe” or come to faith (assuming the aorist subjunctive tense in the textual problem)11 in Jesus as Messiah
b. The second portion of the purpose statement [“you may have life in his name”] correlates with chapters 13--20 where believers are exhorted to close fellowship--eternal life which is not only a quantity of life but also a quality of life (cf. 5:24 with 17:2-3)
B. Gospel of John also was written to reveal who Jesus was:
1. Unlike the synoptics which reveal Jesus inductively (from the ground up), John reveals Jesus deductively (from heaven down)
2. Jesus is also revealed as the “Logos,” “Messiah,” “Son of God,” “God,” and “Man” fighting the incipient gnostic views of Cerinthus and the Ebionites (that Jesus was only a man upon whom the Spirit visited and then left thus affirming no pre-existence), and fighting Docitism (emphasizing Jesus’ deity over his humanity)
V. The Relation Of The Gospel Of John To The Synoptics
A. There are similarities between John and the synoptics (e.g., the movement from “birth” to crucifixion and resurrection)
B. The significance of relationship lies in the differences:
1. Material is in the synoptics but not in John
2. Material is in John but not in the synoptics
3. John is less narrative and more discourse oriented. John is philosophical and Rabbinic
4. There are differences of historical and chronological items such as the dating of the cleansing of the temple, the duration of the ministry of Jesus, and the dating of the Last Supper
C. John is explained in four possible ways in relation to the synoptics:
1. It was a supplement to the synoptics
2. It was independent of the synoptics
3. It was interpretive of the synoptics
4. It was a substitute for the synoptics12
1 Adv. Haer. (Against Heresies) ii.22. 5, iii.3.4 cited in Eusebius, HE (The Ecclesiastical History), iii.23.3; Also Adv. Haer. iii.1.1 cited in Eusebius HE, v.20.4-8.
Eusebius reports that Irenaeus’ authority was Polycarp who claimed to know the Apostles and John in particular at Ephesus (HE, iv.14.3-8).
See the discussion in Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John I-XII, pp. LXXXVIII-XCII for objections to Ireneus’ evidence.
2 Geisler, A General Introduction, p. 193.
3 HE 3.24.3-8.
4 The Gospel According to John, I:XCIV-XCVIII.
5 Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, pp. 38-39. This strongly disproves Delafosse’s thesis of AD 170 and A. Loisy’s thesis of AD 150-160. Egypt is a long way from Ephesus, thus it would have taken time for the gospel to reach this land after its composition.
6 Internal evidence; see Tenny, “John” in EBC, 9:9-10.
7 HE iii.24.7.
8 Adv. Haer. 3:1.
9 HE 3:1.
10 NB--John’s reference is to “this book” (20:30) and not only to the immediate context.
11 NB--even if the textual problem supports the present subjunctive tense (“go on believing”), this does not necessarily mean that John’s Gospel is only for the “believer” because the unbeliever also needs to consider a continuing attitude of faith as they consider Jesus.
12 NB--While it need not be an either/or solution, the first two explanations are the most accepted (Guthrie, p. 287-300). It seems that John did know of the synoptics (allowing for number 2 above), and yet wrote from other sources, and with a different purpose (allowing for number 1 above) [cf. Tenny, “John” in EBC 9:20].
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Argument Of The Gospel Of JohnRelated Media
Jesus Is Demonstrated To Be “The Christ” In Order That Men Might Believe In Him And Thereby Obtain The Blessings Of Eternal Life
I. THE PROLOGUE: (Jesus is the God-Man among men for men): The Word, which is eternal, related to and is God the Creator Himself, graciously overcame the darkness of sin in men by giving life to those who trust in Him when He became the God-Man, Jesus, the Messiah 1:1-18
A. The Word, which is eternal in relationship with God, and is God Himself in essence, is the Creator of all things which exist 1:1-3
1. The Word which is eternal and in relationship with God is described as being God in essence itself 1:1
2. Already being in existence with God, the Word is the creator of all things which exist 1:2-3
B. While it may appear that the Word which gives life by shinning upon men in their darkness is overcome, there is proof to the opposite through life given to believers 1:4-13
1. The Word, being life which gives light to men while shining in darkness is not overcome by darkness 1:4-5
2. While it appears that the darkness of men overcame the enlightening of the Word, it did not because life was given to those who trusted in Him 1:6-13
a. The light of life through the Word was witnessed to by a man sent from God named John that all might believe 1:6-8
b. The true light, which coming into the world was available for every man, was rejected by-in-large by the world which He made and His people, Israel, who were to be followers of Him 1:9-11
c. Whoever did receive the Word, by trusting in who He was, given the right to become children of God being given life, not through themselves but through God 1:12-13
C. The gracious giving of life came through Jesus the Messiah who being God became man to give grace as is witnessed by John and many others 1:14-18
1. The Word became human and dwelt among men demonstrating its greatness as being from the Father in its immense grace and truth 1:14
2. John gave witness to the God-Man by proclaiming his exalted position and pre-existence as God 1:15
3. Many received the fullness of Grace in abundance not through Moses who gave the Law but through Jesus--the Christ who alone completely explains God 1:16-18
II. MANIFESTATION TO THE NATION AND REJECTION THROUGH CONFLICTS: Jesus manifests Himself as Messiah to the nation whereupon many respond in belief, but the nation’s leaders respond by rejecting Him (1:19--12:50)
A. Jesus reveals Himself to be Messiah through a series of events (John the Baptist and the calling of disciples, the wedding in Cana, the cleansing of the temple, the discussion with Nicodemus, the discussion of John the Baptist, the discussion with the Samaritan woman, and the official of Capernaum) whereupon many respond in belief 1:19--4:54
1. John the Baptist testifies that Jesus is the Christ and Jesus’ disciples believe as there is a movement away from John the Baptist toward Jesus--Messiah 1:19--51
a. When John the Baptist is questioned by the representatives of the Pharisees, He identifies himself as one preparing the way for one greater than himself 1:19-28
1) When priests and Levities from Jerusalem asked John the Baptizer who he was, he said that he was not the Christ, Elijah, or The Prophet spoken of by Moses, but one preparing the nation for God as spoken of in Isaiah 40:3. 1:19-23
Elijah was predicted to return before the coming of Messiah in order to get Israel back in a proper relationship with their God (e.g. the faith of the fathers) Mal.4:5-7
Jesus asserts that John the Baptist was “Elijah that is to come” (Matt. 17:10-13)
Anyone (and especially John) who comes preaching repentance, comes in the spirit of Elijah (Lk. 1:17)
John the Baptist was not the person of Elijah but he exercised the function (office) of Elijah by preaching repentance and preparing Messiah’s way (cf. Matt. 11:14)
2) When asked by the representatives of the Pharisees why John was baptizing if he was not the Christ, Elijah or the Prophet, he described his ministry as one of preparation for the greater One to follow him 1:24-27
3) John’s ministry was in Bethany beyond the Jordan 1:28
b. On the next day John saw Jesus coming and identified Him as the One whom he was proclaiming would come: the Lamb of God who is the Son of God 1:29-34
1) On the next day John saw Jesus coming to him and identified Him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world 1:29
2) John identifies Jesus as the greater One whose coming he spoke of who was identified as the Son of God by the coming of the Spirit of God upon Him 1:30-34
a) John identifies Jesus as the greater one in rank and in existence over him of whom he previously spoke 1:30
b) John proclaims that he baptized in water in order to manifest this coming One whom he did not recognize to Israel 1:31
c) John knew who Jesus was when he saw the Spirit descend and remain upon Him as the Lord described 1:32-33
d) John bares witness that He has seen the Spirit come upon Jesus and thus, that He is the Son of God 1:34
c. Because of the words of John and Jesus, many begin to follow Him--two of John’s disciples (including Andrew), Simon Peter, Philip, and Nathaniel 1:35-51
1) On the next day two of John’s disciples began to follow Jesus 1:35-39
a) On the next day when Jesus passed by John and two of his disciples, John identified Him again as the Lamb of God and his two disciples followed Jesus 1:35-37
b) John’s disciples were seeking Jesus and stayed with Him for that day 1:38-39
2) Andrew, one of John’s two disciples, told his brother, Simon, that they had found the Messiah and brought him to Jesus whereupon Jesus renamed him in view of his future character 1:40-42
a) One of John’s two disciples, Andrew, went to his brother, Simon Peter, and announced to him that they had found the Messiah 1:40-41
b) When Andrew brought Peter to Jesus, He identified Him in terms of his past (heritage) and proclaimed what his future name (character) would be 1:42
3) On the next day Philip and Nathaniel become followers of Jesus as Messiah because of His wonderful words 1:43-51
a) Setting: On the next day Jesus purposed to go into Galilee 1:43a
b) Jesus found Philip from the same town as Andrew and Peter (Bethsaida) and called him to follow 1:43b-44
c) Nathaniel became a follower of Jesus as Messiah after first questioning His value and then believing in Him due to His miraculous understanding 1:45-51
(1) Philip found Nathaniel and told him that they had found the Messiah written of in the Scriptures who is Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph 1:45
(2) Nathaniel questioned Philip's claims in view of Jesus being from Nazareth, but Philip urged him to come and see 1:46
(3) When Nathaniel approached Jesus, He identified him as not being deceitful 1:47
(4) Nathaniel questioned as to how Jesus knew him, and learned that He had seen him while under a fig tree 1:48
(5) Nathaniel immediately identifies Jesus as Messiah 1:49
(6) Jesus proclaims that Nathaniel will see Jesus do even greater works than he has seen; He will be the new Bethel--house of God 1:50-51
2. Wedding in Cana: On the third day after Nathaniel was chosen, Jesus performed His first miracle by turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana in order to demonstrate that He was the One bringing in the Kingdom through a transforming ministry (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17), and His disciples believed in Him 2:1-11
a. Setting: On the third day (either of Christ’s ministry, or more probably after Nathaniel is chosen) Jesus and His disciples attended a wedding in Cana of Galilee where His mother was in attendance 2:1-2
b. When the wine ran low at the end of the wedding feast, Jesus refused to inaugurate the kingdom at his mother’s request, but did demonstrate that He was the King to come by turning the water into wine 2:3-10
1) At the end of the wedding celebration the wine was running out so Mary made the issue known to Jesus 2:3
2) Jesus objected that Mary was asserting an authority over Him which was not her’s to ask since His time (to fully reveal Himself as the Millennial King who will bring with Him the banquet of the Kingdom with eating and drinking) had not yet come 2:4
3) Mary urges the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do 2:5
4) Jesus turned the water in the pots of purification into the best wine of the wedding 2:6-10
c. This was the first sign which Jesus did in Cana of Galilee demonstrating His greatness, and resulting in His disciples believing in Him 2:11
3. The Cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem: After the wedding in Cana, Jesus went up from Capernaum to Jerusalem at the Passover, cleansed the temple as the zealous Davidite for pure worship, was challenged by the Jews, offered His future death and resurrection as proof of His authority, and was believed upon by many, but did not entrust Himself to them 2:12-25
a. Setting: After the wedding in Cana, Jesus, His mother, brothers, and disciples, went down to Capernaum for a few days, and then went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover 2:12-13
b. Jesus, as the Davidite, is zealous for pure worship, rejected, and gives as an authenticating sign His future death and resurrection, which is misunderstood by the Jews, but later understood and believed by His disciples 2:14-22
1) When Jesus saw the extortion which was occurring in the temple by the money changers, He drove them out of His father’s house with the consequences of rejection as David’s (Messiah’s) zeal brought to him in Psalm 69:9 cf. Also Malachi 3:1-3 2:14-17
2) The Jews question Jesus’ right to expel them from the temple with the requirement that He show to them an authenticating sign 2:18
3) Jesus challenges them to “destroy this temple” and he will raise it up again in three days 2:19
4) The Jews question Jesus’ words since it took forty-six years to build the temple which Jesus just cleansed 2:20
5) John explains that Jesus was referring to the Temple of His body which the disciples realized after His resurrection and led to their belief in the Scriptures and His word 2:21-22
c. While Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Passover, many believed in Him but He did not entrust Himself to them not needing their testimony, and knowing their inner sinfulness 2:23-25
1) When Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Passover, many believed in His name as they saw the signs which he was doing 2:23
2) Jesus was not entrusting Himself to them because He did not need their witness, and because He knew their nature 2:24-25
4. Nicodemus: When Nicodemus came to Jesus to learn from Him as a teacher from God, Jesus explained that one must have a Spirit cleansing through belief in Him who will be lifted up in order to enter into the Kingdom of God, where upon John explained that Jesus was God’s son sent out of love to save those in the world who will believe in Him, while those who will not will be judged for hiding their evil in the darkness 3:1-21
a. Setting: A man named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus by night in order to speak to him 3:1-2a
b. Recognizing that Jesus was a teacher from God, Nicodemus was taught that one must have a Spirit-cleansing through belief in Jesus who will be lifted up in order to enter the Kingdom of God 3:2b-15
1) Nicodemus (along with others “we”) recognized that Jesus was a teacher from God because of the signs which He did 3:2a
2) Jesus taught Nicodemus that one cannot see the kingdom of God unless he is born again 3:3
3) Nicodemus questioned the logic of Jesus’ statement since a man cannot physically be reborn through his mother 3:4
4) Responding to Nicodemus’ logic, Jesus affirms that there must be a Spirit-cleansing in order to enter the Kingdom of God, which is different than physical birth, and gives evidence of its presence, even though its source is not physically identifiable 3:5-8
