Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (1)

The Beginnings

John 1:1-18

 

Introduction

 

            In this Bible Study series we will be studying the teachings of Jesus as found in the Gospel of John. We will not study all the verses in John, but especially pick out the teachings of Jesus which John recorded. However, our first lesson will be introductory, to establish the foundations from the beginning.

 

            John’s Gospel is quite different from the other three: Matthew, Mark and Luke, who wrote what we call the Synoptic Gospels. Synoptic means “to see with or together”. Although they have distinctive purposes, they view the life of Jesus in the same way. As Luke wrote, they attempted to “write an orderly account” so that people like Theophilus could know the “certainty of what they had been taught”. Luke 1:3-4 They emphasize facts and history, including many of Jesus’ parables. 

 

            John’s writing seems much deeper - going not just back to Jesus’ birth, but back to His beginning. He seems to be intent on establishing the fact that Jesus was much more than a carpenter - that He is God. And as God He must be believed and followed. John quoted many teachings of Jesus that are not recorded in the Synoptic Gospels. Of course, as John noted, many things that Jesus said and did were never recorded. John 21:25 The writers of the Gospels had to be selective in what they included. Of course, they were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write what they did, so we know that they didn’t leave out anything we should know. John stated very clearly his purpose for writing his Gospel. It was so that we readers might “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing we may have life in His name.” John 20:30-31

 

Read John 1:1-18

 

I. The Word

 

A.      John begins “in the beginning” just like Genesis, but his “beginning” seems to antedate the Genesis beginning unless we cut off the first sentence of Gen. 1:1  and read only “In the beginning God..” Where did Jesus begin? With Mary? With David? With Abraham? With Adam? Can we find His beginnings in the genealogies? We can’t find His beginning at all!  He was just “in the beginning”. He is “the Word” which in Greek is “logos”. It means “God speaking”. Here we see so clearly 2 Persons of the Trinity. If there were only one, John could not say “the Word was with God”. That would be like saying that I am with myself, which doesn’t make sense.

B.      So we understand that John is speaking of 2 of the 3 Persons of the Trinity. But then he says, “the Word was God”. God is one. Jesus, the Word, is truly God and yet with God. He is God the Son today sitting at the right hand of God the Father. In the beginning He was with God. (v. 2) It was the Father and the Word who conferred on the creation of man. Gen. 1:26 These two verses establish the eternal existence of God the Son; the position of the Son in the trinity; and the eternal fellowship and unity of the Father and the Son.

 

II. The Creator, Life and Light

 

A. How vitally important is the Son? Reading on, we find that He is the Creator, He is Life and He is Light. Col. 1:16 Paul enumerates what was created by Him: “things in heaven, and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities”. Even the invisible things or powers that we are unaware of were created by Him. And Paul goes on to say that they were not only created “by Him” but “for Him”. They belong to Him! Even the devil who tempted Him was created by Him and belongs to Him. There is nothing else. All are within the circle of His creation and His ownership.

 

            B. Paul also, like John, establishes Jesus’ eternal existence and present sustaining power. Col. 1:17 He has no antecedent, and He holds everything together, including Satan, demons, and all unbelievers who reject or oppose Him. This is the power and glory of the Man who was born in a stable, was flogged by Romans, was spit on by the high priest’s servants, and was nailed to the cross. It’s almost incomprehensible. Somehow John was given deeper insight than others and was able to comprehend it.

 

            C. John wrote next: “In Him was life”. He was life and that’s why He was able to create. Life flowed out of Him in the creation. No one but He has been able to create life out of nothing. And it is His life that still sustains our life! And yet the One who is Life died! How can life die? I guess that’s what happens when sin enters. Sin kills life. Sin and the curse gradually kill our bodies. We are in the process of dying. The spiritual life dies when sin is allowed free rein. So there is no life in Satan or the demons - only death. They are “living dead” beings along with the people who are outside of God’s grace. Rom. 8:6-8

 

            D. John describes the Son further by equating life with light. The only light there is is in the life of the Son. Life = light. That’s why when a person comes to Christ, light floods in on him. He who has been full of death and darkness is now full of life and light. The problem is that most people don’t get it. Have you experienced that flood of life and light or is your Christianity only head knowledge? The Light is even now shining in the darkness. The Greek NT translates it: “The darkness was unable to overtake or conquer the light.” The Amplified Bible says: “The darkness has never overpowered it - put it out; or has not absorbed it, has not appropriated it; and is unreceptive to it.” Darkness cannot put out light or absorb light. Darkness doesn’t put light to use. It is unable to accept and comprehend it. On the other hand, light overpowers darkness. It puts darkness out. It absorbs or eats up darkness as it spreads. This is why it is so important to remember that Jesus is the Light of the world, and He said we are the light of the world. Matt. 5: 14-16

 

III.  The witness

 

            A. The story of Jesus’ ministry begins with John the Baptist. Jesus was not the only One who was sent from God. John was, too. It’s a privilege to be sent from God to serve Him. At His first appearance to the disciples after His resurrection Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” John 20:21 John’s name gives us the reason God sent him into the world. John means “The Lord is gracious”. The patient Lord is gracious to His lost and dying people. He is not willing that any should perish. How full of grace are we to others, and especially those who are lost and dying in our time?

 

            B. What was John the Baptist’s ministry? He came as a witness. A witness of what? Like a witness at a trial, he was to establish the authenticity of the main character. A lawyer will question the witness about the person on trial. Is he who he says he is? And is his character what he says it is? John was to point to and speak up for the Light. He was like someone in a dark tunnel pointing to the light of a torch up ahead that pushes away the darkness and shows the way out. The reason his job was so important was that all those in darkness (all of us) need the light. It is through Him (the Light) that all men have a chance to believe. He is our only hope. John the Baptist was showing the way out of the darkness by pointing to the only Light.  There are not many ways and many lights as some say. There is only One. John the Baptist was not himself the Light, but only a witness to the light, just as we are not the Light, but only a witness to and reflection of the Great Light - Jesus Christ.

 

IV.  The unknown Owner

 

            A. To whom was John witnessing? To the One who was coming into the world. Who was He? “The true light that gives light to every man.” He is the Creator, the Light, the Life, the One who sustains all life. The Christmas story is the most amazing thing this universe has ever seen. The Creator Himself who sustains all life He created, came into His world. That’s shocking! And John’s next sentence is almost as shocking. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, it did not recognize Him. How dull can we people be? This was why John the Baptist was needed. He was saying, “Look! Here He is, the One whose coming was prophesied, the Hope of the ages. Don’t you recognize Him?”

 

            B. The Owner came to His world, His land, His people. His own didn’t receive Him for the most part. In fact, they rejected, despised and crucified Him - the Owner!  You will remember Jesus’ parable of the Tenants in Luke 20:9-19.  When the owner of the vineyard sent his son to his vineyard, the wicked tenants threw him out and killed him. In that parable Jesus prophesied what would happen to Him.  The good news is that there were (and are) some who received Him. It’s true that they were (and are) only a remnant or small minority but they were (and are) especially blessed because instead of rejecting Him they received Him. They all belonged to Him by creation, but only the few actually became His beloved children.

 

            C. How? This is an important verse because it shows us 2 major truths. First, all men are not children of God. We have to become children of God. We had no rights. He chose to give us the right of sonship. Second, this verse tells us what “believing in His name” really means. It means receiving Him instead of rejecting Him. This is all of grace, through faith. These became children but not from natural descent. Some people think they are Christians because their father or mother is a Christian. These children are not born of human means. They are ”born of God”, and are therefore children of God. God gives birth (new creatures in Christ) to those who open the door of their hearts by faith to receive the rejected Owner as their personal Owner.

 

V. Glory, grace and truth

 

            A. John continues explaining about the Word - the self-existent, eternal One who became flesh - wonder of wonders! He came down to make His dwelling among us, His creatures!  John could say as an eye-witness who was at the Mount of Transfiguration, “We have seen His glory”. John, Peter and James saw Jesus in His glory as God. That wasn’t just any glory. It was the glory of the “One and Only”. It is not true as some claim that we are sons of God in the same way that Jesus is. We are adopted into the family like abandoned or abused children who have been mistreated by their parents (ours being Satan). We who have no rights are brought into God’s family and given the “right” to be called “sons of God”. (v. 12) , all on the basis of faith and grace. But there is only one “One and Only”. Jesus is unique as the Only Begotten Son of the Father. He came from the Father, was sent by the Father, and is exactly like the Father - full of grace and truth. There is no ungrace or untruth in Him as there is in us.

 

            B. John testifies about the Son saying that the One who comes after him has surpassed him because He was before him. How could one person be at the same time after, surpassing and before? God had revealed to John that he was to precede the One who would come after him, to announce His coming and to prepare the way for Him. The One coming was the focal point - not John. He, the Son, was far ahead in every way though He followed in time. How can one person say of another, “He will come after but He was before”? John knew about the incarnation. This cousin of his, born 6 months after him, was the pre-existent One and Only Son who came down from the Father.

            C. Verses 14-17 emphasize grace and truth. The One and Only was full of grace and truth. How has His grace benefited us? He is so full of grace that the blessings of it run over the edge into our lives. Grace is like that. It blesses everyone around it. Our problem is that we have so little grace that there is only a trickle of grace to run over to others. Not so with Christ! We just keep receiving one blessing right after another. John summarizes the whole plan of God in one verse. v. 17 God used Moses to give us the law. We needed it because we are like children who don’t know the rules. First, we have to know what is right and wrong. God gave us something to measure by - the Law. It helps us know what God expects and how far we have fallen from that goal. Then came Christ! Recognizing our failures we can then see how much we need a Savior. His coming brought us the only grace and truth there is - and our only hope.

 

Conclusion

 

            How do we get to know the invisible God? No one has ever or can ever see God the Father. And yet, seeing Jesus is seeing God. Knowing Jesus makes it possible for us to know the Father. He who is “God the One and Only” reveals the Father to us. We can read about the Father in the Old Testament, but in Jesus we see the pictures, hear the words and observe the actions of the Father. He is the image of the invisible God.  Col. 1:15, 19 This is why it is so important to pay close attention to the parables and teachings of Jesus. In them we come to know the Father as Jesus reveals Him to us. In this Bible Study series let us listen to Jesus’ teachings with our heart to learn all we can about our invisible God.

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (2)

The New Birth

John 3:1-21

 

Introduction

 

            One of the most important conversations that Jesus had with anyone was with the man named Nicodemus.  Who was Nicodemus? He is not mentioned in the Synoptic Gospels, and in the Gospel of John only 3 times. He was a Pharisee, and in fact a member of the Jewish ruling council. John 3:1 That means that he was a very important man among the Jewish religious leaders. But it was the religious leaders who repeatedly opposed Jesus and who finally took Him to Pilate to be crucified.

 

            We find that sometime later, after his conversation with Jesus, Nicodemus tried to protest the condemnation of Christ without giving Him a hearing. John 7:45-52 The temple guards had been sent to arrest Jesus, but they didn’t bring Him in. When asked why, they said, “No one ever spoke the way this man does.” The members of the ruling council were angry and asked them if they, too, had been deceived. “Have any of the rulers or Pharisees believed in Him?” they said. Nicodemus was there. He didn’t say, “I believe in Him”, but he did question why they were condemning Him without first listening to Him to find out what He was doing. They insulted him, “Are you from Galilee, too?” It seems that Nicodemus had listened carefully to the conversation He had with Jesus, and had believed or was at least close to believing, but he didn’t have the courage to say so against the whole ruling council.

 

Read John 3:1-21

 

I.  Nicodemus wonders

 

            A. As a member of the Jewish ruling council, Nicodemus was right in the middle of a nest of criticizers and hateful, bigoted men. I can imagine the things he heard in the council. Probably Jesus was the chief topic - especially His cleansing of the temple. It seems that Nicodemus had been watching and listening to Jesus from a distance - maybe together with other Pharisaical murmurers. He had probably seen some miracles and heard some of Jesus’ teaching. All that he had heard and seen made him wonder enough to seek for Jesus at night, alone, in the dark. He didn’t want anyone to know his thoughts. If they knew, they would put him in the same context as the Man they planned to kill.

 

            B. Nicodemus had come to some conclusions about Jesus. He called Him “Rabbi” or “Teacher”, signifying respect for His teachings. Next he said, “We know you are a teacher who has come from God”. He was not ready to call Jesus the Messiah or Son of God, but he did acknowledge that He was sent from God. The other Pharisees didn’t believe that. They even called Jesus a son of the devil. What proof did Nicodemus give for his belief that Jesus had come from God? He said that no one could perform the miraculous signs that Jesus had if God were not with him. Nicodemus was doing some serious thinking about who Jesus was and how He could do the miracles He did.

 

II.  Being born again

 

            A. Jesus was not flattered by Nicodemus’ nice words. He didn’t need his compliments. Looking into his heart, Jesus saw that this man had a longing to be included in the kingdom of God, but that he was going to miss it if he didn’t make a complete turn-around. Jesus, in mercy, side-stepped talk of miracles and teachers and said, “If you really want to see the kingdom of God (of which I am King!) you will have to be born again”. He was saying to Nicodemus, “You can’t make it as the person you now are, even though you have a high religious position. No one, including you, will enter the kingdom without a new birth. ”Nicodemus asked a rather dumb question: “You mean he has to enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born?” You would think that he could somehow catch on that to be born again meant to become a different person.

 

            B. Again Jesus said, “I tell you the truth..” He was emphasizing the importance of what he was saying so that Nicodemus would take it seriously. Jesus went on to explain that there are 2 kinds of birth. One is birth by water. That’s our physical birth when the bursting of the sack of water helps to bring about the birth. The other is of the Spirit of God. Then He gave a further explanation: “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” In the first, the flesh of the child is born from the flesh of his mother and father. In the second, a new person is born in the spirit from the Holy Spirit. It’s like we are either only flesh - a body - that has an empty spirit or we are complete - body & spirit. The new spiritual man lives in a temple of flesh - the body. Jesus added, “You shouldn’t be surprised at my saying, ‘You (all) must be born again.’” There are teachings in the Old Testament that point to the new birth, but are not as specific as this.

 

            C. You can witness a birth in the flesh, but you really can’t witness a spirit-birth. It’s true that with observation you can eventually detect fruit or not. That helps you identify whether the new birth has taken place. But Jesus says the new birth is like the wind. You can feel it and see the evidence of its blowing, but you can’t tell where it comes from or where its going. The new birth will produce evidences (fruit) in the life, but there is a lot of mystery to it which we can’t explain. Nicodemus was skeptical about how this new birth could be the pre-requisite of entrance into the kingdom. He was unable to grasp the spiritual element in the new birth.

 

III.  Earthly or heavenly things

 

            A. Jesus was astounded that “Israel’s teacher” didn’t understand spiritual things. How could he lead Israel spiritually without being able to understand basic spiritual truth? It is sad thattoday many church leaders and TV evangelists are trying to lead their people when they themselves don’t understand spiritual truth.  Why don’t they understand? They are like Nicodemus, knowing many things about scripture, but not knowing the Lord as their personal Savior. They have not been born again themselves. It’s as if Jesus were saying, “With all your education and training as a religious leader, you don’t actually know anything because you have not entered the realm of the Spirit of God, and He has not yet entered your spirit” (which He does at the new birth).

 

            B. Jesus referred to Himself and His disciples, then, who were probably with Him: “We speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen.” Jesus told Nicodemus that He, a carpenter, and His followers, fishermen and common people, were eyewitnesses and had experienced what He was talking about. Then Jesus made His accusation: “Still you people do not accept our testimony.” To whom was Jesus referring? The Jews, the Pharisees, even the Council of which Nicodemus was a member.  Jesus went on to say that if Nicodemus couldn’t believe earthly things, how could he believe heavenly things? If people don’t accept the teaching of the new birth and are personally born again, they can’t understand any other spiritual things, including the Bible. Jesus was saying, “What I am teaching you is elemental. How in the world then can you understand the heavenly things I have witnessed and experienced?” Then He identified Himself as the Son of Man. It’s as if Jesus were saying, “An eyewitness and resident of heaven is here to inform you. If you don’t believe Him, who will you believe?” He is the only One who “came from heaven”. It’s as if Jesus were saying, “If you want to know about heavenly things, ask the One who lives there - Me!”

 

IV.  The brazen serpent and the cross

 

            A. Some of Jesus’ greatest and best known teachings were given primarily to this one doubting man, Nicodemus. Of course, the disciples, or at least some of them, were probablythere, or John would not have been able to record this conversation. We, all, are like ears down through the ages listening in on their conversation. So far, Jesus has taught Nicodemus (and us) about the new birth, and that He was the Eyewitness sent down from his home in heaven - the Son of Man. Verses 14 to 18 summarize the gospel in a clear and succinct way. They are the best known and most loved verses in the Bible.

 

            B. First, Jesus explains why the Son of Man, the true Witness, has been sent down from heaven. He refers back to the story of the Israelites in the wilderness in Numbers 21:4-9. The murmuring, rebellious people spoke against God and against Moses, accusing both God and His servant Moses of bringing them out of Egypt to die in the wilderness. They said there was no bread or water, but God had provided both during their entire journey, sending down the manna from heaven and giving them water from a rock.  They even went so far as to call the heaven-sent manna “miserable food”! How incredibly ungrateful they were. Now Jesus was indicating that He was the heaven-sent “Manna”, but Nicodemus and the other rebellious Jews were not accepting Him or grateful for this gift of God to them.

 

            C. In punishment for the rebellion of His people, God had sent poisonous snakes among them . Many of the people died from snake bites. Finally the people repented of their sin of speaking against the Lord and Moses. They asked Moses to pray for them, which he did. The Lord told Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Anyone who was bitten could look by faith at this provision of God and live. We have been bitten by Satan, our own fleshly lusts, and the things of the world.  Now Jesus took this symbol of judgment - the snake - and pointed out how it would be the instrument of salvation as the snake on the pole was. Up until this time no one knew that snake on the pole was pointing ahead to the cross. Actually even after hearing how the Son of Man must be lifted up, I don’t think that Nicodemus understood until the day he saw Jesus hanging on the cross. The Son of Man had to be lifted up on the instrument of judgment - the cross. That cruel, ugly cross became the instrument of salvation to the millions who believe in Him, making it possible for them to have eternal life.  From a worldly viewpoint neither the brazen serpent nor the cross make sense. I Cor. 1:18

 

V.  The gospel or good news

           

            A. It’s not believing in the wooden cross or the metal pole that saved. It is the One on the cross as it was the serpent on the pole which saves! Why? Because those are the Father’s chosen instruments of salvation. It is the repentance and faith of the one who lifts his eyes to God’s chosen Savior that brings him back from death to life. How beautifully Jesus summed up the whole gospel in one verse which we have memorized. He put it into simple words that even a child can understand. The only thing we need to clarify is that “believe” means as it did in John 1:12 “believe and receive”. It is not just something we know in our minds. It is a commitment to the One who died for us. Notice God’s actions: He gave His precious Son; He sent His Son. Why? Because He loved the world so much that He wanted to save the world through Him. Rom. 5:8

 

            B. The purpose of Christ’s first coming was salvation, not condemnation. This condemnation of which Jesus spoke is not only future. Everyone in the world at this moment either stands condemned like a criminal or is not condemned like the innocent. What is the basis for this? It is simply belief in Jesus Christ, Son of God. Belief in Him means not being condemned while unbelief means being already condemned. Everyone stands or falls on the basis of his repentance and faith (or lack of it) in God’s One and Only Son sent to redeem us. It’s as if we are all standing in a court of law waiting for the verdict of the judge. But the verdict has already been decided by our belief or unbelief. The Almighty Judge delivers His verdict. You want to know why you are condemned? Light has come into the world in the Person of Jesus Christ, but men (including Nicodemus) loved darkness instead of light. It boils down to this: Who or what do you love? Do you love the light brought by the One who is Light and Life, or do you love darkness where you can hide?

 

            C. Everyone who does evil hates, is afraid of, and avoids the light. Isn’t Adam a good example of one hiding from the Light because he did evil? Light exposes ugliness and dirt. That’s why those who love to be ugly and dirty hate the light. Jesus’ teachings made the light so bright that it exposed all the hidden evil of the religious leaders, including Nicodemus. On the other hand, whoever lives by the truth comes into the light. The one living by God’s Word has nothing to hide. He is like a transparent window. He comes into the light, not so that people can see his good deeds and praise him, but they will praise the Father in heaven. Matt. 5:16 The one who is not afraid of the light is not proud of himself. He is proud of God! He wants everyone to know that what has been done has been done through God. God gets all the credit.

 

Conclusion

 

            Was Nicodemus ever born again and a disciple of Jesus? Yes, it seems as though he was. As far as we know, he never showed himself publicly until after Jesus’ death when he helped Joseph bury Jesus’ body. John 19:38-42 Maybe he and Joseph were both dealing with bad consciences for not speaking up for Jesus and trying to prevent His crucifixion, since they were both members of the ruling council that tried and condemned Jesus. I’m glad that they treated the body of Jesus with such respect, but how much better it would have been if they had joined Him while He was still alive.

 

            How about us? Have we joined Him? Have we believed and received Him and been born again? And are we telling others about the great good news that Christ has died for them and they can be free of their sin and no longer condemned? We mustn’t hide this truth, but care for those who are lost like Jesus cared for Nicodemus.

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (3)

The Woman at the Well

John 4:4-30, 39-42

 

Introduction

 

            As we have seen before, the Pharisees were always trying to stir up trouble for Jesus. Here we read that they were spreading the word that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John was. John 4:1-3 Actually, their facts were only partially true. It was true that more disciples were following Jesus than those following John the Baptist. In fact, some of John’s disciples left him to follow Jesus. But Jesus was not actually doing the baptizing. His disciples were. Jesus, in hearing this rumor, decided to leave Judea where John was. It seems that Jesus felt it would be wise to leave the vicinity of the Jordan to John in order to ease this seeming competition which could be confusing to the various disciples. Actually, they were not in competition at all. John prepared the way for Jesus and pointed to Him as the expected Messiah and Lamb of God. John 1:29-31

 

Read John 4:4-30, 39-42

 

I.  The meeting

 

            A. If we look at the map of Palestine, we see that the shortest route for someone traveling from Judea to Galilee as Jesus and the disciples were, was through Samaria. But it was not the custom of the Jews to travel that way because of their discrimination against the Samaritans. They went out of their way, crossed the Jordan, and then crossed back again to Galilee or went by boat across the Sea of Galilee. John records: “Now Jesus had to go through Samaria.” Why did He have to go through Samaria when the Jews never went that way?  He had an appointment with a woman!  No one knew about it except Jesus. He knew that there was a woman in Samaria who desperately needed help. Jesus had gone out of His way to teach against discrimination, which was a real problem for Jews. He reached out to Romans, Samaritans, tax collectors and “sinners”. Here He makes contact with a Samaritan sinner. In the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus made a powerful point against discrimination. Here He lives it out before the eyes of His disciples and the Samaritan villagers.

 

            B. Jesus stopped in his travels near Sychar, significant to the Samaritans because it was the land that Jacob gave Joseph, and Jacob’s well was there. The disciples left to find food because it was noon. Jesus was tired from the journey, so He sat down by the well. We must never overlook the fact that Jesus was 100% man. He was resting - and waiting! A Samaritan woman came to draw water. Why was she drawing water all alone at noon? The other women didn’t come till late afternoon when it was cooler. It was a kind of social event for them.  This woman had no desire to see the other women. Sychar was not a big place and she had probably stolen some of their husbands. She may have been popular with the men, but she was very unpopular with the women. She saw Jesus there and knew at once that He was a Jew. Then He shocked her by asking for a drink.

 

            C. The woman immediately disclosed the reasons for her amazement; “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan”. That was enough reason for them to avoid each other and definitely not drink from the same cup. There was another division between them: “You are a man and I am a woman.” This woman did of course speak to men, but it was unthinkable for a Jewish man to speak to her publicly. She didn’t mention the fact that she was immoral and He was pure, but probably that was self-evident in the way she dressed and walked. She asked in surprise: “How can You ask me for a drink?” That would mean that He would be drinking from her “contaminated” container held by her fingers - unthinkable! If the other disciples had been there they would have said so.

 

 

 

II. Living Water

 

A. This despised, immoral, half-breed woman was about to receive the greatest revelation in all time and eternity. How ironic that of all the people in Israel at the time, Jesus should choose to reveal Himself to her! The important religious leaders were not the ones to whom Jesus said these words. Did Jesus see inside this decadent woman a longing to be clean and whole? Or maybe He just decided in His grace to reach down to rescue a hopelessly lost and helpless one in order to being glory to God for His mercy. Jesus just ignored the woman’s attempt to get into an argument about discrimination.  John 4:10 The woman didn’t know with whom she was speaking or the gift He had to offer. How could she guess that she was having a personal conversation with God the Son? And that He as God was the “spring of living water”? Jer. 2:13

 

            B. The woman thought that Jesus was talking about getting living water from the well. But He had nothing to draw water with. Where would He get this living water? Then she challenged Him: “So You are supposed to be someone great? Well, how do You match up with our father Jacob who gave us the well and drank from it with his sons and flocks?” Obviously she was very proud that she could claim Jacob as their father, and this well as their well. It was as if she were saying, “Don’t forget that this belongs to us, not to you Jews!”  But Jacob was the father of 12 sons who founded the 12 tribes that lived throughout Palestine - not just in Samaria. Jesus could have argued that the Samaritans were half-breeds. Discrimination dies hard if you have been discriminated against.

 

            C. Jesus didn’t argue the point. He only made it clear that although the well was great and the water a blessing, it was a short-lived blessing that slaked the thirst only for awhile. Then came the bombshell: “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.” What is thirst? It’s longing, lust or desire that cries out for satisfaction. Men thirst for money, for sex, for drugs, for fame, for food, for pleasure. But as the song says, they drink only to be thirsty again. He was telling her, “You want to know where I will get the water? The water is in Me, and when I give it to you it becomes a spring of water in you. This living water satisfies all your deepest needs, and the spring never stops. It wells up to eternal life.” Did she really understand that the gift He was offering her was living water leading to eternal life? In John 7:37-39 John explained that this living water is the Holy Spirit. He lives within those who give their lives to Christ, satisfying every thirst if we let Him. We no longer need to be thirsting for harmful things.

 

III. Need for repentance

 

            A. Jesus is so wise and insightful in dealing with this woman. He has aroused in her heart a desire for living water. Of course, she doesn’t really know what it is. And her reasoning is selfish - she wants to save herself from trips to the well.  But at least the longing is now there. This is what the Holy Spirit does in our hearts, giving us a longing for something much better than we have ever known. But she cannot receive the living water until she faces herself honestly and repents - turning around and going the opposite direction. It is the same with us. No matter how much we long for the living water and eternal life, we can never have it until we see ourselves as God sees us and repent. Jesus started that process for her when He told her to go call her husband.

 

            B. Now the woman was caught but she didn’t know that she was about to be totally unmasked. She answered, “I have no husband”, hoping that it would end the discussion. It didn’t! Jesus turned the searchlight of His divine knowledge on her and revealed her as He saw her. He said, “It’s true that you don’t have a husband, but you have already had 5 husbands and the one you are now living with is not your husband.” Who knows how many men she had lived with? Some were her husbands and some were not.  Probably some were other women’s husbands. These words must have shocked the woman like a lightning bolt. She could have turned on her heel and left Him at the well, but she didn’t. However, she did try to divert His attention away from her sinful lifestyle. People often do this when we are trying to witness to them about Christ - the one and only Way to God. It is so hard for us to be honest and confess the truth about ourselves.

 

IV.  Place of worship

 

            A. After that revelation, the woman said, “I can see that You are a prophet”. He certainly had to be someone special with spiritual insight to know at their first meeting what went on in her bedroom. She had challenged Him on the superiority of “their” well and “their” father Jacob. Now she brings up the primary cause of strife between Jews and Samaritans - their place of worship. They worshipped according to their tradition in the place where their fathers had worshipped. “You Jews” sounds derogatory. It’s as if she were saying, “You claim that you know what’s right for us - worshiping in Jerusalem - but we are following our fathers who worshiped here - on Mount Gerizim”. Her words echo down through the centuries and come out of the mouths of people from every religion today. We Christians know that Jesus is the only Way to the Father, but they believe that their “fathers”/founders/prophets/holy men must have been correct because people have followed them ever since.

 

            B. The woman had tried to divert Jesus’ attention away from the problem of her sinful lifestyle, but no one ever managed to divert Jesus’ attention. Living water is the primary point, not places of worship. Jesus predicted her salvation when He said that the time was coming when she, and many of the people of Sychar, would worship the Father neither on their mountain nor in Jerusalem. He did not talk about worshiping God, but about worshiping the Father. Instead of following their fathers, they would be born into the family of God and He would be their Father.  They would worship Him in spirit and in truth, not just in actions and meaningless rituals. He was telling her that she was present in that time for which the forefathers had yearned - when there would be those who truly worshiped the Father because He had become their Father. How wonderful that she and her people would be among those who would first understand and experience true worship!

 

            C. All of this is possible because the Father is seeking that kind of worshiper. He cares little for places of worship, methods of worship, worship songs, etc. He longs to be actually worshiped in our spirits and in truth, not just putting on a show of “worship” through place and ritual. The reason this is so important is in the definition of God. Who or what is He? He is Spirit. It’s interesting that Jesus in the flesh, who is God, defined God as Spirit. Of course, even as He said it, the Spirit within Him was God robed in human flesh. How do we reach the invisible God? We can reach Him only in worship that is from our spirit and is in truth. Satan and his demons also desire worship. This was the reason for their rebellion against God. We must be discerning of false gods and false teaching or we may end up worshiping the enemies of God.

 

V. New birth for Samaritans

 

            A. The woman knew enough about scripture to know that Messiah would be coming. She had faith to believe that everything would be wrapped up in Him and all questions answered. As far as we know, Jesus had not revealed His identity as Messiah to anyone. But He reveals it to her. Why to her? Underneath her rough exterior He must have seen a longing heart for something better - living water, true worship, and the Messiah Himself. Besides that, Jesus planned to minister to the whole town of Samaritans who would have no other way to know Him.

 

            B. The disciples returning at that point were amazed to find Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman. They didn’t ask any questions but I’m sure that they were shocked at finding Jesus spending time like this. The woman didn’t wait to find out what they thought. In her rush to spread the news in the town, she left her water jar at the well. I’m sure her jar was an important item to her, but she had something more important on her mind. Picture this unpopular, despised woman running into town instead of slinking down the back alleys. I can imagine that the open, excited look on her face caused as much commotion as herwords. “What’s happened to her?” they must have thought. How did the adulteress become an evangelist? She gave her testimony as eyewitness. “He could read me like a book!” Then came her question, which I think was already a fact in her mind, “Could this be the Christ?” Her words and the look on her face convinced the townspeople to come out and make their way to the well.

 

B. While the disciples were thinking about food, Jesus was thinking about a human harvest. Their eyes were on lunch and He was trying to get them to open their eyes to the harvest of souls in the towns around them. John 4:31-35 Are we so preoccupied with food and other worldly things that we miss the people who are ready to be harvested for Christ? Then the disciples were privileged to see the harvest of Jesus’ sowing in the life of the woman. Her testimony was so strong and sincere that many Samaritans believed on Jesus because of her. The villagers were so impressed that they begged Jesus to stay with them. They were wiser than their countrymen who did not welcome Jesus on His way to Jerusalem. Luke 9:52-53 Jesus accepted their invitation and stayed 2 days. During those days there was a greater harvest, as many of them became believers, saying, “We know that this Man really is the Savior of the world.”

 

Conclusion

 

            We learn from this story of the importance of sharing with only one person the gospel of hope in Christ. It is important for 2 reasons. The first is that every single person is precious in God’s eyes. It doesn’t matter how bad his background or how different his nationality or language. We must never forget that “God so loved the world...” When God looks at the world, He sees each individual, and loves each one. The second reason it is important to share the gospel and our lives with only one is that that one may become a great worker for God. Certainly no one would have thought that this immoral, half-breed woman had the potential of becoming an evangelist!  But her repentance and faith in the One who had forgiven her turned her into a flaming torch for Jesus.  If you have failed in your life and feel that you cannot tell others about Christ because you are ashamed, remember that when you have repented and been washed, you are a new creature. God puts you on a new path and you have the privilege of humbly testifying to others about Him and what He has done for you.

 

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (4)

Testimonies about Jesus

John 5:16-47

 

Introduction

 

            This chapter begins with a miracle. Certainly that was a great and blessed event in the life of the healed man, but our emphasis in this series is to concentrate on the teachings of Jesus, so we look at the miracle only for the background to Jesus’ teaching that followed. John 5:1-15 A man who had been an invalid for 38 years was lying beside the pool of Bethesda. Tradition taught that from time to time an angel would come and touch the water, and the first person in it would be healed. This was only a tradition, not a truth. But Jesus took pity on the man lying there paralyzed, unable to get to the water when they believed an angel had stirred it. Jesus didn’t offer to carry the man to the water that had no healing power. He simply told him to get up, pick up his mat and walk.

 

            The problem arises because this took place on a Sabbath. The Jews stopped the man to ask him why he was carrying his mat. They accused him of breaking the law. The Mosaic Law required that no work be done on the Sabbath. Later Jewish religious authorities added additional laws that made life very complicated for the Jews. That was not God’s intention. Jesus made it clear that the Sabbath was made for man – to rest, worship and do good. Mark 2:27 The Jewish tradition taught that if anyone carried anything on the Sabbath, he deserved death by stoning. The healed man was in danger of losing his life, so he excused himself by saying that the one who healed him told him to carry his mat. He didn’t know who had healed him, but later Jesus found him and warned him to stop sinning. Then the healed man told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had healed him. He certainly didn’t give any evidence of thankfulness or a changed life.

 

Read John 5:16-47

 

I.                    Breaking the Sabbath or being equal with God

 

A.      It looks as though Jesus couldn’t win. He healed this man on the Sabbath out of grace, and then He was persecuted out of the law. Jesus’ only explanation of why He did this healing on the Sabbath was that it was His work to do. It was true that God rested on the 7th day after the creation. But Jesus pointed to the continuous work of God. The Father is always working every day including the Sabbath, and so He, too, must be working. The Jews had no idea of what the Father’s work was. It had to do with the saving of souls and healing of bodies, sustaining the universe and creating life. It bore no resemblance to their petty ideas of “working”.  What Jesus said really made the Jews angry and more determined to kill Him.

 

B.      Breaking the Sabbath was a serious offense to the Jews. But the more serious one was in Jesus’ reference to “My Father”. Notice He did not say “your Father” or “our Father”. They knew He was not talking about Joseph. It was perfectly clear to them that Jesus was calling God His own Father, “making Himself equal with God”. To the Jews this was the worst form of blasphemy and heresy. It is true that it is the worst kind if spoken by anyone in the world except Jesus. They thought it suggested 2 gods. Jesus went on to carefully explain that He is not independent or in opposition to the Father. Jesus didn’t have to “make Himself equal with God”. He was and is eternally equal with His Father. The rest of the chapter is an explanation of His relationship to the Father, and the testimonies that proved who He was. The more He said, the greater their hatred grew. The truth will always produce one of two results. Either it brings conviction, repentance and love for Jesus or it results in anger, hatred, and the desire to kill.

 

II.         Relationship of Father and Son

 

A.      Jesus gave these angry and hateful Jews something to think about – a long discourse on His relation to the Father and the evidence that He was who He said he was. They thought He was claiming godhood and power, but He began by saying, “The Son can do nothing by Himself.” He wanted them to know that He was not independently powerful. He was telling them that without His relation to the Father He was nobody.  He said that he could do only what He saw His Father do. It makes Him sound like a little boy who doesn’t know how to do anything so he has to watch his father and learn. Notice how Jesus explains what the Father/Son relationship entails.

 

1.       “Whatever the Father does the Son also does.” Col. 1:19 The Son is the exact replica of the Father. Col. 2:9 He was sent to demonstrate and represent the Father to us. We can only come to know the Father through Him. John 14:6

 

2.       “The Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does.” This is a relationship of love and equality even though each has His own role to play. That is basic to the understanding of the Trinity. John 15:26 The Father sent the Son to redeem lost mankind, and the Son sent the Spirit to live within redeemed men.

 

3.       “As the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He is pleased to give it.” Imagine what Jesus is claiming and how the Jews felt about that claim! Suppose you heard someone say this. What would you think about him? Only God can raise the dead and give life to dead bodies or spirits. Did Jesus demonstrate His ability to do this?

 

4.       “The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.” Jesus could have judged and destroyed them on the spot, but He said earlier that He did not come to judge this time, but to save the world. John 3:17 He will take His place as Judge later. Matt. 25:31 But at this time they still had the opportunity to believe the truth and repent.

 

5.       “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent Him.” Now it becomes clear that the Father and Son are so linked that they cannot be separated. We can never say, as the Jews were doing, that we love God and worship Him if we don’t love, honor and worship His Son! This means that all who claim to love and worship God but have no love for His Son, Jesus, are already condemned. John 3:18 This includes Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unity, etc. Because they do not honor and worship the Son, they cannot worship and honor the Father. We need to help them understand that.

 

B.      Now it comes down to a decision. The Jews were faced with the truth about the Father and Son. They had to decide whether they would believe the truth that Jesus taught them, and accept Him as the Son of God. The requirements are two: hearing the word of the Son and believing the Father who sent Him. What will be the benefits to those who do? 1) “has eternal life” – not just someday but now! 2) “will not be condemned” – to hell; 3) “has crossed over from death to life”. This is a finished thing. This is the life that Jesus has the power to give – spiritual life in the place of spiritual death, and eternal life in the place of eternal death! That is the greatest gift anyone can have. Have we received it? Have we told others about it?

 

III.                Two Resurrections

 

A.      Jesus introduces His next statement with “I tell you the truth”, using it for the third time in this discourse. He used it not only for emphasis, but to let them know it was THE TRUTH! It was and is eternal truth, without which we cannot know God, life, or light. It was as if the time had begun and would be continuing. If they had opened their hearts, they would have realized that they were living in the time for which all of creation and history had waited. It was the time when God came down and mankind was able to “hear the voice of the Son of God.” But Jesus said that the dead would hear His voice, and live. Who are those “dead”?

 

1.       The “dead” could be those listening to Him who were spiritually dead. If they opened their hearts to hear and believe, they would live spiritually – be born again.

2.       The “dead” could be those who were physically dead whom Jesus raised: Jairus’ daughter, the widow of Nain’s son, and Lazarus.

3.       I think the “dead” also refers to the first resurrection when those who hear His voice will rise to receive their new bodies. I Thess. 4:16 Since Jesus said “the time is coming” and “has come”, I believe it could cover all these.

 

B.      Jesus said the Father has life in Himself. He is Life! And He has granted the Son to also have life in Himself. This passage is full of “life”. He uses “life” 6 times in 6 verses. It’s as if Jesus is trying to get their thoughts on higher things. They were arguing about petty Sabbath rules made by men. Jesus was saying, “Look at the primary issues: life and death!” Often when we try to talk to people about the Lord they want to argue about small, unimportant things. We must bring their thoughts to the question of life and death.

 

C.      Besides being the Life-giver, Jesus identified Himself as Judge. He has been given authority to judge because He is the Son of Man. He is the perfect Judge, because He has been here! No one can say to Him, “You don’t understand. You’re from heaven, a perfect place, and have never faced temptation.” He has been tempted in all points as we are – yet without sin. Heb. 4:15 Jesus now tells them that at a future time, “all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out”. Imagine saying this about yourself! No wonder they were angry enough to kill! He was saying that they will all rise when they hear His voice. Those who have done good will rise to live. That’s the first resurrection. Those who have done evil will also rise, but to be judged and condemned. That’s the second resurrection. Ultimately, what is good and what is evil? Good is going God’s way and believing in His Son. Evil is rejecting God’s Son and God’s way. Those who are good according to this definition will have their names written in the Book of Life. Rev. 20:15

 

D.      Jesus doesn’t brag about His power or His ability to judge and condemn them. He makes a humble admission: “By myself I can do nothing.”  What? He has the power of life and death and all judgment is committed to Him, and yet He can do nothing by Himself? He, the second Person of the Trinity, is totally dependent on the Father. What perfect unity! He judges only as He hears. His ear is attuned to the Father and He does only what He hears! Because of this, His judgment is always just. Why? Because “I seek not to please Myself but Him who sent Me.” What a good example for us!  1) By myself I can do nothing – I am totally dependent on God. 2) I judge only as I hear from God. 3) I seek only to please God.

 

IV.                Testimonies that validate who Jesus is

 

A.      Next Jesus turns to the testimonies or witnesses that back up His claims. He states a principle that applies to all of us. Our testimony about ourselves is not valid unless it is backed up by the testimonies of others. In other words, we are known as Christians by our fruit. Jesus says that there are 4 valid testimonies about Him that they can examine if they really want to know who He is.

 

1.       The first witness is John the Baptist. What did John the Baptist say about Jesus? John 1:15,29,32,34; 3:30,31,36 He said, “He who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me”….”Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”….”I saw the Spirit come down from heaven and remain on Him.”….”I testify that this is the Son of God.”….”He must become greater; I must become less.”….”The One who comes from heaven is above all.”….”Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him”. What a clear testimony John gave! Jesus didn’t usually accept human testimony, but this was different because John was pointing to their only hope – the Savior of the world! What was John’s role? He described himself in Isaiah’s words: “a voice”. Here Jesus describes him as “a lamp”. Even these Jews who were persecuting Jesus had chosen to enjoy John’s light.

 

2.       The second witness Jesus says was even weightier than that of John. This is probably because, being a human being, he could be considered fallible. The second testimony was the work Jesus was doing. His work of teaching, healing, driving out demons, feeding thousands, calming the sea, and raising the dead testified of His power and godhead. Again Jesus emphasized the relationship between Himself and the Father. He was doing the work the Father had given Him. Jesus’ greatest work was still before Him – dying on the cross and rising from the dead.

 

3.       The third witness is the voice of the Father Himself. They had never heard His voice or seen His form, but He did speak from heaven at least twice during Jesus’ lifetime: at His baptism and the Transfiguration. Mark 1:9-10; 9:7 Those few who were at the baptism or the Transfiguration were privileged to hear the actual voice of the Father. We don’t know if they really understood what He was saying, but some must have because they recorded it in the gospels. The Father’s testimony is even more evident in the 4th witness.

 

4.       The fourth witness is the Bible. For us, this is the most important one because the New Testament now includes all the information about the first 3 witnesses. But the Jews had the Old Testament and they prided themselves in studying it. However, they were guilty because the very word they studied did not “dwell in them”. (v. 38) If they believed what the prophets had written, they would have accepted Jesus as the promised One. Some people did! Mary, Joseph, Simeon, Anna, the wise men and the shepherds all knew He was the promised King, but Herod and the Jewish leaders did not believe. They studied the scriptures with a fine-toothed comb, hoping that by doing that they would have eternal life. Their problem was the same as many religious people have today: “You refuse to come to Me to have life.”

 

B.      Jesus’ concluding words to these Jews are quite pointed and convicting. They speak to us today as well. “I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.” Without love for God the whole Jewish law and the Bible is useless. “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not accept Me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.” How true! Mohammed, Mary Ellen White, Charles Darwin, Benny Hinn, all came in their own name and people accepted them! What was their main problem – and ours also? “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, but make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” Those who come in their own name want praise for themselves. What about us? Do we care most about the praise of men or pleasing God?

 

Conclusion

 

            The Jews had set their hope on Moses, claiming that they followed him and the law he had given. Jesus said that if they really believed Moses they would believe Him because Moses wrote about Him. Deut. 18:18-19 Before them stood the promised Prophet who was speaking the very words of His Father. They will be called into account by God Almighty because they have not listened to Him. And we have even more information than they had, so we will be guiltier than they if we don’t listen and believe.

 

 

 

           

           

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (5)

The Bread of Life

John 6:25-71

 

Introduction

 

First, we need to look at the background of this teaching of Jesus. A great crowd of people was following Jesus because they saw the miraculous signs He had performed on the sick. John 6:1-3. We know the story of how Jesus saw that they were hungry and fed them. But why did He ask Philip where they should buy bread? John tells us that Jesus asked only to test Philip because He already knew what He would do. John 6:6 Philip was realistic when he answered that even if they had 8 months’ wages to spend it would only buy enough bread for a bite for each.

 

Then Andrew came with the small lunch of one boy. He said the obvious: “How far will it go among so many?” It was not even enough for one grown man, let alone 5000! Both Philip and Andrew knew that what they were facing was an impossible challenge. I wonder what the boy thought as he was asked to donate his lunch, carefully packed by his mother? Was he resentful when these big men took it away from him? Then how did he feel when he saw thousands of people fed from it? I can imagine his excitement later when he related the tale to his family and friends. To his dying day he would never forget that day! So it is with us when we give our little money, strength and time, then stand back amazed at what God does with it.

 

After the feeding of the 5000, Jesus sent the disciples away in a boat across the lake while He went to the mountain to pray. In the middle of the night a storm came up on the lake. Jesus went walking to them on the water. The storm died and they were immediately at the other shore. The next day the crowd could not figure out how Jesus got across the lake because they knew He had not been in the boat when the disciples left. John 6:22 All of this sets the stage for the teaching.

 

Read John 6:25-34

 

I.                    Miraculous signs

 

A.                  What was this crowd looking for? Were they looking for the Messiah promised by the Father? Were they looking for the Son of God whom they could believe and follow? Evidently not. Jesus said they were looking for someone who could feed them till they were satisfied. We are such sensual people that the main thing we want is for our stomachs to be full and our thirst to be quenched. Jesus had a totally different perspective on life. He had said to Satan, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matt. 4:4 He had said to the disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.” John 4:34 Here He says to the crowd, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life.”

 

B.                  What is that food? According to these other verses, it is doing the Father’s will and living by His Word. And where do we get that food? He said that He would give it to us. He was saying, “You’re looking at the One who can give you eternal life for your spirit, not just temporary life for the body.” They wanted to know what works God requires. Jesus gave them the simple gospel: “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.” There is no other work that we can do to make us acceptable to God or to earn eternal life. Why do men search the world for some other way to gain eternal life, peace with God, and a purpose for living? How hard it is for us to bow before our Creator admitting that we are totally unworthy of anything but hell. In Revelation we read about the search for a worthy one. The only worthy One found was the slain Lamb! God’s Way was standing before them – the One and Only Way to the Father!

 

C.                  So did they believe? No, they asked for a miraculous sign! I can’t believe their blindness. They had already seen Him heal the sick, feed 5000 (or more) with a boy’s lunch, and disappear from the mountain to reappear across the lake! Talk about miraculous signs! Besides these, He had taught them life-changing truths. Their thoughts were still on food in spite of all they had seen. They reminded him of how Moses had given their forefathers “bread from heaven” in the desert. Were they suggesting that He should feed them every day like that? Maybe they were hinting that Jesus was not as great as Moses was. Jesus reminded them that it was not Moses who gave the manna; it was the Father. And now the Father had given Him – Jesus – come down from heaven to give life to the world.

 

Read John 6:35-59

 

II.                  The Father’s will or our will?

 

A.                  The crowd didn’t get the point right away, but they liked the idea of getting free bread. They were like the Samaritan woman at the well who wanted Jesus to give her living water so she wouldn’t have to return to draw water from the well. We people are always looking for the easy and soft way out. But Jesus’ way is neither easy nor soft! Today people are looking for holiness and power the easy way. They think they can get it through the “anointing” or being “slain in the Spirit”. But holiness and power cost something. We only need to come and believe, but the coming involves abandoning all we hold dear, and the believing means a complete commitment of all we are to Jesus. The amazing thing is as we take these steps we find ourselves no longer hungry for the world’s goods or thirsty for the things we once lusted after. That’s why Jesus can say we will never go hungry. The heart-breaking thing for Jesus was that though He stood before them ready to satisfy their soul-hunger, they still did not believe!