a) Jesus explained that one must be born by an eschatological, Spirit-cleansing in order to enter the kingdom of God1 3:5
b) Jesus distinguishes between physical (mortal) and spiritual (eternal) birth 3:6
c) Jesus compares the work of the Spirit to wind which gives evidence of its presence, but can not be determined as to its origin; so is it when the Spirit brings about a new birth 3:7-8
5. Nicodemus questioned how these things can be 3:9
6. After questioning Nicodemus’ ignorance in light of his position as teacher, and noting his unwillingness to believe, Jesus answers his question by affirming that spiritual life will come by looking upon Jesus when he is lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness 3:10-15
a) Jesus questioned Nicodemus’ ignorance in view of his position as teacher in Israel 3:10
b) Jesus exposes Nicodemus’ unwillingness to accept the truth in view of his rejection of the things which Jesus says which may be verified, much less if He were to speak of things which could not be verified--heavenly things which only Jesus knows having descended from heaven 3:11-13
c) Jesus answers Nicodemus’ question by affirming that these things can be by believing in Jesus who will be lifted up to look upon in faith for eternal life as Moses lifted up the servant in the wilderness for temporal life (cf. Num. 21:19) 3:14-15
c. John, as narrator, enters to theologically, expound upon Jesus’ words by explaining that Jesus is God’s son who was sent to save all of those in the world who will believe in Him, and that judgment will come upon all of those who will not believe in Him because they desire to hid their evil in the darkness rather than be exposed in His light (cf. 12:46-48 at the close of Jesus’ public ministry with 3:19-18) 3:16-21
1) The narrator (John) explains the “lifting up” of Jesus and “belief” in view of God’s design to send His Son, out of love, for the world to save, rather than judge, all of those who believe in Him 3:16-17
2) Concerning judgment, John explains, that the one who believes in Jesus is not judged, while the one who does not believe in Jesus is in a state of being under judgment for his unbelief which evidences a desire to keep his evil covered in darkness rather than being exposed before the light of Jesus 3:18-20
3) Concerning uprightness, John explains that, he who does what is true comes to the light to manifest his works as being brought into being by God 3:21
5. John the Baptizer: When Jesus went into the Jordan region with His disciples to baptize, John proclaimed to his disciples that Jesus’ ministry was to increase over his because He is greater then John having been sent from God with the truth about God so that those who believe in Him will have eternal life, while those who do not believe in Him will remain in their state of judgment 3:22-36
a. Setting: After his discussion with Nicodemus, Jesus and His disciples came into to Judea where he was spending time with them and baptizing while John the Baptizer, having not yet been thrown in prison, was also baptizing near in Aenon near Salim (near Samaria?) 3:22-24
b. When concerning arose from John’s disciples about the place of their ministry in view of Jesus’ baptisms, John proclaimed the superior role of Jesus as the One from God who brings the truth about God resulting in eternal life for all of those who believe in Him and judgment for those who do not 3:25-36
1) In view of Jesus’ baptism, the washings of the Essenes, and the Pharisees in Jerusalem, the people began to question the value of John’s baptism 3:25
2) John’s disciples expressed their concern their ministry from the above confrontation since Jesus was now baptizing and many were going to Him 3:26
3) John proclaimed God’s blessing upon Jesus’ ministry with the perspective that he was sent before Messiah as a friend at a wedding who must decrease, while Jesus must increase as the One sent from God with a testimony of the truth about God resulting in eternal life for those who will believe in Him, and judgment for those who will not obey Him 3:27-36
a) John affirmed that one’s ministry is enlarged from heaven, not men 3:27
b) John affirms again that he is not the Messiah but the one sent before Him, therefore as a friend of the bridegroom, he rejoices to hear of His presence 3:28-29
c) John affirms that Jesus must increase and he must decrease because he is but a man while Jesus is from God and testifies of the truth concerning God, giving the Spirit without measure and eternal life to those who believe in Him, while death remains on those who do not obey Him 3:30-36
6. The Samaritan Woman: When Jesus left Judea because of the concern of the Pharisees, He met a woman in Samaria, led her to an understanding that he was the Prophet of Moses--Messiah, taught His disciples that now is the time to reap people in God’s harvest, and, thus, brought many Samaritans into a believing relationship with Him because of the testimony of the woman, and Himself to them 4:1-42
a. Setting: When Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard about the many disciples which He was making, He left Judea for Galilee, and passed, by necessity, through Samaria where he rested in Sychar by Jacob’s well at noon 4:1-6
1) Jesus left Judea for Galilee when the Pharisees heard that Jesus was making and baptizing (through His disciples) more disciples than John 4:1-3
2) On His way to Galilee, it was necessary for Jesus to pass through Samaria 4:4
3) Jesus came to the city of Sychar in Samaria near Jacob’s well where He sat at about noon (or six P.M) wearied from His journey 4:5-6
b. Through a dialogue with the Samaritan woman, Jesus leads her to an understanding that He is not only a prophet, but the Prophet to come which Moses spoke of--Messiah 4:7-26
1) Jesus takes the initiative with the Samaritan woman to move her toward an understanding of Him as a prophet 4:7-19
a) When a Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water Jesus asked her for a drink since his disciples had gone to buy food 4:7-8
b) The Samaritan woman questioned why Jesus as a Jew would ask for a drink from her since she was a “Samaritan” 4:9
c) Jesus plays off of her discussion of identity and affirms that if she knew who He truly was, she would ask for living water from Him 4:10
d) The woman questions the plausibility of Jesus’ offer since he has nothing from which to draw the water from the well, and since He does not appear to be greater than Jacob 4:11-12
e) Jesus works from her words and proclaims Himself as greater than Jacob because unlike Jacob’s water which results in thirst again, that which Jesus has to offer will lead to complete satisfaction as it leads to eternal life 4:13-14
f) The woman, still thinking about physical water, asks Jesus for the water so that she will not become thirsty or have to daily return to the well 4:15
g) Jesus responds to her request by urging the woman to call her husband (who represents her spiritual thirst) and return 4:16
h) The woman said that she did not have a husband 4:17a
Jesus affirmed her words and then proclaimed that she had had five husbands and that the one whom she was now with was not her husband 4:17b-18
i) The woman became aware that Jesus was a prophet through His words about her love life 4:19
2) Through the initiative of the woman, Jesus leads her to an understanding that He is not only a prophet, but the Prophet spoken of by Moses--Messiah 4:20-26
a) The woman asked Jesus as prophet where the proper place was to worship God: at Mt. Gerizim or in Jerusalem 4:20
b) Jesus does not deny that worship was to center from Jerusalem, but He emphasized that the emphasis was to be upon spiritual worship of the God who is spirit in truth (Jesus, cf. 1:18) from now on rather than upon a place 4:21-24
c) The woman understood Jesus’ emphasis upon a coming change and emphasized the Samaritan concept that Messiah was coming in the likeness of a Moses figure who will declare truth to them 4:25
d) Jesus acknowledged her perception and affirmed that He was that coming Messiah 4:26
c. Setting--interlude: As Jesus’ disciples return, they are concerned that He would be speaking to a woman, and she returns in haste to tell the men of the city about Jesus 4:27-28a
1) Jesus’ disciples returned and noticed that he was speaking to the Samaritan Woman, but they did not ask Him questions 4:27
2) The woman left her water pot and went into the city to tell the men 4:28a
d. As the Samaritans are coming from the testimony of the woman, Jesus explains to His disciples that they are to be involved now in the harvesting work of God, as He is, whereupon the Samaritans arrive and believe in Jesus, not only because of the words of the woman, but also because of Jesus words themselves 4:28b-42
1) As the Samaritan woman told the men of the city about Jesus’ prophetic abilities concerning her life, they left to see Him 4:29-30
a) The Samaritan woman invited the men in the city to come and see Jesus who must be the Christ because He told her, prophetically, all about her private life 4:29
b) The men left the city and were coming to Jesus 4:30
2) Jesus explains to His disciples, as the Samaritans are coming that they are to harvest lives for God at this time 4:31-38
a) The disciples were urging Jesus to eat the food which they had just gotten for Him 4:31
b) In view of the disciples concern about His speaking to the Samaritan woman, Jesus explains through the image of food that He was doing the work of the Father, and that they are to harvest people for God now 4:32-38
(1) Jesus begins to explain His actions to His disciples in a transitional way by insisting that He has food to eat that they do not know about, and they question where it could have come from 4:32-33
(2) Jesus explains that his "food" is to do the will of the Father, to accomplish His work 4:34
(3) Jesus explains, perhaps looking at the Samaritan men approaching, that now is the time to enter into the harvest of lives for God 4:35-38
3) When the Samaritans came to Jesus, many believed in Him because of the words of the woman, and because of the very words of Jesus which they heard 4:39-42
a) From the Samaritan woman’s city many believed in Jesus because of the testimony of the woman 4:39
b) The Samaritans demonstrated belief in Jesus by asking Him to stay with them, and affirming to the woman that they believe also because of that which He has spoken to them 4:40-42
(1) When the Samaritans came to Jesus they asked Him to stay with them; He agreed for two days and many more believed in Him because of His word 4:40-41
(2) The people professed that they believed in Jesus, not only because of the woman's testimony, but also because of what they have heard for themselves that He is the Savior of the world 4:42
7. The Official at Capernaum: As Jesus returned to Galilee after leaving Samaria and unbelieving Jerusalem, He was received by the people for His signs, and gave life from far off to the royal official’s son because he believed in His word, yielding even more belief 4:43-54
a. Setting: After Jesus spent two days in Samaria, He returned to Galilee because of their rejection of Him in Jerusalem, whereupon, the people received Him in view of His miracles, and a royal official from Capernaum besought Him to heal his terminally ill son 4:43-47
1) After two days Jesus went forth from Samaria unto Galilee because he was not received in Jerusalem (his home town), and those in Galilee received Him because of the miracles which He did at the feast in Jerusalem 4:43-45
2) Jesus came to Cana where He made the water wine, and a certain royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum requested that He come and heal his near to death son 4:46-47
b. Through the healing of the royal official’s son, Jesus demonstrated a sign to unbelieving Israel that if one would believe in His word, He could give life from far off 4:48-53
1) Jesus affirmed that Israel (and this man) will not believe unless they see signs 4:48
2) The royal official besought Him again to come down to Capernaum before his son dies 4:49
3) Jesus exhorted the man to go on home because his son would remain alive (note the faith required before the sign) 4:50a
4) The man believed and started off for home 4:50b
5) The man’s faith was confirmed in that he was met by his slaves who announced that his son was living, and that he began to get better at the very hour in which told him that his son would live yielding continued belief by him and his whole household 4:51-53
c. Conclusion: This was the second sign that Jesus performed, when He had come out of Judea into Galilee 4:54
B. Rejection through Conflicts: Jesus’ later ministry unveils (through six conflicts) His rejection as Messiah by the nation even though many do believe in Him 5:1--12:50
1. Conflict one: In response to Jesus’ healing of a man at the Bethesda pool on the Sabbath where He equated Himself with God, the Jews tried to kill Jesus 5:1-47
a. The Miracle: When Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast, He healed a lame man, warned him of greater consequences if he continued to sin, and proclaimed to the Jews that He was doing the work of God on the Sabbath 5:1-18
1) Setting: When Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast, He came upon a man lying in his sickness at the pool of Bethesda 5:1-6a
a) Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews 5:1
b) Jesus came to the pool at the sheep gate which is called Bethesda and to a man, among many who were sick, lying in his sickness 5:2-6a
2) Through a series of dialogues and narrations, Jesus heals a lame man who aligns himself with the Jews against Him, and thus warns the man of a worse judgment which will come upon him, and proclaims to the Jews that He is doing the work of God on the Sabbath 5:6b-18
a) Dialogue: Jesus healed the lame man at the pool by His word even though the man thought he had to enter the water to be made whole 5:6b-8
(1) Jesus, knowing that the man had been lying there ill for a long time, asked him if he wanted to get well 5:6b
(2) The man proclaimed his dilemma of not being able to get to the pool in time after the waters had been stirred 5:7
(3) Jesus told the man to arise, take up his pallet, and walk 5:8
(4) The man was immediately healed, took up his pallet, and began to walk 5:9a
b) Narration: It was the Sabbath that day, and the Jews began to question the man 5:9b-10a
c) Dialogue: After the Jews accused the man of breaking the Sabbath, the man accused his healer of telling him to do so, but said that he did not know his identity when questioned further by the Jews 5:10b-13
(1) The Jews accused the man of breaking the Sabbath 5:10b
(2) The man accused his healer, Jesus, of telling him to do this sabbath breaking work 5:11
(3) The Jews asked for the identity of his healer, but the man did not know it 5:12-13
d) Narration: Afterward Jesus found the man in the temple and spoke to him 5:14a
e) Dialogue: Reminding the man that He had healed him, Jesus warned him to not sin any more lest something worse happen to him 5:14b-c
(1) Jesus reminded the man that he had been healed 5:14b
(2) Jesus warned the man not sin any more lest something worse happen to him 5:14c
f) Narration: The man goes from Jesus and reported to the Jews the identity of Jesus Whom they persecuted because he was doing these things on the Sabbath 5:16
g) Dialogue: In response to the objection of the Jews that Jesus is working on the Sabbath, He affirms that He is doing the work of the Father in healing the man. (He takes the Jews beyond the Sabbath law to the work of God (just as he took the man [physically] beyond the healing pool to the very power of God) 5:17
3) Discourse: Jesus proclaims that judgment rather than life remains upon the Jews because of their rejection of Jesus concerning Whom the Father and Moses bear witness 5:19-44
a) Since Jesus only does, with respect to life and judgment, that which the Father has given Him to do, He exhorts the Jews to hear and believe in order to pass from Judgment to life 5:19-30
(1) Jesus only does, and will do, what the Father does and has given Him to do 5:19-23
(2) Jesus exhorts the Jews to pass out of His realm of judgment into his realm of life by hearing what He says and believing that the Father sent Him 5:24
(3) Jesus supports His offer of "life from judgment" by explaining God's provisions in view of His roles as Messiah and Judge, affirming His future role with the dead and repeating that His judgment is from the Father 5:25-30
b) Even though Jesus’ identity is witnessed to by the Father who works through Him, the Jews continue in their unbelieving rejection because they have no relationship with the Father 5:31-44
(1) For the benefit of the Jews' salvation, Jesus explains that His identity, as "being from the Father" is not based upon a false solitary witness or even the true and condemning witness of John, but upon the witness of the Father who works through Jesus 5:31-37
(2) Jesus accuses and then demonstrates to the Jews that they have no relationship with the Father by their unbelieving rejection of Him 5:37b-44
c) Moses, and not Jesus, will judge the Jews in their unbelief toward Jesus because he wrote of Jesus and they are not believing His writings and thus Jesus’ words 5:44-47
2. Conflict two: While in Galilee, Jesus teaches the miraculously-fed multitude that He is the “Bread of Life” of whom they must partake, whereupon many withdraw while the twelve remain because Christ has the words of eternal life 6:1-71
a. The Miracle for All: Through feeding the multitude, Jesus raises an awareness in the people’s mind that He is the Prophet spoken of by Moses--He is the new Moses who once also fed the nation 6:1-14
b. When Jesus perceived that they wanted to come by force and make Him to be King, He withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone 6:15
c. Miracle to Disciple: Jesus demonstrated to His disciples that even though He refused to be made King over the people, He is still the New Moses who triumphs over the water 6:16-21
d. The Discourse: Jesus instructs the multitudes who came after Him from the other side of the Sea of Galilee to not seek the physical, but the Spiritual aspects of life 6:22-40
1) The setting: (6:22-25)
2) Physical bread parishes while spiritual bread endures 6:26-27
3) Man’s moral work--God’s work of belief in Jesus 6:28-29
4) Physical bread, manna, to Israel--Spiritual bread is the true bread, Jesus, which gives life to the world 6:30-33
5) Physical response for bread evermore--Spiritual response for them to believe so as to have life’s longings satisfied and to have eternal life 6:34-40
e. The Reactions:
1) The Jews grumbled rejecting Jesus as from God 6:41-42
2) Jesus again affirms that He is the bread out of heaven who gives eternal life if appropriated 6:43-51
3) The Jews began to argue because He said that His flesh must be eaten 6:52
4) Jesus affirms that He, the Bread, is appropriated by trusting in Him as the atoning sacrifice for our sin 6:53-59 (cf. Lev. 17:10-14)
5) Many of the disciples found this statement difficult and therefore did not believe or follow Him any longer 6:60-66
6) Simon spoke for the Twelve as believing because Jesus had the words of eternal life, but Jesus identified that one, Judas, who would depart--betray Him 6:67-71
3. Conflict three: When Jesus returns to Jerusalem there is a resumption of hostility towards Him 7:1--10:21
a. At the Feast of Tabernacles Jesus teaches in the temple whereupon the people respond by challenging His authority, rejecting Him and wanting to kill Him 7:1-36
1) Setting: 7:1-2
2) Jesus refused to publicly present Himself publicly (in the caravan) going up to Jerusalem as His brothers argued, but privately entered the city later during the feast seeking the best opportunity in view of the hostility of the Jews 7:3-13
3) When Jesus went up into the temple to teach and was questioned by the Jews about where He received His learning, He turned the question around insisting that He teaches from God and if they were seeking God they would recognize this 7:14-18
4) Jesus exhorts the Jews to repent concerning their rejection of Him because He does not break Moses’ law any more than they when they circumcise on the Sabbath 7:19-24
5) In the confusion of the people who wonder why Jesus is being allowed to teach if the rulers are seeking to kill Him and questioning Jesus’ Messiahship because they know of His origin (cf. Mal. 3:1, and Matt. 4:5ff), Jesus explains that He is Messiah and can demonstrate that authority because He was sent from God rather than Nazareth 7:25-29
6) While some believed in Jesus many did not and even tried to seize Him 7:30-36
b. When at the feast of Booths Jesus teaches on the eschatological work of the Holy Spirit (cf. Zech. 14:8, 16-19; cf. also Joel 2; Jeremiah 31, etc.) there is a varied response of belief and unbelief: seeing Him as a prophet or Christ, not as Messiah, as one who should be punished, and as one to be rejected 7:37-53
1) The discourse 7:37-39
2) The varied response 7:40-53
c. Jesus proclaims Himself to be the light of the world and as existing before Abraham, whereupon the Jews seek to stone Him2 (8:1-59)
1) The Sign: Jesus exposes the sin of the leaders and forgives the sin of the woman (cf. 1:4-5, 9) 8:1-11
2) Dialogue: Through a dialogue, Jesus demonstrates himself to be the “Light of the World” as he wrangles with the religious leaders who reject Him exposing their sin 8:12-59
a) Jesus proclaims that He is the Light of the World who exposes and forgives sin (cf. Isa. 9:2) 8:12
b) When Jesus is accused by the Pharisees of bearing false witness of Himself, He argues logically against them exposing their error 8:13-19
(1) Jesus is accused by the Pharisees of bearing false witness of Himself 8:13
(2) Jesus proclaims that His self-witness is true because He knows his origin and destiny with the Father (unlike the Pharisees), and thus only He could speak of these things 6:14
(3) Jesus proclaims that they judge according to themselves (alone), but He judges with the Father (two witnesses) 6:15-16
(4) Jesus proclaims that His testimony is in agreement with the requirements of the Law (Dt. 17:6; 19:15) as both He and The Father testify to His identity (being the only ones who could) 8:17-18
(5) Jesus proclaims that they demonstrate that they do not know Him, the revelation of the Father 8:19
c) Jesus proclaimed to the Jews that he was from the Father and was going back to the Father, but that they would not be able to follow Him, but would recognize who He was when they crucified Him causing many to believe in Him 8:21-30
d) Jesus told those Jews who had believed in Him that there was a freedom (sanctification) which will come to those who remain in the truth of His word 8:31-32
e) When the Jews objected to Jesus words about being set free since they have “always been free,” Jesus responded by affirming that they are slaves now to sin (even if they do not recognize it) and by trusting in Him as the Son of the Father they will be made free people in the sense of being free from the lord of sin--the devil who is their father 8:33-58
3) The Jews picked up stones to throw at Jesus but he hid Himself and went out of the temple 8:59
d. Jesus heals a blind man and the response is varied: some are uncertain; there is a division among the Pharisees, some reject Him but the healed man believes in Him3 9:1-41
1) The Sign: Jesus heals a man blind from birth in a manner which demonstrates Him to be the God of the OT as the light of the World 9:1-12
2) The Sermon/Dialogue: Through an examination of the man the Jews demonstrate their rejection of the light offered by Jesus, while the man comes to an awareness of who Jesus is as a believer (cf. notes, #19 for the progression of the man)
a) The Jews interview the man who confesses Jesus as a prophet 9:13-17
b) The Jews interview the parents of the man who refuse to identify Jesus because of their fear of the Jews 9:18-22
c) The Jews interview the man again demonstrating that they do not understand God, and the man proclaims that Jesus is from God 9:23-34
d) Jesus interviews the man leading him to the knowledge that He is the Son of Man, and to worship of Him 9:35-38
e) In a discussion with the Pharisees Jesus proclaimed that he has come to give spiritual sight to those who believe in Him but spiritual blindness to those who physically see but do not believe in Him 9:39-40
e. Jesus teaches that He is the Shepherd of Israel (unlike the Jewish leaders) whereupon He is rejected by some and accepted by others4 (10:1-21)
1) JESUS IS A SHEPHERD, NOT A THIEF: The sheep follow His familiar voice rather than run as from a thief 10:1-6
2) JESUS IS THE DOOR TO THE SHEEP NOT A THIEF: He protects and gives life to the sheep unlike the thief who kills and destroys the sheep 10:7-10
3) JESUS IS THE GOOD SHEPHERD, NOT THE HIRELING: He lays down His life for the sheep unlike the hireling who flees in danger 10:11-18
f. There was a mixed response to Jesus words (10:19-21)
4. Conflict four: At the feast of Dedication Jesus claims to be One with God in nature and the Jews attempt to stone Him even though others believed 10:22-42
a. Jesus claims absolute unity with the Father 10:22-33
b. Jesus justifies His claim to be one with the Father by claiming to be the individual who has realized the perfect union of man with God as judge--the Son of God 10:34-39
1) Jesus claims to be the Son of God like those in Psalm 82:6 10:34-36
2) Jesus supports His claim by the works of God which He does 10:37-39
c. There are mixed responses to Jesus 10:40-42
5. Conflict five: At the conflict in Bethany Jesus revealed Himself to be God by raising Lazarus from the dead, whereupon many Jews believed while the leaders rejected Christ and wanted to kill both Him and Lazarus 11:1--12:11
a. The Raising of Lazarus: Jesus as the purposeful, good lover of his people instills hope of the resurrection by raising Lazarus from the dead, but some in their rebellion refuse to believe, and seek to seize Jesus 11:1-57
1) Setting: Jesus learns though a message from Mary and Martha that Lazarus, whom he loves, he sick 11:1-3
a) Moving from general to specific the narrator identifies Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha whom Jesus loved to be ill 11:1-2
b) The sisters sent word to Jesus that the one whom he loved was sick 11:3
2) Jesus’ response: Jesus responds to the report about Lazarus by proclaiming the purpose of his death, by allowing time for Lazarus to die before he came, and by encouraging the disciples to go with him since he was going to raise him to increase their faith 11:4-16
a) Jesus proclaims the purpose of the sickness: to end in the glory of God 11:4
b) Out of true love for Mary, Martha and Lazarus Jesus remained two more days where he was 11:5-6
c) When Jesus suggested that they go to Judea the disciples questioned the wisdom of the choice in view of the hostility there, but Jesus explained that an accident would not occur, and that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, then the disciples went expecting to die with him 11:7-16
3) The people’s response: When Jesus came to where Lazarus was he learned that he had been buried for four days, and then comforted Martha and Mary in their expressions of grief, but the people watching misunderstood Jesus’ actions as impotence 11:17-37
a) Setting: When Jesus came he learned that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days, and many people had come to console Martha and Mary 11:17-19
b) Martha came to Jesus wishing that he had been there, and became convinced through discussion that Jesus as Messiah could raise Lazarus if he chose to, so she went to get Mary for Jesus 11:20-28
c) Mary came in great sorrow to Jesus also wishing that he had been there before Lazarus’ death, and Jesus wept over the effects of evil 11:29-35
d) The Jews who were watching Jesus with Mary misunderstood Jesus’ weeping to mean that he was impotent to help 11:36-37
4) Christ Responds: Even though Jesus faces the hesitancy of Martha, He explains that she is about to see the glory of God if she believes, and He, as God’s vindicated servant, raises Lazarus from the dead 11:38-44
a) Jesus came to the grave of Lazarus and asked that they remove the stone 11:38-39a
b) Martha objected to Jesus’ request (thinking that he wanted to see the body), and Jesus reminded her of their previous words (11:22-26) urging her that by believing she would see the glory of God 11:39b-40
c) When they removed the stone, Jesus visibly prayed to the Father so that all might understand that the Father was vindicating him, then Jesus ordered Lazarus to come out of the tomb, and when he came forth bound, he ordered them to unbind him and let him go 11:41-44
5) The response of the people to the raising of Lazarus: Although many believed, some did not, but identified themselves with the religious leaders who sought to kill Jesus for the “sake of the nation” 11:45-57
a) Many of the Jews present, beheld what Jesus had done and believed in Him 11:45
b) There were some Jews who saw what Jesus had done, but did not believe and thus identified themselves with the religious leaders in their rebellion 11:46-57
(1) Some people who were present went to the Pharisees to report what had happened 11:46
(2) The chief priests and the Pharisees under the leadership of Caiaphas become threatened by Jesus and resolve to destroy him in order that the nation might live (irony) 11:47-53
c) Jesus retreated from his public ministry to be with his disciples, and at the Passover the people wondered about him, and the leaders gave orders to turn him in so that they might seize him 11:54-57
b. Jesus determines to come to the Passover as the Lamb of God to be slaughtered by and for those who were pursuing Him as He comes to Bethany where Lazarus was 12:1
c. Mary anoints the feet of Jesus (foreshadowing His burial and announcing his Messiahship as King) at the dinner in Bethany where many respond in mixed ways 12:2-11
1) At a supper with Martha and Lazarus, Mary anointed Jesus feet with costly perfume 12:2-3
2) Judas objected to Mary’s “waste” of money, not because he was concerned for the poor, but because he pilfered the money box 12:4-6
3) Jesus responded to Judas’ rebuke, by defending Mary’s actions toward his honor 12:7-8
4) There are many different responses to Jesus presence for the feast 12:9-11
a) The multitude came to see Jesus and Lazarus 11:9
b) The chief priests plotted to murder Lazarus 12:10
c) Many were believing in Jesus on account of Lazarus 12:11
6. Conflict six: In Jerusalem Jesus exhorts the people to believe in Him but they will not, thus the nation enters into unbelief as the Gentiles come to believe in Him 12:20-50