 

B.                  The Father has to give to Jesus those He wants Him to have. Jesus will not drive away those who come. But suppose they choose to go? At the end of this chapter we find some of them turning their backs on Christ. Jesus once again told the Jews that He had come down from heaven. And He told them why – it was to do the Father’s will, not His own will. What is the Father’s will? “That I shall lose none of all that He has given Me.” (v.39) God is not willing that any should perish. II Pet. 3:9 But some do perish. Judas who was listening perished, and probably those disciples who turned away that day perished if they did not repent. Again, what is the Father’s will? “That everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life.” (V. 40) The Father has sovereignly willed that we should be gifted with choice. It is a combination of His will and ours!

 

III.                Bread from heaven

 

A.                  The Jews missed the vital point that their eternal life rested in His hands. They grumbled because He said He came down from heaven. Of course, all His claims rested on that statement, but they didn’t believe it. They said, “Wait a minute! We know this guy and His father and mother. He was born just like we were.” But they were wrong! Jesus’ Father was not Joseph, but God Himself. They were probably muttering under their breath, but Jesus knew what they were thinking and saying. Evidently they were incapable of “coming to Him” at that point. Even our coming must be through the drawing and invitation of the Father. (v. 44) He draws us to Himself like the sun draws the flowers and plants toward it. These Jews were “experts” in the Law of God and yet they obviously were not allowing God to teach them because they didn’t come to Jesus and believe. (v. 45)

 

B.                  Jesus said that no one has seen the Father except the Son. The implication is clear: “Do you want to see God? Do you want to be taught by Him? Then you will have to come through the Son, believing on Him and committing yourself to Him.” There is so much in this teaching of Jesus about believing. Jesus uses the word “believe” 7 times. (vs. 29, 36, 40, 47, 64 twice, 69) And He connects it with “life” and “everlasting life”, also 7 times (vs. 27, 33, 40, 47, 51, 54, 58) He sums up that message in verse 47: “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” Notice that He now has that everlasting life!  But our problem is that we don’t properly understand what it means to “believe”. Jesus explains it for us by comparing Himself with the manna from heaven. He said, “I am the living bread. If anyone eats of this bread He will live forever.”

 

IV.                Feeding on Jesus

 

A.                  Jesus’ shocking statement about eating His flesh caused the Jews to argue among themselves. (v. 52) You can see why. What Jesus said sounded cannibalistic. It was totally incomprehensible in its worldly context. Imagine someone telling you to eat his flesh and drink his blood! Jesus had just said that believing in Him gives us eternal life. Now He says, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (v. 54) It is almost exactly like what He said in verse 40, except that “eating” and “drinking” is used instead of “believing”. Read verses 40 & 54. How are “believing” and “eating” synonymous? It seems that believing is a mental process that takes place in the mind only. Eating seems to be a purely physical process that takes place in the mouth and stomach.

 

B.                  What happens when we eat something? It becomes part of us. We can no longer separate the food from us. What happens when we truly believe something or someone? That belief becomes part of us. It becomes our value system and controls our thoughts, words and actions. When we “eat” Christ we no longer act independently of Him. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27 Jesus contrasts eating manna from heaven to have physical life and keep from dying with the fact that He has come down from heaven for the purpose of being the food that will give us spiritual and eternal life. But how do we eat His flesh and drink His blood? It’s as if He were saying, “Take me into you as I take you into Me.” We remain in Him when we believe in such a way that His life becomes our life.

 

C.                  It’s similar to the teaching in John 15. As the branch must remain in the vine to get its sustenance and life, so we must remain in Him. When we are cut off from the life of Jesus we die just as the Jews would have died in the wilderness without the manna. Life flows from the Father to the Son. In the same way, life flows from the Son to us. (v. 57) I think today that many people call themselves Christians who are not actually “in Christ”. They think that they only have to give mental assent to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. They do not understand, as people in that day did not understand, that believing is taking Christ into you in such a way that you are no longer just you, but Christ in you and you in Christ. A.W. Tozer wrote: “Faith is not a once-done act, but a continuous gaze of the heart at the Triune God! Believing, actually, is directing the heart’s attention to Jesus. It is lifting the mind to ‘behold the Lamb of God’, and never ceasing that beholding for the rest of our lives.” Heb. 12:2

 

Read John 6:60-71

 

 

V.         Many disciples leave

 

A.                  Earlier on, the Jews were arguing among themselves, but now the disciples are grumbling about this hard teaching, unable to accept it. “Disciples” here refers to other followers of Jesus, not His original 12 disciples. Jesus challenged them: “Does this offend you?” What would they think when they saw Him ascend to where He had been before? That would be a greater miracle than any they had yet seen. Then they would know for sure that He had come down from heaven because He would go back there. Jesus had been speaking on the spiritual plane, trying to help them understand by using physical illustrations. “It’s the Spirit who gives life. The flesh counts for nothing.” They wanted food for the belly when Jesus was offering them the Bread of life eternal – Himself!

 

B.                  Jesus told them that His words were spirit and life. They still are! These disciples were following Him because they believed. But what kind of belief was it? Jesus said, “There are some of you who do not believe.” John explained that Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray Him. How can someone be a disciple and not truly believe? Remembering Luke 14 we know that it is not easy to be a true disciple. They had to be willing to love and honor Him above all others; to eat His words, digesting them carefully; and to become one with Him. It is the Father’s will that Jesus should lose none of all He had given Him. (V. 39) But verse 66 tells us that He did lose some! Here we see the conflict between the Father’s will and our will. Jesus always chose the Father’s will. We can do the same or we can “turn back and no longer follow Him”

 

Conclusion

 

            Jesus’ words to the 12 disciples sound very sad and disappointed: “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus sounds lonely. It must have been painful to be so often rejected and forsaken. Although Peter often failed, here he speaks up with a wise answer: “There’s no one to go to. You are the only One with the words of eternal life. We believe and know who You are.” Jesus had chosen the Twelve Disciples after spending a whole night in prayer with God. Luke 6:12-13 They were God’s choice and yet one was a devil! Judas was already a devil. How clever he must have been to hide it from the others. It was the Father’s will that Jesus should lose none of those the Father had given Him (v. 39), but The Lord never forces us to follow Him against our will. The choice is ours. Will we turn back or continue to follow even when it is hard?

 

 

Bible Study

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (6)

Is Jesus the Messiah?

John 7:1-52

 

Introduction

 

            John paints a very clear picture of the divided opinions swirling around Jesus and the animosity of the Jewish leaders. Jesus stayed away from Judea most of the time because the Jews there were plotting His death. (v. 1) What a life Jesus lived! He was the only hope of mankind, sent by the gracious Father out of love for the world, but how many believed and accepted Him? In our last lesson we heard about many of His disciples deserting Him. Here we find that the Jews are trying to kill Him. In the next verses we read that His own brothers were deriding Him. What a lonely life Jesus must have lived in spite of the fact that crowds followed Him – to get healing, food, and deliverance from demons.

 

            This chapter took place about 6 months before Jesus’ crucifixion. There were 3 feasts each year in Jerusalem and all Jewish males were required to attend those feasts. This teaching of Jesus took place at the Feast of Tabernacles. It was a feast of great joy to celebrate Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. The people stayed in tents remembering their time in the desert. They poured out water in the temple to remind them of the water God had given from the rock. They had a parade of torches to commemorate the pillar of fire with which God had led them. Jesus used the opportunity to teach about Living Water and the Light of Life.

 

Read John 7:2-24

 

I.                    Divided opinions

 

A.                  Jesus’ half-brothers came to deride Jesus. They were sons of Mary and Joseph: James, Joseph, Simon and Judas (Jude) Matt. 13:55 James and Jude were the ones who later wrote the books of James and Jude, but at this time they still didn’t believe in Him. They said something like this: “ Since you’re such a great miracle-worker, why don’t you go to Judea and do some miracles? Since you want to be a public figure, why are you acting in secret? If you want to show off, You might as well do it for the world to see.” Jesus was their older brother and they should have respected Him at least, but instead they were criticizing and putting Him down. At one point they thought He was out of His mind. Mark 3:21    We don’t know when they came to believe in Him, but I think it was at the crucifixion or resurrection. We do know they were with the apostles and women at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came. Acts 1:14

 

B.                  Jesus told His brothers that the right time had not yet come for Him. I think Jesus was referring to the time of His suffering and death. It would take place. But not at the time the religious leaders wanted.  Jesus’ timing was always in the Father’s hands. He said that any time was O.K. for them to go to the feast because the world didn’t hate them as it hated Him. But why did the world hate Him? It was because He testified clearly about their evil doings. In spite of all the good Jesus did, many hated Him for speaking clearly about the evil in their hearts. It’s the same today. Finally Jesus went secretly to the Feast. People were looking for Him. Some said, “He’s a good man”, while others said, “No, He deceives the people”. Today we are either His sheep who know and follow Him, or we are the rebellious goats who refuse His leadership.

 

 

 

 

II.                  False or true?

 

A.                  Halfway through the Feast Jesus began to teach in the temple. The Jews were amazed because Jesus was not a Rabbi or a Pharisee or a Teacher of the Law. They couldn’t figure out how a carpenter from Galilee could know so much without studying. What they didn’t understand was that Jesus had the greatest Teacher there is – God Himself! Jesus’ success was due to the fact that He never took credit for anything. He said His teaching came from the One who sent Him. Then Jesus gave two tests that we can use in discerning whether someone’s teaching is true or false. We will know false teaching when we hear it if we have chosen to do God’s will. Having our eyes, ears and heart attentive and obedient to God’s will is the greatest protection there is against false teaching. How can we identify false teachers? Anyone who speaks on his own to gain honor for himself is not a man of truth. If he talks about himself a lot and tried to bring attention to himself by his clothing, his theatrics, and surroundings, we can know that He is not following the example of Jesus.

 

B.         The religious leaders said they were followers of Moses, just like many false teachers today say they are followers of Christ. Jesus faced them with the fact that though God through Moses had given them the law, not one of them was keeping the law. How did he know they were not keeping the law? Because they were trying to kill Him.  The 6th commandment is: “You shall not murder”. The crowd evidently was not aware that the Jewish leaders had been plotting His death for some time.

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (7)

The Children of Abraham

John 8:31-59

 

Introduction

 

            In our last lesson we heard about Jesus’ words to the Jews who confronted Him. He told them clearly that He is from above while they are from below. They are of this world, while He is not of this world. In verse 30 we read that, as He spoke, “many put their faith in Him”. But is a believer also a disciple? If we really believe and commit ourselves to the Lord to be discipled, we will live out our faith. Our faith will result in fruit. (ILLUS: If you are on a plane and the flight attendant passes out parachutes, you will want to know why you should take one. If she tells you that it will make you more comfortable in your seat, you may refuse because it will only be in the way. If she tells you that there is a problem with the plane and it may go down soon, I think you will believe and quickly take the parachute and put it on. You will act on your belief.) James 2:17; Heb. 3:14; Rom. 11:22 In the rest of this 8th chapter, Jesus is talking to Jews who had believed on Him. He questions whether they are really His disciples.

 

Read John 8:31-47

 

I.                    The truth will set you free

 

A.                  How do believers become disciples? We studied that whole question a while ago from Luke 14 where Jesus spelled out the answer in verses 26-33. Here in John 8 Jesus says that “you are really My disciples if you hold to My teaching”. We are reminded of the wise and foolish builders. The fool thought it was enough to believe. The wise man knew that just hearing the words was not enough. He had to live them out – do them – let them control his life – hold to them. A disciple is one who accepts instruction and then follows it in his life. Jesus has to have first place in the life of a disciple. Jesus then promises that if we hold to Him and His teaching that we will know the truth. Truth is revealed to the one who digs deep into His Word and then applies it to his life.

 

B.                  Then the truth will set us free. As we hold to His teachings and immerse ourselves in them, it will set us free to be what God wants us to be. We can live out His will for us and be the kind of person we long to be. Freedom is tied to abiding in His Word and being His disciple. But a lot of people think that is bondage instead of freedom. (ILLUS: A train is only free to run on the tracks. If it goes off it will crash. A kite is only free to rise in the air when held by a string. We are only free when driving if we have absolute directions. Otherwise, we will be lost and not know where we are.) We need Christ and His directions to know the truth and to be free.

 

C.                  Those listening didn’t understand the kind of freedom Jesus was talking about, just as most people today do not understand what true freedom is. These Jews were very proud that they were Abraham’s descendants and had never been slaves to anyone, just as many Americans are today. The Jews conveniently forgot that their ancestors had spent over 400 years as slaves in Egypt. The Jewish heritage against slavery was good. God instituted it in His law. But they didn’t understand that man’s greatest slave master is his own sin. “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” How true this is! And since everyone sins, that means that everyone is a slave! A slave is not a permanent family member. He is a piece of property that can be bought and sold. Only a son has a permanent position in the family. So the secret is to be bought from slavery by someone who wants to adopt you as his son. But who would do that? Only Jesus! “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”. The Son did just that. He gave His life to purchase ours. We had to be redeemed with His precious blood in order to be free and become God’s Son.

 

II.                  Abraham’s children or not?

 

A.                  Jesus acknowledged that they were Abraham’s descendants. But being the descendant of godly men and women does not assure our godliness or our place in the kingdom of God. Each individual is responsible for his/her relationship to God. We cannot rest on our ancestors’ laurels even though a godly heritage is a blessing because it helps to prepare us. Being Abraham’s descendants should have meant that they had his heart of love and obedience for God. If they had been that way, they would have recognized and accepted Christ. Instead, they were ready to kill Him. Why? “Because you have no room for My word.” There was no room in the inn for the baby Jesus and no room for the word of the man Jesus. How much “room” do we have for His words? Do we have room enough in our lives to read, study, think about, believe, obey and love His word? Maybe they were thinking, “Where did He get these words anyway?” Jesus told them, “I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence”. He not only heard His Father’s words – He lived in His presence! What about them? Were they living in the Father’s presence, following His words? “You do what you have heard from your father.” He was saying they didn’t have the same father.

 

B.                  They quickly assured Him that Abraham was their father. They were proud of their forefathers – Abraham, Moses, David. But Jesus had been trying to teach them that it was not these men who had blessed them. It was God! And their obedience to God made them who they were. Instead of being proud of their heritage, they should have been humble before the Almighty God. We should be the same. Then Jesus brought up an interesting point. If we are someone’s child, it stands to reason that we will act like he does. If they had been Abraham’s children in the real sense of the word, they would have acted like Abraham. Paul said we are Abraham’s children if we have Abraham’s faith and obedience. Rom. 4:16 So the Roman centurion who believed was more Abraham’s child then these Jews. Actually, they were so different from Abraham, that they were determined to kill Him for telling them the truth that he heard from God. Jesus said, “You are doing the things your own father does”. Their father was not Abraham and not God. He was calling them illegitimate children – born of a different father than was claimed. They answered, “The only father we have is God Himself”. But how could they be God’s children and have murder in their hearts?

 

III.                The devil’s children

 

A.                  This is one of the most pointed statements in all of Jesus’ teaching. They claimed to be Abraham’s children and God’s children. Jesus showed them that their actions demonstrated who was their real father, and it was neither Abraham nor God. “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I came from God and now am here.” Our relationship for the Father shows up in our love for His Son. (ILLUS: If someone wanted to kill Sandy while telling me that he loved me, I would obviously know that he was a liar and a murderer.) Love for the Son brings us close to the Father and into His family. Love for the Father means that we will believe, adore, serve and follow His Son. Somehow they were thinking of Jesus and the Father as 2 separate entities instead of as one God. They were self-deceived when they thought they loved God. You can’t love God without loving His Son. You actually love yourself and the concept of God you have created in your mind for your own comfort and benefit. Most religions in the world believe that they worship God but they reject Jesus as His Son.

 

B.                  What Jesus said was simple. He simply said that he was sent by God. He asked, “Why can’t you understand My simple language?” They could hear His words, but they couldn’t accept what He said. They were like most people today – they didn’t grasp the simple truth because their minds were closed to that truth. Matt. 13:14-15 They didn’t want it in their lives. What did they want? Jesus shocks us with His accusation: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.” Just as Jesus wanted to carry out the holy desires of His Father, they wanted to carry out the evil desires of their father. Basically, we believe and follow what we want – what we choose. We follow the desires of the one we love most.

 

C.                  What were their father’s (Satan’s) desires? “He was a murderer from the beginning.” It was murder in his heart that made him rebel against God. If he had had the power, he would have killed God. People who don’t want God’s will and His desires in their lives, try to eliminate God – to murder Him! This is why they crucified Jesus. They had to get rid of Him, His ideas and words. Their father, the devil, has not only been a murderer from the start, but a liar as well. “There is no truth in him”. Of course, he uses truth to accomplish his goals, but he twists and distorts it in such a way that it is no longer truth. There are many examples on TV of preachers who use his methods. What is Satan’s native language? Is it English or Chuukese or Palauan? It’s lying! He is not only a liar, but the very father of lies. They had the wrong father so they couldn't believe and accept the truth they were hearing from Jesus. Jesus made a summary statement: “He who belongs to God hears what God says.” They didn’t hear and believe because they didn’t belong to God. He who belongs to Satan hears what he says – lies and deception.

 

Read John 8:48-59

 

IV.                “Before Abraham was born, I AM!”

 

A.                  As usual, the Jews went from listening and reasoning to attacking. The only Voice that spoke the truth had to be silenced. They accused Him of the 2 most degrading things they could think of. He said very clearly that their father was the devil, so they fought back by saying that He was demon-possessed. He said they were not Abraham’s true children, so they said He was not a true Jew, but a half-breed Samaritan. Jesus didn’t fight to prove His citizenship as a Jew. He is a citizen of heaven, not of hell. Instead of being demon-possessed, He is possessed by the Heavenly Father. It doesn’t matter what people say about us when we know that we are God’s children and the Holy Spirit lives in us. Jesus said, “I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me.” Dishonoring Him meant that they were dishonoring His Father, proving that their father was Satan.

 

B.                  Jesus did not say the things He said because He was seeking glory. The Father was seeking glory through His Son. Jesus made an astounding statement: “If anyone keeps My word, he will never see death.” How could He say that to His disciples who would see terrible deaths as martyrs? For the Christian, death, no matter how grisly, is only the door into eternal life. We only need to ask ourselves, “How many others will go with me when I go to heaven because I have told them the word of life?” Now the Jews were really convinced that He was demon-possessed. Abraham and the prophets all died and yet Jesus said that those who keep His word will never taste death. Then they asked the big question: “Are you greater than our father Abraham?” Jesus had already made it plain that Abraham was not their father because they did not do what he did.

 

C.                  They thought Jesus was trying to elevate Himself. But Jesus never tried to glorify Himself. Jesus said that His Father whom they claimed was their God, was the One who glorified Him. The Father was not their God as Jesus had shown. Now He says, “You do not know Him”. This was very clear. Jesus said that He was the only One who knew the Father and kept His word. If He said He did not know the Father He would be a liar like they were. Now the lines are drawn very clearly. They do not know God; they are liars; they plan to murder Him; they obviously are Satan’s children. Jesus then announced the big truth. “Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing My day; he saw it and was glad.” Abraham knew that God would send His Messiah to redeem the world. Since Abraham is alive, he saw this great and wonderful day of Christ, and was glad. Jesus talks about Abraham as if He had just had a conversation with him. The Jews said, “Wait a minute! How could you see and talk to Abraham?” Then came the bombshell that drove them to try to stone Him to death – unsuccessfully. “Before Abraham was (a few thousand years ago) I AM!” Jesus in this statement declared Himself to be the eternally existent God.

 

Conclusion

 

            It’s not surprising that those who doubted Jesus would try to stone Him. Imagine hearing anyone you know saying that about himself. People like Benny Hinn claim to be little gods and we know that they are speaking terrible blasphemy. Either Jesus was all He claimed to be or He was a true son of Satan – the ultimate liar and deceiver. There is no middle ground. We either try to get rid of Him like they did, or we bow before Him and give Him our lives. A true disciple knows His Lord and is willing to put Him first, even to give up his/her life for Him.

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (8)

The Shepherd and His Flock

John 10:1-18, 24-29

 

Introduction

 

            This is such a beautiful passage about the Shepherd and His sheep. It paints a picture of who He is and what we are. If the Lord is our Shepherd, we are blessed with every good thing as His sheep. Psa. 23:1-6 But we are the sheep who have gone astray. Isa. 53:6 Without Jesus we would still be lost. But Jesus is the good Shepherd who has come seeking His lost sheep. Luke 15:3-7

 

Read John 10:1-18

 

I.                    Thieves, robbers and strangers

 

A.                  Twice in this passage Jesus begins with, “I tell you the truth”, signaling a major principle and teaching. Jesus had been speaking to the Pharisees and some of His teaching here is definitely for them. But as always the disciples were gathered close and the crowd around them. Jesus wanted to warn the people that some who look like shepherds are not. He pictures the Pharisees and any false teachers as those who climb into the sheep pen rather than entering by the gate. Why would anyone do that? If he were a thief he could not get past the shepherd who was the gate. The shepherds in Palestine lay down at night across the opening into the sheep pen. They form a gate so that no wild animal or human thief could get to the sheep without climbing over the shepherd. In this way the shepherds protected their sheep all night long. Jesus said that He is the Gate for the sheep. John 10:7 He is also the Shepherd. He is both Gate and Shepherd because they are one and the same.

 

B.                  The one who enters by the gate – the proper way – is the true shepherd. Obviously, the Pharisees were unwilling to acknowledge Jesus as the only Gate, the only Way. They wanted the sheep for themselves, but they didn’t want the Shepherd or the Gate. Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose to picture us as sheep? Why not cows or horses? Sheep are very helpless and defenseless creatures. They have no homing instinct or sense of danger. They can walk off a cliff. Without a shepherd to care for them, they are doomed. The next picture is of a shepherd out at night, perhaps looking for his lost sheep. When he comes to the sheepfold, the watchman left to guard the sheep opens the gate for him because he is the true shepherd and the sheep belong to him. The sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd, and they feel safe and comforted by knowing He’s there. When he tells them to go out, he doesn’t send them – he leads them. The shepherd’s attention to his sheep is very personal. He knows their names and calls them by name. What a comfort it is to us to know that our Shepherd knows our names, calls us by name and leads us out to serve Him.

 

C.                  When the shepherd has called out all his sheep from the sheepfold, he goes on ahead of them, leading them into green pastures, and beside still waters. (Psa. 23) The shepherd leads out, goes before, and stays with his sheep. But it does no good for the shepherd to lead if the sheep don’t follow. Those who are “His sheep” do follow because they know His voice. This is where discernment comes in. How do we tune our ears to His voice? We live with Him daily, immersing ourselves in His Word and fellowshipping with Him. When He speaks to us we recognize that it is His voice and not some other. And when we are truly His sheep, our hearts are quickened to understand and obey Him. As truly as we know and follow His Word, we also recognize and don’t follow the voice of “strangers”. In fact, the sheep tend to run away when they hear a “stranger’s” voice. Why? Because they sense danger and harm in the voice of a stranger. Those who are His true sheep will follow only His voice and will run away from strangers who try to lead them another direction.

 

II.                  “I am the Gate”

 

A.                  Jesus states 2 of His “I am’s” in this chapter. “I am the Gate…I am the good Shepherd”. In other parts of John Jesus said, “I am the Living Water…I am the Bread of Life…I am the Resurrection and the Life…I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. He was either a crazy egomaniac or the great I AM of all eternity – past, present and future. Jesus could not be “only a good man” as many people say. No man is good who calls himself all these grand titles and makes all these claims. He is either God or a demon. No wonder they accused Him of being demon-possessed.  Jesus said that he is the one and only Gate for the sheep. “All who ever came before Me were thieves and robbers.” There have been many who have come after Him who are in the same category: Mohammed, Bahaullah, Sun Yung Moon, Benny Hinn, etc. The true sheep belonging to Him did not – and still do not – listen to these thieves and robbers. They know they will steal their life and joy.

 

B.                  What is the importance of the Gate? The Gate is the way to salvation. Those who enter through Him who is the Gate and the Way will be saved. Matt. 7:13-14 Once they enter and become His sheep, they are free to go in and out and find pasture. They don’t go in and out of Him. They go in and out with Him, and in doing so, they are fed. He leads them to the still waters and the green pastures. For the first time they will experience real life and they will have it to the full – abundant life. KJV translates this: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” What is the contrast between Jesus and “strangers”? He is the Good Shepherd who leads His sheep into abundant and everlasting life. The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. Of course, Satan is the great thief, the counterfeit shepherd, but he has many “under-shepherds” who want to lead God’s sheep to destruction.

 

C.                  The Good Shepherd is not only kind, good, generous and gracious. He goes beyond that. He lays down His life. Jesus says it 5 times in these verses: “I lay down my life”. A good shepherd is like David who laid his life on the line for his sheep – even fighting against a lion and a bear. In the open field the shepherd would build a pen with rocks and then lay across the door. He was saying, “You will only get to my sheep over my dead body.” A hired hand would not risk his life for the sheep. Why? Because he is not the owner. The sheep are the possession of the shepherd so he will do whatever is necessary to protect them, care for their needs, and bind up their wounds. It’s only a job for the hired man. He cares more for himself than for the sheep. When he sees danger, he leaves the sheep unprotected. He lets in a wolf that will attack some sheep and scatter the others. This hired man reminds me of all the church leaders who refuse to warn God’s sheep about the false teachers. He leaves them to be killed and scattered by the wolves.

 

III.                “I am the Good Shepherd”

 

A.                  It’s interesting that Jesus doesn’t just call Himself the Shepherd; He calls Himself the Good Shepherd. I’m sure that this is to emphasize that there are other shepherds, but they are actually thieves or hired hands. They either plan to steal or kill the sheep or just walk away and abandon them. They might be called “evil shepherds” or “false shepherds”. Jesus is the only totally good shepherd. He has a special relationship with His sheep. He knows them and they know Him. This relationship between Jesus and His sheep is based on the relationship between the Father and the Son. In submission to the Father and in love for His sheep, Jesus will lay down His life for them. Since then many of Jesus’ sheep have laid down their lives in submission to the Father and because of their love for Jesus and His sheep.

 

B.                  Jesus has other sheep that are not in that Jewish sheep-pen. In fact, there are many other sheep-pens around the world in Gentile nations – some in Micronesia. They, too, contain some of His sheep. Jesus is determined to bring in all His sheep. “I must bring them also. They, too, will listen to My voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” The “other sheep” scattered around the world will hear His voice when His Word is proclaimed. All these other sheep will join with the Jewish sheep to become one flock with one Shepherd. This is the one true Church, the Body of Christ. It is all scattered around now, some of it in prison and others meeting in secret places for fear of death. But one day we will all be together at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Rev. 19:6-8 But there will also be a counterfeit church which is coming together and will be led by the great false shepherd know as the Anti-Christ.

 

C.                  The close love relationship between Father and Son is promoted and strengthened by the submission of the Son – His willingness to lay down His life. Matt. 26:42 Here Jesus makes it clear that laying down His life is not the end. It’s only the beginning because He will take it up again. That is God’s plan for us, too. But we don’t have the authority to do it as Jesus did. We are dependent on the Lord to raise us up. Many have thought that the Jews or the Romans or Pilate or the Chief Priests or Judas took Jesus’ life. That is impossible for none of them was powerful enough to kill Jesus. So He says, “No one takes it from Me”. Others could take our lives, but only if the Father allows it. Jesus says again that He lays down His life of His own accord. We see that in Gethsemane and in His passiveness through the trials. “I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again”. What a statement! No other could ever say that. Nobody could touch Him without His permission. He can die if He chooses and He can rise if He chooses. Where did Jesus get this authority? “This command I received from My Father.”

 

Read John 10:24-29

 

IV.                “I and the Father are one”

 

A.                  Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Dedication. The Jews gathered around Him in the temple and challenged Him. “If you are the Christ/the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus calmly answered, “I did tell you.” Jesus had told them that before Abraham was, “I AM”. That meant that He had to be the Christ – the pre-existent One – the Son of God. What was their response? They tried to stone Him. The truth is no help to those who choose to be deaf. What was their problem? Simple: “You do not believe.” Jesus had been doing miracles in the Father’s name. Those miracles testified of who He was. But they didn’t believe those either. Why didn’t they believe? Jesus nailed it. “You don’t believe because you are not My sheep.” True believers who commit their lives to Him are Jesus’ sheep. And Jesus’ true sheep are always believers. If you’re not a sheep it shows that actually you don’t believe in Him. And if you don’t believe and give your life to Him, you are not His sheep.

 

B.                  I’m sure that the Jews wanted to argue that they were God’s sheep because they were Abraham’s children and the chosen people. But they couldn’t be God’s sheep without being Jesus’ sheep. What are the characteristics of Jesus’ true sheep? “My sheep listen to My voice…I know them…They follow Me…I give them eternal life and they shall never perish…No one can snatch them out of My hand.”  The Shepherd and His sheep have a loving relationship. They love Him enough to listen to Him and obey what he says. He knows them personally and intimately. They acknowledge Him as their authority by following Him. The culmination of their relationship is eternal life together. They cannot perish even when they die physically. They are secure in His hands; no one has the power to snatch them away. This is because the Father has given them to Jesus and “I and the Father are one”.

 

Conclusion

 

            This passage should give us great comfort and joy as we think of the love of our Good Shepherd. We do not have to worry about anyone snatching us out of His hands. The problem is that, because He has given us free will, we may decide to jump out of His hands. It is still our choice to listen, obey and follow. Judas chose to stop listening and following and became an enemy of Jesus instead of a beloved friend. How sad if we choose to be a goat instead of a sheep! Heb. 6:4-6

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (9)

Bringing Life out of Death

John 11:1-44

 

Introduction

 

            Think of the hardest thing in your life – a person who needs to change (maybe you), or a circumstance, a problem or a need. It looks hopeless – like a dead body! Are you blaming God because He has not done anything about this person or problem? Paul’s prayer was that he might know Christ, including the sharing of His sufferings and the power of His resurrection. Phil. 3:10-11 Can we experience the power of the resurrection in our lives today? Is He still able to give life to the lifeless and hope to the hopeless?

 

Read John 11:1-16

 

I.                    The condition of Lazarus

 

A.                  We are reminded in verses 1-3 who Lazarus was. He was the brother of Mary and Martha. They lived together in the town of Bethany, about 2 miles from Jerusalem. When Jesus was in Jerusalem he often went out of the city to stay at their house. John reminds us that it was this Mary who anointed the feet of Jesus with perfume and wiped them with her hair. That story is told in the Gospels of Mark, Luke and John. Jesus was close to these three. John makes this clear in verse 5. But there was a problem. Lazarus was very sick. But Jesus and His disciples were far away, ministering in other places. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, knowing that He was the only one who could help at a time like that. Their messenger found Jesus and told Him, “Lord, the one You love is sick.”

 

B.                  If your loved one is sick, you rush to the scene to try to help the sick one and comfort the worried relatives. But when Jesus got the message, He didn’t move. Instead He made a strange statement which the disciples must have wondered about later: “This sickness will not end in death”. I wonder what they thought when a few days later He said, “Lazarus is dead”. Then when they got to Bethany, they found that Lazarus’ body had been decaying for 4 days. What was wrong here? Did Jesus make a mistake? Was their faith shaken when Lazarus actually died after Jesus said that his sickness would not end in death? Jesus didn’t say that he wouldn’t die. He said that the end would not be death!!! Do we doubt the Lord when things don’t seem to come out the way we thought they should? We need to wait and trust His wisdom regardless of how things look.

 

C.                  It’s interesting the way John states the conundrum: “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet.. He stayed where He was for 2 more days.” If you loved someone, why would you stay where you are for 2 more days instead of rushing to the side of your sick loved one? What about us? Does God allow pain and suffering to come to us because He is cruel and doesn’t really love us? We must learn the lesson that Jesus taught the disciples: “ No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”  Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. He knew that Lazarus would die; He knew that Mary and Martha would be filled with sorrow and doubt; He knew the disciples would be full of questions. But He stayed!

 

II.                  Going to Bethany

 

A.                  Finally after 2 days, Jesus said, “Let’s go back to Judea.” I think the disciples had decided that the reason He didn’t rush to Lazarus was because He was afraid of the Jews who had tried to stone Him the last time He was in Judea. They were wrong. Jesus was not afraid. He used the illustration of day and night. During the 12 hours of daylight there’s no need to stumble because the world’s light – the sun – lights our way. When we walk at night we stumble because we have no light. Jesus was referring to Himself. He is the Light of the world. If we walk by His light we will not stumble. If we stay in the dark night without Him, we will. I think Jesus was telling them that He would still be shining for a little while.

 

B.                  Then Jesus told them that Lazarus had fallen asleep but He was going to him to wake him up. The disciples, like little children, said, “If he’s sleeping, that’s good because he will get better.” In scripture, “sleep” is often used to refer to death. I Cor. 15:51-52 Because they were a little dense, He finally told them outright, “Lazarus is dead.” Shouldn’t they have asked Him why he had said that Lazarus’ sickness wouldn’t end in death? Or what he meant by waking Lazarus up? Did any of them believe that he would raise Lazarus from the dead? Then Jesus made the strange statement: “I’m glad that I was not there”.

 

C.                  How could He be glad that he was not there when His friends were suffering and dying? It’s because He knew the final outcome, and the Father’s purpose in the whole thing: “So that you may believe”. This whole story is about God’s glory and their belief. “Glory” is mentioned 3 times, and “belief” 7 times. There is nothing more important than God’s glory, and the only way we can enter in is through true belief. That is total abandonment to God and total trust in His character and His ways. Even though most of the people there were believers, we don’t always believe the way God wants us to. Jesus was bringing them all through the fire to teach them these things.

 

Read John 11:17-44

 

III.                “I am the resurrection and the life”

 

A.                  By the time Jesus and the disciples had walked all the way to Bethany, Lazarus had been dead 4 days. A crowd of people had gathered already to comfort Mary and Martha. When Martha heard that Jesus had come, she went out to meet Him. Mary, however, stayed in the house. Was she disappointed in Him, feeling that he had broken her trust? Was she avoiding Him? Or didn’t know He had come. We don’t know the tone of voice that Martha used when she said to Jesus, “If You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Was she accusing, blaming, disappointed, or just sad? Maybe she still had a little faith because she added, “But I know that even now God will give You whatever You ask.” She did not know whether it was God’s will for Lazarus to live, but Jesus knew.

 

B.                  Jesus said clearly, “You brother will rise again.” It seems that Martha’s faith was kind of general instead of specific. Later she tried to keep Jesus from removing the stone. Martha believed and yet somehow did not believe. She believed that Lazarus would be raised at the last day, but she didn’t realize that life – even eternal life – is for now! Jesus tried to help her look beyond the present and the ordinary. He drew her attention to Himself. In vs. 25-26 He used “I” and “Me” 3 times. Martha probably could not fathom that the One who was speaking was the Great I AM. Jesus said, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life.” Therefore, anyone who believes in Him already possesses resurrection and life. Knowing Jesus and having Him living in you means that you already live in His resurrection and life.

 

C.                  Jesus doesn’t say, “You will never die”. He says, “Even though you die, you will live.” We do not cease to exist when we die. When we die in Christ we live on in a much better life. In fact, we will continue to live without an end. Men may end our life here, but they cannot end our life. Our life is part of the life of Christ which cannot end because He is the eternally existent God. Jesus then asked Martha, “Do you really believe anything this big?” Do we really believe this? Is it engrained in our being or just a kind of head belief? Martha told Jesus what she was able to believe. She believed that He was the Christ – the Messiah – the Son of God who had come into the world. That was a good starting point. All of the other astonishing truths rested on that solid foundation.

 

IV.                Jesus wept

 

A.                  Martha went to get Mary, saying that Jesus was asking for her. Jesus had met Martha outside the village. When Mary heard that He was asking for her, she went out to meet Him. The Jews who had gathered to comfort Mary and Martha saw her leave and followed, thinking that she had gone to the tomb to grieve. When Mary got to the place where Jesus was she fell at His feet. She had sat at His feet before, listening and loving Him. Luke 10:38-39 Now her faith had been shaken. Why hadn’t He come when they called for Him? Mary asked the same question Martha had asked: “Lord, if You had been here my brother would not have died.” Both sisters seemed to be accusing Him for not caring about them and their brother.

 

B.                  Jesus didn’t answer Mary. When He saw her and the Jews with her weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. We read in verse 35 that He, too, wept. Why did He feel that way – even so much that He wept? He certainly wasn’t weeping for Lazarus as they thought He was when they said, “See how much He loved him.” Certainly Jesus did love Lazarus. His love is mentioned 3 times - here and in verses 3 & 5. But if I were He I would not stop to weep when I knew that in a few minutes I would raise him from the dead. It’s obvious from what Jesus said to Martha and the disciples that it was His plan all along to raise Lazarus.

 

C.                  I believe Jesus wept for 2 things. First, He wept for the great sorrow and heartbreak that they, and we, have experienced because of the curse. I believe that Jesus was entering into the human pain and sorrow over the death of a loved one. But I think the main reason for His tears was the unbelief of the Jews, and even His disciples and friends. There He stood in their midst, “The Resurrection and the Life”, and they had given up hope for their friend. All they had was dead hopes and dreams. Hear their words: “ Couldn’t He who opened blind eyes keep this man from dying?” Yes, He could have, but He could do something much greater. Mary, Martha and the Jews all were convinced that it was too late. Nothing could be done.

 

V.                  Lazarus lives

 

A.                  Once again Jesus was deeply moved as he approached the tomb. We can almost hear the cry of His heart: “Look at Me! I am the great I AM, the Resurrection and the Life, the Creator and Sustainer of life. Is anything too hard for Me?” The people there in the black pit of despair and sorrow didn’t know that the sun/Son was about to rise. Martha was aghast when Jesus told them to take away the stone. She couldn’t bear the fact that she and all the others would soon smell her brother’s decaying body. I believe that Jesus was especially looking at Mary, Martha and the disciples when He said, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” In this world we say, “Seeing is believing”, but in God’s kingdom, believing is seeing.

 

B.                  Why did Jesus tell the people to take away the stone? Didn’t He have the power to do that? Of course He did. But He expects us to do what we can do. There may be a heavy stone in our lives that Jesus expects us to move. It might be the wall built up between another person and us. It’s time to repent and forgive or ask forgiveness in order to move that stone. Maybe the stone is some huge stumbling block in our way. Sometimes Satan gets a foothold in our lives through our past sins or the sins of our family. Maybe the stone is some heavy burden that we carry. Or maybe we are like Martha. We don’t want to remove the stone because of the smell. Maybe our problem has been hidden there so long that it smells. If we are unwilling to bring it out into the light it can never be healed.

 

C.                  Jesus prayed to the Father and then did the miracle all alone by simply calling to Lazarus in a loud voice. Only Jesus can turn something dead into a living thing – or a person dead in sin into a living Christian. He is the Life! Lazarus came stumbling out of the cave tomb. He was alive, but wrapped in the old, smelly rags of his death. Jesus told those standing close to take off the grave clothes and let him go. The Lord does the miracle but He expects us to help untie the knots. We must be willing to put aside our old ways and help others do the same. Criticizing them does not help them get free. Only the power of the resurrection can bring new life, but we need to be ready to help tear away the old smelly rags of death that keep the new life from moving out. Otherwise, the old rags around our legs will make us stumble when we try to walk with God, and the rags around our mouths will silence us from telling others about Him.

 

Conclusion                  

 

            God wants to use your problem situation, or person that is like dead, to demonstrate His resurrection power! He still has the same 2 goals today that He had in that day. He wants to bring glory to God and to being unbelievers to the place where they believe and trust Him. If we want to see our dead raised to new life, we must do 4 things.

1.)     Stop blaming God and start trusting Him.

2.)     Believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life for right now – in our situation!

3.)     Desire above all else that God will be glorified and unbelievers brought to Him.

4.)     Be willing to do our part to remove the stones and help untangle the old, smelly rags from around others and us.

Let us pray and obey until we experience the power of the resurrection in our lives! Eph. 1:18-21

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (10)

The Kernel of Wheat

John 12:20-50

 

Introduction

 

            You remember that in the last lesson we heard Jesus say to His disciples that Lazarus’ sickness would not end in death. In fact, Jesus gave the reason for it: “It is for God’s glory”. Then when Jesus told them that actually Lazarus had died, He said, “I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” So we concluded that the sickness, death and resurrection of Lazarus was for a reason. God allowed it so that His Son might receive much glory and that many might believe in Him. Now in chapter 12 we find many people attracted to Lazarus and to Jesus who raised him, but we also find the Pharisees becoming more jealous and angrier. John 12:17-19

 

Read John 12:20-36

 

I.                    Jesus predicts His death

 

A.                  It’s interesting that even the Greeks came to the Feast. They were probably Gentile converts to Judaism. When they heard about Jesus, they wanted to see Him. This should be the longing of all our hearts: “We would see Jesus”. Jesus didn’t make a big deal out of this, because as He told the Syrophenician woman, He had come first for the Jews. Later His disciples and Paul would take the good news to the Gentiles. When Philip and Andrew told Jesus about these Greeks seeking Him, He wasn’t flattered. Instead He talked about dying. But He calls dying “being glorified”. This is a principle that fits all Christians. Dying to sin and self brings glorification. Dying for Christ or being a martyr means eternal glorification. Death has to precede life. A wheat seed has to fall into the ground and die in order to reproduce. If it doesn’t die, it remains a single seed and eventually rots without producing anything.

 

B.                  The man who loves himself – or his life - will lose what he loves. The man who loves the Lord more than himself and his life will keep his life eternally. To hate your life is to prefer the Lord before yourself and your life. We can store up our life like the rich man did his grain, or we can freely spend it for the Lord and others. The Lord seems to be giving a very black picture here. It’s all about sacrifice and service. But it has a very bright ending. Anything worth much will be costly and painful. “Whoever serves Me must follow Me.” The following must be now. If we don’t follow now we won’t end up with Him at the end. “Where I am My servant will also be.” The servant stays with his master, never leaving him, until he ends up where the master is. The Father who sent His Son appreciates the servants of His Son. It brings Him honor when His Son is honored. And He will eventually honor those who faithfully serve His Son.

 

II.                  The voice from heaven

 

A.                  Jesus knew what He was facing. He knew that He was the wheat seed which had to die in order to give life to a multitude of seeds. Jesus had consistently moved toward this time, determined to do the Father’s will, but His human nature recoiled from what was ahead. His heart was troubled. What should He do? Should He beg the Father to save Him from this hour? Even though it was terrible to face, Jesus knew that this was the reason He had come to this hour. He was destined for this from eternity past. He was born to die. So Jesus changed His prayer from “Save Me”, to “Father, glorify Your name”. I believe this is the principle that we need to follow in the hard days ahead. (ILLUS: Actually, this is what the Lord showed me with the prediction of John’s death. The Lord led me to pray, “Glorify Yourself in whatever way You choose”, instead of praying, “Save him from this death”.) This needs to be our prayer for others and ourselves because the saving of life is not the ultimate good. The ultimate good is that everything should glorify God.

 

B.                  Once again the Father spoke audibly from heaven as He had at Jesus’ baptism and at the Transfiguration. The Father assured Jesus and those around that He had glorified His name and would glorify it again.  God’s name had been glorified through Jesus’ teaching and miracles, especially the raising of Lazarus. But His name would be even more glorified through Jesus’ death and resurrection. That was the capstone of all. The millions who now know the Lord came to Him through the death of the “Seed” and the way that glorified God. It gives me great joy to remember how Satan was completely defeated. God used the devil’s primary tool – death – to bring the greatest glory to the devil’s great Enemy – God! The people there heard the voice of God but couldn’t identify it. Was it thunder or an angel? Jesus explained that the voice was for their benefit, not His. He and the Father are one, so He knew the Father’s thoughts.

 

III.                The time for judgment

 

A.                  Now what appeared to be judgment on Jesus and the Father instead turned out to be judgment on the world and the prince of the world – the devil. I believe this is always true when a Christian is martyred. What is intended as an act of judgment on God’s people actually becomes judgment on the ones who did it, and the whole world system that condemns the children of God. Jesus said that the prince of this world would be driven out. Col. 2:15 It’s an amazing picture. Jesus hanging on the cross is actually taking away all the weapons of Satan and his demons and making them ashamed as a public spectacle. How is this possible? Jesus hanging on the cross would draw all men to Himself. Here He predicts how He will die just as He did to Nicodemus. John 3:14-15 Jesus’ death becomes like a beacon of light shining into all parts of the world. Not all men will believe, but all have a chance to look to Him to be saved. And some from every tribe and language will respond when they “see” Him with eyes of faith lifted up to die for them.

 

B.                  The crowd listening to Jesus understood that He was predicting His death by crucifixion. But their concept of the Messiah was different. They had heard from the Law that the Messiah would remain forever. It’s not easy to distinguish between the first and Second Coming of Christ in the Old Testament prophecies. And even if they understood Isa. 53 and Psa. 22, they probably didn’t want to believe that the Messiah would come first as a suffering servant. They wanted a reigning King, not a dying Savior. They were like a lot of people today who want the crown without the cross. First comes the cross, then the crown. They wanted to know who the Son of Man was. Jesus is the Son of Man who is the Messiah who is the Light of the world. He was standing there talking to them, but they still didn’t get it.

 

C.                  Jesus’ time was very short now – only a few more days. He told them to walk in the light before the darkness would overtake them. The person who walks in the darkness can’t see where he’s going. He is afraid and lost. What is the answer? “Put your trust in the light while you have it”. Jesus said. This was a clear call to believe in Him. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day when we can put our trust in Christ. When we do that, we become “sons of light”. Then we are able to bring light to others in the darkness. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world”, but He also said, “You are the light of the world”. Matt. 5:14 So the light spreads as one big light and many small lights brighten up the darkness and lead men to safety.

 

Read John 12:37-50

 

IV.                Believers and unbelievers

 

A.                  It must have been very disappointing to Jesus when after doing all the miracles – even raising the dead – in their presence, they still would not believe in Him. I see that though healing is a wonderful thing, it doesn’t necessarily change a person’s heart. That’s why our emphasis needs to be on the inner man rather than the outer man. John quotes Isaiah: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” The Lord “bared His arm” doing miracles before their eyes, and preached the truth straight from the Father’s mouth, but they still didn’t believe. God had told Isaiah and the other prophets that they had to give His message no matter what the response was. Jesus had to do this, too, and so do we. We can’t produce a response. If they couldn’t believe the very Son of God, how can we expect them to believe us? Their eyes were blind and their ears deaf. Because they did not understand with their hearts and repent, He could not heal them.

 

B.                  The other sad thing is that though many among the leaders believed in Jesus, they would not confess their faith. Why? They were afraid of the Pharisees who said that they would put out of the synagogue any who followed Jesus. I think many people are like this today. They believe but they fear their leaders who threaten them. I wonder if they ever got the courage to confess their faith? We know that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were among those believing leaders and they at least had the courage to bury Jesus’ body after His death. Most of these “believers” were like many “Christians” today. “They loved the praise from men more than praise from God.” We have to wonder whether they are true believers, especially when we read the definition of a believer in Rom. 10:9 & 10

 

V.                  Jesus and the Father are one

 

A.                  It evidently was hard for people to understand the inseparable link between Jesus and the Father. It’s still true of many today. They acknowledge the Almighty God but refuse to acknowledge Jesus as God! It’s easier to deal with Him if they think He is only a good man or a prophet. That’s why Jesus makes such a strong point out of saying that if a man believes in Jesus, he doesn’t just believe in Him but in the Father who sent Him. When we look at Jesus, we see the Father. Jesus was saying, “Here I am – the Light! You don’t have to stay in the darkness.” Isa. 50:10-11 Believing in Him completely brings us out of the darkness and into the Light of life. If we try to make our own fires and walk in our own light, we will lie down in torment.