a. The triumphal entry proclaims Jesus as Messiah publicly 12:12-19
b. When the Greeks came to see Jesus (the church in seed form) Jesus knew that His hour had come when He would be humiliated in death, like a seed, but this would lead to glory, so he exhorts those present to follow his example5 12:20-26
c. Jesus submits to the will of the father who confirms that He has been working in Jesus up to now and that He will in what lies ahead, and the people are exhorted to believe whereupon many do not, but some do 12:27-43
1) Jesus expressed his willingness to obey the Father in suffering, and the Father affirmed Jesus by expressing his intention to glorify His name 12:27-28
2) Jesus explained the voice, which the multitude heard, to have been for their benefit, and that judgment was now upon the world and the ruler of the world, as many (Greeks?) are drawn to Jesus as the crucified one 12:29-33
3) When the people ask Jesus who the Son of Man is, he exhorts them to believe in the light before them to become sons of light, then he departed from them 12:34-36
4) Many did not believe in Jesus thus fulfilling the national pattern of hardness spoken by Isaiah (53:1; 6:10) 12:37-41
5) Many rulers believed in Jesus, but did not express their faith because of the pressure of Pharisees 12:42-43
d. An Inclusio with the prologue: Jesus explains His ministry to Israel as the One who reveals the Father to them and offers eternal life if they will believe, but there will be a continuance in judgment under the Law of Moses if they do not 12:44-50
1) Jesus proclaims that belief in him is belief in the one who sent him 12:44-45
2) Jesus proclaims that he is light so that whoever believes in him will not stay in darkness 12:46
3) Jesus proclaims that those who reject his sayings are not judged by him but are judged by the Law of Moses which Jesus affirms, and whose words the Father affirms; Jesus has come to save 12:47-50
III. PREPARATION OF DISCIPLES: Jesus prepares His disciples for their continuation of ministry in His absence 13:1--17:26
A. While Jesus teaches the disciples to follow His example of spiritually cleansing one another, Judas decides not to follow Jesus, and enters the darkness without Him 13:1-30
1. In a context of commitment to His disciples, Jesus taught them to be involved in limited spiritual cleansing with one another encouraging them of their future effectiveness for Him while identifying one of them as a betrayer still in sin 13:1-20
a. In a setting of upcoming pain and hostility, Jesus chose to completely love His disciples 13:1-2
1) This event occurred before the feast of the Passover 13:1a
2) Jesus, knowing all that stands before Him, chose to love His disciples completely 13:1b
3) The Devil was tempting Judas to betray Christ 13:2
b. Taking the form of a servant, Jesus began a necessary, limited, spiritual cleansing of all His disciples, save one who actually needed a full spiritual cleansing 13:3-11
1) Having complete confidence in who He was, Jesus took the posture of a servant and began washing the disciples feet 13:3-5
2) Encountering resistance from Simon Peter, Jesus explained the necessity and essence of this cleansing as limited spiritual cleansing which all needed, except for Judas who was still completely in sin 13:6-11
a) Simon Peter resisted having Jesus wash His feet 13:6-8a
b) Jesus declared the necessity of Peter allowing Him to wash his feet 13:8b
c) Peter over responded by asking for a bath 13:9
d) Jesus explained that for all but one of them (Judas) a bath was not necessary because, unlike Judas who was going to betray him (sin), they were all clean 13:10-11
c. Having completed His humble service, and returned to His position as leader, Jesus instructed the disciples to cleanse one another of limited sin just as He had done 13:12-17
d. In order to identify His audience and encourage them, Jesus clearly stated that one of them would betray Him, but the others would be effective for Him 13:18-20
1) Jesus’ words were not for all of His disciples because one among them, in fulfillment of Scripture, would betray Him 13:18
2) Jesus foretold about His betrayer so that the disciples would be confirmed in their perception of Him as Messiah when the event occurred 13:19
3) Jesus’ disciples would be bearers of God to those who would receive them as proclaimers of Christ 13:20
2. When Jesus identified Judas as the disciple who would betray Him, he chose to betray Christ, and was empowered by Satan, and walked out of the light into the darkness 13:21-30
a. Generally, and then specifically to John, Jesus identified the one who would betray Him as one of them -- Judas 13:21-26
1) After teaching and encouraging those disciples who were committed to Him, Jesus focused on the sinful one by proclaiming that one of them would betray Him 13:21
2) Not being able to discern among themselves whom Jesus was talking about, Simon Peter asked John to ask the Lord whom He was speaking of 13:22-25
3) Jesus identified the betrayer to John as Judas Iscariot 13:26
b. Upon choosing to reject the offer of Christ, Judas was empowered by Satan, allowed to go by Christ, and left the Light for the darkness 13:27-30
1) After receiving the morsel, Judas made a decision to betray Jesus and Satan entered him 13:27a
2) Jesus exhorted Judas to do what he was going to do quickly 13:27b
3) The other eleven disciples did not understand what Christ was telling Judas to do 13:28-29
4) Judas chose to leave Christ and entered into darkness 13:30
B. Jesus teaches about His coming departure from the disciples to the Father who is heaven 13:31--14:31
1. When Judas had gone out, Jesus began to teach His disciples about His future glorification by the Father through which He would depart from them, and insisted that they could not follow Him, but needed to demonstrate to all men that they were His disciples through their love for one another, and that even Peter, in his zeal to follow Him, would deny Him three times before the cock crowed 13:31-38
a. Setting: Jesus began to teach when Judas had gone out 13:31a
b. Jesus proclaimed to the eleven that now the Father was going to be glorified in Jesus, and thus going to glorify Jesus 13:31b-32
c. Jesus told His disciples that they were not able to follow Him where He was going, but that in His absence they should demonstrate to all men that they are His disciples by loving one another 13:33-35
1) Jesus proclaimed to His disciples that He is going somewhere where they cannot follow Him 13:33
2) Jesus commands that His disciples love one another and thus demonstrate to all men that they are His disciples 13:34-35
d. In a dialogue with Peter, Jesus insisted against his objections that Peter could not follow Him now, and would indeed betray Him three times before the cock crows 13:36-38
1) Peter asked the Lord where He was going 13:36a
2) Jesus told Peter that he cannot follow Him now, but He will follow Him later 13:36
3) Peter questioned why he could not follow Jesus now since he was ready to lay down his life for Him 13:37
4) Jesus questioned Peter’s affirmation and prophesied that he would betray Him three times before the cock crowed three times. 13:38
2. Jesus encouraged His disciples to faithfulness in light of His upcoming departure from them and their fears 14:1-31
a. Jesus encouraged His disciples by giving them knowledge about what was going to occur 14:1-14
1) Jesus spoke of leaving and preparing a place for His disciples where He will take them 14:1-6
a) Jesus encouraged His disciples presently by urging them to not get stirred up, but to trust Him as they do God 14:1
b) Jesus informed His disciples about their future through His intention to go and prepare a place for them to dwell in the presence of God and that He plans to certainly return for them 14:2-3
c) Jesus informed His disciples presently that they know the way to be where He is going 14:4-6
(1) Jesus stated that they know the way where He is going 14:4
(2) Thomas questioned their knowing the way since they did not even know where He was going 14:5
(3) Jesus identified Himself as the way, truth, and life as well as His place of going as "to the Father" 14:6
2) Jesus strengthened His disciples’ confidence in Him by reinforcing for them His close relationship with the Father as God, and by affirming that the result their belief will yield great works through them 14:7-14
a) Jesus reinforced for His disciples His close relationship with the Father as God 14:7-11
(1) Jesus explained their confusion by their not perceiving who He was, and He assured them that they would understand later 14:7
(2) Philip demonstrated their misunderstanding by asking Jesus to show them the Father 14:8
(3) Upon chiding Philip for not being more perceptive, Jesus identified Himself with the Father and urged the disciples to trust Him, if not for His words at least for His works 14:9-11
b) Jesus taught His disciples that by trusting upon Him, being obedient to Him, and by acting and asking in accordance with His character, He would work through them 14:12-15
b. Jesus encouraged His disciples to express their commitment to Him by obedience because it will yield a reaction of commitment by God to them and thus a greater revelation of Himself to them 14:15-24
1) Jesus affirms that if the disciples love Him, they will keep His commandments 14:15
2) Jesus promises to give the Holy Spirit of truth to those in fellowship with Him which the world does not have because it does not even see Him, let alone know Him 14:16-17
3) Jesus promises to return for His own as for children, unlike the world, and that their close relationship will then be discerned 14:18-20
4) Jesus explains that obedience to Him will lead to a fuller disclosure of God to them 14:21-24
c. Jesus encourages His disciples while with them so they will not be stirred up or become cowardly, but will have confidence in their peace with God 14:25-27
1) Jesus assures His disciples of a Helper whom He will send for them, Who will teach and help them to remember 14:25-26
2) Jesus explains that the help which He has given them is a peace which is not like the world’s but should settle them since it is a peace with God 14:27
d. Jesus gives His disciples an illustration of love in how they should have responded to Him and how He would respond to the Father 14:28-31
1) Jesus explains to His disciples that commitment, or love, was not a part of their reaction to Jesus leaving; their reaction should have been rejoicing for Him 14:28
2) Jesus explains to His disciples that commitment, or love, is seen in what He does for them 14:29-31
a) Jesus prepared the disciples in order to enable them to believe in Him when events come to pass 14:29
b) Jesus obeyed the Father against the onslaught of the ruler of this world 14:30-31a
c) Jesus walked on to the place of His betrayal6 14:31b
C. Jesus teaches about the necessity for His followers to remain in fellowship with Him by loving others in order to bear fruit for Him 15:1-17
1. Jesus proclaims himself to be the true obedient son of God (cf. “vine” in Isa. 5:1ff) whose followers are disciplined at the hand of the Father in order to also produce fruit 15:1-2
2. Jesus identifies his audience to be those who are already cleansed by the word which he had spoken to them 15:3 (cf. 13:10)
3. Jesus exhorts his believing disciples to remain in fellowship (abide) with him in order to be able to bare fruit 15:4-5
4. Jesus explains the negative and positive consequences their relationship with Him 15:6-8
a. Negatively, if anyone does not remain in fellowship with him, that one will experience severe discipline 15:6
b. Positively, God the Father will work through anyone who is in fellowship with Jesus, so as to glorify Himself, and thus show to others that they are disciples of Jesus 15:7-8
5. Jesus explains that abiding in him means to obey his commandment to love just as the Father has loved him and He has loved them 15:9-17
D. Jesus teaches his disciples about how the world will hate them because it already hates Him in order to prepare them for this in His absence 15:18--16:4
1. Jesus explains to His disciples that the world will respond by rejecting them, even in their love, because they are of Christ and the world has rejected Him--Christ is our example 15:18-21
2. The world is guilty because of its rejection of Jesus, who demonstrated Himself to it 15:22-25
3. The disciples, through the Spirit, will also be a testimony to Christ 15:26-27
4. Jesus has a preparatory design in telling His disciples of their upcoming persecutions 16:1-4
E. Jesus teaches his disciples about the coming work of the Spirit in their lives 16:5-15
1. Even though the disciples are only focusing upon the absence of Christ in his upcoming departure, He explains the reason for His departure: it will be to their advantage--to send the Helper to them 16:5-7
2. Jesus amplifies His reason for going by discussing the work of the Holy Spirit with the World and with the Disciples 16:8-15
a. Jesus describes the Spirit’s work when He comes as convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment 16:8-11
b. Jesus describes the Spirit’s work when He comes as being the revealer of further revelation of Christ to the disciples 16:12-15
F. Jesus teaches his disciples about what will occur in their lives when he leaves them 16:16-33
1. In view of Christ’s departure and coming, He tells His disciples of their future relationship with God the Father and Him 16:16-28
a. Christ causes the disciples to be puzzled by prophesying that they will not seen Him and then they will see Him 16:16-18
b. Jesus explains the coming emotions of the disciples to His departure and return in the context of the world (they will weep and the world will rejoice with His departure) and with an illustration of a pregnant mother in that their joy will be great when they see Him again 16:19-22
c. Jesus explains that in the future the disciples will pray in His name and receive joy and a clear understanding of the Father 16:23-28
2. The disciples respond to Jesus by pretending to understand all that He is saying now 16:27-30
3. Jesus questions their assurances to Him in view of their future defection, but tells them of this so that later they may have confidence in Him amidst the tribulation 16:31-33
a. Jesus questions their assurances once again by prophesying of their future departure from Him 16:31-32
b. Jesus explains His purpose in telling of the future, namely, so that they will have confidence in Him when the tribulation of the world begins 16:33
G. Jesus intercedes in prayer for Himself, His disciples and the world 17:1-26
1. Jesus prays for Himself that God would restore to Him the glory which He had with the Father, and thus that He might glorify the Father 17:1-5
a. Jesus prays that the Father might glorify Him so that He might glorify the Father 17:1
b. Jesus illustrates how this reciprocal giving was done through authority on earth 17:2-4
c. Jesus asks for glory as He had before with the Father 17:5
2. Jesus prays for the disciples and other believers 17:6-24
a. Jesus prays for the disciples and not for the world because they have received His revelation 17:6-10
b. Jesus prays that in His absence the Father might keep the disciples unified 17:11-12
c. Jesus prays that the disciples might have Christ’s joy 17:13