 

B.                  How many times has Jesus referred to those who hear His words and don’t keep them? That’s the message of the wise and foolish builders. Matt. 7:24-27 That’s our tendency. We are quick to hear but slow to do what we hear. Jesus did not come the first time as Judge. He came to save. But there is a severe judge for the those who reject Jesus and refuse to keep His words. The very words that they reject will someday judge them. They will hear His words again and will understand with great sorrow what fools they were for rejecting Him, ignoring His words or blaspheming His name. Why do Jesus’ words have such power to save or condemn? It’s because they are not His words. The Father told Him what to say and how to say it. So they stand condemned before the Almighty Creator God who sent His precious Son to redeem them.

 

Conclusion

 

            What a picture we have in this chapter of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who is one with the Father and the Light of the world is also the seed that must drop into the soil and die. The One who is being judged by the Jews as a blasphemer because He says He is the Son of God and the Messiah will someday judge those who reject His words by those very same words. He calls us to believe Him and keep His words. He sends us out into the world with His light to show others the way out of the darkness. He warns us that we, too, must be willing to lose our lives and take up the cross if we want to someday wear a crown. How will we respond to His challenge? Will we shrink back because we, like the Jewish leaders, love the praise of men more than the praise of God?

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (11)

Jesus, the Servant

John 13:1-38

 

Introduction

 

            This chapter gives us such a tender picture of Jesus and His disciples. Yet even in this select group there was a betrayer. It reminds us of Jesus’ parables about the weeds among the wheat, the birds in the tree, the yeast in the dough and the bad fish mixed in with the good fish. This time it was more like the snake in the garden. If there was such a mixture among Jesus’ closest followers, I guess we can expect it today in our church groups. In fact the number of Judases is growing fast.

 

Read John 13:1-17

 

I.                    What Jesus knew

 

A.                  The scene is set by the first statement: “It was just before the Passover Feast”. They were celebrating the Passover when God delivered His people from slavery in Egypt. Meanwhile, God had prepared His Great Passover when His Lamb would die and the angel of death would pass over the lives of all those who applied Jesus’ blood by repenting of their sins and committing their lives to Him. Jesus knew many things. First, He knew that the time had come for Him to complete His work, leave the world and return to the Father. Was He thinking about Himself and His suffering? No. He was thinking about His love for His own here in the world and planning to demonstrate His love for them in actions. He showed them His tender, personal love by washing their feet, and He showed them His complete and everlasting love by dying on the cross for their sins. Jesus’ servant heart was demonstrated to His disciples and to His Father. He learned obedience to the Father by being willing to suffer and die as He had planned. Heb. 5:8

 

B.                  Th evening meal was being served. It appeared that they were all in close fellowship as they ate together. Bu they weren’t. The devil had already prompted Judas to betray Jesus. Judas’ heart was fertile ground for Satan to work. If Judas’ heart had been full of love for Jesus and commitment to Him, there would have been no opportunity for the devil’s suggestion to be planted. We learn from John 12:6 that Judas was guilty of greed, deception and stealing. Maybe he didn’t like the call to cross-bearing and self-denial that Jesus had given them many times. I believe in the next few minutes Jesus gave Judas the chance to turn back from his plan, as He washed Judas’ feet, mentioned 3 times about the betrayer, and gave him the piece of bread. Judas heard all that but it didn’t soften his heart. Evidently he had been hardening his heart for a long time. Finally when he took the bread from Jesus, Satan actually entered into him. v. 27 Be very careful about hardening your heart against God! Heb. 3:15

 

C.                  Jesus knew some other things. He knew who He was and from whom He had come. He knew that the Father had put al things under His power. He knew that He had come from God and His destination was God. The Father had sent Him into the world, empowering Him to do all that He had planned – teaching, healing, suffering, dying and rising. He had enough power to fulfill the Father’s plans. And He knew that he would return to the Father after His service was finished. Of course, He could have misused His power by destroying those around Him who were against Him. But instead He used it to demonstrate the full extent of His love, by washing feet – even the feet of the betrayer! And then He died for those who took His life! Jesus knew that He was God’s Son, sent by the Father, empowered by the Father, and returning to the Father. It’s just such assurance in our hearts that leads us into service and faithfulness to our Father.

 

II.                  Washing their feet

 

A.                  Jesus took off His outer clothing and dressed in a tunic like a slave, wrapping a towel around His waist. Here were 13 men with unwashed feet. Who would do the job of the foot-washing slave who had to bow low before each person and wash the filth of the road from their feet? Evidently nobody offered. By the time Jesus had finished, the towel and probably His tunic were wet, but His feet were still dirty. Peter evidently was the only one who objected to Jesus washing his feet. He was ashamed to have Jesus washing his filthy feet and maybe feeling guilty for not offering to do the job himself. Was Jesus referring to Peter’s denial later when He said that he would understand later? His “feet” would need to be washed clean after his sinful act. Jesus said, “Unless I wash you, you have no part in Me.” How eternally true this is! Unless He washes our dirty feet every day we have no part in Him. We have to be cleansed by His blood from the dirt or sin of each day.

 

B.                  Then Peter was eager to have Jesus wash him. In fact, he wanted a whole bath! But Jesus explained that he had already had his bath. His past sins had been forgiven. It was only the sins of the day that needed cleansing. Jesus, looking around the table said, “You are clean”. They had all had their baths of forgiveness from sin. But then Jesus had to add, “Though not every one of you”. There was one who was not pure. He had allowed the dirt in his heart to accumulate until the Holy Spirit could no longer prompt him to repent. Instead the devil prompted him to betray Jesus. Jesus knew full well who would betray Him, but He still washed his feet, giving him a last chance to repent.

 

C.                  Jesus asked them if they understood what he had done. They knew he had washed their feet, but I don’t think they understood the significance of that for themselves. ”I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. You should also wash one another’s feet.” Some groups take this literally and have foot-washing ceremonies. That’s O.K. But I don’t think it covers all that He meant. “I have set you an example.” What was this example? It was the higher bowing before the lower, the greater ministering to the lesser. It was the cleansing, healing touch of Jesus on the dirt of mankind. It was the love of a heart full of the Father for unappreciative, undeserving people, including betrayers. It was the demonstration of the cross – suffering in the place of others. Jesus reminded them that no servant is greater than his master, nor a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If Jesus has washed dirty feet, then surely we can wash dirty dishes, care for the sick, comfort the dying, or any other task the Lord sends us to do. But it’s not enough just to know these things. “You will be blessed if you do them!”

 

Read John 13:18-38

 

III.                The betrayer

 

A.                  Once again Jesus singled out Judas. Jesus said that He knew those He had chosen – and that one of them would betray Him. Why did Jesus choose Judas? He said it was to fulfill the scripture. Judas’ betrayal was no surprise to Jesus. Probably on the night that Jesus spent with the Father talking about which men He should choose as disciples, He discussed this very thing. Maybe He asked the Father why He should choose a potential betrayer, and the Father reminded Him of Psa. 41:9: “He who shares My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.” Judas had been sharing Jesus’ bread for over 3 years. Now in this final hour, Jesus once again offered His bread to Judas to share. All of these things Jesus was saying to prepare them. He knew they would be overwhelmed with doubt and sorrow when they saw Him betrayed, arrested, tried and crucified. Jesus wanted to assure them that whoever accepted Him also accepted the Father who sent Him. On the other hand, the one who betrayed Him also betrayed the Father. Accepting the ones Jesus sends is the same as accepting Him and the Father. If love is our motive as it was with Jesus (v. 1) then acceptance of others and service of others becomes easy and natural.

 

B.                  Jesus was “troubled in spirit”. At Lazarus’ tomb He had been “deeply moved and troubled”. In Gethsemane later He was “deeply distressed and troubled” and told His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”. Matt. 25:37-38 I believe that part of His sorrow was because of what He was facing Himself. But I believe that he was also deeply troubled over the toll that sin takes in the lives of those who reject Him and refuse to believe and obey Him. In this case, as He looked into the face of Judas He could see what He and all unbelievers will face – eternal separation from God in a place of torment where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matt. 25:30 I don’t think that we can even imagine the full significance of that horror. The disciples missed the point, even after Jesus’ 3 references to the betrayal. They had become suspicious of one another and wanted to know who it was

 

C.                  John describes himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. Why was he special? Because he was the disciple who loved Jesus. John was seemingly as close to Jesus as possible, reclining next to Him. Peter was maybe on the other side of the table so he motioned to John to ask Jesus specifically which of them was the betrayer. John leaned on Jesus, perhaps to be able to speak into His ear, asking, “Lord, who is it?” John may have been the only one who heard Jesus’ answer. No one seemed to understand when Jesus clearly pointed out Judas by saying that He would give His bread to the betrayer after dipping it. Then He dipped His bread and gave it to Judas. Judas knew he was the one, but did John know? He was the one who noted that Judas had been stealing from the moneybag. Maybe he understood but was helpless to do anything about it. The devil who had already prompted Judas (v. 2) now actually entered Judas as he took the bread. It was too late to turn back and repent. Jesus told him to do what he planned quickly. Judas went out – away from Jesus forever - and it was night! It was only the beginning of the darkest night possible, which would never end!

 

IV.                The glorification of Jesus and denial of Peter

 

A.                  After Judas left, Jesus said, “Now…” It seems that he was saying, “ the stage is now set for the Son of Man to be glorified.” In 2 verses Jesus used “glorify” 5 times. What does “glorify” mean? It means, “to magnify with praise”, or “to treat as more splendid or excellent”. How would Jesus be glorified? He would be glorified by going to the cross to redeem the world by dying for all men, thus gaining eternal praise and honor to the God of grace. As Jesus was glorified by doing the Father’s will, the Father was glorified in Him. All glory belongs to the Trinity. The God who stooped down to become a baby, to walk dirty roads among lost and evil people, to wash the disciples’ feet like the lowest slave, and then to die at the hands of His own creatures displayed His glory by extending His great grace.

 

B.                  Jesus so tenderly addresses His disciples, “My children”, knowing that one would deny Him and all would forsake Him. He gave them the sad news that He would only be with them a little longer. They could not go where He was going – to the cross, the tomb, the resurrection and the ascension. Jesus left them with a new command – so simple and so hard to carry out: “Love one another”. Here the emphasis is not on love for the lost or love for our enemies. Jesus emphasized those elsewhere. Here He is focusing on love for the brethren. Jesus sets Himself as the example: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another”. It re-echoes His words in v. 14. They were to follow His example and serve one another out of love – not duty. Verse 35 is a very convicting verse. It is by this selfless love among the believers that others would know who are Jesus’ disciples. This kind of love would be so shocking in a world of jealousy and hatred that men would notice and be drawn to Christ. Are they drawn to Christ by our love for one another in our world?

 

C.                  It seems that Peter wasn’t listening to what Jesus was saying about love. He was still thinking about what Jesus had said about going away. Peter wanted to go with Jesus wherever he was going. Jesus made it clear that Peter couldn’t follow Him where he was going now but that he would follow later. It was not Peter’s time to die. He could not be crucified with Jesus. But years later he was crucified. He followed Jesus all the way to crucifixion. But at this point Peter was not ready to even be rejected. He thought he was. He told Jesus that he would lay down his life for Him. Peter didn’t know his own heart. Jesus knew Peter’s heart as He knows ours. He knew that Peter had good intentions, but that he was too weak to carry them out. Jesus told him that before the dawn of the next day he would deny Jesus 3 times. Peter was depending on his own strength that was not enough to face the terrors ahead. Later Paul had to hear the words, “My strength is sufficient for you.” We must be determined, but we must also depend on His power, not our own.

 

Conclusion

 

            This wonderful chapter is all about going from self-serving to God-serving. Someone said, “Many would love to serve the Lord, but only as His advisors.” Are we ready to serve as Jesus did – by washing each other’s dirty feet? The disciples were always debating about who was the greatest. Jesus showed them how to be the greatest by stooping to the lowest service. There they were at the highest feast of the year with stinky feet. Churches can stink, too, if there are no servants. Sometimes feet are hidden in dark, smelly places like shoes. Jesus wants to use His hands – the members of His body – you and me – to go to those smelly places and wash feet. James 2:15-17

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (12)

The Way, the Truth and the Life

John 14:1-14

 

Introduction

 

            Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet and they had eaten the Last Supper together. Judas had left and it was night. Jesus had told Peter that he would betray Him 3 times before dawn of the next day. Jesus and the 11 disciples were still gathered in the Upper Room when Jesus taught the great truths of chapters 14, 15 and 16, and prayed the beautiful prayer in chapter 17. These 4 chapters of John are truly remarkable. There is so much deep teaching that is not mentioned in the other 3 gospels. How did John remember all the details of Jesus’ teaching on that dark night before the end? It seems to me that God must have given John a photographic memory. He must have been like a sponge that soaked up every word of Jesus and then retained it to write it down later. What an unusual person John was! No wonder Jesus chose him to be one of the 3 closest disciples. He was the one who was at the foot of the cross with Mary. John 19:26-27 I don’t know if any of the other disciples were there. No wonder he was the one to receive the visions of Revelation. Peter was a leader, but John heard, understood and applied the whole message. How many of us are like John?

 

Read John 14:1-14

 

I.                    Jesus comforts His disciples

 

A.                  Jesus seems to have certain emphases in this 14th chapter. One is to give comfort at this time of trauma. These men were about to witness the unthinkable torture and death of their beloved Master and Lord. He would be in a tomb while they hid for fear of the police and the high priests. But Jesus’ words of comfort were not just for that traumatic time. They are especially appropriate for our present world of trauma. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me.” These are important words for our time when “men’s hearts are failing them for fear.” Luke 21:26 What a comfort it is to hear Jesus say, “I will come back and take you to be with Me. “ John 14:3 He promises, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18 He comes to us spiritually; He comes in the Person of the Holy Spirit; and He will come to us eventually in Person.

 

B.                  Jesus continues His words of comfort. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives.” John 14:27a Actually the world has no peace to give though there have been times when it promised peace. The Romans had their “Pax Romana” or Roman Peace, but it was far from peaceful. In fact, millions of Jews and Christians died at the hands of the Romans during that time. Then there was the saying after World War I that it was “the war to end all wars”. We now know what a lie that was! Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. John 14:17b Certainly in times of trauma we can become worried and afraid. But only if we let our hearts be afraid instead of trusting the Lord as we should. Phil. 4:6-7 It’s so amazing to hear Jesus comforting and calming His disciples when He was the one facing great suffering, pain and anguish. Rather than thinking of Himself, He thought of His loved ones who would be left in a quandary. He had tried to prepare them, but He knew they couldn’t really grasp it all.

 

C.                  Here Jesus prepares all of us who are living with troubled hearts in a troubled world. “My Father’s House has many rooms” or “My Father’s country has many houses” or “There is lots of space where My Father lives.” Jesus is intimating that if there were no room for them, He would have told them. They and we need to know that when He goes back to the Father’s place He won’t leave us as abandoned orphans. Instead, He is going there to prepare us a place to live. (ILLUS: When Sandy and I came to Hawaii from Guam, we came for the purpose of finding and preparing a place for Rose, the children and us to live. We were going ahead so that everything would be arranged for the family when they got here.) Jesus said, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me.” John 12:26 This is the voice of the Bridegroom who has gone ahead to prepare everything wonderful for His bride. When all is ready, He will come for her to live with Him in that place forever. What an honor to be part of His bride! Rev. 19:6-8

 

II.                  Jesus, the Way to the Father

 

A.                  Jesus reminded them that they knew the way to the place where He was going.  But they were still confused, thinking in earthly terms. Thomas said that since they didn’t know where He was going, how could they know the way? But why didn’t they know where He was going? He had just told them that He would go to the Father. v. 2 Where were their minds? The Lord must get very tired of us. He tells us over and over and we still don’t get it. Why? We are thinking as the world thinks, or choosing to filter out what we don’t want to hear. Jesus tried to clarify with the greatest verse in the Bible. “You say that you don’t know the way? The Way is sitting here with you talking to you! I am the Way! Besides that, I am the Truth and I am the Life!” Jesus didn’t say, “I know the way, the truth and the life.” He said, “I AM”. Embodied in this Man who is God is the only way, all truth and life – both physical and spiritual. In other words, He is everything we will ever need – now and eternally.

 

B.                  Next Jesus answers the question of the ages: How do we get to God? How can we know God? All the religions and cults have been formed to try to answer those questions. What a simple answer Jesus gives, and yet most have missed it. “No one comes to the Father except through ME!!!” All religious practices and rules and books about religion are utterly useless. In fact, they are like walls that keep us from the Father. There is one Way, one Path. It is His beloved Son! And if we don’t go the way of the Son, we’ll never get to the Father. The disciples thought that they knew Jesus. He said, “If you really knew Me…” Maybe they only had a surface knowledge, but didn’t know Him to the depths of His Person. If they really knew Him, they would also know the Father. In fact, Jesus said that they would see the Father. The better we get to know Jesus, the better we will get to know and understand the Father – and even “see” Him with our spiritual insight. Jesus is the exact image of the invisible God. Col. 1:15 Heb. 1:3 He is God visible to us.

 

III.                “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me”

 

A.                  I guess Philip didn’t get the point. He asked Jesus to show them the Father. If He had they would have died, because no one can see the Father and live. Ex. 33:20 But there was no need for Jesus to show them the Father because the Father was in Him. Jesus asked Philip a good question. Maybe He would like to ask us the same question. “Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been with you such a long time?” It’s about time that we should know Him after He has been with us such a long time. Why don’t we know Him better? We are too entangled with our own thoughts and plans. Our minds are too occupied with unimportant things and not occupied enough with the Lord. “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” John 12:45 But if our eyes are focused on other things and people, we will not see Jesus or the Father.

 

B.                  Jesus reiterates this basic truth 3 times. “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?” v. 10a “The words I say are not just My own. It is the Father living in Me who is doing His work.” v. 10b “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” v. 11 John 10:38 This shows us that people can live with Jesus for years and call themselves Christians and still not really know Him or believe that He and the Father are one. The evidence of the fact that the Father was in Jesus was found in His words, and the work and miracles that He did. The evidence of the fact that Jesus is in us is the life we live, the words we speak, and the works He does through us.

 

IV.                Doing greater works

 

A.                  Jesus actually compared us with Him. If we have faith in Him – and obedience to His will and His word – we will be able to do the kind of things He did. Of course it will not really be us doing them, but His Spirit within us and His authority given to us. He will be doing them through us. That would include preaching and teaching, giving out the Good News to the lost, healing the sick and infirm, and driving out demons. Jesus even said: “He will do even greater works than these because I am going to the Father.” What is the connection between Jesus going to the Father and us doing “greater things”? I don’t think it has to do with bigger or flashier healings and miracles. Since He is going to the Father, His time and opportunities have ended. His work must continue through His followers. They will be the ones to go out far beyond the Jews and Jerusalem. The “greater things” they will do are to take the gospel to a lost world. Jesus’ ministry was very small and provincial, but it was like a tiny mustard seed that grows into a great redwood tree.

 

B.                  Next Jesus gives an amazing promise which can be taken and misused. All God’s promises are conditional. If we repent and confess our sins, He will forgive them. If we forgive others, He will forgive us. If we do His will and live by His Word, He will do whatever we ask in His name. I John 5:14-15; John 15:7 It’s dangerous to take this promise out of its context and claim that you can make God do what you want. John was very careful to explain explicitly what the conditions are to this promise in the rest of this chapter and chapter 15, as well as in I John 5. God’s Word is whole and undivided. He cannot say something in one place which contradicts what He says elsewhere.

 

C.                  The whole message of the Bible is submission to the Almighty God. We cannot please Him by going the opposite direction to what He shows us or by going out from under His sovereign will. The Son longs to do what we ask because we belong to Him. That’s what it means to ask in His name. It’s like my grandchildren asking me for something because we have the same heritage. They are in my family so of course I will want to give them anything good that I can. If a kid on the street asks for the same thing, I might not give it because we are not related. You can’t ask a favor from a king or a chief unless you are in his family. “Asking in His name” means belonging to Him, knowing Him, and being related to Him. That’s why in Matt. 7:21-23 when they claim to have done miracles “in His name” He says, “I never knew you – I’m not related to you”. You can use the name of Jesus all you want to, but it’s of no value if you aren’t related to Him. He promises to do anything for those who are His true children. And those who are His true children or disciples will be doing His will and keeping His Word. So of course if we are doing what He wants He is glad to give us what we ask.

 

Conclusion

 

            This teaching of Jesus in John confirms many things taught elsewhere in the Word, and it draws the line clearly between the Truth and false teaching. Jesus will come again for His own, His bride. He wants us to be with Him where He is – in the Father’s House. But we cannot go to the Father or His House without the Son who is the only Way. All of those who say they worship God but do not honor His Son will not be welcome in His Father’s House. How can we know the Father? The reason Jesus came to this world was so that we could know the Father. Even though the Father is invisible, the Son, who is just like Him, became visible – a man. The Father is in Him. They are 2 members of the Trinity but one God. Those who teach that Jesus was just a man or a prophet do not recognize that the Father is in Him. God will reject them. And what about those who teach that we can ask God for anything and He has to give it. We can only ask if we are His children who are doing His will and obeying His Word. If we are, we will ask only what He wants to give us because our desires are His desires. Beware of those who twist and distort the scripture to say what they want it to say. Jesus’ teaching is crystal clear. All we have to do is believe it and obey it.

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (13)

Obedience, an Evidence of Love

John 14:15-31

 

Introduction

 

            We closed out last lesson with the study of verses 13 & 14. Jesus gave the disciples the wonderful promises about answering their prayers. He said, in essence, “I will do whatever you ask because of our relationship (in My name).” “You may ask Me for anything because of our relationship (in My name) and I will do it.” What is this relationship? We can ask because we are family members. But when we are family members we have certain responsibilities. Father and Mother are responsible to lead their children in the right paths, to love and protect them. Children are responsible to obey their parents, not just because they will be punished, but because they love and respect them. It is on this basis that we can claim the promises of Jesus to answer our prayers. Today we will see how tightly love and obedience are tied together.

 

Read John 14:15-31

 

I.                    Jesus promises the Holy Spirit

 

A.                  The promises of verses 13 & 14 for answered prayer are dependent on a relationship of love. It is a Father/son relationship, a Bridegroom/bride relationship, the relationship of true friends. But love is an elusive concept. Lots of people claim love for God and others, but so do men who exploit women claim it is because of love. Self-deception can convince us that we love God while our ways and habits prove otherwise. What is the acid test? If we really love Him we will obey His commands. It’s as simple as that. I John 5:3 We will be doing what He wants – what He has told us to do. We will be living His lifestyle. We can measure the validity of our love by checking our thoughts, words and actions. In a truly loving relationship one strives to please the other. What are the evidences of God’s love for us? The Father sent the Son to die in our place. The Son sent the Spirit to live in us. There is no greater love! The Trinity of God is committed to live with and in us, to save us, to disciple us, to train us, and finally, to bring us to His glorious place.

 

B.                  What do we learn about the Holy Spirit from these verses?

1.)     He is sent by the Father at the Son’s request.

2.)     He is “another Counselor or Comforter”. He is Another of the same kind as Jesus.

3.)     He will be with us forever – not just for our time on earth.

4.)     He is the Spirit of Truth. There is no lie or deception in Him, totally unlike all the other evil spirits. II John 1,2

5.)     The world which cannot see Him and does not know Him, can’t accept Him. They can’t begin to understand what it is like to have the Holy Spirit, who is God, living inside us. I Cor. 2:14

6.)     We can know Him because He lives with us and in us. He is a real Person living inside our spirit, not some kind of force that we can give to others or that we can command.

 

II.                  Not abandoned

 

A.                  Jesus then said more things to comfort His disciples, who in a matter of hours would see Him mangled and dead on a cross. Jesus could understand how they would feel as they watched this most traumatic event in all of history. And it would happen to their beloved One, their Teacher and Master, their Lord and Messiah! He said, “I will not leave you abandoned, like orphans”. I’m sure they felt like abandoned children when their Lord was dead. Jesus promised, “I will come to you”. Jesus could have meant that he would come to them after the resurrection; or that He would come to them in the Person of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; or that He would someday come again in glory. Maybe He meant all three. The world would not see Him any more, but they would see Him – whether physically or spiritually with eyes of faith.

 

B.                  Jesus made the promise, “Because I live, you also will live.” He could have said, “Because I die, you also will be martyred.” But He was looking beyond death to life. It’s interesting that on the eve of His death, Jesus would talk about life. We are like Jesus in the sense that though men may be successful in killing the body, that only leads to greater victory – real and eternal life, free from the world, the flesh and the devil. Now that’s LIFE! Of course, it totally depends on the death and resurrection of Jesus. Because I live…” If He did not die and then live again, then we would have no chance to live. “On that day you will realize that I am in My Father, and you are in me and I am in you.” What day is Jesus referring to? It could be the day of His resurrection, but I think it looks beyond that to the day when we live eternally with Him because He lives.

 

C.                  Somehow it’s hard for us to fully grasp what Jesus means when He says several times in this passage, “I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you!” This is beautiful but mystifying. It is a picture of the Trinity with us added! The Son is in the Father – part of the Father. Notice that he does not say that the Son is the Father as some cults teach. We are in the Son – part of the Son. Notice it does not say that we are the Son as some cults teach. Jesus will never be the Father and we will never be Christ. He is the Head and we are the body. He is the Bridegroom and we are the bride. Next Jesus says that He is in us – in the Person of the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Christ. We are all interrelated and interconnected with each Person of the Trinity. What a miracle!

 

III.                To love is to obey and to obey is to love

 

A.                  Once again Jesus makes the connection between loving and obeying. He says, “If you obey My commands, it proves that you love Me.” We have to know Him in order to be able to obey or commit ourselves to do what He says. We will not obey a stranger on the street. In verse 15 He said it the opposite way: “If you love Me, you will obey what I command”. If we don’t do what he says, it simply shows that we don’t love Him. Love and obedience are tied together and they cannot be separated. I John 2:5-6 Obedience is proof of our love and disobedience is proof of our lack of love. Jesus goes on to show that the one who loves enough to obey will be loved by the Father and also by the Son. And the Son will reveal Himself more and more to the one who obeys out of love.

 

B.                  John carefully identifies the Judas who spoke up at this point. Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, had already left the upper room and gone out into the night. This left the remaining 11disciples to hear some of the deepest and most important teachings of Jesus’ whole ministry. This other Judas wondered why Jesus would reveal Himself to them and not to the world. Jesus cannot truly reveal Himself and His deep teachings to those who don’t have a relationship with Him. It’s the same way with us. We can’t really get to know and understand someone unless we are willing to have a close relationship with him or her. Once again Jesus said basically the same thing: “If anyone loves me he will obey My teaching.” Then He adds again that the Father will love that one. This is the third time He has said this. That should tell us that it’s very important!

 

C.                  Now Jesus adds a new, wonderful thought: “We will come to him and make our home with him.” What a precious truth this is – to know that the Father and the Son will make their home in totally unworthy people like us! Rev. 3:20 We actually live together, one inside the other, as Jesus described in verse 20. The Son submits to the Father out of love; the Holy Spirit submits to the Father and the Son out of love; and I submit to the great Trinity of God out of love. Submission brings us into complete unity. For the 4th time Jesus says the same thing, only this time in the negative. “He who does not love Me will not obey My teaching.” People may claim that they love the Lord but their disregard or rebellion against His teaching shows that it is a lie. Hearing and then doing what he says is the litmus test. Why is this so important? Because the words Jesus spoke were the Father’s words. He was the Father’s ambassador just as we are His ambassadors, speaking His words. But how can we be “His voice” unless we listen and then obey?

 

IV.                My peace I give you

 

A.                  All these things Jesus spoke to them because he was still with them. But He would soon be going. He was preparing them for that time. Notice the strong emphasis on the Trinity in verse 16 & 26. The Son asks the Father to give them another Counselor, and so the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father in the name of the Son. How can anyone deny the Trinity after reading these verses? And yet, most religions and cults do deny the Trinity. Jesus is letting His disciples and us know that He will not stop teaching them. He will be teaching them and us through the Word and the Holy Spirit. His promise is that this Counselor will teach us all things. What an amazing promise! Jesus also said that the Holy Spirit will remind us of everything He has said to us. John 2:22 This is how the Holy Spirit inspired the Gospel writers. II Pet. 1:21 He caused them or their brothers to remember what Jesus had done and said. And what about the epistles? They were based on Jesus’ teachings but went on further to the “all things” that the Spirit would teach.

 

B.                  In the midst of the trauma of Jesus’ crucifixion and departure, He promises peace. Jesus comforts His disciples and us by “leaving” peace with us. He is specific about the fact that it is “His peace”. Is there any other peace? Not that I know of. According to Jesus, the world does give something called peace, but is it really peace? Maybe it’s a temporary cessation to hostilities or the false “peace” of drugs or alcohol. That’s the peace of falling into a black hole from which you can’t escape. In the world, especially toward the end, men’s hearts will be failing them for fear while some cry “Peace, peace.” I Thess. 5:3 The peace of Jesus keeps us from troubled hearts and fear. A “troubled heart” fails because it is overwhelmed with fear. Twice in this chapter Jesus tells us, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.” (Vs. 1 & 27) I wonder how many people will actually have “heart failure” over the things that are coming? But Jesus says, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled…” We don’t have to worry. Phil. 4:6-7; Matt. 6:27, 34

 

V.                  “I am going away and I am coming back”

 

A.                  Jesus has been telling the disciples that He will be going away and that He will also be coming back. v. 3 Of course, they couldn’t grasp the fact that His going away would be in a little over a month, and His coming back would be in 2000 years or more. Here His emphasis is not on the time element but on the Person to whom He would be going. He was going home to His Father. If they loved themselves, they would be overcome with sadness and loss. If they truly loved Him, they would be glad for Him that He would be going home. Isn’t that the way it should be when a Christian loved one dies? If we really love that person we will be glad for him to go home. If we love ourselves more, we will be sad and full of self-pity over our loss. Jesus was glad to be going to the Father because the Father is greater than He is. This is a proof of the Trinity for those who say that Jesus is the Father. A person can’t be greater than himself. How is the Father greater? Aren’t they equal? In one way, yes, they are. But not in their roles. The greatest and Head is the Father; the Son is submissive to the Father and yet King of kings; the Spirit is sent by the Father at the Son’s request, and His role is to glorify the Father and the Son.

 

B.                  Jesus knew that His great confrontation with the enemy was at hand. “I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming.” Jesus would meet Satan in all his power, but He could say, “He has no hold on me.” Jesus was submissive to the Father’s plan. No matter how Satan made Jesus suffer, he could not make Him be rebellious to His Father because He had no place where he could hold Him. What happened in the garden was not only important for Jesus. It was important for our understanding that Jesus loved His Father and did exactly what His Father had commanded Him to do. It was Jesus’ love of His Father that caused Him to obey His commands – at a very high price! Jesus did exactly what the Father wanted. He didn’t attempt to twist or distort it as many do with the scripture today. This commitment to love and obedience is what kept Satan from having a hold on Him.

 

Conclusion

 

            How big a hold does Satan have on us? Even a small hold can prove to be our downfall. How can we protect ourselves from that danger? We must love and obey as Jesus did, no matter what the cost. Obedience is the proof of our love, and love is the reason for our obedience. Jesus’ complete love for the Father caused Him to obey even the command to suffer and die. Heb. 5:8-9 Because He obeyed, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who now obey Him! Jesus knew that if He changed or distorted God’s word to Him, He would be guilty of disobedience and rebellion. Those prove that we do not love. In fact, they are evidences of hate! Is this what is hidden in the hearts of those who change, twist or disregard scripture? Let us guard against it in our hearts!

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (14)

The Vine and the Branches

John 15:1-12

 

Introduction

 

            In our last lesson on the 14th chapter, we learned that obedience is the proof of our love, and love is the reason for our obedience. Jesus spoke the words recorded in chapters 13 and 14 in the Upper Room where He had eaten the Last Supper with His disciples. The 14th chapter ends with Jesus saying to them, “Come now, let us leave.” They began walking from the Upper Room to the Mount of Olives. As they walked, they passed various kinds of vegetation. Of course there were olive trees for which the Mount of Olives was named. But I’m sure that there were also vineyards. Jesus used what they were seeing to illustrate the principles He wanted to teach.

 

Read John 15:1-12

 

I.                    Who are the gardener, the vine and the branches?

 

A.                              Jesus begins by identifying the gardener, the vine and the branches.

1.)     The gardener is God the Father. Why does a gardener have a vineyard? The only purpose of a vineyard is the production of fruit. A vineyard that produces no fruit is worthless. Each vine that produces no fruit is worthless. And each branch in each vine that produces no fruit is worthless. God created this world – His vineyard – for a purpose.

2.)     Christ is the fruit-producing vine. He has many branches, but not all are fruitful. I don’t believe that anyone is a true branch who does not commit to Jesus as Lord and live as His faithful disciple.

3.)     What happens to the branch that bears no fruit? The gardener cuts it off. Why? Because it is of no use since it is not fulfilling its purpose. We were created and redeemed for a purpose. If we don’t fulfill it, the Father has every right to cut us off.

 

B.         4.) What about the fruitful branches? The gardener just leaves them alone, right?   Wrong!   He desires the most fruit possible, so He prunes the fruitful branch to produce more. Is this because God is greedy? The One who created us knows that our greatest joy and His greatest glory is to produce bushels of fruit. One or two grapes aren’t enough. It doesn’t satisfy our heart’s desire or God’s plan and glory.

5.)     What kind of pruning does the Father do? He cuts away dead and dying twigs that are in the way and hinder the production of fruit. It hurts! We don’t like to be pruned. We’d rather have Him leave us alone in our half-dead condition. But He wants the best – for Him and for us! This is the purpose of His discipline. Heb. 12:10

6.)     The branches are already clean. They have been cleansed by the “washing of the Word”. John 13:10 The Word washes over us, bringing to a repentant heart, cleansing, healing, comfort, and often pruning.

 

II.                  Remain in Me

 

A.                  What is the primary responsibility of the branch? Producing fruit is secondary. No branch even has a chance to bear fruit unless it remains in the vine! Number one is remaining! In 6 verses Jesus uses this word “remain” 11 times. It’s pretty obvious that he wants us to get this message. The branch is concerned only with location – abiding or staying attached to the vine. The vine’s one concern is to bear fruit. The branch will bear fruit if it is constantly abiding in the vine. If we are being told to remain, it becomes obvious that it is possible for us to not remain – or to leave. The Lord who did not force us to be branches in the first place will also not force us to remain as branches.

 

B.                  We have a tendency to think that once you are a branch – saved – that all is well. We think you will always be a branch – saved – whether you produce fruit or not. That’s not the picture Jesus paints here. It is a matter of choosing to remain in the vine and thus producing fruit. I John 2:6 Nothing is automatic. The “remaining” requires our will, our love, our obedience, our being disciples. The bearing fruit requires our work, our perseverance, our prayer, and our faith. Of course this does not mean that we can do it by ourselves. That’s ludicrous! Imagine a branch separated from a vine and stuck in the ground trying to get sustenance and produce grapes! This section is full of commands or imperatives. We must do our part. But it also plainly spells out the fact that we can’t do it alone.

 

C.                  What are the imperatives or commands? “Remain in Me.” “Remain in My love.” “Love each other as I have loved you.” “Love each other.” We are to do our part. What is His part? “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.” “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” This is such a clear picture of our relationship with the Lord. We have to make the effort to remain in Jesus who is the Source. There is no way that we can be fruit-bearing otherwise. “Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.” These days there is a lot of so-called fruit being produced that when carefully examined will be revealed as already rotten or only an imitation of the real thing. The true Vine, who is Jesus, only produces good and wholesome fruit.

 

III.                Thrown away, withered and burned

 

A.                  Once again Jesus says that He is the vine. He is the Source of all life. In fact, He is life! Without Him there is no life – whether physical, spiritual or eternal. Jesus clarifies the relationship when He says, “You are the branches.” Branches must be attached to the vine to even be called branches. They are totally dependent and submitted to the vine. They have no life in themselves. They have only the life of the vine flowing through them. Now Jesus goes back to His theme of remaining: “If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.” This is a strong but conditional statement. There is the conditional “if”. This always indicates that there is an “if not”. The relationship has to be one of remaining. We have to remain in Him and He has to remain in us. Rev. 2:10

 

B.                  Is it possible that Jesus may choose not to remain in us? I think it is. It’s something like the salvation that Christ has made available to the whole world by His death – but the large majority of people will never be saved because they are unwilling to repent of their sins and submit to Him as their Lord. If we choose not to remain in Him, I think He will then choose not to remain in us. There are scary words that Jesus spoke to certain people: “I don’t know you.” “I never knew you.” They indicate this awful possibility. So what happens to one who doesn’t remain? First, Jesus doesn’t remain in him. Second, he becomes trash – no longer a branch of the vine, but now a stick that is thrown away, withers, is picked up and used as firewood. This is the same picture that we had of the salt that loses its saltiness. Matt. 5:13

 

C.                  Now there’s another conditional statement: “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you…” “Remaining” now becomes a matter of more than just being connected. It includes obedience to His words out of love for Him. The one who remains and obeys is given a wonderful promise: “Ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.” Is this a promise to use selfishly as the Third Wavers use it to get anything you want from God? That’s impossible because it is given only to those who remain and obey. To “use” God to get what you want is the opposite of remaining and obeying. To be selfish goes against all that Jesus taught us in His words that we are to obey. What is God’s purpose in giving us whatever we ask? It’s that He might be glorified by our bearing much fruit, thus showing that we are true disciples. And what is a disciple? According to Luke 14 a disciple is one who puts Jesus first before his loved ones and himself, carries his cross, and gives up everything for Jesus.

 

IV.                Remain in My love

 

A.                  Jesus now talks about love, but He’s still emphasizing the importance of remaining. There’s a lot of talk about love in this world, but very little remaining in that love. The emphasis is on what you can get from that “love” relationship. But is that love? Definitely not! Love gives because the other is more precious that himself or herself. [ILLUS: My aunt and uncle recently celebrated their 58th anniversary. Was it easy to stay together all those years? My uncle has Parkinson’s disease and needs help to do the simplest things. My aunt patiently helps him although she has crippled feet and ankles which make it hard for her to walk. It is the commitment of true love that has kept them together all these years.] Selfish “love” is not love. It’s selfishness! So those who advocate getting something out of God by prayer or faith or “word faith”, do not love God at all. They love themselves.

 

B.                  Here Jesus states the foundational fact: As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.” How does the Father love the Son? With complete and eternal commitment as an extension of Himself. How does the Son love us? In exactly the same way. He commits Himself to us who are the extension or branch of Him who is the vine. And how does the Son demonstrate His love and commitment to the Father and us? He died for us at the bidding and plan of His Father. v. 13 How do we demonstrate our love for the Father and the Son? We obey God’s commands and do His will till death. The problem with even true love is that we can lose it. We can stray away from it. We can be attracted to another love – of a person or thing. It is very possible to not remain in love. That’s why Jesus very seriously commands: “Remain in My love.” Then He gives the formula for remaining in His love. “If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love.”

 

C.                  This sounds rather harsh and legalistic, but it’s not. John 14:15 The most complete and joyous obedience comes from a heart of love. True and deep love drives us to look for every opportunity to please the one loved. If he asks us to do something we can’t wait to do it just to please him. In case they didn’t get the point, Jesus used Himself as an illustration: “Just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love.” If Jesus had chosen His own way in the wilderness temptation or in Gethsemane, He would not have “remained” in His Father’s love. The relationship would have been broken and the entire world lost to the enemy. What will be lost if we don’t remain in His love by obeying His commands? I think we will! I believe those He intended for us to win or to help will be lost with us! How tragic!

 

Conclusion

 

            It’s interesting that in this section of 8 verses that Jesus used the word “command” 5 times. And yet the emphasis is on love and joy! The fact that we have a hard time putting “command”, “love” and “joy” together just indicates our shallowness. The minute we feel that someone is giving us a command, we get stubborn and lose our love and joy in defiance of the one who gave it. Jesus is drawing us here to a higher plane. He’s telling us that if we love Him enough to obey Him, and we do His will out of love for Him, something will happen. His joy will be in us and our joy will be complete. So our joy cannot be complete until His joy fills us because we are remaining in Him and in His love by obeying His commands. One of Jesus’ searching commands is here: “Love each other as I have loved you.” That requires us to fit into the very big shoes of Jesus. How did He love them? He laid down His life for them. John 10:11 And He loved them to the end. John 13:1

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (15)

The Hatred of the World

John 15:13-27

 

Introduction

 

            As Jesus and His disciples walked toward the Garden of Gethsemane on the eve of Passover, He spoke many wonderful truths to them. Last week we studied His teaching about the vine and the branches. Jesus taught them and us that no branch can survive and bear fruit unless it remains in the vine. So we must remain in Jesus and remain in His love. We do that by remaining in His Word – by obeying it. If we obey His commands, we remain in His love. It is then that His joy will be in us, and our joy will be complete. But we have an enemy. It is the same enemy Jesus had. Of course, our great enemy is Satan, but in this passage Jesus says that the world – Satan’s dominion – is also our enemy. I John 2:15

 

Read John 15:13-27

 

I.                    No greater love than this

 

A.                  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” We prove that we are Jesus’ friends or disciples by remaining in Him and in His love and by obeying His commands. Jesus set the direction for us to follow. He “remained” in the Father and in the Father’s love by obeying. And He demonstrated His great love by laying down His life for us, His friends. What is our response to such great love? If we consider Him our dearest Friend we will lay down our lives for Him. This may include dying for Him, of course, but it also includes living for Him each day. Each day that we live out His will instead of our own, we are laying down our lives. Jesus said many times that losing our lives for Him means gaining them eternally. On the other hand, keeping them only for ourselves means losing them eternally. John 12:24-25

 

B.                  Jesus clarified what it means to be His friend – to love Him. “You are My friends if you do what I command.” We cannot say that we love Jesus and He is our Friend if we refuse to obey Him. Next, Jesus differentiates between servants and friends. Of course, we are His servants, but if we are only servants and not friends, we will not enter into the Master’s business. It’s as if a servant is on the outside taking orders from one on the inside. Jesus has taken us into the inside of His business. “Everything I have learned from My Father I have made known to you.” As the Father and Son are one – partners – so we are brought into the business of the kingdom to be one with them. We become God’s partners in the advancement of the kingdom in the lives of others.

 

C.                  We think that we choose Christ, but actually He chooses us and draws us to Himself before we are ever faced with the decision whether we should follow Him or not. Jesus has not only chosen us. He has also appointed us to go and bear fruit. He chose us out of the crowd and then commissioned us to go back into the crowd on kingdom business. John 17:15-18 What is His goal for us? Jesus named it at the beginning of this chapter. The purpose of the vine, which is transmitted to the branches, is to bear fruit. Otherwise, it is a worthless stick! Jesus is specific about the kind of fruit – “fruit that will last”. As we remain in Him we bear the kind of fruit that remains in Him. This means discipling people to totally commit themselves and be faithful to the end. If we are in the process of remaining, obeying His commands, and bearing fruit, “THEN the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name.” This is not a light promise. It is given only to those who are paying the price and doing His will. If we are His friends and His partners, we will be living and asking only in His will. Kingdom concerns will be first in our lives as they are in His.

 

II.                  Love and hatred

 

A.                  Jesus once again repeats what He has said before. It is one of the commands we must keep if we love Him: “Love each other.” It’s an essential part of being kingdom partners. Remember that Judas had left to get the chief priests to come and arrest Jesus, so those who remained were all brothers and friends of Jesus. It is very important for us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ because we are surrounded by a world that hates us. Jesus now turned to the truth of how the world views Christians. It seems that the life Jesus has described - remaining in Him, bearing fruit, obeying His commands, and loving Him and the brothers – is the ideal life. It is clean and free from hatred and pride. We would think that it would appeal to anyone in this world. But calling people to self-denial and the cross is not a popular message. Righteousness in one person makes sin in another person much more evident by contrast. Is there anything that we hate more than the insinuation that we are not what we are supposed to be?

 

B.                  Jesus says, “If the world hates you..”  John 3:13, John 17:14 What is this “world” that hates us? It is what is dominated by the prince of this world – the one Jesus said had no hold on Him. John 14:30 The world cannot control us unless we obey it. Neither can Satan control us unless we obey him. But the very fact that we refuse to obey Satan and his followers, and instead stand against the tide of evil, attempting to rescue those who are going down, makes us detestable in the eyes of our enemies. Who are those enemies? They are Satan, his demons, and all who follow them. Should we be alarmed or surprised when we face opposition and hatred? We should be aware that we are following in Jesus’ footsteps. The world hated Him first. The underlying cause of this hatred is the fact that we refuse to “belong” – to go the wide way – to do the commonly accepted things and to think the expected thoughts.

 

C.                  The world loves those who belong to it – the rich and powerful, the smart and crafty, the beautiful and proud. Those are “its own”. We are in a different class. “As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” Chickens always peck at the one that’s different; children pick on the child who’s different. How could we dare to be different from the majority? But that’s what it means to be “chosen out of the world”. We have been selected out – chosen to be different from the rest. We will experience more and more hatred as the pressure of the world increases and Satan knows that his time is short.

 

III.                Servants are not greater than their masters

 

A.                  Jesus knows firsthand that it’s hard to live with hatred and rejection. He reminds them of what he told them at the foot washing. John 13:16 The servant is not greater than his master or a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Notice that as Jesus called us friends in v. 14, He now calls us servants. Our relationship to Jesus is as friend to Friend, but our role is as servant to Master. If the Master washes feet and lays down His life, the servant should be willing to do the same. If the world persecutes the Master or Sender, then the servant or messenger can expect to be persecuted. The good news is: if there were some who obeyed His teaching, there will be some who will obey ours. Jesus always divides people into a minority who accept and obey and a majority who reject and persecute. Matt. 7:13-14 Why do they respond in this way? “They will treat you this way because of My name, for they do not know the One who sent Me.” They may claim to know and love God, like the Pharisees, the Mormons, the Muslims. But if Jesus is not all-important and life to them, they do not know the Father either.

 

B.                  When we are persecuted, it is by people who hate the name of Jesus, or ignore Him as unimportant. This is because they do not know His Father who is God Almighty. The way people treat Jesus indicates whether they know the real God or not. It sounds strange that Jesus says they would not be guilty of sin if He had not come and spoken to them. Aren’t we all guilty of sin? I think from the context that He means that they would not have been aware of their sin and guilt, even though before God they, and we, are guilty. They would not have felt guilty even though in God’s judgment they were. Now they can no longer hide, claiming ignorance of their sin and guilt. They have no excuse for their sin. Once we know the truth we can no longer excuse ourselves. And Jesus spoke the truth with clarity! They heard it and got the message. “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5 But they didn’t like that message! So they turned on the Messenger, hating Him and scheming to kill Him. The amazing thing is that they thought that somehow they were doing God a favor by destroying Him. The fact was: “He who hates Me hates My Father as well.” You cannot serve God while hating His dearly loved Son!

 

IV.                The testimony of the miracles

 

A.         Jesus’ words and His miracles made it clear that they were on the wrong track. They had heard the teaching and seen His miracles. They had talked with Him face to face. It made them acutely aware of their sin and guilt. But we don’t like to be reminded of our guilt and sin. Instead of producing repentance, it produced hatred for Jesus which means that they hated the Father as well. Our hearts are either soft or hard. The prostitutes and tax collectors had soft hearts, readily recognizing their sin and longing for something better. This brought them to repentance and restoration. The religious leaders, like Pharoah in Moses’ time,  had hard hearts, made hard by their pride, arrogance and hypocrisy. Jesus’ teachings and miracles only served to harden them more because they were unwilling to repent and confess their desperate condition.

 

B.      Guilt was something they refused to accept. Let the prostitutes and tax collectors, whom they despised and called sinners, be pronounced guilty by them and their law. But never let it be said that they had been pronounced guilty by God’s very Son. Jesus said that it was no surprise that they hated Him. It was the fulfillment of what was written in their law! The very law they used against others and claimed to follow themselves pronounced judgment on them! “They hated Me without reason.” Psa. 35:19; 69:4 Jesus, the beautiful, holy One who went about doing good, did not deserve anyone’s hatred. They tried to find an excuse for their hatred of Him, especially at the trials. The only cause they could find was in the truth He spoke. So they took it and twisted it to their own purposes: “He claims to be God….He is a blasphemer. He claims to be King of the Jews….We have no king but Caesar.”