d. Jesus prays for the authority of the disciples in that they might have unity with the truth and that all might have protection to share the truth 17:14-23
e. Jesus prays that believers (and especially the disciples) might see His glory in the future 17:24
3. Christ proclaims that his obedience is the basis for His prayer: He has made the Father known and will do so that they might know and make known God’s love 17:25-26
IV. PASSION AND RESURRECTION: Through the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus, He is demonstrated to be God’s satisfaction for the sin of mankind as the Passover lamb who is the Davidite, who has been vindicated by the Lord and is to be believed upon 18--20
A. Jesus, knowing what was coming, presented Himself to the soldiers, protected His disciples and stopped any rebellion by His disciples as the soldiers came to arrest Him 18:1-11
1. Setting: Jesus led His disciples across the Kidron valley to the garden, and Judas also led the Roman cohort, and temple officers to the garden to capture Jesus 18:1-3
a. After Jesus had spoken to His disciples, they all crossed over the ravine of the Kidron to the garden 18:1
b. Judas, knowing where Jesus would be, came with Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees for Him 18:2-3
2. The Arrest: When the soldiers came to capture Jesus, He, with full understanding of the will of the Father as the obedient Son, took the initiative to identify himself, protect His disciples, and stop any counter rebellion through His disciples 18:4-11
a. Having full knowledge of all things that were coming, Jesus went forth to Judas and the solders and asked them whom they were seeking 18:4
b. The solders replied that they were seeking Jesus the Nazarene, and He answered saying, “I am He,” whereupon they drew back and fell to the ground 18:5-6
c. Again Jesus asked the solders concerning whom they were seeking; they said, “Jesus the Nazarene”, and He affirmed that He was that One, and insisted that His disciples be released thus fulfilling His word that He did not lose any of those given to Him by the Father 18:7-9
d. Simon Peter drew a sword and cut off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave, but Jesus told Peter to stop fighting since he must do that which the Father has given him to do 18:10-11
B. Jesus is tried by the religious leaders and is demonstrated to be innocent of insurrection; He is also tried by the civil leaders and is demonstrated to be innocent, but handed over to be crucified out of the disloyalty of the Jews to Rome 18:12--19:16
1. The Religious trial:In an inquisition before Annas, Jesus is demonstrated to not be guilty of insurrection by his words, the abusive nature of the Jews toward Him, and the denial of Peter of even knowing Him in the court of Annas 18:12-27
a. The Roman cohort and the Jewish officers arrested Jesus, bound Him and led Him to Annas first, who was the father-in-law of Caiphas--the high priest that year and had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people 18:12-14
1) Simon Peter, who was enabled to enter the court of Annas by another disciple, denied that He was one of Jesus’ disciples as they warmed themselves at a fire in the court 18:15-18
2) Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus, and the other disciple, knowing the high priest, managed to bring Peter into the court of Annas 18:15-16
3) Peter denied being one of Jesus’ disciples to a slave girl as he warmed himself with those in the court at a fire 18:17-18
b. Jesus is questioned concerning insurrection by Annas, answers that He has not taught anything to His disciples than that which has been publicly proclaimed, is struck for His manner of speech to the high priest, and questions the validity of this since there is no witness that He has said anything wrong; Annas sent Jesus to Caiaphas 18:19-23
1) The high priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and His teaching with the question of insurrection in view 18:19
2) Jesus affirms that He has spoken all of His teachings openly to His disciples, and that they should ask them since they know what He said 18:20-21
3) Jesus was struck for the way which He spoke to the high priest, but He asked them as to why He was struck if they cannot bear witness of that which is wrong 18:22-23
4) Annas sent Jesus bound to Caiaphas 18:24
c. As Simon Peter was warming himself by the fire, he is twice identified as a disciple of Jesus, and twice denies it, whereupon the cock crowed 18:25-27
1) As Simon Peter was warming himself by the fire, they asked him if he was not one of Jesus’ disciples and he denied being one 18:25
2) One of the slaves of the high priest who was a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off asked Peter if he had not seen him in the garden with Jesus and he denied it again 18:26-27a
3) Immediately after Peter’s last denial, a cock crowed 18:27b
2. The Civil Trial: Pilate, though convinced of Jesus’ innocence, is forced by the Jews in their rejection of Jesus and their loyalty to Rome to hand Jesus over to them for crucifixion 18:28--19:16
a. Setting: The soldiers led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium early in the morning but did not enter so that they might “not be defiled” to eat the “Passover” 18:28
b. Pilot spoke with the Jews seeking their accusation against Jesus, and urged them to judge Him themselves, but they insisted that He was an evildoer, and that they did not have the right to put a man to death fulfilling Jesus’ words concerning the kind of death He was about to die 18:29-32
c. Pilot questioned Jesus about His kingship on behalf of the Jews whereupon Jesus proclaimed Himself to be a King proclaiming the truth but not one from this earth 18:33-38a
1) Pilot re-entered the Praetorium, summoned Jesus, and asked Him if He was the King of the Jews 18:33
2) Jesus asked Pilot if He was asking on behalf of Rome or the Jews 18:34
3) Pilot tells Jesus that He is asking on behalf of the Jews 18:35
4) Jesus answers Pilot’s question on behalf of the Jews by affirming that His Kingdom is not sourced in this world even though He is indeed a King bearing witness to the truth to which Pilot responded in irritation not understanding Jesus 18:36-38a
d. Pilot, not finding any guilt in Jesus, attempted to appease the Jews’ religious zeal by offering to release this “King of the Jews” as a Passover gift, but Israel demonstrated their evil by insisting upon the release of Barabbas who was a robber (guilty) 18:38b-40
1) Pilot went out again to the Jews 18:38b
2) Pilot proclaimed that he found no guilt in Jesus 18:38c
3) In an attempt to appease the Jews’ religious zeal Pilot offered to release the King of the Jews to them for the Passover, but they insisted that He release Barabbas, a robber 18:39-40
e. In an attempt to placate the Jews, Pilot had Jesus beaten and presented in a humble state so that they might not seek his death, but they insisted upon it because He made himself out to be the Son of God 19:1-7
1) Pilot took Jesus and scourged Him allowing some to mock Him and beat Him in the face in an attempt to placate the Jews 19:1-3
2) Pilot brought out a humiliated Jesus in whom he found no guilt, dressed as a mock king so that they might not insist upon Jesus’ death 19:4-5
3) When the Chief priests and the officers insisted that Pilate crucify Jesus, he again proclaimed Him as having no guilt and exhorted them to crucify Him, to which they cried that He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God 19:6-7
f. Pilate fearfully re-entered the Praetorium to question Jesus’ origin, received no response, threatened Him with his authority, and learned that his authority was not his but given to him by God and that the Jews (in Caiaphas) have even a greater sin 19:8-11
1) When Pilate heard that Jesus was the Son of God, He re-entered in fear the Praetorium again to question Jesus 19:8-9a
2) Pilot asked Jesus where He was from (considering the possibility of His being a demi-god), but Jesus gave him no answer 19:9b
3) Pilate proclaimed that He had authority over Jesus life and death to which Jesus explains that his authority was given to Him from above and that the Jews (in Caiaphas) have a greater sin under God’s authority 19:10-11
g. Even though Pilate continued to make efforts to release Jesus, He was forced by the Jews’ rejection of Jesus, and allegiance to Rome to deliver Him over to be crucified 19:12-16
1) Again Pilate made efforts to release Jesus but was threatened by the Jews that to do so would be an act of disloyalty to Rome 19:12
2) Pilot came out to the Pavement on the day of the preparation for the Passover and sat down on the judgment seat and sarcastically presented Jesus as their King 19:13-14
3) The people cried that Jesus should be taken away and crucified 19:15a
4) Pilate asked them if he should crucify their king 19:15b
5) The chief priest answered that they had “no king but Caesar” 19:15
6) Pilate delivered Jesus to them to be Crucified 19:16
C. The Crucifixion: As Jesus is crucified, He is demonstrated to be the true Passover Lamb who is the Davidite who provides for the sin of the world as their substitute 19:17-42
1. Jesus bore His own cross to Golgotha, was crucified with two other men and with the inscription “Jesus The Nazarene, the King of the Jews” on the cross in Hebrew, Latin and Greek 19:17-20
2. The Jews asked that Pilate change the inscription, but He would not 19:21-22
3. The acts in the crucifixion of Jesus demonstrated the function and work which He was performing on the Cross 19:23-37
a. As Jesus’ garments were divided by the soldiers He was the Davidite whose garments were divided (cf. Psalm 22:19) 19:23-25
b. People entered the family of God at the foot of the cross 19:26-27
c. Jesus suffered as out substitute on the cross as our sin (His thirst) was placed upon Him 19:28-29
d. Jesus paid for all of the sin of the world on the cross when He said “It is finished” (Τετέλεσται) and gave up His spirit 19:30
e. When Jesus is taken from the cross, does not have His legs broken, He is seen to be the true Passover Lamb who was the Davidite by a later repentant generation 19:31-37
1) Pilate agrees to allow the men to be taken down from the crosses; therefore, Jesus is not left hanging upon a cross as a criminal accursed of God according to Deuteronomy 21:23 19:31
2) Jesus does not have his legs broken by the soldiers when the examine Him thus fulfilling Scripture that He is the true Passover lamb (Ex. 12:10-46; Numbers 9:12), and the Davidite (Psalm 34:20) 19:32-36
3) Jesus is the One who will bring a repentant gaze by those of the nation in the tribulation (Zech. 12:10) 19:37
D. The Burial: In the burial of Jesus, two men of Israel demonstrate faith in Him by preparing His body for burial and placing him in a new tomb (probably Joseph’s) 19:28-42
1. Joseph of Arimathea, being a secret disciple of Jesus because of the Jews, received Jesus’ body from Pilate and took it away 19:38
2. Nicodemus, who earlier came to Jesus by night, brought the spices for Jesus’ burial and together with Joseph prepared His body for burial 19:39-40
3. Jesus was buried in a new tomb in which no one had been laid in a garden near the place where He was crucified because the Jewish day of preparation 19:41-42
E. Jesus is resurrected and appears to many bringing about belief in His followers 19:31--20:29
1. Mary, John and Peter come to realize that the tomb is empty 20:1-9
a. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb 20:1-2
1) Mary came early while it was still dark 20:1a
2) Mary saw that the stone was taken from the tomb 20:1b
b. Mary reported to Peter and John that Jesus had been stolen 20:2
c. Peter and John came to the tomb 20:3-10
1) Peter and John both ran to the tomb 20:3-8
a) They were running together 20:3-4a
b) John ran on ahead of Peter 20:4b-5a
c) John did not believe Mary 20:5b
(1) He saw the linen wrapping -- to him it would have appeared that Jesus was still there
(2) He did not go in to check it out any further
d) Peter came and went into the tomb and saw two things 20:6-7
(1) Peter saw the linen wrappings 20:6
(2) Peter saw the face cloth rolled up by itself 20:7
e) John came into the tomb with Peter and saw what Peter saw 20:8a
f) John now believed Mary that Christ was not there 20:8b
2) The disciples went away again to their own homes 20:10
2. Jesus appears to many 20:11-29
a. Jesus appears to Mary 20:11-18
1) Mary (seems to have followed the Apostles and) is now outside of the tomb weeping7 20:11
2) Mary beheld two angels and expressed her concern that Jesus had been taken away 20:12-13
a) The angels were at both ends of where Jesus’ body should have been 20:12
b) The angels asked why Mary was weeping 20:13a
c) Mary answers that she is upset that Jesus has been taken away 20:13b
3) Mary beheld Jesus 20:14-18
a) After speaking to the angels, Jesus came up from behind her outside of the grave 20:14a
b) Mary did not know that He was Jesus 20:14b
c) Jesus questioned Mary about why she was crying and whom she was seeking 20:15a
d) Mary, supposing Jesus to be the gardener, offers to move Jesus herself if there has been a problem 20:15b
e) Jesus spoke to Mary, calling her by name and she instantly knew who He was and clung to Him so as not to lose Him again 20:16-17a
f) Jesus told Mary that she did not need to worry since He was going to be around for awhile and told her to tell the others, which she did 20:17b-18
b. Jesus appears to His nine disciples 20:19-23
1) This occurs on a Sunday evening (the first day of the week) 20:19a
2) The doors are barred out of fear of the Jews 20:19b
3) Jesus appeared to His disciples
a) He appeared in the midst of them 20:19c
b) Jesus offered His disciples peace from their fears and the guilt of their recent conduct 20:19d
4) Jesus demonstrated Himself as a real person to calm their fears and to turn their sorrows into joy (cf. 16:20-22) 20:20
5) Jesus commissioned these disciples in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim forgiveness to men with the authority of heaven 20:21-23
c. Jesus appears to Thomas 20:24-29
1) Thomas doubted the resurrection of Jesus 20:24-25
a) He was not with the disciples when Jesus came to them 20:24
b) He had the testimony of the others 20:25a
c) He demanded empirical evidence of the resurrected Jesus 20:25b
2) Jesus appeared again to the disciples with Thomas eight days later and invited Thomas to investigate Him 20:26-27
3) Thomas acknowledges the Lordship and deity of Jesus 20:28
4) Jesus pronounces a blessing upon those who believe without seeing 20:29
F. John expresses belief as the effective design of this book 20:30-31
V. THE EPILOGUE: Jesus restores His followers to active service for Him in Galilee 21:1-25
A. Jesus appears by the Lake to love the disciples 21:1-14
B. Jesus reinstates Peter into the ministry 21:15-23
C. John provides information about the Gospel’s composition 21:24-25
1 Cf. Ezekiel 36:24-28; see also 1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5.
Jesus gives the Spirit in 20:22 and this is how one becomes a child of God. This is descriptive of the coming New Covenant (cf. Isa. 32:15; Joel 2:28-29; Ezk. 36:25-26). There is a connection between the gift of the Spirit and becoming children of God (being born of God cf. 1 John 3:9). He is describing the eschatological outpouring of the Spirit (cf. R. Brown, p. 139-141).