 

V.                  The Counselor

 

A.                  Jesus now spoke again of the Counselor. In John 14:16 Jesus had said that He would ask the Father who would give them another Counselor. Here He says: “The Counselor whom I will send to you from the Father”… Actually, it’s all the same thing. The blessed Trinity is completely unified. Because the Father is greater, or in charge, He will be the One who makes the decision on the request of the Son who wants to send the Counselor to take His place. Another name for this Counselor is “Spirit of truth”. He is the opposite of the many lying spirits that are sent out by the Father of lies who doesn’t know how to speak the truth.

 

B.                  Again Jesus tells where He came from. He says as the Father sent the Son to carry out their plan of redemption, so now the Father will send the 3rd Person of the Trinity at the request of the Son. He, the Holy Spirit, will indwell those who are redeemed and draw the lost ones to Christ. His primary job is to testify about Jesus. The Holy Spirit does not testify about Himself. That’s why those who emphasize the Holy Spirit in their worship and teaching are suspect. He does not turn people toward Himself. He turns them toward Christ. He is not the Way. Jesus is the Way.

 

Conclusion

 

            So Jesus sends a Counselor whose job it is to testify about Christ. But He is not the only testimony to Christ! The apostles, who had been with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry must also testify for Him. And it didn’t stop there. We who have become His children and witnesses must carry on that testimony. Are we to testify for the Holy Spirit? No! We are to testify for Christ, the Son of God and Redeemer of mankind. While we are thankful for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, Jesus, His crucifixion and resurrection, must always be at the center of our worship, our testimony, and our life! I Cor. 2:2

 

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (16)

The Work of the Holy Spirit

John 16:1-20

 

Introduction

 

            The 16th chapter begins with a statement by Jesus that kind of summarizes or concludes His teaching in chapter 15. “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.” What is included in this “all this” to which He refers? We must remain in Him, bear fruit, obey Him, love one another, and not be surprised that the world hates us and persecutes us. If our lives are not inseparably connected to His, it will be easy to succumb to the world’s hatred and persecution. So Jesus warns them to remember all that He has told them so that they will not go astray. If it was possible for the apostles to go astray, it certainly is possible for us as well.

 

Read John 16:1-20

 

I.                    Serving God by killing others?

 

A.                  If we compromise with the world and its ways in order to avoid suffering, it will dry up our fruit and eventually lead to our being cut off from the vine – Jesus. Jesus warned them that they would be put out of the synagogues or excommunicated. For one who loves God it is hard to be treated like a heretic. But that’s only the beginning of persecution. From there, it will get worse. In fact, Jesus said that the time was coming when anyone who killed them would think he was offering a service to God. This is what Paul thought as he hunted down the Christians – until that fateful day when an angry God struck him down and blinded him. Acts 26:9-10 It is what we are headed for in our day. It’s easy to see how the fanatic Muslims could think that they are offering Allah a service by killing Jews or Christians. Religion and politics have become intermingled. Why or how could anyone think that he is serving God by killing others? Paul was taught that God is a God of vengeance. The Muslims are taught the same thing about Allah.

 

B.                  The world system today teaches that we must assert our rights. This leads to the killing of babies by abortion. Whatever the excuse for murders like this, the underlying reason is here clearly stated by Jesus: “They will do such things because they have not known the Father or Me.” It’s easy to see that the gods whom they serve are not the Father, nor are they the Son. People who do such things indicate their lack of knowledge and relationship by their hatred and murder. Jesus concludes by saying that He is telling them this so that when the time comes and they face persecution, they will be prepared. Jesus’ warnings are always for this purpose – not to frighten us but to lead us to preparation and resolution of heart to face whatever comes. He did not tell them these things at first because He was still with them. While He was with them, He could teach and protect them. He would soon be leaving and they would have to stand alone. But as He said in 14:18, He would not leave them as orphans, but would send the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

II.                  “It is good that I am going away.”

 

A.                  Jesus said once again that he would be going to the One who sent Him – going home to His Father. No one asked Him where He was going, but they were all filled with grief. It was painful for them to think of His leaving. I can understand that. It’s hard enough when one of our loved ones leaves, but how much harder when the One you trust, who has become the center of your life, leaves? Jesus had said earlier that if they loved Him they would be glad that He was going home to the Father. It’s hard to be glad when we feel sad and lonely. But if we truly love the one who has gone home, we have to be glad for him. Here Jesus goes so far as to say that it was for their good that He was going away. Now that would take a lot of faith to believe! How could it be for their good to take away their most beloved? But since Jesus said it, it had to be true.

 

B.                  Evidently as long as Jesus was bodily present with them, the Holy Spirit would not come. “Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you, but if I go, I will send Him to you.” John 7:39 Somehow we would rather have the embodied Lord in front of us than the Spirit Lord inside us. Haven’t you ever wished that you could see and touch Jesus? We are foolish if we don’t understand that there is no greater gift than the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, living in us, with us, around us, over us. He is God Himself inside of us, never to leave us. It is a greater personal miracle than the incarnation. God gives Himself to us unreservedly!

 

C.                  The Holy Spirit comes not only to be our Counselor, but also to be at work in the world. “He will convict the world of guilt.” This is what He does in our hearts before we know Christ. He shows us our guilt which can lead to repentance and forgiveness if we respond in the right way. The Holy Spirit convicts or convinces the people of the world of their sin in not believing in Christ. He convicts the world of the need of righteousness and gives them the desire to be different – holy like Christ. Jesus is not here any more for men to see His example, so He uses the Holy Spirit to speak in their hearts, and He uses us to be the example of holy living which He would be if He were here. Matt. 5:16 The Holy Spirit also convicts or warns them of judgment. The prince of this world whom they follow is already condemned, and they will be condemned with him if they don’t turn and repent.

 

III.                He will guide into all truth

 

A.                  Even though Jesus was teaching them many truths, it was only the tip of the iceberg of what He could say. What He had already said was almost overwhelming, so they probably could not accept more deep lessons at that time. The first important work of the Spirit to believers is this: “When He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.” John 14:17 Because He is the Spirit of truth, He can open the door of our understanding to truth. Some there listening, like Peter, John and Matthew, would be led into deeper truth which they would record later as books of the New Testament. Others, like Paul, would be inspired by this same Holy Spirit to write depths of truth that no one else had yet understood. And this amazing Holy Spirit is the One who lives in us, leading us into deeper truths than we have known before as we study God’s Word and He illumines our understanding.

 

B.                  The next statement of Jesus describing the second work of the Holy Spirit to believers is most informative of His role in the Holy Trinity. “He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears.” The Holy Spirit is not a free agent any more than Christ is. Jesus said that He only spoke what the Father gave Him to speak. John 12:49 This should be our guideline as well – to speak only what we hear from God, keeping strictly to what He has said, being careful not to distort, leave out, or add what is not fitting or contextual. The third important work that the Holy Spirit will do for believers is: “He will tell you what is yet to come.” The Holy Spirit spoke through John especially, but also through Peter, Jude and Paul to tell what is yet to come, preparing us for the future. Of course, the greatest treatise on future events is found in the Revelation to John.

 

C.                  The fourth work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers is; “He will bring glory to Me by taking from what is Mine and making it known to you.” This is a very significant explanation of the relationship of God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The primary work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and through the Word is to bring glory to the Son. The Holy Spirit never glorifies Himself. That’s where a large part of the church of Jesus Christ has gone off base. They have begun to glorify the Spirit, singing songs of worship to Him, calling down His presence, etc. The Holy Spirit is like the silent partner of the Father and the Son, always working in us and in the world, but never seeking worship. Why should the Spirit glorify the Son? It’s because all that belongs to the Father has been given to the Son. John 17:10 The Father has put everything in the hands of His Son, so when the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son, He glorifies the Father at the same time. And when demons or men reject, despise, demean or ignore the Son, they do the same to the Father God whom they claim to worship.

 

IV.                Your grief will turn to joy

 

A.                  Jesus told His disciples a strange thing: “In a little while you will see Me no more, and then after a little while you will see Me.” Why was Jesus saying this “in a little while”? Then they remembered that He had said earlier that it was because He was going to the Father. 16:5 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask Him about this, so He elaborated. It’s interesting that in His explanation, He mixed grief and joy. “Grief” and “anguish” are mentioned 4 times in the next 5 verses. “Joy” is mentioned 5 times. How can grief and joy be mixed together? It will be that way in Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is that way in the birth of a child. It will be that way in our death if we love Christ and are truly His. It will be that way in the persecution and martyrdom of the apostles who were listening to Him that day, as well as all those who give their lives for Christ down through the ages.

 

B.                  First comes grief. Jesus said they would weep and mourn even while the world was rejoicing.  Satan and His world system rejoiced at the suffering and death of Christ as they did at the martyrdom of the apostles and will at the death of every true child of God. Next comes joy. “You will grieve but your grief will turn to joy.” Jesus’ resurrection signaled the time for rejoicing. The weeping and mourning was lost in the joy of seeing Him. So every believer must pass through the valley of death until Christ returns, but on the other side is joy unspeakable!  If we truly believe this and we truly love our departed one, we can rejoice for him or her. John 14:28 Even though we are left here to live, suffer and die as the apostles were after Jesus’ ascension, we can rejoice at the departed one’s joy and for the joy awaiting us in a “little while”. v. 16 In the light of eternity, it will only be a little while, just like our lives only last for a little while. Psa. 90:10,12

 

 

Conclusion

 

We have learned much about the Holy Spirit from these words of Jesus in chapters 14, 15 and 16. We need to base our theology on the truths taught here, not on men’s speculation or imagination. What have we learned?

1.)     The Holy Spirit is another Counselor – One who will be with us forever. 14:16

2.)     The world cannot accept Him because it neither sees nor knows Him. 14:17

3.)     We who have given our lives to Christ know Him because He lives with us and in us. 14:17

4.)     The Counselor, who is the Holy Spirit, will be sent by the Father in Jesus’ name. 14:26

5.)     He will teach us all things and remind us of everything Jesus has said. 14:26

6.)     He is the Spirit of truth who will testify about Jesus. 15:26

7.)     If Jesus does not go away, the Holy Spirit will not come. 16:7

8.)     He will work in the world, convicting unbelievers of sin, righteousness and judgment. 16:8

9.)     The Holy Spirit will guide believers into all truth. 16:13

10.) He will speak only what he hears. His words will be given to Him by the Father. 16:13

11.) He will tell us what is yet to come. 16:13

12.) He will bring glory only to Jesus, not to Himself. 16:14

 

Let us rejoice in the knowledge that God Himself, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, lives within us when we belong to Christ. But let us keep the Lord Jesus Christ at the center of our lives and worship. He is our Savior, our Lord, and our coming King.

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (17)

Joy and Peace in Troubled Times

John 16:21-33

 

Introduction

 

            In our last lesson we heard Jesus tell His disciples that in a little while they would see Him no more, and then in a little while they would see Him again. They couldn’t understand what He was referring to. He predicted that they would weep and mourn while the world rejoiced. This certainly happened at the crucifixion. While those who loved Jesus were broken-hearted, those who hated Him were rejoicing and proud that they had won the victory. But the end was not yet! At the resurrection, the disciples’ grief would turn to joy. We must have this perspective in our Christian lives, remembering that the end is not yet, and “it’s always darkest before the dawn”.

 

Read John 16:21-33

 

I.                    The joy of a child’s birth

 

A.                  Jesus described this experience of grief turning to joy with the example of a woman giving birth to a child. The birth process is painful and brings suffering, but the result of the suffering is a child! When a baby is born, the mother forgets the anguish in the joy of her child. How is this like Jesus’ suffering? His anguish produced salvation for a lost world. Isa. 53:11 in the Amplified Bible reads: “He shall see the fruit of the travail (or birth pains) of His soul and be satisfied.” Part of verse 10 reads: “He shall see His spiritual offspring.” What about our suffering? It, too, can produce good fruit for the kingdom as we respond in the right way and continue to do God’s will. What joy awaited Jesus when He rose triumphant, knowing that all who would believe and receive Him would become His children. John 1:12

 

B.                  The apostles and we can look forward to the joy of seeing our “treasures” in heaven – the result of our suffering and death to our own will and desires. “Now is the time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice.” Now – this life – is the time of grief, but we will see Him again when He comes. What rejoicing that will be! Then no one will be able to take away our joy. What a day that will be when all suffering and grief is ended and there is only joy! We can experience some of that joy now. Because He is with us in our trials and testing, we can have His joy, though not in its completeness. It will be complete only when all grief, suffering, pain and death has been removed.

 

II.                  Asking in His name

 

A.                  “In that day” when all suffering and grief is over, we will no longer ask Him for anything. I think this is because we will have everything we need and there’s no reason to ask. But what about now? Here is an amazing promise: “ My Father will give you whatever you ask in My name.” This seems far too simple. Does this mean that anyone can use Jesus’ name like a key to get anything he wants? I don’t believe it. I don’t believe that asking in His name is as simple as it seems on the surface. This “in My name” is more than it seems. It is not just mouthing the right words. “In Jesus’ name” really means “in relationship to Jesus”. Asking in someone’s name implies the kind of relationship which is so close that the “name” binds the two together. A Micronesian can ask almost anything in the family name and he will not be denied. So we go to the Father in the name of His beloved Son, asking because we are in the family. “In His name” can also mean “according to His will”. I John 5:14

B.                  You can only ask in His name if you are part of Him or related to Him. If you’re not, using His name will not be effective because you’re a foreigner who has no right to ask in that name. You must personally bear His name to ask in His name. I have to be in Jesus’ family in order to ask in His name. Anyone not in His family and trying to ask in His name will be denied because he is a counterfeit, or a fake relative. Jesus will say, “I never knew you. Who are you?” Matt. 7:21-23 Just using the words “in Jesus’ name” is a useless exercise in which we only deceive ourselves and others until there is a family connection and we are living according to His will. But when we are in the family and doing His will, there is a wonderful promise available to us: “Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete.” Why? Because of the relationship. The Father is pleased to give when the one coming is truly related to His Son. Then the Father gives with joy and His joy becomes ours.

 

III.                The Father and Son are inseparable

 

A.                  Jesus has been speaking figuratively, but He says that in the future He will no longer use this kind of language, but will tell them plainly about the Father. Until now they have not been able to grasp it. When they fully understand, they will ask in His name. That’s what we do now. We ask in Jesus’ name – because of Jesus, and because of our relationship to Him. Just saying “in Jesus’ name” is meaningless unless there’s a relationship that goes with it. If I try to get something by using the President’s name, it’s a wasted effort since I have no relationship with him. If I were his daughter, wife or mother it would be a different matter since I would bear his name and his nature.

 

B.                  It sounds like Jesus is the middleman or mediator between us and the Father, which He is. But here Jesus says that He doesn’t have to ask the Father on our behalf. It seems that the Father is inaccessible and only the Son can reach Him. In one sense, this is true. But Jesus says here that when we belong to Him the Father Himself loves us. Why would the Father love us? We have offended Him over and over. He loves us because we love His Son! Parents’ hearts are stirred by kind things done for their children. So the Father loves anyone who truly loves His Son, and has believed that His Son came from God. The Father does not love those who doubt His Son or who do not love and believe Him.

 

C.                  Anyone who believes in and loves the Son, will be loved by the Father. The Father cannot be separated from the Son. To hate or ignore the Son means doing the same to the Father. Those who want to worship only the Father without the Son will be rejected and condemned by the Father. Why? Because the Father and Son are inseparable. “I came from the Father and entered the world.” This is the incarnation of the Godman. “Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” This is the exaltation of the Godman. To try to accept the Son without the Father or the Father without the Son is impossible. To reject either one is to reject both! Here lies the problem of most religious systems.

 

IV.                You will leave Me alone

 

A.                  Jesus’ disciples were certainly dense – something like us! They told Him they were glad He was speaking clearly, without figures of speech. But some of Jesus’ clearest and deepest teachings were done using parables, allegories and figures of speech. Why was it so hard for them to get it? They were earthly-minded like most people are today. Their minds had a hard time grasping deep spiritual truths. They were like babies, still drinking milk instead of eating solid food and maturing. Heb. 5:11-14 Sometimes, we, too, struggle to comprehend the spiritual concepts the Lord presents. Finally they came to the conclusion that Jesus knew all things and that asking questions was useless. Aren’t they a little late with their confession: “This makes us believe that you came from God.”? You mean they didn’t believe that until this late date – a few hours before the crucifixion? What in the world were they thinking through all the time before? For 3 years they had witnessed His miracles, watched His character and listened to His teaching!

 

B.                  Do we hear a little frustration and sarcasm in Jesus’ response? “You believe at last!” Or “It’s about time you believed!” The problem was that their waking up was coming very late. They finally believed, but it wasn’t going to carry them through the coming hours and days. The time had come – only a few hours away – when they would be scattered to their own homes. They had been together for 3 years. I’m sure when they heard this they didn’t believe that it was possible. Why would they break up His tight-knit group? Why would they go to their separate homes when they had stayed together for 3 years? Jesus told them why: “You will leave Me all alone.” The way He said it made it clear that they would abandon Him in the time of distress. Jesus was not afraid to be alone, but they had wanted to always be with Him until now. “Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with Me.” When all others abandoned Him, the Father remained. This is what makes Jesus’ cry from the cross so poignant and painful: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” The unbroken fellowship from eternity past was broken while Jesus bore the load of the world’s sin. What a price to pay! It is the price that all will pay who die without repenting of their sins.

 

V.                  “I have overcome the world”

 

A.                  Jesus has told them all these things (John 14-16) so that they would know that though they would abandon Him, He would never leave them as orphans. John 14:18; Heb. 13:5 He would die but he would live again. He would go to the Father, but He would send the Holy Spirit to stay with them always. Jesus knew that the only way they could have peace was in Him. They would not find peace in the world. In fact, “In this world you will have trouble.” That’s a foregone conclusion. The word “trouble” means “crushed” or “in a narrow space”. This world is nothing but trouble, especially to those who are committed to Christ because the world’s ways are the opposite of God’s ways.  

 

B.                  Jesus didn’t want us to get discouraged and go into depression because of what we would face. He told us to take heart. Why should we? Because He has overcome the world! What an amazing statement from the One who was about to be tried, beaten and crucified “by the world”. The victory was already His. It reminds me of the dying Stephen who overcame all the hatred and murder they gave him by forgiving them and resting himself in the Lord. Acts 7:59-60 The victory over the world is in the refusal to go its way. The overcomer stands true to God to the end and forgives those who try to destroy him.

 

Conclusion

What is this peace that Jesus offers us? Is it the peace of a quiet place with no problems and undisturbed rest? There was a competition among artists to see who could best paint a picture that represented the concept of peace. The artists painted lovely scenery and calm waters. But the picture that won the competition was a picture of a thundering waterfall, with mist and wind around and deep waves of water beneath. There was a tree drawn reaching out from under the waterfall. On one limb of the tree in this precarious position sat a tiny singing bird. This was the picture of peace in the midst of the storm. Mark 4:35-41 Jesus does not promise us only a calm, restful life down here. He says that in this world we will have trouble. We should have the fear of the Lord, not the fear of the circumstances. And remember that He, the Prince of Peace, who has overcome the world, promised to never leave us.

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (18)

Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer – Part 1

John 17:1-12

 

Introduction

 

            Where were Jesus and His disciples when He prayed this great prayer? They must have been someplace between the Upper Room where they had the Last Supper, and Gethsemane. John 14:31b; 18:1 How thankful I am that John remembered this whole prayer. I believe that the Holy Spirit did what Jesus had promised: “He will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14: 26 Since this whole book is Holy Spirit-inspired, so in this case God used John as His recorder with the Holy Spirit reminding him of the things Jesus said in this wonderful prayer that the disciples heard. I am so thankful to have this complete beautiful prayer.

 

Read John 17:1-12

 

I.                    Glory and authority

 

A.         In this high priestly prayer Jesus prays for Himself in verses 1-5, for His disciples in verses 6-19, and for all believers in verses 20-26. It is a clear picture of the relationships involved – between the Son and His Father, between the Son and His disciples, and between the Son and all who believe. Jesus prayed often but we don’t have many of His prayers recorded. The Lord has graciously given us this one to help us know the heart of the Savior. Three of the recurring themes are “glory”, “world”, and “unity” or “oneness”. In thinking about these themes it occurs to me that the values expressed are otherworldly and spiritual, not worldly values. What does Jesus mean by “glory”? What do we call glorious in this world? What does Jesus emphasize in talking about “the world”? What do men usually see as important in this world? What is the earthly understanding of “unity”? What does Jesus mean by “unity’? Who are to be unified? We will see that in this prayer Jesus turns all the worldly concepts upside down.

 

B.                  Jesus said, “Father, the time has come…” The due time had finally come. The plan made before creation was about to be completed. How would the Father “glorify” the Son? He would watch while His Son suffered and died – and then raise Him from the dead. How could that terrible event “glorify” the Son? It made the Son the only Savior, the only Way, the only Hope for all mankind! All fingers point to Him. Heb. 9:26-28 Even unbelievers still remember Jesus’ death and resurrection although they have no concept of how all time and eternity swing around that earth-shaking event. As the Father glorifies the Son in this way, the Son glorifies the Father by His submission. Heb. 5:7 Jesus also glorified the Father before the world by revealing the great love of God for all men in this plan of redemptive love.

 

C.                  The Father granted Jesus authority over all creation. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “By whose authority are You doing these things?” They had no idea that “all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to Him”. Matt. 28:18 They were under His authority without knowing it. They thought He was under their authority. Jesus actually has the authority “to give eternal life”. That’s what you call ultimate authority. The authorities of this earth pale into insignificance in the light of this! To whom does Jesus grant eternal life? H said, “To all those You have given Me.” The Father gives the Son the people who are to be granted eternal life. That’s why Jesus talked to His Father in prayer before choosing His 12 disciples. They were all granted eternal life except “the one doomed to destruction”. v. 12 What is eternal life? Is it just living on and on like some fountain of youth? Jesus gives the definition here: This is eternal life: that they may know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” All the world is seeking for some kind of god, but there’s only One true God! He is the One who sent His Son to redeem lost men. Eternal life is knowing Him.

 

II.                  Completing the assignment

 

A.                  Jesus said that He had brought glory to the Father by completing the work He had given Him to do. John 4:34 Jesus was about to complete the last hard part of His assignment. It’s important to note that though Jesus was Himself God, He was submissive to the Father. He accepted and fulfilled the Father’s assignment even though His flash rebelled against it as we learn from His prayer in Gethsemane. This is the way He glorified the Father. Though we are true children of the King of kings, our place is also a place of submission and willingness to complete the work He has given us. This is one of the ways that we glorify Him. 

 

B.                  Our submission and obedience brings him glory as we demonstrate to Him and the world that He is our Lord and worthy to be praised and followed. This is a very different way of glorifying God than the big show that is put on so often in third wave churches, or by individuals who claim to be holy. A faithful, quiet submission and obedience is far more pleasing to God than fleshly shows. I Sam. 15:22-23 In His prayer about “glory” here, Jesus talks about the Father glorifying the Son, the Son glorifying the Father, and the Son bringing glory on earth. Jesus was soon to be glorified in the Father’s presence as He was before the incarnation – as He was before creation. Before there were men to know about the Father and the Son, the eternal Trinity lived together in glory.

 

III.                The revelation of the Father

 

A.                  Jesus had faithfully revealed the Father to His disciples. Our knowledge of the Father would be very limited if it were not for the revelation of Jesus. Here Jesus describes the disciples as having belonged to the Father who gave them to Him. We call this the Father’s foreknowledge and predestination which Sandy taught about in the Jude study. Rom. 8:29 Somehow beyond our comprehension, God chooses us and we choose Him. The disciples who had been given to Jesus obeyed God’s Word -–not perfectly, but in the essentials. They committed themselves to the Son whom they accepted as very God.

 

B.                  The disciples had finally come to understand that everything Jesus said and did came from the Father. John 16:30 This was vitally important to their faith. They had to know that the God of their fathers was the One who sent and empowered Jesus. Without this, they couldn’t make sense of their past. Jesus only gave them the words given to Him by the Father. He never spoke on His own. This is an important thing for us to remember also as we try to serve God. We need to be careful to use His words and ideas in our teaching, preaching and ministering. If we rely on our own ideas and words, our service will fall flat. We need to first receive our messages from God’s Word as revealed by the Holy Spirit.

 

IV.                The world

 

A.                  Jesus now goes into another subject or emphasis: the world. In the rest of this prayer He uses the word “world” 15 times. What do we mean when we talk about “the world”? In the dictionary there are 19 definitions of the word “world”. We have to figure out which definition fits according to the context. The world is the earth or planet on which we live. The world refers to all the people who live on this planet. We can talk about a group of people or things as “the world of electronics” or “the insect world”. In scripture “the world” often refers to a way of thinking which is “worldly” or not spiritual because it reflects the values of the world which is presently under the control of the evil one even though it is still God’s world. I John 2:15-17

 

B.         Jesus is praying for His disciples, not for the world. Does this mean He doesn’t love the world? He loves the world of men, not the world system which is under Satan’s control. John 3:16 His prayer is for those who have come out of the world system to belong to Him. I think this is a good guideline for our prayers. We are not to pray for the whole world or the world system. It is doomed. We are to pray for individuals who have come out of it or for those who need to come out of it to belong to Christ.

 

C.                  Jesus now makes the statement that binds the Father and Son together in complete unity. It is something like the marriage covenant that bride and bridegroom make at the wedding ceremony. Unfortunately, it seldom holds true in the actual practice of the marriage. Jesus said to the Father, “All I have is Yours, and all You have is Mine.” Jesus is not just talking about possessions or money. He’s referring to people. All of Jesus’ people belong to the Father, and all of the Father’s people belong to Christ. Jesus said that glory or honor had come to Him through His people. Their lives and witness brought glory to Christ. It is a good question to ask ourselves: “Does my life and witness always bring glory to the Father and the Son?

 

V.                  Protection and unity

 

A.                  Since the world is a place Jesus now reminds the Father that He will be leaving this place called the world. He will be leaving His own behind when He returns to the Father. It was like the shepherd leaving his flock surrounded by wolves. They were in extreme danger – physically, spiritually and emotionally. They needed the protection of the Chief Shepherd. So Jesus prayed, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name – the name You gave Me.” It is in answer to this prayer that we are protected by Jesus’ name in times of danger. It is not a magic word that we say, but an identifying with the very presence of Jesus as He identified with the Father. It is calling upon His real presence to defeat the evil ones – the wolves.

 

B.                  One of the dangers to Christ’s body here on earth is division and disunity. Jesus asks for protection: “so that they may be one as We are one.” Was the unity of the Father and Son ever threatened? Just look how Satan tried to pit Jesus against His Father in the wilderness temptation. He tried to get Jesus to disobey His Father and refuse His plan. See how Satan tried to tempt Jesus in the Garden and at the cross to doubt His Father’s love. So today the “wolves” in sheep’s clothing are at work to get the sheep to turn against one another and to doubt their Shepherd. We must remain in Him as He remains in the Father. John 15:4-5 While Jesus was with them He protected them and kept them safe. The disciples could have all drowned in the Sea of Galilee. They could have been stoned by the chief priests and Pharisees. Jesus protected them with His Person and His name. Next to Him they were the prime targets of the enemy. They would be the leaders of the church when He was gone.

 

C.                  Jesus told the Father that none of them had been lost “except the one doomed to destruction so that the scripture would be fulfilled.” Does this mean that Judas was doomed before he was born or ever had the chance to decide whether he would follow Christ or betray Him? If so, that would contradict all that we are taught and all that we have experienced of the love and mercy of God. The omniscient God knew what Judas would do to seal his own doom. Once again it is a case of God’s foreknowledge. God predestined Judas as the betrayer because He knew ahead of time what choices Judas would make. Then God put what He knew into the prophet’s mind so that it could be written into scripture just as all the prophecies were. God is always just and fair. That’s His nature. He cannot be unjust. He is a sovereign God who sovereignly assigns to man a free will to choose or betray Him. No man or demon of hell is going to be able to accuse God of being unfair. They will spend eternity in regret, knowing full well who is to blame for their misspent lives.

 

Conclusion

 

            When Joshua said to Israel before he died, “Choose you this day whom you will serve”, he was setting before them a real choice because God had given them a free will. When He said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” He was showing that he and his family had made their choice. Josh. 24:15 If we are made in the image of God, we must be like Him in the sense of being able to choose good or evil. Even the angels were allowed the choice of serving God or following Lucifer in his rebellion. But with the freedom of choice also comes a heavy responsibility. We cannot blame God or anyone else for our decisions. The great martyrs of the past chose death rather than denial of Christ. Today some unknown saints around the world are dying rather than agreeing with the enemy to turn against their Savior. Let us remember every day of our lives that we are responsible for what we decide to do with the life God has given us.

 

           

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (19)

Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer – Part 2

John 17:13-26

 

Introduction

 

            This wonderful prayer of Jesus to His Father just before His arrest, trial and crucifixion, is often called His High Priestly Prayer. He was praying for His disciples whom He would soon leave behind on earth to face persecution and death. And He was praying for us and all believers who would face the same in our time. Jesus said, “Father, I am coming to You now.” It reminds me of my auto accident in Guam. The road was very slippery. A car suddenly stopped in front of me and I had to put on my brakes. My car started sliding across the road and I couldn’t stop it. I was heading across a lane of traffic toward the lagoon. I was sure that I would die. I just said, “Here I come, Lord.” The next thing I knew, the car had crashed into a coconut tree before running into the lagoon. It wasn’t time yet for me to go to Him.

 

Read John 17:13-26

 

I.                    His joy and protection

 

A.                  Jesus longs for His disciples to have the full measure of His joy in them. In chapter 16 Jesus talked to His disciples about joy and grief. John 16:20 The grief and suffering that Jesus and His disciples – and we – go through is not the whole story. They are the birth pains that end in great joy. Jesus wanted His people to experience His joy even while going through grief and tribulation. One of the ways He brings us joy is through God’s Word. Jesus told the Father that He had faithfully given His Word to His followers. How wonderfully He had done that! In those 3 years He had filled their minds and hearts with His teaching night and day. He had committed Himself to discipling them. His commitment to the Father led to commitment to His disciples. This is also our responsibility – to so fill our hearts and minds with His Word that we can disciple those around us.

 

B.                  Did their knowledge of God and His Word cause people to love them? No! Jesus said, “The world has hated them.” Why? Those who buy into the system and ways of the world hate true believers. That hatred is on the increase. Why are we hated? Because we’re different! Jesus said, “They are not of the world anymore than I am of the world.” John 8:23 Here we are living in this world and yet we are not of it. We are the salt that irritates and the light that shines where people prefer darkness. The only way we can make the world happy is to compromise – to be like them. They want us to be tolerant of all that the world says is O.K. The minute we stand against that kind of tolerance and compromise, and insist on the unvarnished truth, we are in trouble.

 

C.                  But Jesus is not asking that we be taken out of the world. Why not? Because we are the only salt and light in this world. Without us, the world will quickly decay and die in total darkness. It is God’s plan that we live here as a continual irritant – in order to rescue some who will listen and in order to test and refine us! So Jesus’ prayer to the Father is not to take us out of the world. We might say that His prayer is: “Leave them in the world.” But He knows the dangers of the world He had lived in for 33 years, so He asks the Father to protect us from the evil one. If we are irritating to the people of the world, imagine how irritating we are to the prince of this world! He literally hates our guts and will do his best to bring us down. But Jesus prayed – and is still praying – to the Father to protect us from him.

 

II.                  Sanctify them by the truth

 

A.                  Once again Jesus repeated that we are not of this world as He is not of it. Jesus was a pilgrim, entering this world for a brief 33 years. We, too, were created by God for a brief time here – pilgrims passing through to a better destination. Whenever we settle for this world and the things it offers, we endanger ourselves of missing our real place. We need to think of ourselves as Jesus did – not of this world. Jesus asked the Father to sanctify them. What does it mean to sanctify something or someone? It means to be separated out for God’s use – separated from the world and unto God. It means to be taken from one use and put to another different use. For us it means not holding anything back, but giving Him all the keys. It is being God-centered instead of self-centered. God Himself will sanctify us as we set ourselves apart for Him. Phil. 2:12-13

 

B.                  How are we to be sanctified? It is by the truth; His Word is truth. He speaks to us in His Word – correcting, directing, and preparing us for the “sacred use” He has in mind. We limit God’s work of sanctifying by disobeying His Word. The Word awakens our conscience and gives light to our path. Psalm 119:29, 105 “The Book will keep us from sin, but sin will keep us from the Book.” What is that job we are set apart for? Jesus said, “As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” Instead of being taken out of the world, we are sent into the world to be used by God as salt and light. Just as Jesus was sent by the Father to affect change, so we are sent by Jesus with the Word to affect change in people’s lives. Jesus sanctified Himself – set Himself apart for sacred use – for the sake of His followers. He lived and died that they, and we, might know the Father and become His servants. And we in turn sanctify ourselves to be used by God for future generations.

 

III.                Complete unity

 

A.                  Why would the Lord leave us in a world that hates us? It’s because: “God so loved the world”. He loves the lost world enough to sacrifice His own beloved Son – and His many sons and daughters – to call the lost ones to Himself.  But when we speak out for Christ we are faced with a world that hates us. That’s why Jesus went on to pray for those who would come to believe in Him through the testimony and life of His disciples. He said, “I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message.” It’s awesome to realize that in this prayer before He suffered 2000 years ago, Jesus prayed for US! And He is still praying for us today. Isa. 53:12b What was His prayer for us? That we who truly believe may be one. This is another important theme of this prayer. “One” and “unity” are mentioned 6 times. With all the talk of unity these days, we need to be sure that we know what this unity is that Jesus refers to. It is the same unity that the Father has with the Son. “You are in Me and I am in You.” It is the unity of all the branches which are in the vine and remain in the vine. John 15:4 If we are not in Christ, we are not in the Father so there is no unity. Any other basis for unity is false and dangerous because it joins us with the enemy. II Cor. 6:14-18

 

B.                  If we are in Christ who is in the Father, it will be evident to at least some in the world that the Father actually sent His Son. It will result in some of them believing. Jesus said, “I have given them the glory that You gave Me.” What is this glory that Jesus has passed down to us? Here the glory theme is taken up again as in verses 1-5. What is this glory? I think the first thing it is is the privilege of being the Father’s children. The second is being the Bridegroom’s bride. There is no greater glory than that relationship. The child or bride of a great ruler is automatically included in his glory. What an amazing privilege! With this relationship comes all the benefits of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the continuing presence of Christ, the overshadowing of the Father, the protection of the angels, and the promise of eternal life in the Father’s home.

 

C.                  One of the purposes of giving us His glory is to bring us to the unity or oneness that the Father and Son enjoy. We become one blood or one family with all true believers. If we are true children of one Father and members of Christ’s body, we are truly united. But do we live as if we were one body? I think we fall short of living out the family unity that He has brought us to. Like most human families we end up with a lot of infighting, jealousy, gossip, and words that hurt one another. So Jesus’ prayer is that we might be brought to complete unity. Why is this so important? Jesus said, “To let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You love Me.” This is the message the world needs – that the Father sent the Son because of His love for His lost world. The love of God as demonstrated by the love between the Father and the Son, and then lived out by love between God’s children, will let the world know that there is hope and salvation for all who believe.

 

IV.                To see His glory

 

A.                  Jesus asks the Father to let those whom He has given to Him to be with Him where He is. This is a kind of rule of thumb. We will end up with the one we follow. That is scary news for those who are following Joseph Smith, Mary Ellen White, Mohammed or Baha’ullah. Hell was made for the devil and his angels, but those who follow them will be with them forever. On the other hand, those who love, obey, and follow Jesus will be with Him where He is. And where is He? In glory! He asks that we may see His glory. Peter, James and John caught a glimpse of His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. Later John saw more of His glory in his visions on the isle of Patmos. But we will see the whole thing if we are faithful to the end. We will see the glory that the Father gave to Jesus because of His love for Him. This was before the creation of the world when there was only the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. There was love and glory when only the Trinity was there.

 

B.                  Jesus calls Him “Righteous Father”. He is the one truly righteous or holy Father – different in that way from all other fathers. Now we come to the theme of “knowing”. It is used 4 times in the last 2 verses of this prayer. It reminds me of what Jesus said, “I don’t know you”. Matt. 25:12 He also said, “I never knew you.” Matt. 7:23 What does it mean to know? It means to perceive or understand clearly. Another meaning is “to be unified with” or have a relationship with. The world does not know the Father. People talk a lot about God but have no real relationship with Him. Jesus could say of the Father, “I know You”, because He is united with the Father. The disciples at least knew and believed that Jesus was sent by the Father. And they were coming to know the Father better as the Son made Him known to them. We can only know the Father as we know the Son and allow Him to teach us. There is no other way. Jesus is the only Way to the Father. John 14:6

 

C.                  Jesus pledged to continue to make the Father known – through His suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus wanted the Father’s love to be in His followers, and that He Himself would be in His followers. It’s interesting to remember that Jesus said all this just before His agonizing decision in the Garden, His terrible suffering, and the turning away of the Father at the cross. He repeats in this prayer over and over how the Father has loved Him and still loves Him. This is the basis of His submission. He is on a foundation of love. There is no way for us to be submissive and obedient without that foundation of love and trust under us.

 

Conclusion

 

            Though the world hates those who are true disciples and uncompromising, Jesus does not ask the Father to take them and us out of the world. Instead He asks for protection from the evil one. He knows full well that the enemy who hates Him also hates us. Instead of taking us “out” of the world, He sends us “into” the world. In this case, the word “world” does not mean worldly. He doesn’t want us to become mixed up in the ways of the world, but to go to the lost people of the world. As He was sent by His Father to a lost world of people, so now He sends us to that same lost world. John 20:21 For what purpose? So that through our witness and our love for God and one another the world may know that God sent His Son out of love for them. So we are called to go into a world which naturally hates us with the message of God’s love, demonstrating His love as we love one another in unity. It is the only way they will know.

 

 

Bible Studies

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (20)

Feed My Sheep

John 21:1-25

 

Introduction

 

            In chapters 18 and 19 John related the story of Jesus’ arrest, trials, crucifixion and burial. In chapter 20 is the glorious resurrection story! Mary Magdalene had gone to the tomb and found it empty. When she went back to tell the disciples, Peter and John ran to the tomb and saw that it was empty. Though they had not understood the scripture that Jesus would rise from the dead, John states that when he saw the empty tomb, he believed. John 20:8 Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus when she went back to the tomb that day. The evening of that same day, Jesus appeared to the disciples. Thomas was not there and had a hard time believing. The following Sunday Jesus appeared again to the disciples with Thomas present. Finally, he, too, believed that the Lord had risen. John 20:28-29

 

Read John 21:1-14

 

I.                    Going fishing

 

A.                  The angel at the tomb had told the women to tell the disciples that Jesus would go ahead of them into Galilee. Matt. 28:7 So the third time that Jesus appeared to His disciples was by the Sea of Galilee. Peter had told the 6 other disciples that he was going fishing, so the others joined him. Was Peter only fishing in order to get food, or was he somehow reverting to his old way of life before Jesus called him? I think from the things Jesus said, that Peter was slipping back into his old way of life. Why did he do that? He had seen Jesus and knew that he was alive. Did he feel that since the old “flesh and blood” Jesus was not there to lead them, they might as well revert to their former occupations? He was to find out in a number of ways that that was not Jesus’ plan for them. When we are discouraged or disappointed, do we tend to drift back to our old life? It’s a dangerous place to be!

 

B.                  The first thing that happened was that Peter and the others were not successful at their old livelihood at which they used to do so well. They fished all night and caught nothing. Imagine their disappointment and discouragement when their nets came up empty. What do you think ran through their minds?  Maybe they thought, “This used to be so satisfying, but somehow I feel empty like this net. I used to be so successful at my worldly occupation, why am I now a failure? Is it possible that the Lord doesn’t want me to be doing this?” Some Christians try to return to their old ways and find out that it doesn’t feel as good as they thought it would. After a long, frustrating night, Jesus stood on the shore. They didn’t realize that He was Jesus. He asked them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” He still considered them friends even though they had returned to their old ways.

 

C.                  The next lesson Peter and the others learned was when Jesus told them to throw their net on the right side of the boat. Now this is nonsense! Everyone knows that fish swim all over the place, around and under a boat. It was the same water on the right side as on the left! And yet wonder of wonders, where they had not caught even one fish on the left side, they caught so many on the right side that they couldn’t pull in the net. What was the lesson? If you choose to go your way instead of His way, you will end up with an empty net and an empty life. If you follow His way and will, He has the power to fill your nets and your life to overflowing. Be about His business instead of your own, and He will take care of the rest.

 

II.                  Come and have breakfast

 

A.                  John was more sensitive and intuitive than the other disciples. Just as he was the first one to believe that Jesus had risen when he saw the empty tomb, he now is the first to recognize that it is the Lord standing on the shore. Peter, the impulsive one, heard John and immediately reacted. Wrapping his outer garment around him, he jumped into the water and headed for shore. The boat was only 300 feet from shore. This is another amazing thing – that they could catch that many fish so close to shore. In Palau we would assume that they would have to be small fish or minnows. But John carefully notes in verse 11 that they were large fish!

 

B.                  The next step in this important lesson is what they found on the shore. Jesus had made a fire of burning coals and there were fish roasting on the coals as well as bread. Where did Jesus get His fish? He had no boat or net. I think He was saying to them, “You don’t have to go back to your old way of life to have enough to eat. I can supply all that you need if you trust Me and do My will.” There is also an element here of fellowship. The risen Christ calls us into fellowship with Him. It reminds me of Rev. 3:20. If we invite Him in, He will come in and eat with us. There will be a deeper fellowship than we can have out there fishing with the old gang. It’s like Jesus is saying, “Come on, guys, let’s eat and talk. I’ve got important things to teach you, but how can I if you are off somewhere fishing?” We have to quit our frantic search for “fish” to be with Him if we want to have fellowship and learn His lessons.

 

C.                  Jesus told them to bring some of the fish they just caught. It seems that He was trying to teach them that He has all kinds of ways to provide our needs if we follow Him. There are the fish on the coals that appeared out of nowhere, and the fish that He directed into their empty net. Let’s not underestimate the ability and ingenuity of the Lord to provide our needs – whether they are financial, physical, or emotional. We can’t afford to go back to our old way of life to have our needs fulfilled. We must remember to stay in line – in the calling that He has given us. I can just see Peter dragging the net ashore with 153 large fish in it. Jesus told them to come and have breakfast. He was the host at this early morning beach party. I think they got the message as they sat down to eat with Him. If the net is ours and we follow our agenda, we will come up empty. If it is His and His agenda, we will be full to overflowing.

 

Read John 21:15-25

 

III.                Do you love Me?

 

A.                  It was time for Jesus to face Peter. Peter had said in front of the disciples that he, of all of them, would lay down his life for Christ. John 13:37 I think he was comparing himself with them to prove that he would be faithful even if they were not. Then 3 times he denied that he even knew Christ. So now 3 times Jesus asked him a searching question: “Do you truly love me more than these?” We’re assuming that Jesus was referring to the rest of the disciples, but He could also have used an all-inclusive “these”, meaning “these men”, “these fish”, and this former life of yours. There are 3 words in Greek which we translate “love” in English. But they don’t all mean the same kind of love. “Eros” means sensual love; “phileo” means affection, friendliness or admiration; “agapao” means unconditional love like the love of God for us. Jesus asked Peter 3 times, “Do you love Me?” The first 2 times Jesus asked if Peter had unconditional love for Him (agapao).

 

B.                  It seems that Peter couldn’t honestly say that he loved Jesus unconditionally. By now he knew his own weaknesses. He answered, “You know that I love You like a friend (phileo).” 3 times Jesus repeated Peter’s assignment: “Feed My sheep”. It’s interesting that Peter used this same simile in writing later to the elders. I Pet. 5:2-3 I’m sure that Peter could hear these words of Jesus in his mind until his death many years later. His assignment was not to return to his old life of fishing, but to be an undershepherd of Jesus’ sheep. Each time Peter answered. “Lord, You know that I love You.” It’s as if he were saying, “You know the depths and shallowness of my love. It is not yet unconditional love (agapao)”.

 

C.                  It is instructive that the 3rd time Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, Jesus changed the question to use the word for love that Peter had used: phileo or friendly love. It was as if He were asking, “Do you really admire Me as a friend?” Peter was hurt. I think he was hurt because Jesus asked him 3 times, reminding him of his 3 denials. And I think he was hurt because with His 3rd question, Jesus lowered His expectations. Maybe He was testing Peter to see of he would be the braggart he was before the trial. Would Peter say, “Lord, I love you unconditionally and will gladly die for You?”  or would he be honest about his lack of deep love? Peter passed the test this time because he didn’t pretend to love Jesus more than everyone and everything else. He concluded with: “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love you.” And Jesus knew that Peter’s love was not yet like God’s love. But it would grow until Peter actually did lay down his life out of love for Jesus.

 

IV.                Follow Me

 

A.                  3 times Jesus had questioned the quality of Peter’s love, and 3 times told him to feed His sheep. Then Jesus went on to say that Peter would demonstrate his love for Jesus by following and obeying what Jesus has told him – love for God and the resulting ministry to the sheep. His final demonstration of his love and obedience to Jesus would be when he, instead of denying Him, would die for Him. Jesus told Peter that when he was young he dressed himself and did what he wanted, but when he got old he would not. This was a hard word, but on the other hand it was Jesus’ consolation to him that he yet had many years to serve – until he was old. Herod planned to take his life, but he couldn’t. The angel rescued him from prison because he wasn’t old yet and his time hadn’t come. Acts 12:11 It’s obvious that Jesus was indicating that Peter would be crucified. Tradition says that he was crucified upside down because he considered himself unworthy to die like his Lord. John says that Jesus was indicating the kind of death that Peter would die to glorify God. He doesn’t talk about tragedy but about glory. John 17:1 To die for Christ is the greatest glory we can bring Him except living for Him.

 

B.                  Next Jesus went back to Peter’s original call: “Follow Me.” It’s as if Jesus were saying,  “You’ve learned a lot about yourself and Me in these years since you first answered My call by Galilee. You’ve learned about the cost of this call. Knowing what you do now, will you still follow Me?” Peter wanted to follow, but he seemed to be questioning why the Lord was picking him out for all this interview and revelation about his death. John didn’t like to use his name, so he identified himself as he always did: “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Then he made it absolutely clear by saying he was the one who leaned against Jesus at the Last Supper. Was Peter jealous of the “one whom Jesus loved”? He asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” He wanted to know about John’s love, John’s assignment, and John’s death. Jesus used very pointed, almost harsh words: “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” In other words, He was telling Peter that was none of his business. “Mind your own business, Peter.”

 

Conclusion

 

            Jesus’ final words to Peter were, You must follow Me.” We are not to look around, comparing ourselves with others. We are to look unto Jesus, keep our eyes fastened on Him, and follow closely where He leads us! Peter had trouble with wandering eyes. When he was walking on the water, he took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at his circumstances. When he was at the trial, he looked in fear at those around him who knew he was a disciple of Jesus. If he had kept his eyes on Jesus maybe he would not have denied Him. Now he looks at John, his close fellow disciple, and wants to know what Jesus will do for him and how he will die. It is none of our business what God has planned for others. All we have to know is whether we are faithfully following Him, no matter what happens. After this the rumor spread that John wouldn’t die. So he carefully explains that this was not what Jesus said. John’s character would not allow him to take advantage of this chance to be someone special. He understood the point that each of us is responsible to do God’s will in our lives, no matter what others do.