2 Background: (1) Textually this is a difficult passage: it is probably an authentic account even if it was not originally part of this Gospel. However, internally, it fits well with 8:12, 15, and 46.
(2) This may be a sign/sermon technique: Jesus demonstrates that He is the Light of the world by exposing and then forgiving sin (Sign), and then proclaims that truth in 8:12)
(3) This also fits with the Exodus motifs of Jesus as: Bread (6), Water (7), and now Light (8). Jesus is the new Moses
(4) The setting for 8:12 may also lie in the great Manorah lit in the court of the Women during the Feast of Tabernacles and extinguished at the end. It was to picture YHWH who led the nation as a pillar of light in the wilderness. Through it the nation acknowledged that they were in darkness and needed light. When the feast was over they went away with an unsatisfied thirst and in darkness.
3 Background: (1) Note in chapter 8 Jesus exposed sin as the “Light of the World,” now in chapter nine he demonstrates that He is the “Light of the World” by giving sight to the blind. If chapter 8 related to the exposing nature of light, chapter 9 relates to the directional nature of light.
(2) This is another sign/sermon: (1) He heals the blind man (9:1-12), (2) He deals with the reactions of the people to the miracle (9:13-41).
4 Background: (1) There is no break between chapters 9 and 10, (2) Jesus evaluates the leaders with Himself as the standard after they reject the miracle of giving sight to the blind, (3) In chapter nine the rulers claim to be the shepherds of Israel, and in chapter ten Jesus lists the tests of a shepherd.
5 His death must occur before He is free to reach out to the Greeks since the Jews will not receive Him.
6 Now as Jesus is being obedient to the Father, He focuses more on obedience for good to come.
7 Perhaps after John and Peter left, Mary decided herself to look into the tomb.
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
A Selected Bibliography For The Gospel Of JohnRelated Media
Barclay, William. The Gospel of John. 2 Vols. Revised edition. Translated by William Barklay. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1956.
Barrett, C. K. The Gospel According to St. John: An Introduction with Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text. 2nd ed. Philadelphia; Westminster Press, 1978.
Beasley-Murray, George R. John. Word Biblical Commentary, 36. Waco: Word Books, 1987.
Blum, Edwin A. “John.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty: New Testament Edition. Edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983.
Bowman, John. “The Identity and Date of the Unnamed Feast of John 5:1.” In Near Eastern Studies in Honor of William Foxwell Albright pp. 43-56. Edited by Hans Goedicke. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1971.
Brown, Raymond E. The Gospel According to John. The Anchor Bible, 29, 29a. 2 Vols. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966.
________. “The Gospel Miracles.” In The Bible in Current Catholic Thought pp. 184-201. Edited by John L. McKenzie. New York: Herder and Herder, 1962.
Bultmann, Rudolf. The Gospel of John: A Commentary. Translated by G. R. Beasley-Murray. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1971.
Culpepper, R. Alan. Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel: A Study in Literary Design. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983.
Dodd, C. H. The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel. Cambridge: At the University Press, 1968.
________. “The Portrait of Jesus in John and in the Synoptics.” In Christian History and Interpretation: Studies Presented to John Knox. Edited by W. R. Farmer, C. F. Moule, and R. R. Niebuhr. Cambridge: At the University Press, 1967.
Duke, Paul D. Irony in the Forth Gospel. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1985.
Fortna, Robert Tomson. The Fourth Gospel and Its Predecessor: From Narrative Source to Present Gospel. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988.
Guilding, Aileen. The Fourth Gospel and Jewish Worship: A Study of the Revelation of St. John’s Gospel to the Ancient Jewish Lextionary System. Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1960.
Harrison, Everett F. John: The Gospel of Faith. Everyman’s Bible Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1962.
Heinchen, Ernst. A Commentary on the Gospel of John. 2 vols. Translated by Robert W. Funk. Hermenia. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984.
Jeremias, Joachim. The Rediscovery of Bethesda: John 5:2. Translated by Vardaman, C. Burchard, D. Hume, and M. Zalampas. Edtied by Vardaman. Lexington: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1966.
Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John. The International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1971.
Mlakuzhyil, George S. J. The Christocentric Literary Structure of the Fourth Gospel. Rome: Editrice Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 1987.
Schnackenburg, Rudolf. The Gospel According to St. John. Translated by Devin Smyth et al. 3 vols. New York: Crossroad Publishing Company/Seabury, 1980, 1982.
Schnackenburg offers extensive bibliographic information with a general bibliography in volume I (pp. 579-609), and a supplement to that bibliography in volume III (pp. 487-492)
Talbert, Charles H. Reading John: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Fourth Gospel and the Johannine Epistles. New York: Crossroad, 1992.
Tasker, R. V. G. The Gospel According to St. John: An Introduction and Commentary. The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1981.
Tenny, Merrill C. “The Gospel of John” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 9. Edited by Frank Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981.
Wead, David W. The Literary Devices in John’s Gospel: A Dissertation. Basel: Friedrich Reinhardt Kommissionsverlag, 1970.
Williford, Donald Dee. “A Study of the Religious Feasts as Background for the Organization and Message of the Gospel of John.” PhD. Dissertation, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1981.
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
Bible Book Study Guide - MatthewRelated Media
Introductory Survey Of The Book
These can be very helpful in gaining a sense of the overall message and emphasis of the book.
Usually this is the systematic exposition of a biblical text in the form of a sermon, and is usually part of a larger series of messages on that book.
Bob Deffinbaugh: [Text, Word] (37 lessons coving much of Matthew. Some lessons may be by other speakers. Audio messages are available when a manuscript has not been posted.)
[Text, Word] (This is the first of a six part series dealing with Matthew 5:1—7:21)
Part of the Series: [Text, Word]
Study Helps And Related Materials
Jody Hooper: [Text, PDF, Word, PPT, Curriculum] (8 lessons on texts in Matthew)
[Text, Word, PDF, PPT, Curriculum] (9 lessons, 5 have parallel passages in Matthew-- as noted on the series page)
[Text, Word, PDF, PPT, Curriculum] (10 lessons on Holy Week, 6 deal with Matthew texts)
[Text, PDF, PPT, Curriculum] (11 lessons, 4 deal with texts in Matthew)
Bible Book Study Guide - JohnRelated Media
Introductory Survey Of The Book
These can be very helpful in gaining a sense of the overall message and emphasis of the book.
Usually this is the systematic exposition of a biblical text in the form of a sermon, and is usually part of a larger series of messages on that book.
Study Helps And Related Materials
Jodi Hooper: [Text, Word, PP] (8 Bible Lessons for Kidz, covering John 1-4, 9-10, 11)
[Text, Word, PDF, PP] (8 lessons for Kidz. While the series title focuses on Matthew and Mark, parallel passages in John are also dealt with.)
[Text, Word, PDF, PP] (10 lessons for Kidz which cover Holy Week in the Gospels)
Lesson 6: Who Are You? (John 1:19-28)Related Media
March 24, 2013
Several decades ago, “All in the Family” poked fun at the red-neck, blue-collar, bigots of America through the lead bigot, Archie Bunker. On one show, Archie told his wife Edith that he wanted to be on the bowling team so bad that he could taste it! He described the bowling shirts that the Cannonballers wore: All yellow silk, with bright red piping on the collar and sleeves. And on the back, there’s a picture of a cannon firing a bowling ball at the set of pins. He said, “When you got something like that on your back, Edith, you know you’re somebody!” (Raymond Gibson, Minister’s Annual [Abingdon, 1987], ed. by Jim & Doris Morentz)
That show was satirizing that a man could gain a sense of identity and importance from being a part of a bowling team and wearing a gaudy shirt. But that anecdote raises the questions, “Who are you? What is the source of your identity? How should your sense of who you are before God as a Christian shape how you live and what you do?”
Our text shows us that John the Baptist was a man who was clear on who he was not and who he was. He was also clear on who Jesus is. So he was able to point others clearly to Jesus as the only Savior whom they desperately needed.
At this point, we leave the prologue and begin a long section (1:19-12:54) that amasses testimony for Jesus as the Son of God, the one in whom all should believe. The rest of chapter 1 presents the witness of the forerunner, John the Baptist, to Jesus. Andreas Kostenberger (John [Baker], p. 53) points out two purposes for this section: “(1) to show John’s witness to Jesus at the inception of [Jesus’] ministry; and (2) to clarify John’s relationship to Jesus as one of witness rather than rivalry or antagonism.”
Back in 1:6-8, we saw three aspects of the Baptist’s testimony to Jesus: (1) he was not the Light; (2) he was sent to bear witness to the Light; (3) his aim was that all might believe through him. Those three points outline John 1:19-51: In 1:19-28, John testifies that he is not the Light; in 1:29-34, he bears witness to the Light; and, in 1:35-51, we see John’s witness bear fruit as several of his disciples believe in Jesus and begin to follow Him (C. H. Dodd, cited by James Boice, The Gospel of John [Zondervan], one-volume ed., pp. 49, 94; also noted by Kostenberger, p. 53). In this message, we will cover the first point, which we can state as it applies to us:
We need to be clear on who we are in God’s kingdom so that we can effectively point others to Jesus for salvation.
To appreciate this section, you have to use some holy imagination to put yourself in John’s sandals. God has called you to preach, even though you haven’t had any formal training. To be honest, you’re a bit different in how you dress and in what you eat. Rather than the common linen tunic, you wear a camel’s hair garment with a leather belt and your diet consists of locusts and wild honey (Matt. 3:4). You don’t quite blend in with the mainstream of your culture! You don’t go to the capital to launch your ministry, but are out in the tules. Your message isn’t exactly user-friendly or sensitive. Your opening line is (Luke 3:7), “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” A ministry consultant might tell you that you need to improve your public image!
But surprisingly, thousands are flocking out there to hear you preach. You’re baptizing many who repent for the forgiveness of their sins. And then, one day a delegation of nicely-dressed fellows from the religious “big boys” in Jerusalem arrives to check you out. They take you aside and ask, “Who are you?” It could be a bit threatening if you weren’t sure of your calling and your message! But John was clear on who he was not and on who he was. And because of that, he clearly pointed the religious bigwigs to Jesus.
1. To effectively point others to Jesus, we need to be clear on who we are not (1:19-21).
In this section, the apostle John sets up the tension that will mount between the religious crowd versus Christ and His true followers. In 1:19, he first mentions “the Jews.” John will use this term about 70 times (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans], p. 130). Sometimes he uses it in a neutral sense (e.g. 2:6); sometimes in a good sense (e.g. 4:22); but, more often he uses it to refer to the Jewish people and especially the religious leaders from Jerusalem who are hostile toward Jesus (ibid., 130-131). Because of John’s frequent use of this term, some have accused him of being anti-Semitic. But we need to keep in mind that John himself was a Jew (as was Jesus). John was not attacking Jewish people or what was right and good in Judaism. Rather, as D. A. Carson points out (The Gospel According to John [Apollos/Eerdmans], p. 142), he was trying “to controvert those who have so failed to appreciate their own heritage that they have failed to see its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.”
A. John the Baptist was clear that he was not the Christ (1:19-20).
Messianic expectations were running high in Israel as people longed for deliverance from Roman rule. Based on different promises in the Hebrew Scriptures, the people were expecting that one day God would send an especially great person, a mighty deliverer, who would represent God in a unique way and usher in an age of righteousness and peace, including deliverance from foreign rule.
So when the religious leaders in Jerusalem heard about John’s popularity, they decided that they had better check him out. He was a puzzling man to them. He was of priestly descent and he could have been a part of their crowd—living comfortably in one of the cities, dressing in conventional robes, and functioning as a part of the religious establishment. But instead he was living out in the wilderness in a very unconventional way. His message wasn’t friendly toward the establishment. He seemed a bit odd!
Apparently the religious delegation asked John if he were the Christ (the Messiah), or at least John sensed that it was implicitly behind their question, “Who are you?” The apostle John piles up phrases to indicate that the Baptist vigorously denied that he was the Christ (1:20): “and he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.’” It’s as if the apostle John is saying, “I myself heard him confess and not for one instant deny, and this is what he confessed, that he is not the Christ.” The Baptist’s strong reply left no room for further questioning along those lines.
B. John the Baptist was clear that he was not Elijah (1:21a).
The delegation tried a different tack (1:21): “What then? Are you Elijah?” It was a good guess. John looked like the description of Elijah, both in his rugged wilderness lifestyle and in his fiery message of judgment (1 Kings 17:4-6; 2 Kings 1:8-10). Malachi (the last O.T. prophet, 400 years before) states (4:5) that before the great and terrible day of the Lord, God would send Elijah the prophet to restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. This was taken to mean that before Messiah came, Elijah would come. But again, John’s answer was not ambiguous: “I am not.”
This denial seems to contradict what Jesus later stated, that John was the Elijah of Malachi 4 (Matt. 11:14; 17:11). Also, the angel who predicted John’s birth to his father Zecharias, cited the same prophecy and said that John would go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17). So why does John deny that he is Elijah?
There could be several answers. First, John probably knew that some Jews were expecting the literal Elijah, who did not die but was carried to heaven in a fiery chariot, to return in a spectacular way from heaven. John denied that he was this literal Elijah. But Jesus was not speaking of the literal Elijah, but of John coming in the spirit and power of Elijah. Also, John had a humble opinion of himself. He may not have seen as much significance in his ministry as Jesus did (Carson, p. 143). Leon Morris (pp. 135-136) observes, “Jesus confers on John his true significance. No man is what he himself thinks he is. He is only what Jesus knows him to be.” John was not interested in building a following after himself as a latter-day Elijah, but rather in pointing others to Jesus as the Christ. So John denied that he was Elijah.
C. John the Baptist was clear that he was not the Prophet (1:21b).
The delegation tries a third possibility: “Are you the Prophet?” John’s answers are growing increasingly short: “No.” He wants to cut off all this misleading speculation about himself. The religious leaders were referring to the prophet that Moses had predicted in Deuteronomy 18:15, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” The Jews distinguished between this latter-day prophet and Messiah (John 6:14; 7:40-41), but early Christian preachers equated the prophet that Moses predicted with Messiah (Acts 3:22; 7:37). But John doesn’t want to go there, so he just gives the terse reply, “No.”
At this point the delegation has nothing positive to put in their report to the leaders back in Jerusalem, so they repeat their question (1:22): “Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” This leads to John’s plain statement of who he is:
2. To effectively point others to Jesus, we need to be clear on who we are (1:22-28).
John was clear on who he was and on what his role was in God’s economy. His interchange with these leaders brings out three positive ways that John viewed himself:
A. John the Baptist saw himself as a voice of one crying out in the wilderness (1:23).
John 1:23: “He said, ‘I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” as Isaiah the prophet said.’” He was citing Isaiah 40:3. The point of the quotation is that it gives no prominence to the preacher whatever (Morris, p. 137). He did not say, “I am the great voice referred to by Isaiah in the Scriptures!” He did not say, “I am the important voice, the voice that will forever change world history. That is my exalted role!” Rather, he is just a voice, calling attention to the coming of the Lord. The imagery was that before a king would visit a town, a messenger would go before him to announce his coming. The townspeople would hurry out to clear away the obstacles and fill in the washed out parts of the road to smooth the way for the king’s coming. The messenger didn’t call attention to himself, but to the coming king. And John here makes it clear that the coming King is none other than the Lord. Messiah is God!
“Wilderness” here may have a spiritual allusion to the barren state of the Jewish religion (J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], 3:51). It had degenerated into religious ritualism and legalism, rather than a personal relationship with the living God. It is the tendency of all religions, including Christianity, to devolve from knowing God and walking with Him on the heart level into outward observance of rituals and rules. Whenever that happens, God raises up spokesmen to call people back to walking with Him. To do that, we have to clear away the obstacles of sin and fill in the ruts of ritualism that have robbed us of reality with God.
B. John the Baptist saw himself as one who baptizes the repentant in water (1:24-26a).
Some Pharisees in the delegation were still not satisfied with John’s answer. So they ask (1:25), “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” At this point, John could have gone into a lengthy discussion of himself and his role as the baptizer. But again, his reply with regard to himself is as brief as possible and then he directs things to Christ (1:26), “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know.” John waits until the next day to draw the contrast between his baptizing in water and Jesus’ baptizing in the Holy Spirit (1:29, 31-33). In verse 28, John identifies the location where John was baptizing as “Bethany beyond the Jordan” (the NJKV follows an inferior textual variant, “Bethabara”), distinguishing it from the Bethany that was near Jerusalem.
John’s baptism was unique. It was common for Gentile proselytes to Judaism to be baptized. And some Jewish communities practiced self-baptism for cleansing. But John was doing the baptizing and he was doing it on Jewish people, even calling on the Jewish religious leaders to repent and be baptized (Matt. 3:7-12). This surely would have been offensive to the racially and religiously proud Jews.
His baptism seemed to have two facets: First, it was a baptism of repentance in which those being baptized confessed their sins and prepared themselves for the coming kingdom of God (Matt. 3:2, 6; Luke 3:3). He exhorted those being baptized to bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance, as opposed to relying on their Jewish heritage for right standing with God (Luke 3:8-14).
Second, his baptism anticipated the coming Messianic baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt. 3:11-12; Luke 3:16-17). It was a sign to point people to the coming of the Messiah (John 1:31). John may also have seen his baptism as a rite of prophetic symbolism. The Old Testament prophets often performed symbolic acts to make their message more vivid. John may have been symbolizing through baptism the Old Testament prophecies that spoke of God cleansing His people before the coming of Messiah (Ezek. 36:25; 37:23; Zech. 13:1). But as with his role as a voice crying out in the wilderness, so with his role as baptizer: He was preparing people for the coming of the Lord, the Messiah. He was not building up his own following. The third way that John saw himself lines up with the first two:
C. John the Baptist saw himself as a lowly slave of Jesus (1:27).
After telling the religious leaders that they did not know the One standing among them (1:26b), John continues to describe Him (1:27): “It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” Rabbi Joshua ben Levi (A.D. 250) taught, “All manner of service that a slave must render to his master, the pupil must render to his teacher—except that of taking off his shoe” (cited by Kostenberger, p. 65). So John saw himself as a lowly slave and Jesus as such a worthy Master that John wasn’t even worthy to untie His sandal strap. To point people to Christ, we need to join John in esteeming ourselves less and exalting Christ more. People don’t need to be impressed with us, but with Jesus!
The world will always give us opportunities to esteem ourselves more highly than we ought, but those who are growing in godliness see themselves as unworthy slaves (Luke 17:10). The world will ask, “Are you the Christ?” While they may not go so far as to answer “yes,” there are plenty of self-inflated preachers who will say, “No, I’m not the Christ, but I’m glad that you noticed the resemblance!” “Well, then, are you Elijah or the Prophet?” “Well, you could say that I’m a lot like them. Yes, if Elijah were here now, I’m sure that we’d be best of friends because we’re so much alike!” Many of the TV preachers reek of pride. But genuine prophets, like John, don’t call attention to themselves, except to admit, “I’m just an unworthy slave. Jesus is the only worthy Master. Follow Him!”
3. When we’re clear on who we are in God’s kingdom, we can effectively point others to Christ.
We’ll see more of how John pointed these religious leaders to Jesus in our next study. In the study following that, we will see how he pointed his own disciples to Jesus. He wasn’t trying to hang onto them for himself or to build a following or a legacy to “John the Baptist Ministries, International.” John’s motto was (John 3:30), “He must increase, but I must decrease.” It’s a good rule to keep in mind when you get a chance to talk about spiritual things. Ask, who do you think Jesus is? Have you considered His claims? Have you read the gospels to learn about His supernatural life? Everything hangs on who Jesus is and what He did for us on the cross.
Also, the need of every sinner is to know Christ as Savior and Lord. That’s especially true of religious sinners. John easily could have thought that these religious leaders had it together spiritually. After all, they meticulously kept the Law of Moses. They went beyond the Law by tithing their table spices and keeping rituals of cleansing and other outwardly observable religious duties (Matt. 23). But their hearts were far from God (Mark 7:6-9). Religious sinners are often the most difficult to reach for Christ, because they are proud of their religion and blind to their pride. But they need to be confronted with the fact that in their midst stands One whom they do not know (John 1:26).
Here are four lessons from John the Baptist on how to evaluate accurately who you are so that you can point people to Christ:
First, if you’re only into religion rather than Christ, you will flatter yourself with your religious performance rather than humble yourself in the holy presence of Christ. These religious leaders didn’t go out to hear John preach so that they could repent and come to know God better. They were quite satisfied with their religious performance, thank you! They were there to bring John under their control so that more people didn’t follow him, because he threatened their comfy religious establishment. Their religion filled them with pride and kept them from knowing the Messiah and Savior. Religion is always the enemy of reality with God.
Second, you can only evaluate yourself correctly and point people to Jesus to the extent that you truly know Him. Ask yourself, “Do I have reality with God? Do I walk daily with Christ? Do I repent of my sins on the heart or thought level?” J. C. Ryle (3:48) observed, “It will be better at the last day never to have been born, than to have had Christ ‘standing among us’ and not to have known Him.”
Third, humility is essential for a correct view of yourself, but self-esteem is detrimental. That may shock you since self-esteem is viewed in evangelical circles as foundational for the Christian life. But that “doctrine” has only flooded into the church in the past 40 years thanks to Christian leaders importing it from worldly psychology.
When you read the godly men from the past, they consistently pit self-esteem against the self-denial and humility that Jesus commanded. John Calvin (The Institutes of the Christian Religion [Westminster Press], ed. by John McNeill, trans. by Ford Lewis Battles, 2:1:2) observed, “There is, indeed, nothing that man’s nature seeks more eagerly than to be flattered.” He goes on to point out that self-love is innate in us all and that people will flock to preachers who tickle their pride and build their self-esteem. But such talk only deceives us and drives us into utter ruin (see also, Calvin, 2:8:54; 3:7:5; 3:8). In commenting on John’s humility, J. C. Ryle (3:44-45) said, “Never shall we feel the need of humility so deeply, as when we lie on our deathbeds, and stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. Our whole lives will then appear a long catalogue of imperfections, ourselves nothing, and Christ all.”
Fourth, whatever your gifts and calling, you can do as John did and point people to Jesus. John’s aim was to deflect attention from himself and to exalt Christ as the one worthy of all glory. As we’ll see in verses 29 & 36, he pointed everyone to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Sinners need their sins forgiven. By offering Himself as the substitute for sinners, Jesus will forgive the sins of all that trust in Him. Tell people that wonderful news!
- What obstacles (1:23) keep people from coming to the Lord? How can we help remove them to “make straight” His way?
- Why are religious sinners the most difficult to reach with the gospel? How can we try to break through their pride?
- John was pretty blunt in his witness, as was Jesus (Matt. 3:7; 23:1-36). Is there a place for us to be so blunt? Consider Col. 4:5-6 & 2 Tim. 2:24-26.
- What is true humility? How can we grow in it? Is there a legitimate place for pride in our (or our kids’) accomplishments?
Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2013, All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation
Lesson 7: Who is Jesus? (John 1:29-34)Related Media
April 7, 2013
I was listening to NPR last week as I was getting ready for the day. They were interviewing a screenwriter who has a new movie coming out. He mentioned to the interviewer that he was brought up as a Catholic and he views himself as a sinner. The radio host was surprised at this, as if viewing one’s self as a sinner were a quaint hang-up from a bygone era, which this young man needed to put behind him.
I was also listening when NPR gave a synopsis of the new Pope’s first Easter message. Their report said that it was basically a message calling for peace all around the world. I thought that maybe the press missed something, so I went online and read the full text of the Pope’s message. While he did mention Jesus’ resurrection (after all, it was Easter!), in the entire message, which millions around the world would either hear or read, the Pope never presented the gospel, that Christ died for sinners so that whoever repents of sin and trusts in Him will have eternal life. He did say that God wants the Good News to enter every heart, but then he told his hearers (huffingtonpost.com, 3/31/2013), “Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious!” He made it sound as if Jesus’ resurrection means that everyone has already been freed from the power of sin and can love others.
Those NPR reports show that we live in a world where the notion that we are sinners needing a Savior from God’s judgment is really out of sync. The same idea came through in a tribute that Frank Schaeffer wrote about his late mother, Edith Schaeffer. He said (huffingtonpost.com, 3/30/2013), “Mom first introduced me to a non-retributive loving Lord who did not come to ‘die for us’ to ‘satisfy’ an angry God but came as a friend who ended all cycles of retribution and violence.” Really? Having read many of her books, I can’t imagine Edith Schaeffer approving of that statement. But the statement fits with the spirit of our age.
I share those stories to illustrate that we live in a time when few understand the biblical gospel or the need for that gospel. If we aren’t sinners, then we don’t need a Savior. If God isn’t absolutely holy and just, then we don’t need a Savior who died to satisfy God’s wrath against our sin. If He is “non-retributive” and “loving,” then we don’t need to fear His judgment. All we need is a “friend” who can urge us all to be more loving to each other.
John the Baptist did not preach that kind of message. His message was (Matt. 3:2), “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” His opening line to the religious leaders was (Matt. 3:7), “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” And his description of Jesus, as reported in John’s Gospel (1:29) was, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” In other words, in contrast to the stories that I just mentioned, John preached that we are all sinners and that we need a Savior to atone for our sin so that we do not face the wrath of God. John pointed people to Jesus as that Savior, and so should we. John’s witness to Jesus tells us that…
To be faithful witnesses, we need to tell people clearly who Jesus is.
From our text’s description of John the Baptist’s witness to Jesus we can learn five things about who Jesus is that will help us point others to Him:
1. Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb that every person needs to atone for his sins (1:29).
John 1:29: “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” That verse is so familiar that it doesn’t shock us, but it should. That was a radical thing for John to say about a young Galilean carpenter to a bunch of Jewish people who for centuries had offered their sacrificial lambs at the temple! “This man is the One whom God has sent to be what all of those thousands of lambs over hundreds of years have symbolized! And He is not only the Lamb that God sent for Israel, but also for the whole world!”
But although the title, “the Lamb of God,” is familiar to us, it is used only here (and in 1:36) to describe Jesus and so scholars debate exactly which lamb John was referring to. In Revelation (5:6, 9, 12; 7:17; 12:11; 13:8; 17:14; 19:7; 21:22-23; 22:1-3), John often refers to Jesus as the Lamb, but he uses a different Greek word. Some think that in our text he was referring to the Passover lamb, whose blood spared the Israelites from the loss of their firstborn (John connects Jesus with the Passover lamb in 19:36). It could refer to the lambs that were offered as morning and evening sacrifices at the temple (Exod. 29:36-42). Others say that it refers to the lamb of Isaiah 53:7, who died to bear the sin of many (see Isa. 53:3-12). Or, it could refer to the lamb that God provided as a substitute so that Abraham did not have to sacrifice his “only” son Isaac (Gen. 22:7-13).
Leon Morris is probably correct when he states (The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans], p. 147), “He used an expression which cannot be confined to any one view. He is making a general allusion to sacrifice.” He adds (p. 148), “All that the ancient sacrifices foreshadowed was perfectly fulfilled in the sacrifice of Christ.” J. C. Ryle (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], 3:55) wrote, “It meant that Christ was the great sacrifice for sin, who was come to make atonement for transgression by His own death upon the cross.” He adds (3:57), “He is describing our Lord’s official character as the great propitiation for sin.”
Let’s consider verse 29 phrase by phrase. We’ve already considered “Lamb.” “The Lamb of God” means that Jesus is the supreme Lamb and the only Lamb that God has provided to take away our sins. There is no other. “Of God” means that God sent Jesus to bear our sins. He is God’s gift to us (John 3:16). “Takes away” signifies “atonement, and that by substitution” (Morris, p. 148). He was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). He died so that sinners who trust in Him will not incur God’s judgment. Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself put an end once for all to all of the Jewish sacrifices (Heb. 9:24-10:18). “Takes away” is also in the present tense, signifying the ongoing sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice and the fact that it is available at all times for every sinner who will trust in Him.
“Sin” is singular, heaping together all the trillions of sins in human history into one gigantic pile. It also means that Jesus not only took away the guilt of our many individual sins (1 Pet. 2:24), but also the guilt of the inborn sin that we inherited from Adam (Rom. 5:18). “Of the world” does not mean that Christ paid the penalty for every sinner who has ever lived, because then all would be saved. It refers to people in general, both Jews and Gentiles, not to people without exception. As John puts it (Rev. 5:9), You “purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” “Of the world” also points to the adequacy of Christ’s atonement for any person, no matter how terrible that person’s sins may be. Christ invites all to come to the feast that He has prepared (Luke 14:16-24; Rev. 22:17).
There is one more word in John’s proclamation: “Behold.” It’s a command to look to Jesus. John doesn’t say, “Look at me! I’m a great prophet!” He doesn’t say, “Look at your good works; they will save you.” He doesn’t say, “Look at your religious rituals; they will put you in good stead on judgment day.” He doesn’t say, “Look at your religious heritage or your church attendance.” He says, “Look to the Lamb of God!” Jesus saves sinners who look in faith to Him.
This reminds me of the story of Charles Spurgeon’s conversion. He was 15 years old and both his father and grandfather were pastors. Young Spurgeon had read many solid Puritan books that presented the gospel, but it didn’t get through to him. He agonized over his sins so much that if a 15-year-old did this today, we’d consider him mentally unbalanced!
Then one snowy day, Spurgeon could not get to his normal church, so he turned down a side street and came to a small Primitive Methodist Chapel. There were about 12-15 people there that day. The minister didn’t make it because of the snow, so a man from the church went into the pulpit and began to preach on Isaiah 45:22, which in the King James Version reads, “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” He began (C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography [Banner of Truth], 1:87),
“My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pain. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just, ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look.”
Then he pointed out that the text says, “Look unto Me,” not to yourself. He went on about ten minutes or so telling everyone who Christ was that they were to look to. He seemed to be at the end of his tether when he looked directly at young Spurgeon and said (1:88), “Young man, you look very miserable. And you always will be miserable—miserable in life, and miserable in death—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.” Then he shouted, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.” Spurgeon said that he had been waiting to do fifty things, but that word “look” cleared away the clouds. He looked to Christ and the boy who would go on to become the greatest preacher of the 19th century was saved! And you will be saved too, if you look in faith to Jesus, the Lamb that God provided to take away your sins.
I’ve spent the most time on verse 29 because it is the most crucial verse for everyone to understand. I’ll be briefer on the rest.
2. Though He was a man, Jesus is greater than the greatest of men, because He is eternal God (1:30-31).
John 1:30-31: “This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” We already considered the first part of this verse when we studied 1:15. As I pointed out then, the phrase, “for He existed before me,” could be translated, “because He was first with respect to me.” We don’t know whether John the Baptist was aware that Jesus was the eternal Son of God in human flesh, but he may have spoken better than he knew. The apostle John came to know that Jesus is the eternal God. In John 8:58, Jesus told the skeptical Jews, “Before Abraham was born, I am,” which clearly refers to His eternality as Yahweh (Exod. 3:14). So verse 30 reinforces both Jesus’ humanity (He was born after John) and His deity (He existed before John).
When John says, “I did not recognize Him” (1:31, 33) he means, “I did not recognize Him as the Messiah and Lamb of God who is to be manifested to Israel until I came baptizing in water.” God had revealed to John that the One on whom he saw the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven would be the Messiah. It’s interesting that John does not report the actual baptism of Jesus, but rather focuses on the purpose of John’s baptism, which was to reveal Jesus to Israel as her Messiah. And our purpose when we have opportunities to talk to others about Jesus should be to let them know that He is eternal God in human flesh, the promised Messiah of Israel, who came as the Lamb of God to bear our sins.
3. As a man, Jesus was filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit (1:32).
John 1:32: “John testified saying, ‘I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.’” The other gospels (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22) report that this happened when John baptized Jesus. Some argue that because it is said that the Spirit descended as or like a dove, that it wasn’t an actual dove that came down on Jesus. But if that is so, I don’t understand what John and Jesus saw, since the Holy Spirit is invisible. Luke (3:22) says that “the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove.” So there was some visible manifestation of the Spirit that looked like a dove to those who saw it.
The meaning of why the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove is not clear. A rabbinic tradition links the dove with Genesis 1:2, when the Spirit of God hovered over the waters in creation (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John [Apollos/Eerdmans], p. 153). The dove may point to the gentleness and purity of the Spirit (William Hendriksen, John [Baker Academic], p. 100), but we can’t be sure.
But the Old Testament was clear that the Messiah would be anointed by the Spirit. Isaiah 11:2 states, “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 42:1 prophesies, “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.” Or, Isaiah 61:1-2a (which Jesus quoted of Himself, Luke 4:18-19), “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord ….”
Jesus was not destitute of the Holy Spirit before His baptism, but the revelation of the Spirit coming on Jesus and the voice from heaven affirming that Jesus was God’s beloved Son, in whom He was well-pleased, was a revelation of the Trinity at the outset of Jesus’ ministry (Ryle, 3:64). John’s statement that the Spirit “remained upon Him” shows that this was not a temporary arrangement, but that Jesus’ entire ministry would be characterized by the fullness of the Holy Spirit. By living as a man in dependence on the fullness of the Holy Spirit, Jesus showed us how we should live. He is uniquely God’s anointed one (= “Messiah” or “Christ”).
4. As the eternal Son of God, Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (1:33).
John 1:33: “I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’” John’s baptizing in water, which was symbolic, is contrasted with Jesus’ baptizing in the Holy Spirit, which is the real thing. Jesus promised the disciples that it was to their advantage that He go away so that He could send the Holy Spirit to be with them and to dwell in them (John 14:16-17). That promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and empowered them to bear witness to the risen Lord Jesus Christ. This fulfilled several Old Testament prophecies that God would pour out His Spirit on His people in the last days (Isa. 32:15; 44:3; Ezek. 36:25-27; Joel 2:28-32 [see Acts 2:17-21]).
Since Jesus promised to send the Spirit from the Father (John 15:26), it attests to Jesus’ deity as the eternal Son of God. While all three persons of the Trinity are equally God, there is a hierarchy in which the Son submits to the Father and the Spirit to the Son to carry out the divine plan for the ages.
There is debate among Christians as to whether all believers receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit at conversion or whether we should seek it as a second blessing. J. C. Ryle (3:66) argues that the baptism of the Spirit refers to the Spirit’s imparting new life at the moment of regeneration, and I agree with him. Paul told the carnal Corinthians (1 Cor. 12:13), “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” When God saves us, He imparts new life through the Holy Spirit, who comes to dwell in us (Rom. 8:9). “Baptism” pictures total identification with Christ and an abundant supply of the Spirit for our every need.
So I think that it’s incorrect to teach that believers should seek to be baptized in the Spirit. But I also think that we’re wrong if we do not continually seek the Spirit’s fullness in greater measure. The baptism of the Spirit is once-for-all, when He imparts new life to us and comes to dwell in us. But the filling of the Holy Spirit is not a once-for-all done deal. We need repeated fillings of the Holy Spirit to resist temptation, to grow in godliness and the fruit of the Spirit, and to bear witness for Christ. I think it was John MacArthur who was asked why we need to be filled with the Spirit over and over again and he said, “Because I leak.” Yes! Finally,
5. Jesus is the Son of God (1:34).
John 1:34, “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” Several early, important manuscripts read, “This is the chosen one of God,” referring to Isaiah 42:1. Because it is less likely that a copyist would have changed the familiar, “Son of God,” to the less familiar, “chosen one of God,” Leon Morris and D. A. Carson think that “chosen one” was the original reading. Both are true of Jesus, of course, but the critical Greek texts and almost all modern translations adopt “Son of God” as original. This is the first of many references in John that “state either explicitly (1:49; 5:25; 10:36; 11;4, 27; 19:7; 20:31) or implicitly (3:16, 17, 18, 35, 36; 5:19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26; 6:40; 14:13; 17:1) that Jesus is the Son of God” (Colin Kruse, John [IVP Academic], p. 84).
While believers are children of God through the new birth, Jesus is the eternal Son of God. He stands in a unique relationship with the Father. The Jews recognized that when Jesus called God His own Father, He was making Himself equal with God (John 5:18). To be faithful witnesses, we must show people that Jesus is the eternal Son of God in human flesh, the Lamb of God who atoned for the sins of all who believe in Him.
Knowing who Jesus is can keep us strong when difficult circumstances may cause us to doubt. Later, when John the Baptist was in prison, he began to doubt whether Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus didn’t seem to be the kind of Messiah that John had envisioned. He probably thought, “If He is the Messiah, then why doesn’t He get me out of prison? Why doesn’t He judge the wicked Herod for his sins?” Jesus answered those doubts by referring to how He fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah 35. He said (Matt. 11:4-6), “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
We need to know for ourselves and then proclaim to our world the good news of who Jesus is and what He came to do. We are sinners and He is God’s only Savior from sin. We dare not compromise those truths to fit in with our adulterous and sinful generation (Mark 8:38).
- If someone said to you, “I believe in a non-retributive loving Lord who did not come to ‘die for us’ to ‘satisfy’ an angry God but came as a friend,” how would you respond?
- Discuss: While Christ’s example and teaching are important, His death as the substitute for sinners is absolutely essential.
- Pentecostal Christians argue that Acts (1:5; 2:38; 8:15-17; 10:44-46; 11:16; 19:5-6) teaches that the baptism of the Spirit is subsequent to salvation and is accompanied by speaking in tongues. How would you answer these claims?
- How can a Christian be filled with the Holy Spirit? Are there degrees of being filled with the Spirit? Support with Scripture.
Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2013, All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation